Understanding the Equine Foot Part 7

As we near the end of this educational series on Understanding the Equine Foot I am hoping that it has been a good series for you all to have watched and from which, perhaps, you've learned much about the inner workings of your horses' hooves. 

Remembering that the hoof capsule is a protective covering for the foot and, as such, should basically be of the same shape and form, it is imperative to truly understand the shape and form of the inner foot. This way one can not only assess his or her horse's care by a professional but, also, help professionals be able to more thoroughly understand the equine foot for optimal health and functioning! 

This way, too, when looking at your horse's hooves you can SEE what needs to be done if your horse is 'off' in any way. 

Just as we learn about our own children, and what best suits their individual needs, it is just as important to understand our horse's individual needs and be able to tend and maintain situations for those unique needs. While horses may differ from breed or size or type the inner foot of all equine remains pretty much the same. 

This part of the series, Part 7, talks about the Center of Articulation (COA) and how that relates to the hoof. It also talks about what happens when the ratios are 'off' i.e. the toes grow too long - what happens to the tubules of the hooves (easy to see and read) and what long toes means for the INSIDE of the capsule; the foot - how the sole thins, the heels grow shorter but longer, the breakover negatively affects the rest of the capsule and more. 

Quoted from "The Laminitis Site" http://www.thelaminitissite.org/reading-the-foot.html

"It has been suggested that half the weight bearing surface of the foot should be behind the widest part of the foot (WPOTF)/centre of articulation (COA). 

Is the hoof smart?  Adaptability of the Equine Foot – Dr Debra Taylor
40-50% of the weight bearing surface of the foot should be in front of the widest part of the foot, and 50-60% behind it.

The widest part of the foot (pdf) - ELPO
The widest part of the foot (presentation) - Gene Ovnicek

Gene Ovnicek mapped the widest part of the foot (WPOFT) on the sole, and found that the average distance from this point to the tip of P3 on x-rays ranged from 1.65" (size 000 foot) to 1.93" (size 6 foot).  He found that the WPOTF was not necessarily the COA, the distance between the WPOTF and the COA varied from 0.13" to 0.41" in his research, and was related to the palmar angle.  
He found that with a palmar angle of >5 degrees, the WPOTF was behind the COA, otherwise it was in front.
He concluded that:
the tip of P3 is a reliable distance in front of the WPOTF;
the WPOTF is not always directly beneath the COA;
the palmar angle affects the position of the WPOFT in relation to the COA;
the tip of the frog was often around 1" in front of the COA (on a size 0 to 2 foot.)"

"Below: when breakover is brought back from its current position (turquoise line) to the point where the dorsal surface of P3 meets the ground (red line), note how the amount of foot in front of a line dropped down from the centre of articulation (orange) changes from more than half to half."

With no bevel/mustang roll on the toe, more of the weight bearing foot is in front of the centre of articulation than behind it - 57:43.

With breakover brought back to the point where the dorsal surface of P3 meets the ground and the palmar angle reduced to 5 degrees, the centre of articulation now bisects this foot."

Learn to read the tubules and the whole capsule ... but the tubules will give you more information than much of the rest of the foot:

This illustration is approximate but you can see the difference in the pastern axis (dotted line), where the COA is and how the tubules will appear on the capsule.

We have 2 more parts left to this series - just as important as the 7 we've already covered.

If you've not watched the first 6 parts to this series I would strongly urge you to do so. Linda J. Harris has been very generous in allowing me to post these videos for educational purposes. And they are, extremely, educational and even eye-opening!  They will tie this information in so you are more able to see it as a whole picture rather than just bits and pieces. 

I encourage questions and comments. Is this all 'stuff' you knew before? Does it make sense to you? How does it help you see YOUR horse's hooves in a different manner? Can you see how it all affects the WHOLE horse? How are you seeing this? What do you think can be done differently to IMPROVE your horses' way of going and overall comfort and health? Can you visualize what's going on, now, inside your horse's hoof?  Have you been able to share any of this information with your farrier or trimmer? Hopefully, if you have, its helped the overall soundness of your horse if the information has been well received. 

It is always my goal, as I teach, as I share, as I write, that what I put forth in my blogs, my articles, my books, that you, the reader, would come away with just a little bit more positive knowledge and encouragement so as to benefit your horses and their hoof care. 

Again, I welcome discussions, questions and comments. 

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 including The 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 20 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. You can email to Gwen -- gwen.santagate@gmail.com or telephone in the US (239)-573-9687. For further information please click here: www.thepenzancehorse.com

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