Achieving optimal conformation in the developing young horse is important for economic as well as functional purposes, maintains Robert J. Hunt. The equine veterinarian with Hagyard Davidson McGee in Lexington, Ky., says routine foal monitoring and implementation of management changes, including well-timed and appropriately performed procedures, play a crucial role in conformational development. Influencing limb conformation involves altering hoof balance, loading points and the point and location of breakover for load redistribution at the growth plate.
Changing foot placement and flight of the limb will also influence loading of the growth plate. As a result, Hunt says it's necessary to understand balancing techniques and recognize when and how to use external devices to obtain desired results.
Hunt also outlines the need for surgical manipulation to take advantage of the growth potential at the physis and techniques to enhance growth or retard bone growth. Surgical procedures, how they work and the proper times to perform them are covered. Complications of surgeries as well as contraindications will also be stressed as they pertain to hoof-care professionals.
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