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Discussion on 8-Day old foal with dropped fetlocks

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Melanie Wilfong
New Member
Username: bullmom

Post Number: 1
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Friday, Jun 19, 2009 - 6:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello, my 8-day old foal was born with lax fetlocks parallel to the ground, but not quite walking on the joint. He was born in the pasture. I put the mare and foal in a 60' x 60' paddock and the foal improved by 60% by day 3. Since then, he has made very slight improvements each day, but is not improving as rapidly as the first 3 days. Yesterday I moved them to a more padded 24' x 24' covered pen as he had some slight rubs on the heel bulbs. The left fetlock is a little worse than the right. Here is a link with pictures/video:

http://www.wilfongbuckingbulls.com/foal.html

I have read the reference article and noted statement on toes going up in the air. His toes slightly raise when he steps. At what point do I need to do something more aggressive than stall rest? Is the 24' x 24' stall small enough for him to heal? How long does one have from birth correct this problem? At first I was not concerned, but now I'm not seeing much progress and wondered if I've not done enough/waited too late to confine to a smaller area. Thanks in advance for your response.

Melanie
www.wilfongbuckingbulls.com
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 23225
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 - 5:15 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Welcome Melanie,
First note that I have never seen a foal that did not correct with time and occasionally it takes longer than 8 days to completely correct. The next important point is that there are no direct treatments you can speed up the needed contracture of the DDF to get the toe on the ground. Something confusing about your post is the reference to stall resting as treatment for healing. This is not a injury type problem. Indeed just the opposite, you want to encourage him to exercise and stress the musculoskeletal unit to get it to become stronger and contract but while preventing ulcers from developing on the heels.

With the signs of sores forming on the heels you should go ahead and develop a bandaging technique that protects the heels but allows free movement. Roll cotton, cotton gauze, and Vetwrap would be a sensible way to attack this and if he goes through it too quick adding a layer of Elastikon will help. Some might consider extended heel shoes to help the foal place the toe down and protect the heels but I think it may slow progress to a normal pastern angle by supporting the DDF rather than stressing it but an option to consider if constant monitoring of bandages impractical.
DrO
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Melanie Wilfong
New Member
Username: bullmom

Post Number: 2
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 - 1:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you, I have all the mentioned wraps handy, and will let him get exercise.
Regards,
Melanie
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Melanie Wilfong
New Member
Username: bullmom

Post Number: 3
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Saturday, Jun 27, 2009 - 11:57 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello again. My foal seemed to be progressing well, however, the ulcer is not getting better. I've had trouble keeping it clean. I'm using cotton/gauze/vetwrap and duct tape on the very bottom but debris still gets in there. Please take a look at the most recent pictures taken today. At this point he's getting harder to bandage and now takes two people. Do you believe the lax tendon is improving as it should? I am going to re-bandage today. He is in a 30 x 30 pen with shavings as it was too hard to keep the bandage on with him turned out. Our pastures are pretty large and it's hard to keep an on him. He is getting a lot exercise playing in the pen bucking, etc. Today he is laying down more but hard to dr. myself. Should we rasp his toe to get him more "stood up"? I am getting worried. Thanks so much.

http://www.wilfongbuckingbulls.com/foal.html
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Lisa JE
Member
Username: lisae

Post Number: 13
Registered: 4-2009
Posted on Saturday, Jun 27, 2009 - 1:20 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

i just quickly read your post and focused on your trouble trying to bandage your little guy. I always found success with child tube socks rolled up the leg including the hoof . i applied duct tape to the bottom for extra security against the sock wearing away. a helpful hint is do not use the cheap imitation duct tape it is not the same for equine applications as the real mccoy. to hold the sock up on the leg use white bandage or athletic tape and wrap it around the sock with 1/2 the tape along the sock and the other side on the hair to keep it up. Do not wrap to tight. i usually go up the leg about mid cannon bone so you don't get any complications trying to bandage the fetlock joint. then i usually will include a wrap of vet wrap around the pastern to help keep the sock from slipping also. If you are lucky they usually hold up for a few days. IF YOU ARE LUCKY those are the key words. We foal out about 75 babies a year here for clients and for the ranch and we get a fair share of these lax tendons as well as contracted tendons and in most cases they seem to be self resolving if they get good management and nutrition. Good luck, hope this might help.
Lisae
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Melanie Wilfong
New Member
Username: bullmom

