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One afternoon I received a call from a colleague with a client that had requested a hoof-care consultation. The southern Minnesota client’s Quarter Horse mare had just dropped a foal that was born without a coffin bone in its hind hoof. She was wondering if our veterinarians and hoof-care practitioners could help the foal.
At the time of birth, the foal did not want to stand immediately, did not have a sucking reflex and became very weak shortly after birth. The owner rushed the mare and foal to the veterinary hospital, where the vets ordered IV fluids and X-rays of the hind hooves. The foal eventually began nursing, regained strength and started behaving like a normal, healthy foal.
The X-rays revealed the foal was missing both a coffin bone and a navicular bone and had an under-developed short pastern bone in the left hind distal limb.
By the time we saw the foal, it was a week old. After arriving at the barn, the foal was ambulating in a normal fashion, walking, trotting and frolicking around. The foal’s head was parrot-mouthed with a protruding upper lip and eyes that were flush with the head.
Three of the hooves appeared normal. The left hind hoof had a dished appearance on the lateral aspect and the hoof lacked overall height. I quickly realized corrective trimming was not going to help this foal.
Without a coffin bone for the laminae to attach to, the hoof wall itself had…