Club Foot or Not?

Club Foot

Club Foot

Not Club Foot

Not Club Foot

These are X-Rays of the front feet of a yearling filly.  The first figure is the right foot, the bottom is the left. The top photo depicts a classic clubfoot, the bottom is a normal foot.  The external evidence indicating it is a clubfoot is the curved, dished wall of the foot. The coffin joint angle is the radiographic evidence showing it’s a clubfoot. The angle between the coffin bone (P3) and the short pastern (P2) is ‘broken’, whereas in the non-clubfoot, the angle is smoother, more of a straight line. The clubfoot even shows a ski tip already from high heels and rotation putting pressure on the coffin bone tip. 


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  1. Your blog is fascinating and very informative. Can’t wait to learn more about going barefoot!

  2. Although I do not have Xrays, I do have a horse exactly like this. I have been barefoot trimming him for 6 months. If I trim his club foot using the textbook barefoot trim – lowering heels, taking wall down to sole, etc, his front feet toe out worse than they always have. If I let this club foot grow high, it seems to even out the length of his front legs and his legs are straighter. My question: Are we always required to take this club foot right down with lowered heels, etc.? It almost seems as if his club foot leg is shorter and mother nature is trying to even out the front end by sending this hoof straight down to the ground and give it some height.

    • I would like to point out that perhaps the uneveness of seeming length of front legs may prove to be due to –offset sterum,which can be corrected by a competent chiropractor or if it is a case compensary musclular imbalance by having an talented muscle practitioner or myofacial release methods (of course correct healthyhoofs equate to maintaining a stable upper body.
      I have seen a few horses make the transformation from seemingly unequal leg lengths to no length difference and the disappearence of an “artificial club foot”.
      Not saying that is the case of your referred horse just fyi
      I am still living and learning,nothing is ever written in stone about horses. : – )

  3. This is a very complicated sounding case. It’s hard to comment on with any accuracy without actually seeing it. I think there are multiple things going on here. First off, it is very rare for one leg to be shorter than the other. When the heels are high on one foot, this puts slack in the Digital Flexor tendon and the muscles contract to shorten it, making the leg look ‘shorter’.

    The toeing out I don’t think is related to the height of his heels/evenness of his legs. Toeing out if not starting from a joint, occurs as a result of one wall being higher than the other.

    No it is not required to do anything – each horse needs his own trim. I would hazard a guess that the bars are not being trimmed enough when you lower the heels, preventing him from weighting the heels comfortably.

    I think you really need to get some xrays, not just laterals but also A/P showing his joints and whether the two knees line up and where the toeing out starts.

    Also it sounds like you need some experienced advice. If you can’t find anyone in your area I suggest you sign up for the barefoothoofcare Yahoo group and get some answers there. The ‘Join’ button for that group is on the front page of this blog, in the bottom right hand corner.

    Good luck.

  4. I never thought to look at the shape of the hoof in the front. The curve is the opposite of what all the laymen have been telling me about a club foot. Thanks for the clear view.

  5. I’m having the same problem as Michelle V

    I’ve trimmed my horse exactly as Michelle described; lowering the heels taking the wall down to the sole, and giving his hooves a chamfer so his hooves do not chip. Three of his feet are looking good. They’ve got nice surface area, ect. His club foot is going nuts. I thought that brining his heel down would correct the extreme angle of the coffin bone. But instead it is trying to grow straight up and down – doing the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I intended. What am I doing wrong? How SHOULD I be trimming that foot?

    Please Advise.

    • GirlWithCurls:

      This is the problem with trying to trim a horse’s feet by using a ‘textbook’. There is no such thing as a ‘textbook trim’. Each horse is an individual case and needs to be trimmed according to its particular needs.

      Your horse sounds like it has a significant pathology, and you should be seeking the advice of a professional farrier trimmer or vet in your area, not trying to figure out how to trim him from getting information on the internet.

      I strongly recommend that you stop trimming yourself until you have attended some sort of course that qualifies you to trim your horse and in the menatime – seek professional help.

  6. Christina,

    “Professional” help is the most obvious answer to my problem, and yes, it was my very first reaction. Unfortunately there are no professionals in Seattle area. I’ve hired and fired four ferriers for trimming my horse too short (repeatedly), for bad shoeing, and they all seem to think its “okay” behavior to beat my horse’s ribs with clippers, files, and their own fists. I moved to Washington from Idaho three years ago. In Idaho we have good ferriers. There is, apparently, no such thing in Washington.

    That’s why I’m teaching myself and talking to people. Not my first choice. Thanks for the recomendation anyway.

    • I’m sorry you’re having so much trouble finding competent help. Have you checked out The Horse’s Hoof resource page where they list trimmers? There are 19 trimmers listed in Washington.
      Granted Washington is a big state but you may be able to find someone to help you. Some of the people listed offer training and clinics as well so they may be able to assist you in your learning. But learning on your own horse is not really fair to the horse.

      Good luck.

  7. There are a lot of horse owners out there that can’t afford a course, but are trying to do the right thing for their horses by going barefoot. My farrier wanted nothing to do with it, so I was on my own. I did order a training DVD and did seek help from a professional trimmer. I had done some 4 months of trimming by the time I saw him. He is very busy and books far in advance. My horse is not lame, but I feel that myself and GirlWithCurls are just seeking some insight from the on-line professionals, who have probably seen this many times. I have a follow-up instructional appt with my barefoot trimmer in November. In the meantime, just trying to learn. I thought that your reply to GirlWithCurls was a bit harsh.

    • Hi Michelle,
      The only way an on-line professional can offer any help is by seeing the horse’s feet and making comments about that specific case. There are ways to send and/or post pictures of your horse if you are interested in going that route.

      I can understand the frustration of having a problem and not having competent professional help. I was in this position myself which is why I decided to learn how to be a barefoot trimmer. But barefoot trimming is not the ‘cheap’ alternative to proessional help and should not be seen that way. The old saying you get what you pay for applies here. As I was learning barefoot trimming, I hired someone who already had training to help me with my horse. That was years ago and there were almost no trained barefoot trimmers available, today there are many, many more available to horse owners. The horse is the one who pays the price of trying to save money, ultimately. I am sorry if you found my response harsh but I have seen what can happen, and hers is a difficult, complicated case that requires professional input.

  8. hey everyone i have a question, Can thrush make a horse go lame?

    Thanks Erin

    • If it is a really bad case, indeed it can make a horse lame.

      Also, sometimes an abscess can be mistaken for thrush, and that would definitely make a horse lame as well.

  9. can i barrel race or let alone ride a horse with club foot in front and hind leg???

    • Hi,
      It depends on the horse entirely. There is no hard and fast rule for something like that.
      But why not have someone with expertise look at the horse and tell if it is something that can be fixed? Often what
      appears to be a clubfoot is not really the case, especially with a front and a hind.

      • i had a farrier comes out that what he said that he has club front and back , he said he doesnt know if he can be ridden cuz of the club

        • Hi, It is is very unusual to have a club foot front and back. I would get a second opinion from a vet, and a third from a barefoot trimmer.
          There’s no way to know if the horse can be ridden until you actually try. But there’s no reason to assume that the horse can not be ridden. Are they club feet on the same side or diagonal?

  10. Great post your blog is very useful far all about horse question is what is difference between horse and mare leg.

  11. i got alot of info from ur blogs

  12. Cristina,

    Is the curved, dished area of the foot shown on the left side of the x-ray?

  13. I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..

    • Thank you very much for your kind remarks. The blog is a great repository for me to combine my skills of graphic design/artwork, writing, and hoofcare! Glad you’ve enjoyed it.

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