Crossposting from EC

Eleanor Kellon, VMD <drkellon@...>

I want to take a minute here to explain another important reason why
general discussions of barefoot vs shoes are not appropriate for this

**Laminitic feet are not normal**

Obvious? Maybe, but when discussions turn to general they quickly
forget that fact.

For example, let's take one hot point: "hoof mechanism", aka hoof
expansion on weightbearing, which involves the weight coming down
through the bone column (with traction on the laminae), dorsal hoof
wall moving back, expansion at the quarters and heels, dropping of
the frog and sole.

For the hoof to heal, the hoof capsule has to be properly positioned
around the bone to transfer forces in a normal way. This is true for
both laminitics and normal hooves. A correct trim also encourages
normal "hoof mechanism". However, the similarities stop there. The
laminitic hoof will not be capable of withstanding the forces of
weightbearing in a normal manner for the simple reason that it's not
normal. As someone else posted on that thread, "support" is an
illusion. It doesn't matter what you put under the horse's foot, if
you put the full weight of the horse through "hoof mechanism" onto a
hoof with weakened laminae they'll be damaged further. The white line
spreading and quarter flaring you see in laminitic feet occur as a
result of weightbearing on hooves with damaged laminae.

Therefore, while it is critical to trim a laminitic foot to a normal
alignment of the hoof capsule with the internal structures, the
purpose is to relieve abnormal forces that would do even more damage
and to encourage correct hoof wall growth, but not to encourage hoof
mechanism. In fact, an equally important part of treating laminitic
feet is to discourage full hoof mechanism - by padding, sand,
styrofoam, etc. Soft surfaces are more comfortable, and safe, because
there is minimal hoof expansion/hoof mechanism on soft surfaces.
Shoes (or hoof casts) also limit hoof expansion and give the
professional more options in unloading particularly weakened areas of
the hoof if that is needed, but have a major drawback of not allowing
easy access to the hoof for frequent trims and long term they do
result in feet that are not as structural sound and "robust" as bare
feet. I completely agree with Abby that most feet can be dealt with
very effectively with correct trimming, pads and boots and do not
require shoes or casts, but some do benefit and when dealing with a
laminitic horse, especially a chronic case with longstanding hoof
deformity, you should never limit your treatment options based on
arguments that really don't apply to laminitic feet.

For further general discussion of laminitic vs normal feet, please
take it over to ECHoof, but anyone who wants to discuss their
individual horse, do it here.