Buck hoof in the horse - what is it ?

 The buck hoof in horses is also called tendon stilt hoof and describes a misalignment that can occur in the limbs of horses. The hoof is formed so unnaturally and steeply that normal loading and use are not possible in extreme cases.


Symptoms - How to recognize a club hoof

The deformity can be recognized externally by looking closely at the hoof from the side when the horse is standing with its two front and rear hooves side by side. Ideally, when positioned correctly, the top of the hoof wall should be parallel to an imaginary line that runs through the middle of the fetlock bone. If this is not the case, the unnatural position is immediately obvious, especially since the hoof is clearly deformed to adapt to the unnatural deformity. Both the hoof and the crown joint show a flexed position. The natural hoof pastern axis is no longer given.


Buckhoof by inheritance? The reasons

In many cases, the club hoof is congenital and therefore genetic, but it can also be acquired. The deformity may also develop in horses with healthy hooves in the first few months or years of life if their legs are very long in relation to their necks. The neck is usually too short and the legs are too long to easily reach the grassy ground. In this case, the horses have to spread their legs wide apart to graze.

For this very reason, a box hoof often occurs in foals. Because many foals put too much strain on the toes of the front hooves, others spread their front legs extremely, with the same leg usually standing forward and the other one backward. As a result, the flexor tendon of the leg that is standing backward is subjected to continuous traction, so that a buck hoof can often develop in a few days. In addition, lack of exercise or a protective posture of the foal due to injuries can also play a role. Basically, the congenital and the acquired hoof can be distinguished.



Buck hoof in the horse - treatment & correction

In young horses

If the horse has a buck hoof, the coffin bone will assume an increasingly steep misalignment over time. This course of the disease can be limited if the horse is young and has not yet finished growing. As long as the bones are still growing in length, the tendons can still lengthen. Gradually returning the hoof to a more natural position requires regular hoof trimming by a competent farrier. However, since the tendons can quickly become overloaded, processing must be carried out very carefully. If the hoof is only slightly pronounced, it is usually sufficient to shorten the heel. This should be done more often than too much all at once.

In adult horses

If the horse is already fully grown, the further course can hardly be stopped or slowed down, since treatment is only possible to a limited extent. Attempts are often made to flatten the hoof by shortening the heels. However, this overloads the deep flexor tendon, which often leads to inflammation or irritation of the tendon or navicular. The shortened heels can also lead to stress deer on the hoof.

If anything, only the progression of the increasingly pronounced buck foot can be limited, since treatment is no longer as promising as in a foal or young horse. In some cases, an operation can also be considered, in which the deep flexor tendon is lengthened. An X-ray should be taken beforehand so that the veterinarian can make a more accurate judgment.

You should also make sure that the horse moves mainly on hard ground, that the box does not contain a mattress if possible and that you do not put your four-legged friend on a meadow with deep ground.



Impairments and problems caused by a club hoof

A horse with a club foot has a significantly lower value than a horse with healthy hooves and increased susceptibility to lameness. Since all toe joints are severely flexed, the coffin bone assumes a steeper position as a result. The result: the connecting layer between the hoof wall and the hoof sole becomes too soft and the horse can no longer or hardly be put under any weight. The ability to perform and move is restricted or, in extreme cases, even lost.



Buck hoof forward bend

In order to prevent a club hoof as best as possible, breeders and horse owners should always ensure that the hooves are not neglected. Right from the start, attention should be paid to healthy development, sufficient hoof care, and, if necessary, correcting misalignments as early as possible.


Shoeing at the buck hoof

If you notice (first) signs of a box hoof in your horse, you should act immediately. In addition to the vet, we recommend that you speak to your farrier. They are usually familiar with horses' hoofs and have tips on shoeing and treatment. Many farriers recommend trimming the club hoof every three to weeks when acute. Crescent irons are often used as fittings and, moreover, the costumes are increasingly being shortened.



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