Trimming the Laminitic Hoof

Posted on September 10, 2013 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, health, hoofcare, therapy.

laminitis effect on hoof

Crucial information from:

Remember that when the clinical signs of laminitis are seen, separation of the laminae is already occurring.
• Prompt attention to your horse is imperative to try to minimize these changes.
• If your horse develops laminitis contact your vet.
• If the horse will pick up its feet easily, apply frog supports.
• Walking the horse is contra-indicated but may be necessary to remove the horse from the cause of the laminitis e.g. from pasture.
• In this case it may be safe to walk the horse a short distance, with frog supports on, if it can walk relatively easily.
• If the horse is very reluctant to walk, wait for your vet’s arrival.
• It may be necessary to box your horse back to the stable.
• Stable the horse on a deep bed so that it is happy to lie down if it wants to.

When deciding on what angle the feet are trimmed, the question that we have to consider is whether the pull of the deep flexor tendon is of more significance than the effect of the weight of the horse on a tilted pedal bone.
It would appear that most are agreed that the aim [of the trim] is to establish weight bearing “along the entire solar surface” (O’Grady), or to “all parts of the hoof capsule” (Strasser) and that this is brought about by trimming the foot with a P3 solar surface that is parallel to the ground.

If we trim the feet with a ground-parallel pedal bone:
As weight is applied down the leg, the load is spread more evenly around all the laminae rather than particularly down the dorsal wall.
It will also reduce the pressure applied by P3 on the solar corium at the toe.

This will hopefully reduce the pain in the feet and with it the reflex contracture of the deep flexor muscle and thus reducing the tension in the deep flexor tendon. (I now advise massage of the deep flexor muscle following trimming of the heels).
There should be less pressure applied by the extensor process of a rotated P3 on the coronary papillae of the dorsal hoof wall and this should allow more even growth of the hoof.
There will be a more even pressure around the whole of the coronet and this will mean that new horn growth is more likely to grow down parallel to the dorsal surface of P3 allowing the basement membrane that has not been irrevocably damaged to bind, as best it can, the epidermal and dermal laminae together providing a stronger and more stable foot.
Chronic founder cases are unlikely, certainly initially, to be involved in great athletic activity, but when there is sufficient new hoof growth and stability is achieved we can then trim the foot to a more “normal” angle.

However, if we lower the heel we will have a toe that is “long”, particularly if there is already distortion of the dorsal hoof wall. It is imperative that the toe is taken back sufficiently to allow easy break-over and thus avoid any pulling on the weakened laminae by the dorsal wall otherwise it will be pulled away from the bone.

If we leave P3 rotated:

  1. The centre of mass is moved posteriorly, thus putting more weight down the dorsal wall and pressure on the solar corium.
  2. There is likely to be more distortion of the coronary papillae of the dorsal hoof wall.
  3. This will, in turn, result in slower growth of horn at the toe compared to the heel.