Conformation, Lameness and Equine Foot
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What are the different structures to the hoof?
- hoof wall
- coronary band
- white line
What is the common name for the distal phalanx?
P3 or coffin bone
What is the common name for the intermediate or middle phalanx?
P2 or short pastern
What is the common name for proximal phalanx?
P1 or long pastern
What is the common name for the distal sesamoid?
What is the common name for the metacarpal/metatarsal 2?
medial splint bone
What is the common name for the metacarpal/metatarsal 3?
What is the common name for the metacarpal/metatarsal 4?
lateral splint bone
What is the common name for the distal interphalangeal joint?
What is the common name for the proximal interphalangeal joint?
What is the common name for the metacarpophalangeal/metatarsophalangeal joint?
What is the coronary band?
where the hoof and skin meet
What is the lamina?
on P3 and inside hoof wall and attaches hoof wall to P3
How many row of carpal bones are there?
What is the distal row of carpal bones? How are they numbered?
- carpal bone 1, 2, 3, and 4
- numbered medial to lateral
What are the proximal row of carpal bones from medial to lateral?
- radial carpal bone
- intermediate carpal bone
- ulnar carpal bone
- accessory carpal bone
What structures are part of the equine tarsus (hock)?
- tibiotarsal bone - talus
- central tarsal bone
- fused 1st and 2nd tarsal bones
- third tarsal bone
- fourth tarsal bone
- calcaneus or tuber calcis
What structures are part of the equine upper extremity?
- scapulohumeral joint
- elbow joint
- coxofemoral joint
What do owners sometimes call the carpus?
What are the differences between bovine and equine extremities?
- bovine have P1, P2, P3, distal sesamoids per limb and four proximal sesamoids per limb
- bovines have fused metacarpal/metatarsal 3 and 4 to make up the cannon bone
What does walk mean?
four beat gait
What does trot mean?
two beat gait, diagonals are paired
What does canter mean?
three beat gait, depends on lead (right lead - left hind, left diagonal, right front...left lead - right hind, right diagonal, left front)
What does gallop mean?
four beat gait conventionally
What is conformation?
- defined as the form or outline of an animal
- seen as the "animals layout"
- the term balance is often used to describe conformation - parts should typically be balanced or symmetrical
What is the ideal conformation when viewing the front limb from the front?
a line drawn from the point of the shoulder should bisect the limb all the way to the ground and should be perpendicular to the ground
What is the ideal conformation of the front limb as viewed from the side?
a line drawn from the acromion should bisect the limb to the level of the fetlock, then strike the ground just behind the heel and should be perpendicular to the ground
What are some front limb conformation faults for the stance of a horse?
What is the base narrow conformation fault? Which horses is the most common in?
- converging limb axis as the lines near the ground
- commonly seen in horses with well developed chests
What is the base wide conformation fault? Which horse is this commonly seen in?
- diverging limb axis as the lines near the ground
- commonly seen in horses with narrow chests
What are the common front limb rotational conformation faults?
- toe in (pigeon toed)
- toe out (splay footed)
What is the toe in conformation fault?
- inward rotation of the limbs from any point between the shoulder and fetlock
- tendency to paddle
- commonly causes fetlock problems
What is the toe out conformation fault?
- outward rotation of the limbs from any point between the shoulder and fetlock
- tendency to wind and causes limb interference (especially if combined with base narrow stance)
What are the common front limb angular limb deformities?
- carpal valgus
- carpal varus
What is carpal valgus confromation fault?
- inside physes grow faster
- more common than varus
- mild cases may not need treatment
What is the carpal varus conformation fault?
outside physes grow faster
What are some front limb knee conformation faults?
- offset knees, bench knees
- back at the knees
- over at the knees
What is the offset knees, bench knees conformation fault?
- lateral deviation of the metacarpal bones
- increases stress on medial splint any may cause splint formation
What is the back at the knees conformation fault?
- palmar deviation of the carpus
- can be a severe problem causing chip fractures of dorsal aspect of carpal bones
What is the over at the knees conformation fault?
- dorsal deviation of the carpus
- common in foals and will often disappear with time
What are some common front limb fetlock conformation faults?
- upright conformation
- sloped conformation
What is the upright conformation fault?
- not enough angle as viewed from the side
- stresses joint with concussion
What is the slope conformation conformation fault?
