Sunday, July 26, 2009

For Heaven's Sake - part two.

So I just wanted to follow up on my post regarding the farrier who owns the blog Farrieritis (see post below titled "For Heaven's Sake.")

I'm convinced that farrieritis is an actual condition that so many horses fall prey to. I'm kidding...sort of.

In the post, I had put the question to Marcia asking how the farrier and vet working relentlessly on her horse was working for her. I was being a smartass and I apologize for that.

At the time that uploaded that post, I also sent and email to her asking how her horse was doing. They were doing all they could...was her response.

Today, she sent me a sad email letting me know that her sweet mare had been euthanized. I am very sorry to hear that she had lost her lovely mare.

But sadly, I'm not really surprised by the news.

I personally don't believe there is a such thing as coffin bone rotation as the equine medical community explains it.

It has long been thought that the laminae is the only connection of the coffin bone to the inside of the hoof wall and when it fails, the coffin bone is allowed to drop or rotate.

Please correct me if I'm wrong about this, but what about those two big tendons, the extensor and the DDFT Deep Digital Flexor Tendon? These are two big tendons that hold the little coffin bone in place!

These tendons are so strong that you could probably tow a Volkswagen with them. One, the extensor (with attaching ligaments) at the front of the coffin bone, and other, the DDFT, is attached, via ligaments, to the back of the bone. Both run up the leg and attach above. So how in the heck could a little coffin bone rotate completely out of position with this tendon/ligament apparatus stabilizing it?

(The above paragraph has been revised after receiving input from Mrs. Mom, see comments.)

The coffin bone might detach and leave it's tight position against the wall when the laminae fails, but not to the degree that we see in some radiographs or rads.

A rad may show what appears to be a tipped down coffin bone, but what is really happening is that the hoofwall has flared away from the bone due to poor trimming methods or due to neglect. The bone hasn't gone anywhere, but flared wall (poor trimming and shoeing) makes it appear that it has.

That is so common and I can't begin to tell you how common that is. When I point it out to vets in my area, you'd think I just poked a hole in their brain and poured in a smart potion.

The only possible way we can know for sure the degree a coffin has rotated is if we take rads of the hoof before the incident. We need a baseline. As well as pictures of the outside of the hoof to see if the wall has changed its dimensions.

Pictures of the outer wall are cheap and easy and we should ALL have them on our horse's hooves. When the hoof fails we can look to those pictures and see if there are any changes caused by among other issues, improper trimming.

Equine doctors are not to be blamed for situations such as Marcia's horse enduring because they don't know what they don't know. Vets get almost no education in school about the hooves of horses and defer much of the treatment to farriers. I believe that is starting to change as the field of natural hoof care emerges as a positive treatment for horses with hoof ailments that traditional medicine is losing.

Farriers are not to blame as they know what the know from going to farrier school and they are taught by professionals, some of whom have never been to farrier school themselves.

Or very commonly, they learn uncle Joe who learned to shoe horses by trial and error - and out of necessity when he was young. When Joe began crippling fewer horses than not, he went into practice as the local farrier and he was busy because most people couldn't or wouldn't do that dirty, dangerous, difficult job for any amount of money!

So Joe passes his skills on to others, but with no knowledge whatsoever regarding hoof anatomy or hoof function and so it goes. I've met a number of farriers who went into that profession after losing their job and needed a quick-to-learn skill to make some money to support their families. Not because they loved shoeing horses or cared anything about horses' hooves.

That's just how it is, but we are working hard to change how people think about traditional hoof care and how it might not be the answer to their horse's prayers.

Rehabilitative trimming and "different" rehab practices actually save the lives of many of these horses if they are lucky enough to fall into the hands of a natural hoof care practitioner and not someone like the author of ferrieritis.

For more info on CBR see


UPDATE regarding tendons:

Extensor Tendon: This tendon is attached to all the bones in the foot except the Navicular bone, it bears no weight and is therefore slim and generally trouble-free.
At the lower end of the long pastern bone it receives reinforcement on either side from the branches of the Suspensory ligament, which increase its width.
The function for the extensor tendon is to extend the bones of the foot and lift the toe.

Flexor Tendon: Running over the back of the knee in the carpal canal and held in position by a carpal check ligament. It then extends down the back of the cannon bone between the superficial digital flexor tendon and the suspensory ligament.

In the middle of the cannon bone the deep digital flexor tendon is joined by the carpal check ligament, known as the inferior check ligament. The tendon then passes over the sesamoid bones, before passing between the two extensions of the superficial digital flexor tendon.

At this point, the deep digital flexor tendon becomes broad and fanlike, passing over the navicular bone before inserting into the lower surface of the pedal bone. This takes some of the strain from the muscles situated above the knee in the forearm or above the hock in the gaskin.


Rachel said...

Can I tell you how blessed we've been to find you? Because I KNOW that you actaully care about the horse. And you care that the owner knows as much as they can to keep their precious horse safe and comfortable and sound.

I'm not faulting other farriers - just making the distinction that you truly aren't in it for the money or the glory.

(Glory? On the business end of a horse that doesn't want to stand still? ha ha)

You know me - and you know that I'm a rank beginner when it comes to learning about the anatomy of a hoof. And what you said made sense to even me.

Thanks for caring enough to educate people.

Mrs Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat said...

Thank you Rachel!

Pat said...

Mrs Mom: I stand corrected. I was simply going by the many cadaver hooves I've dissected. where it appears that the tendons do attach to the coffin bone front and back.

I wasn't referring to the Superficial Flexor, but the DDFT.

Per Stephen E. O'Grady, DVM, MRCVS "The deep digital flexor tendon and the inferior check ligament can be considered one muscular-tendonous unit."

The extensor, you are correct, is made even stronger by the ligaments between it and the coffin bone. So that actually reinforces my statement.

I appreciate the correction. Thank you,

One Red Horse said...

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