DOES YOUR FOAL HAVE CROOKED LEGS?
Angular limb deformities in foals, in the absence of a better description in the veterinary medical world, are referred to as a "very common disease." It's a condition which can be either developmental or congenital, with a wide range of possible causes.
What is Normal?
A Plethora of Variables
It's not at all unusual for a foal to be born with a mild level of carpal valgus, and assume a toe-out stance. However, during the early growth stages, their chests widen, the geometry changes and consequently their limbs will progressively align, or straighten.
A foal is a complex biomechanical entity. It not only grows in size, which is what we observe, but it also changes structurally - internally. To further add to the complexity of this growth and development path, there are a number of influencing factors. They may be genetic, exercise levels, nutritional balance and changes in weight bearing geometry. The key from any perspective is to look into the future, at the expectant growth and development rate. In many cases, surgical intervention attempts to either decrease or to accelerate the growth of a particular side of the bone to try to correct the deformity. Depending on the condition, some veterinary physicians recommend an attempt to correct by surgery in the first two months of the foal's life, but not generally before the first four weeks. There are of course no guarantees because of the inherent limitations of using surgery in conjunction with attempting to foresee the growth and development rates within the matrix of all the other variables impacting development.
Vet or Farrier?
Who's The Expert?
There's a natural tendency to defer to your veterinarian's advice. However, absolute deferral means absolute abdication of responsibility. Your vet will invariably inform you of his or her views, opinions, experience and surgical options. Yet, not only are you offered no guarantees, veterinary processes can be extremely expensive.
The prudent approach is to gather enough information to make a sound, well informed decision. Because it is your decision. Farriers have been involved with some form of corrective work since horses have been trimmed and shod. A competent farrier's input should not be discounted. Their expertise is in the day-to-day management of your horse's biomechanical performance.
We bridge the gap between the scientific approach and the practical by providing an assessment and a potential course of action. Surgical intervention may not necessarily be ruled out, but in many cases, it can be pre-empted. And that means simply helping nature help itself.
Speed of Result
Is a Week Fast Enough?
Following proper non-invasive corrective measures, results may be visible as quickly as within a week. The reason is that our approaches seeks to work with the biomechnics of the foal's body while taking a forward view of the development path of the foal's internal structures. Since a foal grows quickly, the results can also be observed quickly.
Proper and systematic assessments after birth are the keys to understanding the dynamics at play, and as to any potential corrective action that may - or may not - be required. Given the wide range of variables influencing the existence of the condition and the development path, (environment, activity level, nutrition, etc.) all of these variables need to be calculated into any corrective approach.
Since to date, horse owners have not had the benefit of such an approach, where engineering principles are applied to the biometric development of a foal's conformation, too many horses have needlessly suffered.
HEALTH & PERFORMANCE INSURANCE
Everyone involved with the care and raising of a foal shares the same desired outcome. A healthy, happy horse with great conformation. The introduction of Conformation Engineering can not only provide insights, but real-world options for everyone involved, to make the best possible decisions for the foal at every stage of development. A conformation assessment should be an integral part of the information gathering phase, since good decisions that minimize risk and increase the likelihood of great conformation can only based on having as much information available as possible. This is particularly important for you as the owner of the foal - since all decisions ultimately rest on your shoulders.