A horse with slightly asymmetrical feet is nothing out of the ordinary. But if one hoof differs dramatically from the other, you might be dealing with a club foot—an abnormally upright hoof with long, contracted heels and a prominent or bulging coronary band. Because shortening of the musculotendinous unit (the deep digital flexor muscle and tendon) causes this syndrome, it is more accurate to describe a club foot as a “flexural deformity” of the coffin joint. And while a deformity might sound like a career-ending flaw, with proper management affected horses can lead very comfortable and even athletic lives.
In this article we will discuss two classes of club foot: congenital, or present at birth, and acquired, or developed ov
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