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Detecting and Taking Care of "Caudal Heel Syndrome"

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I hope this week finds everyone having had a wonderful Holiday. We celebrate Christmas on our farm and I have to say that living in SW FL is a bit different than living in New England. Snow or no snow in NE Christmas day is always on the chillier side. Usually just downright cold. Here in SW FL ... well, suffice to say that yesterday I ventured out to the barn in my shortie pj's and flip flops to feed in the morning.  That, in itself, is an awesome gift!  

OK ... so, this week I'd like to take a few moment to explain "Caudal Heel Syndrome" to you -- how to detect it and how to treat it.

What IS "Caudal Heel Syndrome"?  Well, simply -- it means heel pain. 

Often, farriers and veterinarians focus on trimming the toes more so than the heels. With good trimming and balancing of the hooves, it’s important to tend to the WHOLE hoof and not just the toes.

Caudal heel syndrome commonly occurs because heels run too far forward due to lack of trimming. As a result, pinched or contracted heels are also caused which, in turn, can manifest the Caudal Heel Syndrome. 

Signs that a horse may have Caudal Heel Syndrome include:

  • Landing on toes when walking or trotting
  • Short strides
  • Horse appears lame with varying degrees of head bobbing. 

Of course, there may be other reasons for sore heels on the horse but things like Thrush, Bruised heels, Yeast, developing abscesses are generally easy to spot. Desmitis (inflammation) of the collateral ligments, tendonitis, synovitis in the joints are also all other causes for heel pain. Even fractures will cause heel pain. With Caudal Heel Syndrome the causes are not always easily detected. That is why it is important to enlist the help of your professional hoofcare practitioner and veterinarian to determine the issue as well as determine an appropriate solution. 

There are ways to help a horse recover from this condition and they are relatively simple ... 

First is to try to identify the cause with a good hoofcare professional. 

Limiting the exercise so as not to further any internal damage is advised. This includes riding as well as ground exercises such as lungeing, etc. 

 

Get the hooves measured and trimmed so the feet are balanced and weight is appropriately distributed upon hoof loading. 

Using hoof boots, such as "Scoot Boots" can help mitigate the discomfort during rehabbing. Boots can help protect a sensitive frog that is commonly seen with Caudal Heel Syndrome. 

There are essential oils, herbs and homeopathics that can also help with recovery. One needs to consult a professional homeopath or other alternative/complementary practitioner to determine the best course of treatment in these modalities. 

PREVENTION is the best way to approach this situation ... 

  • Trim hooves consistently, correctly and in
    timely manner.
  • Ensure the hooves are properly balanced.
  • Use boots to help protect sensitive hooves during
    ride times.
  • Soaking the hooves once a day for 20 mins or so in an activated charcoal bath will help to draw out any toxins that may be adding to the discomfort as well as helping to eradicate any bacteria or fungus that might be present. 
  • Keeping the hooves trimmed in a natural form and ensuring that the horse is able to get as much movement as possible will also go a long way to help prevent Caudal Heel Syndrome. 

Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications includingThe Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 18 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. For further information please click here:  www.thepenzancehorse.com   Gwenyth also offers an online home-study of Natural Hoofcare 101 ... please go here: www.integrativehorsecourses.com to view information and to register. 

 

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