Today I got a question on the subject of the club foot: “Hello, my horse has not received enough suitable minerals and has developed a club foot. Has switching to barefoot a good effect?”
Well, there are horses that are born with a club foot. That is very rare – and in this case it can be ruled out. More often it is caused by mistakes in the rearing of the foal
1.) too soft ground,
2.) lack of exercise,
3.) too strong food (protein and energy),
4.) Mineral / vitamin deficiency.
A sudden development to the club foot on adult horses usually has other causes, which are differentiated into
A) Tendogenic form: tendon sheath inflammation, caused by accidents or chronic inflammation, or
B) Arthrogenic form: joint inflammation (arthritis) or joint wear (arthrosis)
As you can see, a club foot can have many reasons, and whether it is due to mineral deficiency is difficult to say with so little information. The deficiency in minerals assumed in this question primarily affects the performance of the muscles and the soft tissues (cartilage => joints, as well as skin => horn material and formation). It may be that the muscle-tendon unit has cramped and shortened due to the deficiency. It can also be that the heel area became painful and the toe axis changed. But it could also have been a processing error (keyword “long heels”).
As always, it is important to find the cause and remedy it. Then one can carefully try to bring the hoof back into its normal position by means of suitable treatment and incentives. One key to this is how far the affected (shortened) tendons can be stretched again.
Here is a practical example: This 5-year old gelding was bought 2 years ago with healthy hooves (with veterinary examination and x-ray images). Then various farriers had produced this club foot… Now, only 2 weeks after my first trim, we see the first amazing results.