Post Number: 4
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Saturday, Jun 27, 2009 - 1:43 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you Lisa, I'm going to try the sock today. This guy is so close but this sore is really becoming a problem. Know what you mean about the cheap tape too! Thanks again.
Best,
Melanie
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Melanie Wilfong
New Member
Username: bullmom

Post Number: 5
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Saturday, Jun 27, 2009 - 8:51 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lisa, do you have any foals that take longer than 2-3 weeks to correct? One foot is corrected but the other is still low enough, at times, to be a problem. Mostly, he walks correctly on it, but when standing still it will drop and put weight on the heel bulb. I'm just wondering if this will continue to get better and hopefully heal enough to turn out in the big pasture with the other mare and foals. We are on a good size ranch so I hate to turn out until he's able to get around without any rubs.
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Lisa JE
Member
Username: lisae

Post Number: 14
Registered: 4-2009
Posted on Saturday, Jun 27, 2009 - 11:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

we have had some foals with delayed recoveries.Let me clearly state I don't feel comfortable going against the doctors advise but I will share the things we have incorporated and the theories behind them. I am not a vet and have let my vet tech certification expire for several years now to pursue breeding management and training interests. I was handed down this theory by an incredible horseman a long time ago and it sounded reasonable so we tried it and have used the theory behind it for many foals. We really like to get the foals out of the barn the morning they foal and quickly try to get them into small herds of similar aged babies and their moms. When a contracted tendon is the worry, there have been very few cases that didn't seem to resolve themselves with exercise and hill are great if you have them in your pasture. We always try to have the water sourse at the top and feed down lower to maximaize their usage of such a great tool. On the other hand we have had more success confining the foals with the lax tendons. It seems like they start to stand up a little only to come back in at night back down again. Old man theory is that those tendons are getting hyperextended every time the toe goes up and after uncontrolled exercise the tendons simply tire and cannot maintain the strength needed and start to regress. We have confined them in small mare motel stalls (most of ours are 12 x 24) as we want them to be outside at least. We would take short exercise outings to a round pen or small enclosure and return them before they had overdone it. This is hard on the little guys but it has worked for us.It was something we had to play on a baby by baby schedule with several short turnouts better than 1 long one. Also have had heel extensions applied and with all the new products out there i like the ole hinge fix. We would get a hinge that was triangle shaped (or grinded to fit to the toe) and taped or glued to the foot with the pin removed so that the pin part fell behind the heels to a desired position and the pin part acted as a wedge raising the heel just a little. This was always accompanioed by friendly wagers as to whether he would get 2 steps in or 100 before it fell off. Other times we used a wrist brace for humans to help support their tendons. But all these remedies have their own chance at rubbing sores as well. Vettec products makes a great adhere product and another for glueing on foal extensions. I am sure they are a better bet than the hinge method. we routinely round to slightly square the toes on rear hoofs of the foals just enough to help a center of the foot break over. This is controversial and again was handed down from a wise ole guy. I think the concept is good in that it is hard to break over on a pointed toe. But nature intended it for a reason and foals do travel differently than adults so we do it in a very conservative amount and are real careful because the walls are so thin. I am absolutely confident Dr O has a much bigger picture he draws his conclusions from and i can only say we have had success with these methods but there are a lot of times dumb luck strikes many times and it may have been our practices slowed the eventual healing i wish we could see the other outcome options with a crystal ball. Dr O I would love to hear any input you have as to my comments. occassionly one can become blind to an idea that works and cannot see the better idea for fear they will be wrong. Is there any damaging effects to our theories you can point out for us to consider in the quest for better horse management.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 23301
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Jun 28, 2009 - 8:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lisa, if I saw that during the day on pasture the fetlocks were dropping it would suggest to me I am tiring the flexor muscles out and would consider more time up resting.

