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Those Crooked Legged Foals
WHAT CAN BE DONE
and How do we do it.
Here we are at weaning time and the 1998 foals are actually holding still long enough that we can evaluate the straightness of their legs. We talked last week about how to handle the legs that turn out or in, and how effective trimming can be. We also discussed the rapid growing foal and how to watch for the signs growth was proceeding too fast. If the angle (as viewed from the side of the fetlock down to the hoof) is too straight, the bone structure is out-growing the tendons. We must slow the growth rate to allow the tendons to catch up with the growth of the long bones. If the leg is so straight the ankle is actually breaking over, you cannot call us for help fast enough!
What can we do about those legs that are crooked? The crooked legs are either crooked from the joints, or along the length of the long bone. This can be evaluated by looking at them along the plum line we mentioned and noting where the curve is located. Xrays will help if the joints appear to be involved. The pictures will show us if the bones within the joint are growing unevenly.
If the leg is crooked at the joint, a staple or screws and wire may be needed to stop the growth of the long side of the joint while the inside catches up. Once we decide the leg has grown straight, the wire and screws can be removed.
If the curve is along the length of the long bone, we go to the bone and go under the thin skin that covers it. After teasing it along the short side, the growth of the bone will speed up. The amount of curve will determine how much “teasing” needs to be done to accelerate the growth of that side of the bone.
All of these procedures are more effective the earlier they are performed. It is important to note these are procedures that can be done for those legs that are not perfectly straight. If the legs are the only characteristic that keeps the foal from “winning the world,” then they deserve to be straightened.
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