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Pippin: Foundered Morgan


Pippin is a Morgan that struggles with his weight. He is a trail horse and a safe ride for beginners. His owners are pretty good at keeping him on a diet and off lush grass, but this summer he did have an incident when left out on a brome field a little longer than usual. Pippin is easy to work with, and I was out within a couple of days of the onset of Acute Laminitis. His owners have done several things right to help him recover quickly.
  • Pippin was trimmed a soon as possible to minimize the leverage of excess hoof wall
  • He was still given plenty of hay to eat and allowed to move as he wanted in a small paddock.
  • He was kept on pea gravel to support his soles.
  • He wore boots when needed to aid in his comfort.
  • He is still exercised.
  • He was kept trimmed as needed.

Foundered sole

Oblique view of Pippin's foot

Aggressive trim for a foundered horse that will be wearing boots

Pippin's laminitis was pretty severe. In the pictures you can see a very large ripple in the hoof wall. I did not get pictures of his feet at the time of the laminitis, the first set of pictures are about 4-6 weeks after. Had his owners not kept him trimmed prior to, and immediately after the laminitis, he very likely would have had more rotation/flaring visible. Pippin is prone to laminitis, he appears to have a metabolic problem, though at the time of this writing, I'm not sure if he's been diagnosed officially by a vet. Usually is carefully kept to avoid any episodes, and this was a rare occasion. He foundered on all 4 feet, a rare occurrence. Most horses only suffer on the fronts, and have a smaller visible ripple if checked in time.
As you can see in the pictures, the giant ripple is from the single incident. On the solar view, you can see a hump on the bottom of his foot, just inside the hoof wall at the toe. That is his coffin bone pushing down on his sole. Note the wide trench around the sole? That is the stretched white line-or where the "finger nail" is ripping away from the foot. The fix has been to keep the heels lowered, so that his weight is shifted back to the strongest part of his foot right now, the frog. If I were to tip him up with tall heels, his coffin bone would push even harder on the sole, and incur bruising and tenderness.  The walls cannot carry the weight right now. If I were to "set him up", the leverage on the dorsal toe wall is increased, flaring continues, and the foot becomes more imbalanced, and the heels and frog become weak.
Again, looking at his wall, and how from the ripple down, his foot dishes outward, you can see how much of his hoof needs to grow down before the walls can support his weight again. Until that happens, he will wear boots for exercise or only work on soft ground. He IS comfortable in boots and pads, so they are able to work him, and exercise equals hoof growth, and speeds up the time it will take to restore him to healthy feet. His owners have taken excellent care of him and he is growing fast. Once that new, straight growth comes in, the sole will begin to lift itself up, become concave, and he should be able to go barefoot in his usual footing.
Pippin is going to be fine. There will be updated pictures to document his progress. The pictures posted are from about 6 weeks post founder, to 18 weeks post founder.

lateral view18 weeks post founder

From the lateral (side) view, the six week picture is before trimming, and the 18 week photo is after a trim. I had lowered the heels a little more at the 18 week mark, and since then, have been maintaining that heel, intstead of removing as much material. This is not how I always trim heels, but this was to get him where his sole was indicating the heels needed to be at that time. I had been conservative in removing heel previously and that is shown by the secondary flaring above the ripple. I had still left a little too much heel so the toe continued to flare some. This flare is also growing down and will be evidenced as new pictures go up. Overall, he is growing better hoof in very fast.