Complicated Founder Trim, Photos of Mel
Our 12H, 27 year old Hackney pony, Mel (IR, possible
early Cushings, hypothyroid, mild Iron Overload,
anemic, "allergic"), is recovering from a severe and
lengthy founder that started Sept 8. It was a trim
that put him over the edge.
I have titled this "complicated" because Mel's
unfoundered front feet are not a normal shape. I am
guessing that this may be due to his first 20 years as
a show pony (long hoof, heavy shoes and pads to
enhance Hackney "action").
We hope the hoof experts can help us out--and
anyone else with experience too. Sorry if this gets
too long, complicated and intense. We desperately
need detailed trimming advice from someone
knowledgable and who has consistent success with
barefoot founder rehab. The trim has been our
biggest challenge of DDT for a long time . It was a
trim that triggered laminitis and this subsequent
second founder. I think it was improper trimming that
also resulted in the first founder. We need to stop
founder from becoming an annual event.
I have visited a few of the websites often mentioned
here, but Mels' feet are so deformed it's sometimes
hard to translate. I haven't seen a pic of feet that
look like his. It's been awhile since I've been
able to review websites because I have VERY limited
computer access and these sites are huge. If you send
me to a site, please specify the page or heading to
We will post again for discussion of diet and labs.
There are not many farriers where we are and the new
one is not very encouraging , "He's 27 years old!!! "
(meaning be prepared with the shovel!?) Without the
current farrier, we are out of options and it's back
to me again. I really fear for Mel, not because of
his age, but for lack of a proper trim.
Special thanks go to LeeAnne, Newmarket Ont. She
kindly tweaked, posted and tweaked again our photos of
Mel--all 29 of them!!!
The posted photos were taken Dec 29, 2007, 9 days
after his last trim. The album "Mel the Pony" is
This is a long post. It is divided under the
Concerns About Methods of New Farrier
Background Information -general, founder 1 & 2
Hoof Dimensions Appendix -measurements for scale
and depth: hoof dimensions, depth of collateral
grooves, concavity at tip of frog, deviation at the
CONCERNS ABOUT METHODS OF NEW FARRIER (CAM)
From the first time he trimmed Mel on Sept 25 (during
his laminitis attack), the new farrier used a v-shaped
tool to notch both sides of the frog at the heel where
the frog and hoof wall meet. He says it will widen
the heel. I have not seen mention of this method on
this list or on the few websites I have visited. So
far, I have not seen a change in the heels. It does
make it easier to pick out the foot.
CAM #1 Is notching a wise thing to do? Does it
leave less support for the heel or less frog contact
with the ground? Does it alter hoof mechanism in any
In Dec, Mel was walking freely with better energy and
higher head carriage compared to a year ago-- until
his last trim Dec 20. For 9 days after, Back Left was
warm, he did not want to put any weight on it and was
walking lame, even with packing Uptite Poultice in
both hinds every night. The farrier scooped and
scooped ALOT of sole from both hind feet especially in
the area either side and beyond the tip of the frog to
the toe [into area of the toe callous]. As he scooped
the sole, I could see faint vertical lines of blood in
the now exposed hoof wall at the toes, before it was
trimmed off. This was in both hind feet. I am
estimating he trimmed 1/2 inch of wall all around. I
think the notch on the lateral side on Back Left
(view 6) is too deep and caused alot of pain.
CAM #2 Is the notch necessary for his hind feet? I
thought they were shaped OK and not contracted.
CAM #3 Did he trim the hoof walls too short?
CAM #4 Do you scoop that much from the soles if the
walls need trimming because they are too long, but the
sole is even with the wall (no wall extending past
At the Nov 22 trim, the farrier did not take much off
the front heels, despite my asking if the heels were
too long. The coronary bands were "soft". By Dec
20, the coronary bands were "hard" and swollen. The
new growth at the (front view ) coronary band (which
was just starting to show) appeared vertical and then
a large change of angle. A deep groove and crusty
surface separation of 1/16" appear (layers of
delamination ) where the angle changes. (Separation
does not appear well in the pics, since I had just
washed the hoof. It looks even worse today, Jan 11).
The farrier wanted to cut a groove in the hoof
wall with a grinder to relieve pressure on the
coronary band. He said we would "see that drop down
before I leave...I do it all the time."
