Diseases of the Foot.
Disease of the Navicular Joint, Coffin Joint Lameness, Grogginess, Chest Founder, etc., are names given to a disorder of the navicular joint, which is made up between the navicular bone and the tendon which picks up the heel of the foot; the cartilages and synovial membranes being situated at points where this bone is against the pedal bone, but much more extensively on the surface of it, over which the tendon slides, where there is an unusually large joint oil apparatus. It is the most commonly seen disease of the fore feet in horses that are used for driving or running purposes, and one of the most incurable of them, when firmly seated.
Causes. The trouble always commences as an inflammation of the synovial membrane between the bone and the tendon; if this is unrelieved, and it is the only stage of the disorder which it is possible to cure, the later effects of synovitis follow in more or less rapid succession; the bone is roughened at its edges, the cartilage is more or less destroyed, the center of the bone begins to decay, and the whole bone may finally be broken across through its short middle line. If the roughness of the edges, above spoken of, becomes sufficiently developed, the tendon, in gliding over it, is roughened and an inflammation is set up which finally results in an adhesion of the tendon to the bone.
The disorder is rarely or never met with in horses having large, round feet with low heels, but attacks those of the opposite formation, that is, with high heels and a good length from toe to heel. It is common knowledge that the low heeled foot carries with it a large frog and never easily becomes hard; just as well known is the fact that the frog in the high heeled foot tends to grow small, the sole to fill up with a quantity of hard, dry horn, and the walls at the heels so dry and hard that they actually contract upon themselves until the foot looks, and is, much more narrow than it should be across the heels and quarters. It will easily be understood, then, that an animal with feet as hard as a stone, in which the horn has lost all of its elasticity, both in the wall and sole, and in which the frog has become more or less shriveled and hard, if trotted upon a hard road, will receive much more concussion to the foot than if that member were in its normal elastic condition. And when it is realized how delicate and susceptible to injury synovial membranes are, there should be no doubt that the one cause of navicular disease, aside from absolute wounds to the parts, as from nail prick, is concussion; received under the conditions pointed out and communicated to the synovial membrane. There is no doubt whatever that colts bred from parents, especially mares, having this trouble, are strongly predisposed to contract it upon slight application of the general cause.
Symptoms. Lameness may be the first thing to attract attention, although, at times, an earlier sign will be a more or less constant 'pointing" of the foot while standing in the stall or elsewhere, the horse, however, doing his work "sound." Lameness may make its appearance suddenly, in which instances it is often intense from the first; as, a horse may leave the stable, for work, in his usual state of soundness but, while out, drop suddenly lame. At the moment it is thought that he has trodden upon, or picked up, a stone; upon examination, however, no stone is found, nor is there any apparent cause of lameness in either the foot or the leg;"after a little further time he is found to be suffering from this lameness.
More generally, however, the lameness is gradual in its development, insidious and stealthy even. At first the owner imagines that his horse is going lame; while driving him he "wonders" if he is not now and then taking a lame step, or whether it is his fancy that he does so; the leg and foot are examined, nothing is found to be wrong, and no more is thought of the matter, especially as, upon the next slight drive, the animal shows no lameness whatever. Soon, a longer or more speedy drive is taken, the suspected lameness returns and assumes more of the form of reality and does not pass off so quickly. If, even now. the animal has a few days' rest the lameness is not unlikely to be lost a second time or, at all events, it is so slight that little or no heed is taken of the "favoring" that remains. In this way days or weeks are allowed to pass before the obstinate character of the trouble is realized.
The foot may or may not feel hot to the touch; the hoof will be hard, and if sharply tapped with a hammer, on the sole, under the joint, some evidences of pain may be discovered. Further than this, the examination must be in skilled hands; it consists of exclusion of other causes of lameness, by further examination of the foot; the injection of cocaine to numb the foot, and a trot at the halter to see whether or not the lameness still remains.
After an animal has become chronically lame in both feet, from this trouble, the legs, in trotting, are pushed straight out without very much bending of the knee or action of the muscles in the region of the shoulders and arms, so that the feet may come to the ground as lightly as possible and save pain. A horse in this condition scarcely ever "nods," as from lameness, but with the action described, and the soreness about equal in both feet, he goes along pretty well for a longer or shorter time, sometimes for years. It is this limited action of the muscles of the shoulders and arms that has given rise to the terms chest founder and sweeny of the shoulder, occasionally heard; the fact being that because of the lessened use of the muscles an atrophy or shrinking in size of them takes place, which makes the breast look as if it were sunken in; and the shoulders thin, flat, and drawn.
