Quick fixes, blog by Maaike at February 11, 2020.
"A horse that's only sound in shoes, is not sound".
Today I have some thoughts on quick fixes. And with that I mean shoes, pads, wedges and the like. Recently I saw a post about a horse with caudal foot pain (pain in the back of the foot). Apparently the new remedial shoeing job made the horse far more comfortable and with that they are now going to increase his work load.
I wondered. WHY was the horse uncomfortable in the first place?
So I asked, 'what is the cause of the caudal foot pain?'
The answer I received was; 'undiagnosed, my suspicions were structures associated with the podotrochlea apparatus'.
(podotrochlea apparatus: all the structures involved with navicular bone, pedal bone, coffin joint, and surrounding ligaments, tendons, fluids, etc. source: www.vettimes.co.uk, July 20, 2015)
This answer made me really sad. And that's why I have some thoughts that I like to share.
First of all. There are a lot of opinions, arguments and articles about this. But this is what I've learned so far:
Caudal foot pain is any pain or uncomfortable feeling in the back of the foot. So literally half the foot, from the middle of the frog to the heels and anything on the inside of the hoof that is part of that half too. Most often this is also described as Navicular Syndrome. Navicular Syndrome is not the same as Navicular Disease. NS is usually referred to when there are obvious signs that interrupt the horse landing heel first. This could be because of a proud frog, underrun heels, too high heels, too low heels, thrush, central sulcus infection, overgrown bars, bruises, proud seat of corns, etcetera. ND is often when there has been a change in the navicular bone (bone loss / remodeling). Obviously you need to take a look inside to confirm this (XRAYs).
So back to the horse we were talking about.
His cause of pain was UNDIAGNOSED!
And yet, here he is. Not happy on his own bare feet, not comfortable in his previous shoes and now with remedial shoes, supposedly ready for quite some work.
I have heard and seen a lot of horses with Navicular Syndrome, being sound again after a week of central sulcus infection treatment, or where too big frogs were knived down a little bit, or with bars maintained that were previously pinching in the sole with every step. Even horses where diet played a role because too much sugar/fructan/starch caused inflammation in the body and hooves, which made it footsore. Other causes like underrun heals or too low heels, can be treated with more balanced trimming, or hoof boots, or a better diet for better hoof growth, etcetera. And yes, this takes time. But it doesn't interfere with the horses hoof mechanism, the blood flow and the proprioception function of the frog (amongst other things). And after some time, you would have fixed it and have a sound horse again, able to live it's life on his own feet!
And if it's not that, then XRAYS could probably show an answer. Or nerve blocks or thermal imaging to find at least a better location, instead of 'suspecting the structures of...'.
But no. There is no diagnose (again, why?! It's so simple?).
So there's your quick fix: a difficult shoe combination so the horse can now continue it's job. While the ungoing lameness is still there, undiagnosed and not talked about.
I wish I could have a look underneath the shoe with pads!