Melanie I would be very careful removing the sole off of a young foals foot especially at the toe. This area usually has very little extra horn and creating lameness is the last thing you want to do. If the front of the toe is lifting off the ground extended heel shoes should work to bring the fetlock up.
DrO
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Lisa JE
Member
Username: lisae

Post Number: 15
Registered: 4-2009
Posted on Sunday, Jun 28, 2009 - 10:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr O,
Thanks for the input we are so lucky to have you and hope we show are appreciation to the proper degree.
Lisa
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Melanie Wilfong
Member
Username: bullmom

Post Number: 6
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Monday, Jun 29, 2009 - 12:13 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you Dr. O and Lisa, we did not take off any toe, as I understand now that removing any surface will do no good. Our farrier came out today, but he could not glue on an extended heel shoe because of the heel bulb issue. He said the heat from the resin would be too hot for that heel bulb rub. He said he could get a splint and go that route. Also, he suggested wrapping the heel and turning out to strengthen. Since I wasn't making any progress with the stall rest the last week, I went ahead and turned them out with the other mares and foals. I walked the pasture just after dark but did not find them. The pasture they are is 200 hundred acres, so now it's going to be a sleepless night. I did not think the mare would go far from the barn since that is the area she knows best. The mare is used to being in about a 60 acre pasture with our saddle horses (mares/geldings), and I did not think she would venture off far in unfamiliar territory. I did find the bandage, the farrier did not get the vet wrap tight enough around the cotton and it came off. Tomorrow I will bring them in and wrap the ulcer and see if the fetlock has dropped. If so, I will leave them up. I had no idea this would linger on and become such a problem. I am curious, do you think the foal has unusually long pasterns (fetlocks)? The farrier thought they were really long. I'd really appreciate your looking at the link at letting me know. We have mares/foals every year, but they are my husbands running-bred mares. Of course no problem. As soon as my mare foaled it's been non-stop worry. I'm loosing sleep over it. Thanks again! The foal is now 17 days old and still looks the same as the latest pictures. ://www.wilfongbuckingbulls.com/foal.html

I go one direction and that doesn't work, then try another. I am so confused as to what to do. I probably should not have let them out. I am worried the ulcer will be worse since the bandage came off, so I will try the sock. Thank you again, Lisa and Dr O for all your help.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 23310
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Jun 29, 2009 - 8:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Melanie, your confusion arrises from you looking for a set treatment plan but as the discussion between me and Lisa above shows there can be all kinds of confounding factors. Exercise strengthens the muscles and allows activation of the tension sensors that help maintain proper muscle tendon bone relations however it is possible to tire the muscles out: you have to find a proper relationship.

If you are having a tough time with this considering between the option of a stall or 200 acres is not really going to give you the best outcome. You need a small, maybe a acre, pasture with nice soft grass and so they can be turned out where you can watch and make adjustments (including repair bandages) promptly.
DrO
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Melanie Wilfong
Member
Username: bullmom

Post Number: 7
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Monday, Jun 29, 2009 - 2:24 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, a sleepless night for no reason. The mare and foal showed up this morning and guess what? He is standing straight, no rocking back on his heel bulb. I was going to put them in our yard as it's about an acre fenced in, but he is traveling well so I put them back out in the broodmare pasture. This mare wont go too far like the other mares. I can't thank Dr. O and Lisa enough. This is a wonderful site. So glad to get them out of the barn and out where they belong.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 23312
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009 - 6:43 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Delighted to here the foal is better Melanie.
DrO
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Margaret McElligott
New Member
Username: peggymc

Post Number: 1
Registered: 5-2010
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 - 9:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I wish I had seen Dr. O's article and advice for my baby foal several weeks ago. He had lax tendons, and was put out without bandages because I wasn't told sores would quickly develop. He wound up with septic arthritis, which did not respond to antibiotics and was put down today. By the time I learned about Elasticon, which worked great, he already was starting toward open sores. Please take Dr. O's advice, bandage even if the foal is in the stall. Watch your foal when turned out to be sure the bandages are holding. If you put vet wrap under the Elasticon, which is very sticky, it will be much easier to take the Elasticon off without tearing at your foal's hair and skin.
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