Treatment. There is no hope of full recovery unless the case is put under treatment for synovitis when the trouble is first shown. The shoes are to be removed, the sole of the foot, including the bars, pared out, until the remaining horn is quite flexible under pressure from the thumbs, the heels well opened; and the animal allowed to stand, with both feet in a tub of ice water, up to the fetlock joints. After this "soaking" has been continued, during the daytime, for five or six days, the coronets are to be thoroughly blistered with Spanish fly and the horse allowed absolute rest in a stall or box for fully six weeks. The horse will go sound after the soaking, but if he is allowed to go to work without taking the long rest prescribed, the synovitis will return.
There is but one surgical operation that should be allowed upon the feet of these horses, and that is the one that is commonly known as It nerving,' in which a section of the sensory nerve supplying the foot is cut out; two cuts for each foot are required. This operation may well be likened, in its results, to that of " killing the nerve" in a tooth, commonly practiced by dentists; the disease is not cured, but remains in the foot and progresses, but with, perhaps, less rapidity. There is no loss of action, because the nerve that is destroyed is one purely
of sensation; the nerves governing the action of the muscles, which are all situated above the knee, axe in no wise interfered with. The writer has known many instances in which comparatively worthless homes have been made, in this way, to go perfectly sound for years. On the other hand it occasionally happens that a form of degeneration follows the operation, in which cases the hoof is sloughed off and the animal has to be killed; there is no pain accompanying this loss of the hoof because the foot has already been made "numb " by the removal of the nerve. The operation should not be attempted until the foot and leg, up to the knee, have been made thoroughly cool by the application of a cold water bath to the feet and cold, wet bandages to the leg, for two or three days immediately preceding it.
Side Bone. This term is used to indicate the presence of a hard, bony bunch, situated at the extreme heel of the foot, just above the hoof, at the point where it begins to make the turn toward the frog.
Causes The bunches appear because the cartilaginous wings of the pedal bone, which come up to give elasticity to this part of the foot, have been attacked by an inflammation which has changed them into bone. They are generally, but not always, found in low heeled feet; and the cause of the inflammation is usually due to concussion coming through heavy, high heel calks; they may also be the result of blows or wounds to the part.
Symptoms Lameness may or may not be present; the bunch is easily felt, and can oftentimes be seen, when the horse stands with the feet firmly placed on the ground. If the foot is lifted and the side bone taken between the finger and thumb it will be found to be entirely And and of larger or smaller size. There may be but one on a foot, more commonly there are two; all the feet may be affected, but it 'is much more frequently met with in the front ones. When lame, the horse puts his toe to the ground first, which gives him a short and stilty. action.
There has been considerable discussion as to whether or not horses having side bone, and going sound, were sound. It may well be determined that they are all unsound, but horses that are to be used at a walking pace only, will often keep free from lameness and do good serviceable work.
Treatment. Rest; ice water swabs around the coronets for three or four days, to be followed by a good Spanish fly blister, and the rest, continued for three or four weeks. The feet are to be shod with a wide webbed bar shoe which is no thicker at the heels than at the toe. If calks are needed they may be welded onto the sides and toe, leaving the heels under the seat of the trouble, uncalked. In horses to be used for driving or any fast work, there is no way in which the lameness can be permanently removed.
Sand Crack or Toe Crack. This term is used to describe a split in the horn of the hoof of the hind feet, in by far the greater number of instances; it is very seldom seen in the front ones.
Causes. The usual victim of sand crack is the heavy work horse, although it is not confined to them. Animals with short, upright pasterns, with clubby, prominent hoofs, are considered to be predisposed to the accident; which is caused by the persistent use of heavy toe calks upon the shoes.
Symptoms. There is a crack of the hoof directly at the middle of the toe; it may extend from the hair to the shoe, or only for a short distance from the shoe upward. It generally, when extending for the entire length, penetrates the whole thickness of the horn; the shorter cracks are not as likely to do so. When extending through the horn to the soft structures under it, the constant opening and closing of the crack, as the horse throws his weight upon the foot and then lifts it from the ground, occasionally pinches them at a point just below the coronet, causing a sore which sometimes discharges blood and pus in very small quantities, and always produces great lameness, the seat of which can easily be found by pressing the coronet at the top of the crack. Such an animal, in walking, will first put the heel to the ground.
Treatment. If there is no lameness and it is desired to get rid of the crack, the shoes should be replaced by those having side calks instead of a toe calk; next a cut must be made, with a sharp drawing knife, parallel to and just below the coronet, extending for about three quarters of an inch on each side of the crack; from each end of this cut another is to be made in a line downward, which will meet the crack at about one and one half inches below the coronet, thus cutting a triangle in the horn. AU of the hoof between these cuts is to be carefully removed down to the soft tissues below it, leaving all of the edges and comers square and good.
