Founder Case Study - D

In June I got a phone call regarding a foundered pony. The pony had foundered the previous November, hadn't recovered, was lying down a lot, and the owner was considering euthanasia. A friend of the owner, who had attended one of my clinics, urged the owner to hold off on euthanizing the mare and to let her contact me.

I agreed to trim the pony and my first visit was on June 19, 2013. I told the owner that I considered it to be a mild case - which I think shocked everyone - but in my experience, the case was not as severe as many. To my pleasant surprise, the owner's vet was on board with the idea of a natural trim.

When I trim a foundered horse, especially at the first trim, my whole focus is on the horse, and I frequently don't take any photos. Which I have come to regret. Luckily, the owner's friend was there and she did take photos. The soles are blue/purple, as the pony had been in boots and Blu-Kote had been sprayed on the soles.

Day One: RF sole pre-trim 6-19-13

Day One:  RF sole pre-trim 6-19-13.

Not a pretty sight, but to me it's much better than coming in and finding a foot that has been over trimmed in an effort to "fix" it. I would prefer to start with a clean slate.

You can see how long the back of the foot is from hairline (barely visible in the photo) to the sole. Many would consider this to be tall heels - but in fact this is the hoof capsule having ridden up the leg. The heels themselves were not more than 1/4 inch above the sole and were not trimmed.

Day One: RF sole mid-trim 6-19-13

This is the RF sole mid-trim. It still needs to go on the hoof stand to smooth the sharp edges. The lamellar wedge is visible.

It is important in founder to keep the wall at sole level, otherwise room is left for the coffin bone to press the sole down, which forces the hoof capsule further up the leg. (Which is how sole penetration happens.)

I can hear lots of people complaining that I didn't trim the heels. But the horse needs a place to stand. A foundered horse will stand on its toe, rather than stand on the back of the foot, when the heels have been trimmed lower than the sole dictates. Trimming of the heels below where the sole indicates is probably the major reason why founder recovery takes more than a few months.
Day One: RF lateral post trim 6-19-13 This is the LF lateral post trim. This is the pony's better foot. The RF was the worst. It is the only non-sole shot we have for that day, unfortunately.
 Day One: LF sole mid-trim This is the LF sole mid-trim, before being smoothed on the hoof stand. The heels were leveled at 1/4 inch above the sole, the toe beveled from in front of the sole ridge outward, and the rest of the wall taken down to sole level.

Below is a photo of the pony taken the day after the trim. Her owner was very excited to find her up in the morning and not lying down, and as the photo shows, she was very comfortable.

Many will be shocked to see her on grass. But that is really part of the healing process. If her area was not so large, she would not even be wearing a muzzle.

Full body shot day after the trim
Day 8 - June 27, 2013. Because June 19th was the first trim, I knew the foot would respond quickly and need trimming before I could return in 4 weeks. The owner's friend was enlisted to trim weekly until then. The photos below were taken prior to and after her trim, which was according to my instructions.
 foal These photos are not terrific, due in no small part to the pony's filly foal who was very curious and playful. (She is shedding out from chestnut to grey/roan.) But they still show what's going on. There are not many photos since it was so hard to take them with just the owner and her friend.
 Day 8: LF sole pre-trim 6-27-13 This photo shows that only 8 days after the initial trim, the frog is more open, the heels have decontracted and are higher above the sole, asking to be trimmed again, as is some of the wall.
 Day 8: LF sole post trim LF sole post trim. Has natural concavity - not concavity that was carved in. Starting to look normal!
 Day 8: RF sole pre and post trim

This is the RF sole, post trim above and pre-trim below.

If you compare the angle of the sole from Day 1 to now, you can see that it no longer points down, but is not pointing up from the frog. Again, a change made by the foot in only 8 days, and not artificially created by carving sole.

The frog which was far below the heels on Day One, is now in a more natural position as well. The red arrow points to the sole ridge - the point where the foot is saying it wants its toe to be.

What appears to be wall growth on the left side of the hoof (left photo) is not "growth" but the amount the sole has moved up - leaving the wall standing where it was. The same is true of the new heel height - things inside have moved up - which is just what we want. The heels were trimmed back down to 1/4 inch above the sole.

