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Q: How should I treat a grade 3 or 4 laminitic club foot?
A: That depends on a number of factors. Among these would be what phase of laminitis the horse is in: acute, chronic or post-chronic. The appropriate treatment is dictated by the state of the disease. Bottom line, the same principles apply no matter the conformation of the foot.
The question, I am assuming, arises from the fact that the coffin bone of a club foot appears rotated with respect to the ground and, because of that, should it be treated differently?
No. In fact, in my experience, grade 3 and 4 club feet are actually spared some of the biomechanical effects of the laminitis. Because the coffin bone is upright, the pull of the deep flexor tendon seems to have less effect and these feet are less likely to suffer from pedal bone rotation and separation of the coffin bone from the hoof capsule.
So treatment should be based on reducing inflammation, improving circulation and supporting the skeletal column. During the acute stages, this would mean the only treatment not available would be raising the hoof angle because the horse’s hoof angle is already very upright.
If coffin bone displacement does occur, then the support needs are the same for these feet as any other. As corrections are made to restore the angle of the coffin bone with respect to the ground, the heels should be lowered only enough to return the coffin bone angle…