If lameness with more or less festering of the soft parts is, present, the same operation is to be made through the hoof and the sore poulticed for a day or two with flaxseed or oil meal; when all discharges have ceased, a small piece of oakum, saturated with oil of cade, should be put on and held in place by a bandage, until new solid horn begins to form on the surface at the bottom of the part cut away; this dressing is to be done once a day. The horse should be allowed to stand hi the stall until the new surface horn is seen to be well started down from the coronet, when he may be shod, as directed, and put to rather slow work, at first.
Quarter Crack. In this the condition of affairs is much the same as in sand crack, excepting for its situation upon the hoof,
which is somewhat back of midway between the toe and the heel, at what is called the "quarter" of the foot.
Causes. There is no doubt that this crack occurs more frequently in hoofs which are disposed to easily become dry, hard, and brittle, especially those having thin, shelly walls; and in which the horn secreting structures are in a more or less state of chronic inflammation, with a tendency to contraction at the heels. The crack may also follow a slight wound of the coronet. Shoes that are set so that they do not press evenly upon the wall of the hoofs from the quarters to the heels, that, as the blacksmiths say, have a " spring " at the heel, give rise to the crack in brittle, weak hoofs.
Symptoms. The crack generally appears suddenly, although, from its situation, which is generally upon the inside quarter, it may not be noticed for some time, unless it happens to give rise to lameness. It generally first takes place through the horn at the coronet, and from, there extends, more or less quickly, in a slanting direction forward, down to the shoe. The crack may, and not unusually does, extend through the thickness of the horn, and produces soreness of the sensitive tissues beneath it, with the same results as already described in toe crack.
Treatment. In some slight cases the longitudinal cut made from the upper end of the crack will be all that is required. The other cases must be treated as already described, at length, for toe crack.
False Quarter. The horny outer wall or crust or enamel of the hoof, being secreted from the coronary substance, it naturally follows that when a part of this substance is destroyed, as by direct injury the part of the wall below this destroyed portion is no longer supplied with horn from above; a deficiency which causes a permanent chasm or fissure, of larger or smaller size, in the wall, to which this name has been given.
Causes Anything which happens to absolutely destroy the integrity of the coronary substance, as a wound inflicted by the heel calk of the opposite shoe; the toe of one of the hind shoes; falls when there is considerable struggling while down, as when a horse is cast in his stall, etc.
Symptoms. It may occur at any part of the coronet, but is more commonly found at the inside quarter or a little behind that, toward the heel. It differs materially from quarter crack in appearance There is the wound or scar with loss of substance at the top;
the fissure is much wider at its base, and contains a very soft horn
at its bottom, which is secreted by the soft tissues lying immediately
Treatment There is no cure. If lameness is present a three quarter shoe must be applied to the foot and worn constantly; a bar shoe will not answer the purpose in severe cases. To shoe properly, a full shoe with a moderately wide web, and of good substance from
the ground to the hoof surfaces, should be made and fitted; after this is done the heel of the shoe is to be cut off at a point which will leave the entire part of the hoof, under the fissure, and from there to the heel, entirely unshod. There need be no fear of bad results to the unshod portion of the hoof; the writer has known a heavy steam fire engine horse, treated in this way, to do his galloping work on stone pavements for years with entire satisfaction, while without it he was so lame as to be useless, in his peculiar work. False quarter is an unsoundness.
Corn. This term is undoubtedly borrowed from human practice, and is unfortunate in that it may cause a mistaken idea as to the real nature of the disorder. There is no connection whatever in the nature of the two. In horses, corn is simply a bruise of the sensitive sole of the foot, at the extreme angle of the heel, generally on the inner side, rarely upon the outer, of a front foot, as a result of which some little blood oozes into the pores of the com, staining them red at the point; or, the bruise being long continued or very severe, pus may form in the part, in which case it is called a suppurating corn.
Causes. Corns are found in all kinds of feet, but perhaps the large round ones, with low heels and thin walls, are more especially subject to them. The trouble arises from pressure by the shoe upon the sole, at its extreme end at the heel. It is not always, necessarily, due to bad shoeing. The wall, at the part, may be broken or worn so that it is not sufficiently strong to hold the shoe away from the sole, as it should do. The old horn may not have been removed from the sole at the point, and when this happens the sole is sure to get pressure from the shoe; or the shoe may be so badly made and put on as to cause great pressure upon the heels. Contracted heels will sometimes cause a considerable and sufficient pressure upon the soft structure within to bruise them badly and produce "corn."
Symptoms will vary, depending upon the condition of the com, Lameness is commonly the first thing that leads to the discovery of the injury; this may come on slowly and increase little by little; or suddenly and be of considerable intensity. In slight corn the horse starts out sound and, after a little, goes lamer and lamer; or he may begin lame and grow better as he travels; or he may be so lame that he "goes on three legs," as in the case of a suppurating Corn. There is nothing distinctive about the lameness excepting that in many instances, while the horse is at a walk, it can be seen that he treads upon the outside heel first.
