Alright, here is a photo of Granite's front feet (left is obviously our problem hoof) from a month or so ago.
As for what causes club feet, I think it is mostly an inherited imbalance. The club side is the short side of the horse, kind of like a table with a short leg--you know, the one you slip the matchbook cover under, so the table won't rock. Nature tries to make the short side longer by growing a longer heel on that side. Most veterinarians think that cutting tendons and ligaments will help the problem. I have seen many a horse that still had a club foot after being cut. A club foot is a whole-horse problem, not just a hoof problem. I have had good results treating club-footed horses. I try to make the toe and heel of club hoof longer than the other front hoof. I rasp the flare of the toe, then trim the heel down to get a good angle of less than 60 degrees. I don't try to make the two front feet look alike; at this point, that would be only cosmetic. I shoe the club foot with a leather pad between shoe and hoof--like the matchbook cover under the table leg. I trim the other front hoof short, with an angle that matches the angle of the pastern. Sometimes I leave this hoof bare; or I'll shoe this hoof with a matching shoe, but without the pad. As the feet normalize and the club hoof gets longer, heel and toe, sometimes I can shoe the club hoof without the leather pad. Normalization may take anywhere from one to six months. I see remarkable changes in the feet, body, and attitude of these horses.
The good news is... After trimming Granite (we won't need shoes until he goes under saddle which will be in mid-late spring), Steve determined that we will not need wedges! He said that Granite's left hoof is at 58 degrees. He considers this to be the high end of non-problematic (54-60 degrees). This puts Granite's hoof at a Grade 1 club foot. He said that the heel does touch the ground when trimmed normally, which is what we want. He will simply have to trim with a shorter toe and longer heel than would normally be the case. I did mention that Granite had a possible 3'6 A/O career in his future. I asked if Steve would like x-rays before considering any corrective shoeing in this case (bc he will be an athletic show horse, not a pasture pony). Steve told me that right now, he thinks it is looking good and that we shouldn't worry with x-raying until a problem occurs (any lameness, soreness, or other signs of discomfort). He thinks that this is just something that will have to be closely monitored and maintained but because his shoulders are correctly conformed and his bones line up straight when placing his hooves correctly, that we may not have to worry with corrective procedures (at least not yet)!
So, check out the after photos...
I think they look pretty good. Steve also noted that there is no bulging at the cornet band as is often the case with club feet. So, it looks like we have a clean bill of hoof health as of now! I am so grateful that Steve came out to my farm to do one horse. He has raised my confidence in the maintenance of this issue (and he didn't charge me an arm and a leg). Best. Farrier. Ever!
In other news...
When Eva and I were looking at sale horses, we checked one out that the farm I was telling you about in the late fall/ early winter months, where I was going to have the opportunity to school horses! This kind of fizzled due to scheduling conflicts, but I was able to ride the sale horse with Eva and send the owner a follow up email, offering to school the horse if he needed it (she commented that he hadn't been ridden in weeks). She took me up on my offer and I am going out to the farm tonight to hack the sale horse! I hope this leads to a more regular riding schedule with her. I would love to take lessons with her if my financial situation ever evens out! This would also incline me toward waiting for a few more months to start Granite (giving me the chance to save any extra cash until I have enough for 30 full days of training--over a 1 1/2- 2 month period). So cross your fingers that this goes well and our schedules will be conducive to me schooling her sale horses through the spring and until I can concentrate on Granite.
This is Chance, the sale horse Eva and I tried and that I will be schooling! He is a cutie. Rough around the edges but with significant potential.
Have a Happy Weekend Everyone :)