Veterinarians Discuss Limb Deformities

Two equine surgeons shared their thoughts on rotational limb deformities, contracted carpal joints, club feet, and more.
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Veterinarians Discuss Limb Deformities
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Nearly 100 practitioners crammed into one room during the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ (AAEP) Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to discuss flexural and angular limb deformities with Larry Bramlage, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, in Lexington, Kentucky, and Elizabeth Santschi, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, now a professor of equine surgery at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Manhattan.

They first described approaches to managing rotational limb deformities, which primarily include inward or outward rotation of the front limbs. Bramlage explained that foals, with their narrow chests and wide base for stability, normally rotate out some at the toe. “As the foal ages, that outward rotation tends to correct,” he said. “The chest broadens, and the elbows move out more than the shoulders.”

He noted that Thoroughbreds, however, tend to toe in at the fetlock, which might be a byproduct of breeding. “Thoroughbreds used to be more angular and narrow-chested,” he said. “Now they tend to toe in, which may be linked to a selection for speed; faster horses tend to toe in.”

When managing foals with these types of deformities, Bramlage suggested squaring their toes early to encourage correct breakover. Applying lateral extensions to the outer hoof walls of horses that toe in can help prevent the outer hoof from wearing too fast

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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