I would not allow him to do this. I did not like
the sound of anything "dropping". I have not heard of
this procedure and to my knowledge, no one on this
list has recommended such a thing.
CAM #4 Please comment on this procedure. Did I do
the right thing? Would this groove have caused
further problems? I was concerned about weakening the
wall and /or possible infections.
1a. Both front heels look too long to me. (and they
have grown alot since these pics were taken). If the
measurements provided can be a guide to establish
scale (see "Hoof Dimensions Appendix" at the end of
this post), exactly how much would you take off the
1b. How do you determine how much heel to take off a
1c. The medial heels on both front feet curve
inwards. (See front feet views 5 & 6). I'm not sure
if this is "crushed heels" or another term. Will
these ever straighten out? How do we do it?
1d. I have been wondering about this area on the hoof
wall where it starts to curve in. Could it be where
P3 ends inside the hoof? What do you think?
1d. Mel always had quite upright pasterns. When I
was trimming, I tried to keep the hoof wall growing
down at the same angle as the pastern. It was a
guide for heel height. I placed a straight edge at
the centre of the coronary band and pressed the one
end down against the pastern and would adjust the
Was this a correct thing to do? Does
the angle of the hoof wall at the toe vs. the ground
have any correlation with the angle of the pastern?
2.a Are the toes backed up enough on the front feet?
2b. How do you determine how far to back up the toes?
The farrier is concerned about him going over at the
3a. Side to side balancing these asymmetrical front
feet is tough. The farrier is aiming to keep the new
growth at the front centre of the hoof growing at a
90 degree angle to the ground (disregard the old wall
below the angle change). At the same time we are
trying to keep the footprint in a vertical plane 90*
to the cannon bone (like capital T). The plane of the
footprint is the horizontal part and the cannon bone
the the vertical part of the T. Are we on the right
3b. We are having problems. Sometimes the footprint
is totally flat (180* plane) but the T does not end up
at 90*. Is there some trick that is more reliable
than sighting with your eye? It seems to depend
where you place your head over that heel.
3c. If it is impossible to get both vertical growth
at the coronary band and the T at 90* with these feet,
is one parameter more important than the other to get
4b. Mel has been standing with back feet toed out
since before Sept 2006. He used to stand straight.
Is this a result of the trim of the back feet or could
it be due to another problem? If it's the trim how do
we straighten him out?
4c. The flare on Back Left (view 3) lateral heel has
been there since before Sept 2006. How do we get rid
of it? I had been rasping the outer wall vertically
at the area of the flare.
4d. Any other problems with these back feet? Are
they trimmed OK?
5. Are monthly trims frequent enough? How can you
6. A few months ago I thought it might be possible to
correct the uneven heels on the front feet. Now I
doubt it. Given the asymmetrical solar concavity
(steeper and more concave on medial vs. flatter on
lateral), it's as if P3 is tilted inside the wall. Do
you have any explantion or comment?
7a. Please comment on exercise. Will hand-walking
with hooves as pictured cause further damage? Should
we hold off until he is trimmed again (with front
7b. Have not been putting him in the very small
outdoor pen with his buddy as they joust and twist
feet alot. Are we right to keep them separated? For
8a. We have not been padding his feet. He stands on
anti-fatigue mats in his stall or in the aisle, rubber
mats outside. He is not showing any sign on pain
walking outside on grass or snow, or if we must cross
over a bit of packed gravel for a few steps. Have
been avoiding hard ground when it is frozen. Is this
OK? Does he need protection from the cold if we are
walking on the snow, not just standing?
8b. What brand of hoof boot would be suitable and
give the best fit for the shape and size of his feet?
Will probably have to order them from the U.S. and
will not be returnable.
9. Is there anything we need to address with these
feet that you haven't mentioned yet or need to
elaborate more on?
