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Wry Foot &
Crack Due To Coronet Injury

Nipper is a registered American Paint and is 13 years old.

Nipper has been shod most all of her life and her owner says "I have always felt she acted as if she had HOT feet,  ever since her shoes were pulled, the crack in her hoof seems to be changing and her hooves are noticeably growing thicker. Nipper is going through body work, because of a pulled muscle in her hip, so I have not really been able to ride her to test her unshod attitude. "

March 14, 2006 - Shoes Pulled

March 24, 2006 - Dropped Flare & De contraction
May 12, 2006
August 25, 2006 - Rear Feet Still Thrushy & Wry
October 15, 2006 - Relaxing Heels!

Nipper's owner Jill was referred to me by another client. Jill's main concerns with Nipper were her tightly contracted feet and an old injury to her right hind hoof that happened when she was 6 years old. The injury to her coronet band resulted in a crack that had grown worse over the years.

We knew that the contracted heels would be resolved by removing her shoes, but what would happen with the crack?

I've dealt with enough cracks that I felt okay about removing the shoes, but I was concerned that the rear portion would get caught on something and potentially tear.

Jill's farrier had dealt with the crack by trying to do as little as possible in the area, and as a result, the wall behind the crack had gotten gradually longer than the wall in front of the crack, stretching the lamina that was binding the two sides together

Nippers feet were at 6 weeks and were VERY long, and the wide variety of wall flare displayed what happens when excess wall builds up over time. Her walls had been allowed to grow too long for many shoeing's, and the length had resulted in the feet curving inward at the middle of the foot.

She also had wry feet on the back, a condition that starts when a horse weights an inner or outer wall, usually in an attempt to avoid "hoof mechanism" or frog pressure. We were to discover that Nippers Wry feet were caused by a very subtle case of thrush.


Flair Flair Everywhere!!

This horse has LOTS of flare! Her walls are waaayyy too long, so there is forward flare that set the heel buttress at least 3/4 inch in front of where they should be. The picture below left shows the "first good inch" of wall below the coronet band - the top of the wall that is still tightly connected to the coffin bone and thus represents what the angle of the hoof should be, and below it, the dramatic outward flare of the wall.

From the rear, the picture below right shows a "waist" where the wall has sagged inward under pressure, while the frog is suspended high above the ground.




I traced a few growth rings on the front feet below left - something I'm notorious for doing - but didn't take the time to trace the backs which are on the right. These growth rings show lots of upward flare in the quarters. Notice how the coronet band rises up on the inside of the front right? We have pictures of this foot 10 days later showing how the flare has dropped on March 24, 2006 - Dropped Flare & De contraction

The feet above have already started relaxing, and the nail holes are just visible in the bevel at the quarters.

Contracted Heels

This mares heels are tightly contracted in the pictures below, and her poor frogs are withered and lifeless looking. I didn't know it at the time, but Nipper had lived with a bad case of thrush for several years. Her Digital Cushion, located in the hollow area above her heel bulbs, is a shock absorbing area that should have the consistency of a tennis ball... hers felt as weak as her frogs look. According to , the digital cushion is "Modified subcutaneous tissue composed of fat, connective and elastic tissue. The digital cushion is the sum of the cuneate (frog) and toric (bulbar) cushions. ". What we need to know is that when it's really healthy (as in mustangs and unshod well exercised horses), it has a robust size and dense texture.

The Wall Crack

As I said above, we were concerned about how this crack would respond to being released from shoes. One of the first things that I realized after pulling her shoes was that the shoe offered very little support or protection to the edge of the crack or the rear of the foot.

Even with the shoe in place, the ragged edge jutted out to the side where it could catch on a piece of rope or wire fence and allow that portion of the wall to be wrenched outward.

When I began beveling the unshod foot, I thinned the wall so that if the edge did catch something, the weakened edge would bend or tear without causing much damage. The high bevel on this portion of the wall would also allow that wall section to wear faster so that the upward flare that is seen distorting the coronet band in the picture below.

Wry Foot

I barely knew what a Wry Foot was 6 months ago! I understood that it involved a distorted and imbalanced shape, but wasn't sure what caused the imbalance or how to go about fixing it other than to apply a good, moderate trim. Now I understand that it is a shape that results from a horse favoring either an inner or outer wall in a way that causes the weighted wall to shorten or bow under the hoof while the other un weighted wall gets longer or flares outward. In Nippers case, Thrush made her frogs extremely uncomfortable so she walked on her inside walls so that her foot wouldn't expand and contract (known as "hoof mechanism") as it would if her walls were weighted evenly.

My first "wry foot" was on a horse I didn't trim initially. Breeze belongs to friend Karen Sullivan, who pulled her shoes on a whim and carefully started trimming her.

My first real wry foot client horse is Samson whose web pages need updating. I had discovered that thrush was causing his wry foot shape when his vet X-rayed his foot.

Linda Cowles Hoof Care
Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
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