Dealing with Club Feet from Foals to Adults

Farrier-veterinarian Hans Castelijns shares some of the methods he’s used to correct and manage mismatched feet

Club and mismatched feet are among the problems farriers face almost daily, so it’s not surprising that one of the most popular educational presenters at the 2009 International Hoof-Care Summit got rave reviews from attendees for sharing how he deals with this problem.

Hans Castelijns, a farrier and veterinarian from Holland who now practices in Italy, covered his approaches to these problems in foals as well as adult horses. His successful tools include a shoe he readily admits has been used by farriers for decades and adaptations he says he figured out after 20 years. 

His presentation also included a look at a case study involving a foal that was literally walking on its dorsal hoof wall, but that eventually became sound. Castelijns noted that it was an extreme case but pointed out that using non-surgical treatments eventually resulted in a satisfactory outcome.

Castelijns believes a club foot is best described as a hypoextension of the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint, usually in the front limbs. Hypoextension he describes as being the opposite of hyperextension, in which a limb or joint would be stretched too far.

“The foal or adult horse is not able to extend the joint as would be normal,” he says. “We can measure the number of degrees that the hoof capsule and distal phalanx are kicked backward relative to the proximal phalanges.”

The condition often develops in foals from 2 to 4 months in age if rapid growth of the distal limb causes the distance between the…

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Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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