In making these grooves we must say that we think the use of the special saw may be dispensed with, and the incisions just as easily, or, at any rate, just as successfully, made with the knife. Those who select to use this instrument should choose a narrow-topped and sharp searcher, or a modern shaped drawing-knife of suitable size, such as those depicted in Fig. 46, a and b, and they will find their work much easier if they will make the first steps in the incisions with an ordinary flat firing-iron. By the use of the latter instrument the grooves are made conveniently open along their tops, and room left for nicely finishing the more delicate manner of removing with the knife the softer horn near the sensitive structures.

Those whose leaning is towards the use of special instruments, but who, at the same time, do not care to use the saw, will find their wants supplied in the hoof plane (Smith's), Fig. 146, or the hoof chisel (Hodder's), Fig. 147. With the hoof plane the groove in the wall is made by a succession of downward scraping movements, while with the chisel the cut in the wall is made either from below upwards, or from above downwards, according as the foot is held forward or backward - whichever, in fact, comes most convenient.

Fig. 146.   Hoof Plane (Smith'S)

Fig. 146. - Hoof Plane (Smith'S).

When using the knife or the hoof plane it is not often that the sensitive structures are injured. In all cases, however, no matter what the instrument used, the metal gauge should be employed when the sensitive structures have been touched, and the operation obscured by blood.

Fig. 147.   Hoof Chisel (Hodder'S)

Fig. 147. - Hoof Chisel (Hodder'S).

Our instruments at hand, the operation may be proceeded with. The first step is to ascertain the extent of the side-bone, and to determine the position of the incisions. To do this the coronet is felt with the thumb, and the anterior extremity of the side-bone noted. This is marked on the horn with a piece of chalk, and a vertical line dropped from this position to the inferior margin of the wall (Fig. 148,1). The line crosses the horn fibres obliquely, and is purposely made in that direction in order that its inferior end may be far enough back to avoid the last nail-hole. Should the side-bone reach very far forwards, it may be wise to cause this line to slant from before backwards (see dotted line a, Fig. 148). Unless this is done, it is found that in some feet so much of the wall is isolated at the bottom that insufficient is left to nail the shoe to.

The next line to be made is the rear one. Its correct position is ascertained by first noting the junction off the wall with the bar (see groove 2, Fig. 149); and its inferior end must be just anterior to the inflexion of the wall. This is done that we may avoid cutting the bar. The position of the lower end of the rear line thus ascertained, it is run upwards with the chalk in the direction of the horn fibres.

Fig. 148.   Diagram Illustrating The Position Of The Grooves In The Wall In Colonel Smith's Operation For Side Bone

Fig. 148. - Diagram Illustrating The Position Of The Grooves In The Wall In Colonel Smith's Operation For Side-Bone. 1,2, And 3, Mark The Grooves In The Order In Which They Are Made; The Dotted Line A Marks The Position Taken By The Anterior Line When The Side-Bone, Is One Reaching Far Forward, While The Dotted Lines B And C Mark The Position Of The Additional Grooves To Be Made If Thought Necessary.

The third line is made in such a position as to divide into two equal portions the wall between lines 1 and 2. Here, however, some operators prefer to make two, or even three, lines, adding those as at b and c, Fig. 148; and Smith himself says that a multiplicity of lines is an advantage rather than not.

In any case, having once determined the position of the lines, they should be plainly marked out with chalk, and then viewed from a distance with the foot on the ground, in order to judge of their regularity. If we are satisfied with them, we then lightly mark them with the saw, with the hot iron, or with the knife, whichever instrument we may be intending to use.

Unless the details are methodically carried out as here described, it is probable that more of the foot will be isolated than is necessary, and that as a consequence very little is left to which to nail the shoe.

Fig. 149.   Diagram Illustrating The Position Of The Grooves Made In The Hoof In Colonel Smith's Operation For Side Bones

Fig. 149. - Diagram Illustrating The Position Of The Grooves Made In The Hoof In Colonel Smith's Operation For Side-Bones. 1, 2, And 3, Show The Grooves In The Wall In The Order In Which They Are Made; 4 Shows The Groove Made At The Junction Of The Sole With The Wall.

The incisions are then made with the saw or the knife, with the foot held in a convenient position by an assistant. That usually found most comfortable for the first incision is with the foot held forwards and placed on an assistant's thigh in the position adopted for 'clenching up' when shoeing, while that for the rear incision is with the animal's knee flexed, and the foot held well up to the elbow. In this, however, each operator will suit himself.

Should the preliminary steps in making the incisions be performed with the iron, it will be easiest done with the foot on the ground.

When the incisions through the wall are complete, our attention must be given to the sole. A drawing-knife is here used, and a further incision made over the white line so as to destroy the union of the sole with the wall between incisions 1 and 2, and so completely isolate the portions of wall included within the four grooves (see groove 4, Fig. 149). When this is done it should be found that the portions of the isolated wall spring readily to pressure of the thumb.

The inferior or wearing margin of the isolated wall must now be so trimmed that it takes no bearing on the ground when the opposite limb is held up by an assistant and full weight placed upon the foot.

For a day or two after the operation lameness is intense. This is to be treated with hot poultices or hot baths, and and soon disappears. Three to four days later a bar shoe is nailed on (taking care that the bearing of the quarters is still eased), and the hot poultices still continued. Four days later still walking exercise may be commenced, to be followed shortly afterwards by trotting. At about the twelfth day some animals may conveniently be put to work, while in other cases a fortnight, or even a month, must elapse before this can be done. When put to work early, it is wise to fill in the fissures made in the wall with hard soap, with wax, or with a suitable hoof dressing, in order that irritation of the sensitive structures with outside matter may be prevented.

This operation is soon followed by remarkable changes in the shape of the foot. At about the third week the coronet shows signs of bulging, and the upper part of the wall operated on is often so protruding as to render the foot wider here than at the ground surface. This is a sign that the case is doing well.

Should no improvement be noticed at the end of three weeks or a month, or should the grooves become filled from the bottom (which they do remarkably fast), then the incisions must be deepened, the exercise reduced, and the fomentations or poulticing repeated. So treated, many cases of side-bone lameness will be relieved, if not entirely cured, and, should the worst happen, and no alteration in the lameness is noticeable, no harm will have been done to the foot. In this connection, the originator of the treatment says: 'I may assure those induced to doubt either their diagnosis or the value of hoof section that no harm is done to the foot, even should the operation be of no value. It may do much good; it cannot do harm. The operation will never succeed until the inherent timidity of sawing or cutting into the wall is overcome. The incisions must be deep, and of the same depth from the coronet to the ground.'[A]

[Footnote A: Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics, vol. iii., p. 313.]

It is well to remark here that the operation of hoof section cannot be expected to succeed in every case. The last man in the world to claim that for it would be its originator. Failure to relieve the lameness may be accounted for in a variety of ways. First, of course, will come errors in diagnosis. No one of us is infallible, and the lameness we have judged as resulting from side-bone may arise from another cause. There are, too, complications to be reckoned with, the existence or absence of which cannot always be definitely ascertained. Such are: Ringbone, especially that form of ringbone known as 'low'; bony deposits on the pedal bone, either on its laminal or plantar surface, or even changes in the navicular bursa.