10. He is wearing wool socks opened at the toe, on
his front legs, like leg warmers to just below the
knee. They are pulled down over the hoof to the toe,
but the sole is open to the floor. Would it be better
to pull the socks over the knees? They are lots long
Mel came to us 7 years ago and has been barefoot
for the duration. Despite how his feet look, he was
quite sound, lively and eager when driven at all
gaits, even on gravel. He displayed tremendous
stamina especially at his favorite, fast trot. I did
not know very much about hooves, or that anything
could be wrong with his. Our very experienced
(previous) farrier always told me "There's nothing
wrong with his feet" even though I
Laminitis Oct 2006 (after 20 min of grass). Lateral
photos of front feet taken March 2007 show angle
changes FR toe 11 degrees, FL toe 13 degrees
(measured using math set protractor).
When heels are too high or toes not backed up
enough, Mel showed muscle discomfort by chewing elbow
and chest (pectoral) areas. Chewing stopped when trim
I very very reluctantly took over trimming when
our previous farrier would not back up the toes and
there didn't seem to be anyone else available. (Yes,
yikes!) I backed up his toes March 2007 and continued
to trim until the Sept 8 disaster.
On current photos (Dec 29, 2007), the roughly
rasped areas on the front toes at ground level (no
periople showing) is where this flare was located.
Flare removed Sept 8.
Sept 8 2007. Many other factors involved (subject for
another post), but hoof trim today sends Mel into
laminitis. He is not walking, is stiff, sore, lying
down until the end of October.
Sept 19. Xrays taken (had to wait)
Sept 21. Radiology Report: All joints (4 views each
front foot) were very good "for 27 years old". No
sign of sidebone, ringbone, no spurs on P3, navicular
bones and lateral cartilages good. Vet was very
surprised given how his feet actually look.
Front Left 1-2 degrees rotation
Front Right 5 degrees rotation
Sole under P3 on Front Right approx 1/2"
Photos taken Sept 25 "before trim" and Oct 7 "after
Sept 27. Finally!! [had to wait] First trim by new
farrier (recommended by Xray vet) He thinks monthly
schedule OK so next appts Oct 25, Nov 22 & Dec 20.
Nov 8. Recall visit to adjust medial walls on front
feet at toe. They are pressing deeper dents into
Nov 14. Mel chewing muscles of forearm and medial
coronary bands of front legs. Farrier unavailable, so
I lower heels a bit and back up toe myself to give
relief. Chewing stops.
HOOF DIMENSIONS APPENDIX
To give a sense of scale to the photos, I have made
measurements of the feet Jan 5, 2008:
1. For front and lateral views labelled 1,2,4
--measurements made vertically along centre front of
Front Feet----measure of the straight part of
hoof wall between the upper edge of the toe where it
is backed up, to the point where the angle changes.
[***NOT from ground to coronary band]
Front Left 2 1/16" straight part
Front Right 2 1/8" straight part
Back Feet---measure between upper edge of the
toe where it is backed up, to coronary band. [***NOT
from ground level to coronary band]
Back Right 2 5/8"
Back Left 2 1/2"
2. For sole views labelled 5
---maximum width and length of hoof wall where it
rests on the ground.
Front Left 3 3/16" W x 4 1/8" L
Front Right 3 3/16" W x 4" L
Back Right 3 1/2" W x 4 1/8" L
Back Left 3 1/2" W x 4 1/8" L
3. Depth & Concavity----useful for views 5 and 6
Vertical Depth of Collateral Groove
---measured deepest point at heel between bars
and frog to ground level: medial & lateral
Vertical Distance from Tip of the Frog at the sole to
Front Left medial 3/4" (=12/16")
Front Right medial 1"
Back Right medial 5/8"
frog 1/4" (=4/16")
Back Left medial 5/8" (=10/16")
4. Front Heels Curl Under (In)---views 5 and 6
The medial heels on both front feet do not grow out
straight, but curve inwards.
On Front Right (sole view 5) at the 4 o'clock postion
(where tip of the frog = 12 o'clock) a 3/8" length of
the good wall deviates in by 1/8".
On Front Left (sole view 5) at the 8 o'clock positon
(where tip of the frog = 12 o'clock), 1/4" of hoof
wall deviates in by 1/8".
Thank you to anyone who has made it to the end of this
very long post. Sorry if it was too long. I hope you
can help us. I don't know where else to turn.
Eva and Mel
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This is an excellent set of photos which allow, and will result in, practical advice being given.
Too often advice is asked on photos taken at inappropriate and unuseful angles. These are appropriate and useful.
I am looking forward to going through them - I am sure others will respond before I get the chance.
