Nova's coffin bone was severely rotated and was actually pointing backwards toward her hind feet. On a scale of 1 to 4, Nova was a 10!
submitted by Denise Arthur
The first time I heard the term "contracted tendon" it was describing my 2 month old filly, Nova. Nova was my very much anticipated first foal who was in every other way perfectly healthy. I noticed Nova was walking up on her toes one day and called my vet immediately.
What followed over the next few years I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams: Tetracycline shots (repeated many times with no response); Baby glue on shoes (never stayed on for more than a few days); Protein deprivation (early weaning and cut her feed drastically); Nail-on shoes with a toe extension (painful, but not successful). And Nova was only four months old...
At 7 months, Nova went to the local veterinary teaching hospital for a check ligament surgery. Four months after the surgery, she was walking on her toe again. It seemed that there was nothing else to try.
Over the next two years I had countless farriers (maybe 10 or more) who tried to keep a shoe on Nova, but once her foot would grow to a certain length it would break off. It is scary how many farriers claim that they can do orthopedic shoeing, but really don't know how to treat contracted tendons and club feet.
Nova's foot was now a full-fledged club, and she was never sound. I couldn't break or ride her because she was so in pain. I had all but given up hope of ever being able to do so. At this point the only goal was to try to keep her as comfortable as possible. Many of my friends suggested putting Nova down, but this was my baby that I had waited my whole life for...
When Nova was 3 years old a friend gave me an article on club feet which explained a totally different treatment I had not heard of before. According to this we were doing everything wrong! Shortly afterwards I found a farrier that was using the methods described in the article. He told me he worked very closely with a vet who did a lot of work with laminitis horses and might be able to help.
Dr. Floyd examined Nova and took x-rays. The farrier placed Nova on wedge pads and DalricÒ cuffs to make her more comfortable. The results of the radiographs were devastating! Nova's coffin bone was severely rotated and was now actually pointing backwards toward her hind feet. On a scale of 1-4, Nova was a 10!
Dr. Floyd never gave me false hope, and she explained in detail what needed to be done. Nova would need surgery again - this time to cut the deep digital flexor tendon. This would relieve enough tension to allow the coffin bone to be placed back into a more normal position. We didn't know how Nova would respond since the bone within her hoof needed to rotate forward about 52 degrees, and because her condition was considered chronic at this point.
The surgery was successful! Nova's foot went down. It has been a long road to recovery since that day with many visits from the farrier and Dr. Floyd, but the results are well worth it. Nova's hoof angle stays at 56 degrees between trimmings, appears almost normal and holds a normal shoe.
There is no scarring from the surgery, and for the first time in her life Nova is sound and pain free. I ride her now, and she has truly blossomed into the horse I had dreamed of, prayed for... And almost lost.