"My mare had a disaster at the trainer's,"
writes Jo-Ann Kennedy of Saskatchewan. "She had a tie stall fall apart
on her and, from what I gather, she stood a long time in a stressful position.
Then she foundered and I was not aware until a week later. (These people
don't touch my horse anymore!) That was in July of the summer before
last. She got through all that okay, but the following February her hooves
started falling apart.
"From what I understand the hoof was
growing out and the founder damage to the hoof was causing it to lose shape
at the heels. Her heels were flaring out. My farrier tried shoeing and all
seemed to be okay until last July. He shod her and stated that his goal
was to get her on a smaller shoe because of the flares.
a bit concerned so I found another farrier. He says the founder is showing
in the heels and she does not need smaller shoes; they would do more damage.
His theory is that hooves grow where there is pressure, so he mixed up some
filler and shaped her hooves as they normally would be, so the hooves would
grow out that way. Then he shoed her.
"I've had this process
done for about 5 or 6 times and things seem to be going okay. However, we
live in a cold winter climate and the filler cracks off. Her hooves still
look concave at the heels: they curve in up top and flare out on the ground,
and her heels are really down. For a few times my farrier put a leather
shim under her shoes to lift the heels, but he thinks maybe continuing to
do that will stop the heel from growing. What do you think?
a tough horse and seems to have no lameness. It was suggested that I leave
her barefoot for two months, but I think if I do we could get a good cold
spell and she could lose a chunk of hoof and I'll be back to square
one. I give her MSM and a big dose of biotin daily. I'm convinced they
help the hoof wall as it grows. I want to do the best possible to get this
horse's feet well again.
"I have become quite confident
in this farrier now, but he is moving away. I will not go back to the first
one after seeing his work on other horses. Can I do anything else, or am
I doing things right?"
Laminitis and resulting founder (sinking
of the coffin bone) are serious and complicated diseases, and what works
on one horse may cripple another. The best thing a horse owner can do is
get help from the best equine veterinarian and farrier that can be found.
The veterinarian should have a good working relationship with one or more
farriers he or she trusts. You can get a list of American Farrier's
Association certified farriers in your area by calling 606-233-7411. Ask
for case histories and references.
I personally don't like to
use filler on foundered horses. I like to see what the feet are doing and
how they look as they grow out. The founder rings take about a year to grow
down to the ground. At that time I can usually tell how much permanent damage
founder has done to the hoof. Filler can also trap debris, and may cause
an abscess in the hoof not a good thing.
One of the best methods
for treating founder is with frog support, which may be done by using a
heart bar shoe applied by a farrier who is experienced in its usage. Another
method that works well is to use a frog support pad between the hoof and
a flat shoe made to fit the trimmed hoof. The pad may be purchased ready-made
from any horseshoe supply store or may be made as follows:
a leather or plastic pad to fit the hoof and shoe, then cut a wedge from
a second leather pad. The wedge should be the same shape and size as the
frog. Carefully mark the full pad as to were the frog is. Using short roofing
nails, nail the wedge to the full pad so the wedge covers the frog when
the shoe is nailed on. The heads of the roofing nails must be on the hoof
side of the pad, with the ends bent over and pounded down on the ground
side of the pad assembly. Two nails are enough, and please remember: pointy
ends of the nails down, away from the hoof.
Nail the shoe and
pad assembly to the trimmed hoof. The hoof wall at the toe may be rasped
back to the white line to take support off the toe. The spaces between the
pad and hoof should be packed with silicone caulking or other soft pliable
packing. Frog support treatment takes weight off the hoof wall and puts
some of the weight on the frog, and also supports the leg's bone column
and helps keep the coffin bone from rotating down. As I said at the outset,
laminitis and the resulting founder are complex, and so are the treatments.
Since each case is different, a good farrier and vet team should be involved
in any treatment of founder.
With new treatments and medications,
many foundered horses make full recovery, I hope yours will, too.