I don't think it is practical to answer everything in one go.
The first thing I look at in photos of feet is to see how straight the tubules are and the evenness of the growth rings. A hoof whose tubules run straight to the ground and the growth rings run evenly around the foot indicates an even spread of the forces applied to it from inside and outside. Any deviation of either of these parameters indicates the response of the hoof to uneven distribution of forces on it or in it. What we have to do is to try to work out if any of the deviations are likely to be of any significance.
From the side, we can see that the new growth right at the top of the hoof seems to be at a different angle to the older growth - certainly the front feet, but I think probably in the hinds as well.
The growth rings widen from the front of the feet to the heels.
Both of these indicative of laminitis changes.
From in front and behind, different heel heights and unlevel coronet line and growth rings wavy on the front wall.
Indicates medio-lateral imbalance.
The problem with laminitis combined with medio-lateral imbalance is that the laminal separation and instability of the bone, as well as down the front wall, will be more on the side that the pedal bone is leaning onto than the other side.
These are things to think about that you can apply to replies from others - I see Lynn has already made some good comments. I will try to add some more specific advice tomorrow.
When I first read your post I was scared to even look at the
pictures - I expected much worse. They actually do not look that bad
at all! :-)
You already have gotten a lot of good feedback. I am an equine
massage therapist who also does barefoot trimming and I follow the
Bowker/Ramey school of thought primarily! It is imortant that we
always listen to the horses (feet) because they will tell us what
First I need to point out that as a massage therapist I know that
hoof wear patterns can also be the result of postural habits and how
the horse prefers to use himself! Humans will also wear the soles of
their shoes and heels in a predictable pattern for the same reason.
You horse is most likely left side dominant, which means his left
side is stronger. I can see this by the difference in the front feet,
the left is slightly flatter while the righ front is more upright.
When I see that, I usually confirm this by looking at the shoulders
from behind because the dominant shoulder will also show me more
muscle development :-) The dominant foot tends to be wider and
flatter because it takes more load, not unlike the use of a humans
domiant hand, that for this reason also tends to be more developed.
Your horse also shows me the typical wear patterns that are related
to side dominance - the non-dominant leg tends to be pulled in more
towards the midline, hence the RF wears more on the outside for that
reason. The LF is the opposite - it flares to the outside because he
wears/steps more on the inside edge of the hoof. It is vital for
those reasons that the heels are trimmed balanced. I can see that
they are unlevel, especially in the dominant LF (which is typical for
the domianant front foot, more or less). The collateral grooves can
be used as a measurement and the depth of both should be equal in the
My gelding is right side dominant and shows a very similar pattern,
just reversed and he has no laminitis issues.
Bottom line, like already mentioned, the heels of the front feet are
too high. That by itself causes contraction! I am still not quite
certain though what type of opening cut the farrier did. However, to
date, I have not heard this to be used to open up contracted hooves -
lowering the heels (gradually - not all at once) seems to be of
Essentially your horse's front feet should look more like the hinds
all the way around. I do not necessarily agree that the toes need
more agressive backing. However, the sole is always my guideline - I
will not trim a horse shorter than waht the sole plane on the bottom
tells me, because this could potentially sore the horse and is the
last thing we need in an IR challenged horse.
Your horse also shows me a considerable amount of retained sole in
the front. Again, that should not be carved out. It is an indication
to me, from what I have learned, that the horse still needs it there.
If not, it would simply exfoliate. However, it may also be a sign
that your horse does not get enough movement to stimulate the release
of excess sole and to grow a healthier hoof overall.
The ripples and lines on the hoofwall show me too that your horse is
still affected by his diet. The hoofwall to laminae connection, as it
grows down from the coronet band, is still affected metabolically and
not as consistently tight as it should be. The deeper clefts in the
back of the frogs in the front hooves are another tell tale sign that
diet continues to be a factor for this horse. Pete Ramey has used the
remedy below to successfully treat such cases, because even if no or
tenderness is present, the deeper clefts should be treated, just in
For years I've searched for the perfect thrush medicine. Most
products that kill the fungi and bacteria also kill living tissue;
contributing to the problem. I use a 50/50 mix of Triple Antibiotic
Ointment and Athletes Foot Cream (1% Clotrimazole) (for humans; over
the counter at any pharmacy). I mix it thoroughly and put it in a
60cc catheter-tip syringe (available from any vet) (The syringe may
well be more important than the cream, as it allows deep penetration
to the core of the problem). Mix the products in a Tupperware bowl,
then spoon in or 'top load' 15cc with a butter knife. I have my horse
owners treat deep into central cleft daily until no cleft is present.
