If you have a foal with angular limb deformities you probably would like to know if they can be corrected – what’s involved – how long it takes – what the costs may be and what if any are the long term effects. But most of all you are probably wondering “..what’s this going to cost me?”
I approached farriery as a career and expected to make a reasonable income for the work that I performed. There certainly have been some surprises along the way.
For example, as a farrier I’ve discovered that draft horses are 4 times the work and risk of injury as a regular horse – to shoe or to trim – but you can’t charge 4 times the price. Most owners don’t want to pay any surcharge, despite the risk to the farrier, and the serious amount of extra work, wear and tear.
Other customers like to think that a trim of a laminitic horse that’s not been done in more than a year, should cost the same as any other trim, performed on a horse done every 6 weeks.
So when I try to set a price to straighten horses’ limbs, literally adjusting their conformation for life, it’s not surprising that most owners cannot afford what my services are worth. Or worse, don’t even see the value in transforming their foal from a cripple – with a limited lifespan – to a normal horse with great, flowing, easy action – if it costs anything more than a trim.
And then there’s no guarantee up front that I can actually perform this miracle. Although I’ve managed to correct all limb deformities I’ve been presented with thus far, every foot is different. Every horse is different. I approach all angular limb deformities believing that, given the opportunity, I can eliminate the deformity within about 2 weeks time. Sometimes in the very first visit.
So what should I charge? What represents a fair price?
Before I try to answer that question, please understand that there are more than one single option and each horse’s needs are different. One size does not fit all.
So let’s begin by identifying the 2 stages of this solution – each of which will carry options and related costs.
We start with the challenge of providing the deformed limb with a new conformation to grow from while the ossification processes are still in their adaptive state. That is, for long bones whose ossification process is known as endochondral. This refers to that early period during which the physes of the long bones remain ligamentous in consistency while serving as the growth source and director, while providing ‘shock absorbers’ at each end of the long bone. For the remaining irregular, flat, short and sesamoid bones, the ossification process involved is known as the intramembranous ossification process. This process works through a matrix of connective tissue fibers. I’m making an assumption that despite the different growth process, there remains a capacity to adapt to the loading challenges placed on that bone, until it reaches maturity.
Once the physical loading of the limb has been adjusted to a more normal state, the 2nd correctional stage begins. Clearly the newly-adjusted conformation must be maintained and sometimes slightly adjusted “in-flight” throughout the growth period of the horse – that is until the physes on all of the long bones have all closed, their ligamentous consistency transformed into hard bone. This stage costs no more than a regular trim cycle.
To recap, once the deformity is eliminated, the foal’s ossification processes need time and exercise to internalize the change, and to make it permanent. That means that you really need to maintain the new conformation for at least 6 months and better, for a year.
Following the initial adjustment of the horse’s limb(s), this process requires a normal amount of exercise in order to place the demands required of the new conformation onto the ossification processes so they “internalize” the new conformation and to imprint it as permanent. Certainly no extra exercise is required, but neither does it call for stall rest, special diets and a greater commitment of your time or interruption of your daily routine.
Of course, this process eliminates the need for surgery (often more than one), external devices like splints for limb immobilization and stall rest. Your foal gets to live like foals are supposed to and continue to learn how to become a mature horse.
At the end of the day, if your horses have not been bred for the Preakness or the Breeders’ Cup, affordability often becomes the primary criteria.
I understand this – so let’s talk about it.
Let me understand where you live, what’s affordable for you and what service options you would prefer.
The solution cost can range from $200 to several thousand dollars. I would love to work with you and your team to straighten your foal’s legs to give it the quality of life it deserves.
Please give me a call at 416 524-7008.
Happy endings do occur.