- too much angle as viewed from the side
- stresses flexor tendons and suspensory ligaments
- may develop with age, otherwise congenital
What is the ideal conformation of the hind limb as viewed from behind?
a line drawn from the tuber ischii should bisect the limb to the ground
What is the ideal conformation of the hind limb as viewed from the side?
a line drawn from the tuber ischii should hit the point of the hock, course along the caudal aspect of the metatarsus, and strike the ground about 3 inches behind the heel
What are some hind limb conformation faults?
- sickle hocks
What is the rotational hind limb conformation faults?
- toe out (cow hocks)
- winging and limb interference may be an issue
What is the angular hind limb conformation fault?
valgus and varus possible
What is the sickle hocks hind limbs conformation faults?
too much angle at hocks
What is the post-legged hind limb conformation faults?
too little angle at the hocks
What is the ideal conformation of the foot?
- the dorsal surface of the hoof wall should be parallel to the pastern region - i.e. the hoof-pastern axis should match
- the hoof should be trimmed to match the pastern axis not to an ideal angle
- foot should be balanced - medial and lateral walls of equal length and both heels contact the ground simultaneously
How fast does the hoof wall grow?
1/4 - 1/2 inch per month
How often do horses need their hooves cared for?
every 4 - 8 weeks
What are some foot conformation faults?
- broken back hoof-pastern axis
- broken forward hoof-pastern axis
- under run heels
- club foot
- wry foot
- sheared heels
- contracted heels
- flat feet
What is the broken back hoof-pastern axis foot conformation fault?
- pastern angle is steeper than hoof angle
- very common due to improper trimming (taking too much heel and leaving too much toe)
- increases stress on deep digital flexor and navicular structures
What is the broken forward hoof pastern axis foot conformation fault?
- hoof angle is steeper than pastern angle
- not as common
- flexural deformity may cause, improper trimming too
What is the under run heels foot conformation fault?
- angle of the heel is appreciably less than the angle of the dorsal hoof wall
- common and again often due to improper trimming (taking too much heel and leaving too much toe)
What is a predisposition to laminitis?
having too much toe
What is the club foot conformation fault?
- very steep hoof angle (>60 degrees)
- often a result of flexural deformity
What is the wry foot conformation fault?
- hoof is not centered under the limb
- most often with medial wall rolled under the lateral wall flared
What is the sheared heels foot conformation fault?
structural breakdown between the heels due to disproportionate use of one heel
What is the contracted heels conformation fault?
- hoof wall at the heels is closer than normal
- frog often atrophied
What is the flat food conformation fault?
- lack of concavity to the side
- predisposes to sole bruises, etc
What is stumbling?
interference with the ground
What is interference?
interference between opposite limbs anywhere from the carpus or hock down
What is forging?
interference between bottom of the front foot and the toe of the hind foot
What is over reaching?
interference between the toe of the hind foot and the bulbs of the heel or back of the shoe
What is scalping?
interference between the toe of the front foot and the coronary band of the hind foot
What is elbow hitting?
foot on the same limb strikes the elbow
What are some common foot problems?
- sole bruises
- subsolar abscesses
- deep puncture wounds
- hoof cracks
- navicular disease
What is the goal for routine hoof trimming and shoeing?
- goal is to maintain appropriate hoof conformation while preventing over growth and offering protection
- match hoof pastern axis
- maintain good balance
- avoid under run heels
- have the horse keep their shoes on
What is the goal for corrective trimming and shoeing?
goal is to correct/minimize conformational faults or treat existing pathologic disorders
What is involved in a lameness evaluation?
- systematic and routine approach
- thorough evaluation of the entire patient (complete PE)
- observation from a distance standing and then in motion
- observation in motion
- look for a head bob - up when lame limb is down and down when sound limb is down with a front limb lameness, up when sound limb is down and down when lame limb is down with a rear limb lameness
- localize the lameness within the limb
How do we localize the lameness within the limb?
- palpation and manipulation to evaluate for swelling, pain, reduced range of motion
- hoof testers
- flexion tests
- diagnostic anesthesia (nerve blocks, intra-articular administration)
What are some other diagnostic tests we can do for lameness?
- nuclear scintigraphy
- computed tomgraphy
- magnetic resonance imaging
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