No need to squirt it all over the frog; just a pea-sized dab at the
very bottom of the central sulcus. To date, I've seen it eliminate
deep, sensitive central frog clefts in 100% of cases within 2 months.
(A first, with every treatment I've ever used, though past experience
tells me we'll never find a product that works on every case in every
As you probably already know, to successfully treat an IR and/or
Cushings horse it is vital to have the proper diet, trim and enough
exercise. Exercise alone helps to reduce insulin levels quite
considerably. Cannot stress the exercise part enough :-) Best
I forgot to add - you may want to consider massage therapy to address
the muscles that might affect the front hoof wear pattern and do
specific exercise that will also tone weaker muscles that may be
contributing to the postural habits here. I good bodyworker should be
able to help you with both :-)
--- In EquineCushings@..., "Ute" <ute@...> wrote:
at all! :-)how
the horse prefers to use himself! Humans will also wear the solesof
their shoes and heels in a predictable pattern for the same reason.feet,
the left is slightly flatter while the righ front is more upright.that
reason. The LF is the opposite - it flares to the outside becausehe
wears/steps more on the inside edge of the hoof. It is vital forfor
the domianant front foot, more or less). The collateral grooves canthe
too high. That by itself causes contraction! I am still not quiteto
date, I have not heard this to be used to open up contractedhooves -
lowering the heels (gradually - not all at once) seems to be ofI
will not trim a horse shorter than waht the sole plane on thebottom
tells me, because this could potentially sore the horse and is theindication
to me, from what I have learned, that the horse still needs itthere.
If not, it would simply exfoliate. However, it may also be a signrelease
of excess sole and to grow a healthier hoof overall.is
still affected by his diet. The hoofwall to laminae connection, asit
grows down from the coronet band, is still affected metabolicallyand
not as consistently tight as it should be. The deeper clefts in thethat
diet continues to be a factor for this horse. Pete Ramey has usedthe
remedy below to successfully treat such cases, because even if noor
tenderness is present, the deeper clefts should be treated, just inover
the counter at any pharmacy). I mix it thoroughly and put it in apenetration
to the core of the problem). Mix the products in a Tupperware bowl,horse
owners treat deep into central cleft daily until no cleft ispresent.
No need to squirt it all over the frog; just a pea-sized dab at themonths.
(A first, with every treatment I've ever used, though pastexperience
tells me we'll never find a product that works on every case inevery
Joan and Dazzle
Please do not post copyrighted material without the owner's permission.toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
Joan and Dazzle
Pete Ramey has used the
I apologize - he shares this information freely with anyone and
since I quoted the sources as well I did not think it would be an
--- In EquineCushings@..., "Joan and Dazzle"
intenderness is present, the deeper clefts should be treated, just
contributing to the problem.
Hello Eva again,
Concerns about methods of new farrier:
I don't think that cutting a notch between the heel and frog can do anything. I have heard that some people will "open" the heel, which
involves cutting away the horn right at the heels. The effect of this is to remove the direct connection between the hoof wall at the heel and the bar.
The intention is that the wall, not restricted by its connection to the bar, will be able to expand outwards.
The faint vertical lines of blood in the white line at the toe are most likely to have followed a laminitis episode, but this would usually not be
evident for 4 - 6weeks after. This would coincide with the change in angle seen near the top of the hoof wall, although this does not seem to fit into
the timescale of her lameness.
Scooping the sole is usually not a good idea because, in a chronic laminitic, the tip of the pedal bone will often be resting on the sole and
the sole will often be thinner than it should be. If there is sufficient sole then it can be thinned. The farrier would have to judge this by
palpation (or x rays).
Cutting a groove in the hoof wall.
The extreme of this is a hoof wall resection, removing the dorsal hoof wall, exposing the separated laminae and taking pressure off the new growth. This
has gone out of fashion.
