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The Farrier’s Role In Correcting Angular Limb Deformities

Proven techniques for treating mild to serious deviations in foals

Angular limb deformities in foals are not created equal. Yet, corrections can be made with quick and appropriate farriery and veterinary intervention.

After nearly a half-century of hoof-care experience, including 2 decades as the head farrier at the University of California Veterinary School in Davis, Kirk Adkins has considerable experience with angular limb deformities, particularly in Thoroughbred foals.

“There are certain things that you have to understand that you can do and certain things that you cannot do that are not amenable to any kind of treatment,” says the Vacaville, Calif., farrier.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Angular limb deformity can present as valgus, varus and windswept.
  • Moderate exercise is important for foals with minor angulations.
  • Limiting exercise is important for foals with severe angular limb deformity.
  • Treatments are trimming, shoeing, splinting and surgery, depending on the severity of the angular deviation.

Angular limb deformities are limb deviations in the medio-lateral plane. There are three types: valgus, varus and windswept. When valgus, the distal segment deviates laterally. When varus, the distal segment deviates medially. And when windswept, paired limbs deviate one valgus and one varus. The condition can be the result of: premature birth; twin pregnancy; laxity of the ligaments surrounding the joints; or developmental factors such as poor nutrition, too much exercise or trauma.

Carpal valgus is an outward (lateral) deviation of the limb from the normal axis (Figure 1 above). Foals appear knock-kneed, according to Adkins. This is a common type of angular limb deformity, and Adkins saw a lot…

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Audrey_pavia

Audrey Pavia

Audrey Pavia is a freelance writer and author of 23 books about animals. She lives with a host of animals at her Norco, Calif., home.

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