Conformation Assessment Of The Foot

FOOT CONFORMATION is the result of genetic or environmental effects.

Genetic hoof or limb defects may be passed from one or both parents to the foal. In either case, they are highly heritable and are usually passed on to the next generation. Foot conformation defects may predispose a horse to lameness.

Foot conformation may be influenced by a deviation of the axis of the digit.

When the digit axis is plumb or ideal, the foot is in balance.

When the axis is broken out, the hoof appears toed-in. The foot is pushed out of shape by the uneven weight bearing. A flare develops on the medial side.

When the axis is broken in, the hoof appears toed-out. The hoof is pushed to the outside.

Digit axis deviations from the ideal are normally caused by uneven wear or growth resulting from the unequal weight distribution due to upper limb deviations, disease, trauma or neglect. Faulty hoof preparation may also cause axis deviations.

The flexibility of the coffin joint permits immediate and sometimes drastic changes to be made by hoof trimming. However, the possibility of ligament and tendon strain should be considered when making changes.

Suggested corrections must be applied with judgment. They vary in degree on each horse. The hoof is not a static organ. It is constantly changing due to differences in weight bearing, age, diet, moisture content and injuries.

Horses have preferences for their right or left limbs. The hoof used most will be the larger of a pair…

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Doug Butler

Doug Butler and his sons Jake and Pete run Butler Professional Farrier School, LLC near Chadron, Neb.

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