Chris Pollitt at the last Laminitis Conference in Florida recently, proposed that the horn growth from distorted coronary papillae, because it could not
grow down as it should, actually pushed the pedal bone away from the hoof wall. some people are now removing a section of the separated wall near the
top of the front wall. It sounds as though your farrier's grooving is trying to do this in a similar, but less dramatic, way.
I wouldn't personally suggest doing this, but I do not think that it would do any harm. I don't happen to agree with this Dr Pollitt idea.
I will have a go at the TRIM Questions tomorrow.
Hello again Eva,
How much to take off the heel?
Obviously radiographs are the best way for you to judge how much heel one is able to take off.
But for a very cheap and simple aid, I return to something that I have talked about on this forum before about using angles to estimate the positon of the pedal bone in a laminitic foot. The angle of the line of the coronet to the ground and the angle of the line of the coronet to the growth of the new growth of the front wall are remarkably consistent, in my experience.
(What is my experience? Photographs of the feet of over 200 laminitic cases, a number of which I have comparative radiographs and some of which I have cut up.
I have insufficient comparative data yet to have anything published)
Rather than go into too much detail here, I suggest you look at my website www.johnthevet.com to see the simple way to measure these angles. If you get a piece of clear plastic sheet and mark it as shown, you can either put it up against the foot or photos of it, and this will give you sufficient information about the position of the pedal bone to help you decide how much heel to take off, depending on what angle you wish to have the bottom edge of the bone.
Lynn has responded already, and I am in full agreement with her opinion about the immobility of the heels as well as her doubts about the effect soft structures of the feet can have.
Mel has pretty strong feet, the walls and bars staying relatively upright, the more heel there is the more sole that binds the heel wall and the bar together, not allowing expansion of the foot. In some cases, if I do not feel it is suitable to take the heels down all at once, I will reduce the bars sufficiently to allow some expansion of the heels - experience is needed to judge correctly how much and how to remove.
We certainly should aim for a straight hoof pastern angle, but we have to be aware that changing the heel height may well change the horse's stance. In non-laminitic horses, they will generally "stand under" if the heels are long. The hoof angle will be high, and with this change in stance, the hoof pastern angle will be straight but high. As the heels are lowered, the stance will change more sqaure - a straight hoof pastern axis, but at a lower angle than previously. In a chronic laminitic, they will very often stand with a more upright pastern while "standing square", and as they get better they will begin to stand under, as non-laminitics do.
Breakover really should be taken back further. This is sometimes liminted by the thickness of the sole, but I would be taking back as far as the foot allows. I am not sure what the concern of the farrier is about 2going over at the knees".
These can be difficult to deal with. Being of the opinion that it is the weight of the horse that causes laminal separation in the way that it does (as opposed to the pull of the deep flexor tendon), the angle of the pedal bone - front to back and side to side - will determine the distribution of the laminal separation. In my experience, the differential side to side movement will only occur when dorsal wall support is also lost.
It does seem to be a problem of ponies, with chronic laminitis, that tend to have a toe-out stance. The problem about balancing feet with this imbalance is that it may well be the natural stance for the pony. It sounds as though your farrier is trying to do just the right thing.
When trying to counter rotation of the pedal bone (front to back) we try to spread the load to the back of the foot, where the laminae are stronger, by taking the heel down. When dealing with medio-lateral imbalance, we have to aim to straighten the bone position so that the weight of the horse is shifted over to use the stronger laminae on the better side and reduce the mechanical disturbance on the weaker side.
I would be trying to have a level coronet - across the front, and the feet trimmed to have a level placement of the foot. This is, as you have found out, easier said than done.
The hind feet are better, but the same principals apply.
I hope this is of some use.
--- In EquineCushings@..., "Ute" <ute@...>
I happen to have 2 books that I have not had the chance to open
yet: "Equine Massage" by J.-P. Hourdebaight, RMT and "Stretch
Exercise for your Horse" by Karin Blignault. If you are familiar
with them, perhaps you could recommend chapters or pages
which would pertain.
What are the specific muscle groups that you think need
You may private mail me as this will probably be Off Topic.
We will try the Ramey thrush recipe on both our ponies.
Thank you very much for reviewing our photos and for your
observations. Sorry for the long delay--have computer access
Eva and Mel