A club foot generally a bit of a swear word in our house the frustration of the thought of a horse being present to me with a fault and always wondering if it could have been fixed earlier in life. It’s not that it’s the end of the world for that horse It just up against it ,although over the last few months I have come across an ever increasing amount of these problems, why.

Most club feet are a genetic conformation fault and most can be traced back through the breeding of the particular horse normally the Dam or Grandam, but clubby box hoof can also be caused as a result of poor or no hoof care, bad trimming methods, or just really bad luck.

Club foot will not spell the end to your young horse, but it will clearly be limited in a racing environment or for on selling like yearling sales, exporting etc. because of its clear fault.

As for the club foot nature takes over and realigns itself almost as soon as it born, nature has an amazing effect on what becomes normal to that horse, it will align its foot inside the hoof p1,p2,p3 will line up in a more up-right position and we find this horse will have a perfect life with a bit of regular hoof care he/she will stay sound and perform well although racing can be another thing all together.

As I write this on the plane to Auckland to shoe I’m trying to think of any really top horses I have shod or that raced with a club foot and can’t really think of any but there probably has been some over the years . We must remember that club foot are graded from boxy to really stood up right, they aren’t just classified as club, we rate them in a 0-10 range. I have shod many horses with boxy feet with prefect success the one of the best and fastest mares I have shod had a boxy foot. I also trained one a few years back ( Bumper Harvest ) who I experimented on a few times by putting the same size shoe on both feet and gluing it up with Vettec to form two hooves with the same pastern alignment. At that time I was of the way of thinking this would help him, but maybe all it really did was make me feel better by thinking that as they were the same they would work the same as normal hooves. It probably helped his gait a little but on the flip side he was landing incorrectly and breaking over against the way the boney columns had formed, and for the way nature intended, which was probably why it resulted in him only really winning on the grass.

Club feet can be reversed but only as a young horse/foal. I am sure not enough attention is taken when these foals are born and too many times the horse arrives at my shoeing bay and the trainer puts his hands on his hips and says fix this. We need to be trimming our foals’ feet within 11 weeks of age so this then sets a clean slate for correct hoof growth. Foals are born with soft hooves and the basic set up is formed in the early stages. When they stand up the coffin bone etc. align and this is when we need to be engineering a correct hoof growth. It is honestly too late as a weanling to try and correct anything abnormal.

A horse will always have a dominating hoof, where one is bigger than the other, and as farriers we always start working with this full foot when shoeing or trimming so we don’t over trim the small hoof which would result in an unbalanced hoof, but now with my hoof line I can correctly balance a club foot every time. With an older horse, when the fault is set and non-reversible, as much as we want to cut the heel down and grow out its toe we must remember this hoof needs to be trimmed with a 50/50 balance from the centre of articulation (the direct middle of the hoof) and knowing where the critical junction of the heels end we can now measure to the centre of articulation and automatically know where the toe must end. It all sounds rather confusing but it is what I have trained for, you can pull me aside to explain in depth later, it will appear upright and clubbed but that’s what it is a club foot and it needs to be treated like one. Even if the opposite hoof appears prefect they both need to be balanced using to the way they are aligned. In NZ farriers don’t work with vets enough to radiograph hooves and balance/trim hooves with x-rays so we can insure that it then has prefect alignment. Studs and breeding barns also need to take control of this problem because it is clearly costing people money in the long run and the bottom line is that we need to have these foals trimmed earlier.

Shoeing horse that hit their knees, shins, pasterns or cross fire (part 2)

Article written and published in the NZ Harness Racing Weekly

When a horse drives through and hits the opposite shin on the splint bone with his opposite front hoof, you will find that he generally has a straight pastern angle and is a daisy-cutting type pacer.

These horses need to be kept short and shod with a square toe that protrudes over the outside toe of the hoof.

The reason for this is to give the horse more control over how he leaves the ground and stops the horse from turning his hoof in towards the shin on leaving the ground.

I have found it best to lower the hoof just a little on the inside toe because when these types of horses are lowered on the outside toe they immediately hit their shins much worse.

Horses that hit their front pasterns with their hind feet are a major worry as they are generally horses that have enormous ability.

I have found that the heavier shoe that you put on the hind feet of these horses the more they will hit.

I have had the best results by shoeing these horses level or a little lower on the outside toe and putting a very light shoe on the hind feet, sometimes with a small cog on the outside heel.

If this is not sufficient I then put a toe-diamond shoe with a cog on the hind feet.

The reason for the diamond toe is to stop the horse hitting with the steel of the shoe as the hoof.

This is a problem we see all the time.

I see many cases of interfering, especially in young horses. I am working on a horse in Auckland at the moment that is hitting at a slow speed. We have shod him in behind with a diamond tie half round with a swedge, which is managing to keep him from this problem.

Three-quarter hind shoes have worked well in the past.

We also have to ensure that we have the hoof balanced correctly and also that these server shoes such as cogs etc should only be used as a bandaid because they cause a lot of soreness with prolonged use.

Adam White Farrier