The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Pony Flicks in Fetlock Joint When Walking"

Once in a while, out of curiosity, I take a look at my blog's statistics - how many page views, how much traffic is coming from China and Russia (seriously?), what sites are referring people to mine, what pages are most looked at, and so on. I would say that close to 100% of the time the No. 1 page viewed is the one about Buck Brannaman and the dangerous colt, a subject I've written about a couple of times in this blog.

Another interesting piece of information is what search keywords lead people to find me. Today, as usual, the first search keyword listed involved Buck Brannaman, and, and in the No. 5 spot were the words which are the title of this entry.

These words immediately caught my eye, as this issue was exactly what lead me to start trimming my own horses. Our elderly mare had started to "flick in her RH fetlock joint when walking."

When I started trimming Misty, I discovered that she had very high heels and layer upon layer of folded over bar and false sole in the seat of corn. It took me a while to get brave enough to dig it all out, and looking back, I may not have succeeded.  Misty's walking did improve; but she was well into her 30's by the time I started trimming her, and I think there was permanent damage to her fetlock joint or her navicular bone. She never did walk completely normally, and in the last few months of her life, the problem got worse again.

I think that the "flicking" was due to Misty landing on her toe, whereupon her fetlock would flick, or click, back to allow her heel to drop, before she could pick up her foot again. I imagine - and this is only speculation - that she had considerable heel pain, from all that junk packed into her seat of corn, which would have caused her to avoid landing heel-first. And I know that a toe-first landing, followed by the heel dropping and being picked up again, can cause navicular disease.

The flicking foot didn't look especially long, as her hoofs grew very upright. Her former owner told us that Misty was said to have one or more club feet, which would be one way to describe the vertical habit of her hoof. She also held her pastern very upright - another sign of heel pain, as the horse tries to bring weight forward and up off the heel.

Here is a photo of Misty's hind feet, taken not long before she died in 2009 - she looks overdue for a trim here. You can see a "healing angle" growing in on the LH. You can also see the upright pastern and bruising under the wall. The toe is much too long, and the heel is underrun. Sheesh. I think it likely that at the time this photo was taken, I was not able to see how underrun that LH was. You can see that the RH (the one which flicked) is rather upright - the heel looks very high, but in the next photo, which shows the sole, it's hard to see how you could take the heel down much more. The second photo shows how crazy-too-far-forward breakover is, yet who would guess that from looking at the foot from the outside?

If confronted with these feet nowadays, I would probably (I hope!) handle it a bit better, although I'm still clambering up the learning curve and don't expect to reach the top. But the main reason I wrote this post was to say to Mr. or Ms. "Pony Flicks in Fetlock Joint When Walking" if they're still out there and happen to find this post: Find yourself a good trimmer - your pony probably has really sore heels!

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