Effect of hoof trimming on the occurrence of distal phalangeal palmar process fractures in foals

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Summary

This study sought to determine if extensive trimming of the front hooves of foals results in a higher incidence of palmar process fractures compared to untrimmed foals, and to characterise the clinical course of foals with palmar process fractures with physical findings, hoof measurements and radiography. Twenty foals age 4–8 weeks of multiple breeds were examined every 2 weeks over a 12 week period. Ten foals had both front hooves extensively trimmed every 4 weeks, while 10 foals remained untrimmed. Palmar process fractures occurred in 4 trimmed and 3 untrimmed foals. Four foals with fractures had brief lameness (Grades I-II/V) and hoof tester sensitivity was found inconsistently with fractures. All foals with fractures were sound at the end of the study. Fractures healed based on radiographic evaluations in an average of 8.4 weeks. Two of 3 foals with fractures developed club-footed conformation. None of the measured hoof parameters significantly differed between foals with and without fractures. We conclude that extensive trimming of the heels did not appear to affect the occurrence of palmar process fractures in this group of foals.

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