 Day 8: RF sole post trim

Here is the RF sole, post trim on June 27. Compare it to what it looked like on July 1st, only 5 days later.

This is the beauty of letting nature do the work. Instead of a trimmer trying to force the foot, the foot actually is allowed to HEAL and regain correct form on its own - and much much faster than with a "normal" barefoot trim.

 Day 13: RF sole post trim RF July 1, 2013. The frog is more open and has regained a decent shape. The sole is looking better and the bruising has grown out a great deal. The wall is tighter to the sole and the bars are becoming better defined. The foot is looking more normal.
Day 31: RF sole post trim RF sole post trim July 19th.  Look at the concavity that has formed.  Compare it with the photo from 31 days earlier (below left).  Nature at work.
RF sole Day 1 post trim RF sole June 19th

Day 31: LF lateral post trim

To the left is the LF lateral view on July 19th, exactly one month after the first trim.

Below is the lateral shot from June 19th.

You can see that the back of the foot is much closer to the ground in the photo to the left, despite - really because of - the fact the heels were never trimmed lower than 1/4 inch above the sole.

Day One: RF lateral post trim 6-19-13

The hairline is at a better angle, not so straight (parallel to the ground) as in the June 19th photo to the left, but sloped naturally. 

More dramatic is the medial view of the RF in the July 19th photo above left. Remember how much foot was between the hairline and the sole? All that has changed.



 Day 31: RF lateral post trim

Though this foot doesn't look attractive, what is important is that it has grown out a full third of the way. In only one month. That is how fast nature works when we respect it and don't try to force our ideas onto the foot.

What is even more important is that the pony - exactly one month from first trim - was walking comfortably on concrete! See video below. From facing euthanasia to walking on concrete in 31 days.

So many of the things done to foundered horses do not help them, but in fact delay their progress, sometimes indefinitely. This pony is still fat and still on grass. Evidence that nature knows how to handle founder when given only the help the hoof requests.
My ears are burning from the negative comments that many will make about this trim.  But as a horse owner, which would you prefer?  A sound horse almost better in 4 weeks.  Or a lame horse with a "pretty" foot?
Left front Aug 23, 2013 - 8 weeks 
Above is an angle shot of the LF sole taken Aug 23, 2013. On the right is the same foot on June 19th. This shows that it is not trimming the heels down to the sole level that lowers the heels. In both shots the heels are about the same height above the sole, yet the heels are much lower now than in June. I cannot stress enough that the horse must be allowed to handle his/her own heels. And they will!
 LF sole Aug 23, 2013 This is the left front sole from another angle. The foot is starting to look normal, and the frog is even better looking than 4 weeks ago.
RF August 23, 2013

Above left is a medial shot of the right front taken Aug 23, 2013. My cell phone is clearly not very good as a camera - the June photo on the right is crystal clear - but it was taken with a real camera, and a high quality one. What this photo shows is the amount the back of the foot has changed. In the June photo (right) there is more than 4 inches between the hairline and the bottom of the foot (my whole hand can be seen next to it). Now there is half of that.

Also shown is the amount of new growth in 8 weeks. The black arrow points to where the new growth meets the old.

Below is a video shot on Aug 23, 2013, showing the pony walking soundly on gravel and concrete. She is actually being held to a walk!



I will not be doing her next trim, as she is going away to another farm so that her baby can be weaned there. The gentleman, a farrier, who will be taking care of her was there on Friday watching and asking questions. (He is the one leading her in the video.) He has read the HGM trim book, and even passed it on to a friend. The pony will be in good hands - and all she has to do is finish growing out her feet!

If I get update photos I will post, as well as posting photos when she returns.

 Left front post trim 10-3-13

I got post trim photos yesterday, they are not taken from ground level, and there were no sole shots. But I am grateful that I got any photos! And video is supposed to be coming in a few days.

This is the left front. Progress is evident. That big ridge is nearly grown out and the new growth at the top inch looks great!  She is clearly standing well and weighting the foot.   

RF post trim 10-3-13

This is the right front, the worst foot, and it too is looking very good. The top inch is great.

The most important thing is that Dappy has been sound since the second trim, and was nearly sound after the first trim.

Videos from Oct 1, 2013




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