Definition. - By this term is indicated a condition of the foot where the natural concavity of the sole is absent.

Symptoms. - In the flat-foot the inferior edge of the wall, the sole, and the frog, all lie more or less in the same plane. It is a condition observed far more frequently in fore than in hind limbs, and is seen in connection with low heels, more or less obliquity of the wall, and a tendency to contraction. The action of the animal with flat feet is heavy, a result partly of the build of the foot, and partly of the tenderness that soon comes on through the liability of the sole to constant bruising.

Fig. 80. This Figure Represents The Lower Surface Of A Typical Flat Foot

Fig. 80. This Figure Represents The Lower Surface Of A Typical Flat-Foot. It Illustrates, Too, The Commencement Of A Condition We Referred To In Section B Of This Chapter - Namely, The Compression Of The Frog By The Ingrowing Heels (B) And Bars (A).

Causes. - Flat-foot is undoubtedly a congenital defect, and is seen commonly in horses of a heavy, lymphatic type, and especially in those bred and reared on low, marshy lands. It is thus a common condition of the fore-feet of the Lincolnshire shire.

As might be expected, a foot of this description is far more prone to suffer from the effects of shoeing than is the foot of normal shape, and regarded in this light shoeing may be looked upon as, if not an actual cause, certainly a means of aggravating the condition. Directly the shoe - or at any rate the ordinary shoe - is applied, mischief commences. The frog is raised from the ground, and the whole of the weight thrown on to the wall. The heels, already weak and inclined to turn in, are unable to bear the strain. They turn in, and contraction commences. This 'turning in' of the heels is favoured by the undue obliquity of the wall. At the same time, the sole being archless, a certain amount of elasticity is lost. The weight is thrown more on to the heels, and the os pedis slightly descends, rendering the flatness of the sole even more marked than before. With the loss of elasticity of the sole concussion makes itself more felt. The animal is easily lamed, bruised sole becomes frequent, and corns sooner or later make their appearance.

Treatment. - Flat-foot is incurable. All that can be done is to pay careful attention to the shoeing, and so prevent the condition from being aggravated. In trimming the foot the sole should not be touched; the frog, too, should be left alone, and the wall pared only so far as regards broken and jagged pieces.

The most suitable shoe is one moderately seated. If the seating is excessive, and bearing allowed only on the wall, there is a tendency for the wall to be pushed outwards, and for the sole to drop still further. On the other hand, if the seating is insufficient, or the web of the shoe too wide, and too great a bearing thus given to the sole, then we get, first, an undue pressure upon the last-named portion of the foot a bruise, and, finally, lameness. The correct bearing should take in the whole of the wall and the whole of the white line, and should just impinge upon the sole. Above all, the heels of the shoe should be of full length, otherwise, if the shoe is worn just a little too long, its heels are carried under the sole of the foot, and by pressure there produce a corn.

If, with these precautions in shoeing flat-foot, tenderness still persists, a sole of leather or gutta-percha must be used with the shoe.