Definition. - Under this name we indicate all cases in which the horn of the wall become straightened from above to below. It will, therefore, include all conformations varying from the so-called 'upright hoof,' in which the toe forms an angle of more than 60 degrees with the ground, to the badly 'clubbed' foot, in which the horn at the toe forms a right angle with the ground, or is even directed obliquely backwards and downwards, so that the coronary margin overhangs the solar edge of the wall.

Fig. 83.   The Club Foot

Fig. 83. - The Club-Foot.

Symptoms. - Even in its least pronounced form the condition is apparent at a glance, the alteration in the angle formed by the hoof with the ground striking the eye at once, and the heels, as compared with the toe, appearing much too high. When the condition is slight, the wall of the toe is about twice as high as that of the heels, while in the most marked form the toe and the heels may in height be nearly equal (see Fig. 83). When congenital, but little interference with the action is noticed. Such animals, by reason of their 'stiltiness,' are unfit for the saddle, but at ordinary work will perform their duties equally well with the animal of normal-shaped feet. When acquired as the result of overwork, of contracted tendons, or other causes, however, the gait becomes stumbling and uncertain. The body-weight is transferred from the heels to the anterior parts of the foot, and the shoe shows undue signs of wear at the toe.

Causes. - Upright hoof is undoubtedly hereditary, and is even seen as a natural conformation in the feet of asses and mules. When hereditary in the horse, however, it is certainly a defect, and is associated commonly with an upright limb, and a short, upright pastern (see Fig. 83).

Among other causes, we may enumerate sprains or wounds of the flexor tendons, or any disease of the limbs for a long time preventing extension of the fetlock-joint, such as sprains or injuries of the posterior ligaments of the limb, splints or ringbones so placed as to interfere with the movements of the flexor tendons, or, in the hind-limb, spavin, keeping for some months the fetlock in a state of flexion. In the very young animal the condition may be induced by an improper paring of the foot - cutting away too much at the toe, and allowing the heels to remain.

Treatment. - When the condition is congenital, no treatment at all is indicated. It might, in fact, be said that interference would tend rather to minimize than enhance the animal's usefulness; for, in this case, the club-shaped feet are in all probability due to faulty conformation above. In other words, the upright hoof is in this instance but a natural result of the animal's build, with which useful interference is impossible.

Where the upright hoof is a consequence of excessive paring of the toe, or insufficient removal of the heels, the condition may be remedied by directing attention to those particulars, and preventing their continuance. At the same time, a greater obliquity of the limb axis may be given by the use of a suitable shoe. The shoe indicated is a short one, with thin heels and a thick toe. In some cases the abnormality may be remedied by the use of a tip. Whatever method is adopted, care must be taken not to attempt too positive a change in the direction of the limb at one operation. The process must be gradual.

In cases where the abnormality has been brought about by wounds to the flexor tendons, the alteration in the direction of the limb is often so great as to produce 'knuckling over' of the fetlock. This, to a very great extent, may be remedied by the use of a shoe with calkins and an extended toe-piece (see Fig. 84).

Fig. 84.   The Shoe With Extended Toe Piece And High Calkins

Fig. 84. - The Shoe With Extended Toe-Piece And High Calkins.

With this shoe a certain amount of forced exercise is advisable, and at intervals of about two weeks the calkins should be somewhat lowered, until the heels are brought as close to the ground as is possible. In giving directions for this shoe to be made the veterinary surgeon must, when referring to the length of the toe-piece, be guided entirely by the condition of the case. Ordinarily, a suitable length is from 3 to 4 inches. It is necessary also to warn the owner that, by reason of the length projecting, the shoe is liable to be torn off.

Should the 'knuckling over' have become complicated by bony deposits round the seat of the original injury, then a favourable modification of the condition is not so likely to result.

The benefit to be derived from the shoe with an extended toe-piece in a case of excessive knuckling is admirably shown in a brief report of a case, under the title of 'Hooked Foot,' in vol. xiv. of the Veterinary Record, p. 716:

'An eighteen months' old filly showed a deformity of the third phalanx, resulting in her walking with the front face of the hoof on the ground. The flexors were apparently all right, and the bending back seemed to be due to contraction of the ligaments of the joint and the sheath of the perforans.

'On the ground of absence of contraction of the flexors, or atrophy and paralysis of the extensors, the surgeon considered the lesion curable by simple orthopaedic measures. By means of an elongated toe-piece to the shoe and calkins, which were shortened every fifteen days, the filly was completely cured in seventy days.'