When the shoe is removed, and the sole at the heel has been pared away a little, the red stain will be seen; this may amount to a broad patch or only to a small spot; it may be of a brown or even of an almost black color, when it is old; the rule being that the brighter red it is the more recent has been the bruise. Rarely there may be no more than a yellow spot; this is because the bruise has been severe enough to cause an outpour of serum, without having ruptured a blood vessel, and is more frequently seen in " contracted " feet. It may happen that the horse, although showing lameness, has been kept at work and the bruising considerably added to, until he rather suddenly becomes so lame that he can hardly put his foot to the ground. Men this is the case, upon removing the shoe it will be found that the slightest tap from a hammer, or pressure with the pincers, upon the part, will show very great pain; and further examination, by cutting through the horn, will be followed by a small evacuation of pus, which is generally of blackish color and has a bad smell; this condition is called a suppurating corn. If a suppurating com is not discovered or properly treated, after a time of considerable lameness a little soft swelling will appear in the skin just above the coronet, which, being opened, will discharge more or less matter; and it will afterward be found that this opening runs down to the seat of com. This is the so called "gravel" in the foot; gravel cannot enter through the horny sole; work upward and come out above the coronet.
Treatment. The com must be carefully pared out to whatever extent is necessary. If there is much lameness the horse will have to be rested for a while, during which the foot should be poulticed with bran and water until the soreness has disappeared; the poulticed should be kept wet and changed twice daily. After this a shoe can be put upon the foot, the only necessity being that the web is wide enough to cover over the seat of corn, and that it is " concaved, " on its foot surface, enough to prevent any further possibility of the undesirable pressure. Suppurating corns may be treated in the same way, using oil meal, instead of bran, for the poultice. In the cases which have opened through, the services of a veterinarian had better be obtained.
Thrush is the result of an inflammation of the outer or secreting surface of the sensitive frog, which lies immediately below the horny frog.
Causes. The maintained application of moisture to the horny frog, in any form, as from standing too long in damp manure, mud, poultices, etc., or it perhaps arises from "contracted" feet; or those in which navicular disease exists; or when the horny frog becomes hard, dry, and shriveled.
Symptoms. There is an inflammation of the sensitive frog, as a result of which a more or less dark colored, bad smelling, thick, tarry fluid is discharged from about the horny frog, at first, generally, from its cleft, or possibly at its sides, deep down next to the sole, toward the heels. Unless the thrush is properly attended to it gradually extends so that it may even effect the whole of the sensitive frog; as a result of which the entire horny frog may become separated from the sensitive structure immediately beneath; lameness may or may not be present in the slight cases, it always accompanies the severe ones, and is evidently referable to the foot. It occasionally happens, m summer particularly, that the result of the inflammation will be shown in the form of a little, rather pale, "proud flesh" in the cleft and about the bulbs of the frog; the part having become nearly, if not quite, bare of horn, and when first discovered there is often found to be a goodly supply of maggots in possession.
Treatment. Cut away all horn from the diseased surface of the sensitive frog, and apply to it dry calomel once or twice a day until cured. In some instances the treatment will leave the parts very hard and the horse going lame. This condition will be quickly relieved by a poultice left on over night.
Seedy Toe. The term is used to describe a condition of the
foot in which there has been a separation of the wall of the hoof from the sensitive and secreting surfaces immediately beneath it, at the toe.
Causes. Generally, a large, heavy toe clip, together with a large toe calk upon the shoe. It may also be the result of any cause which will set up an inflammation in the soft structures of the part.
Symptoms. The front feet are generally, but not always, the ones to be affected. It is first found that the horn of the sole at the extreme toe is so soft and powdery that it easily crumbles away from slight scraping, as with the back of the thumb nail. If this horn is removed a cavity of more or less extent will be found lying under the wall of the toe, and this part, in cases of long standing, will be seen to have sunken in and extended forward at a less angle than that of the healthy toe. Lameness is not usually present until this " sinking in" of the wall has become well established.
Treatment. First, carefully ascertain the extent of the condition with a probe of some sort. Second, cut away all undermined horn and clean all diseased surfaces. If so much of the wall has to be removed as to weaken the hoof to any considerable extent, let the blacksmith place and clinch a horseshoe nail in the wall just above the top of the cut, as he would to keep a quarter crack from opening and closing. This should prevent any upward splitting of the wall. Dress the parts, once daily, with the oil of cade until all seems clean and good. After this operation has been done in horses going lame from the trouble, the coronet had better be blistered lightly with Spanish fly to hasten the growth of the wall downward. The shoe to be used afterward, until the wall has completely grown down, should be a wide webbed flat bar, without calks, if possible; or otherwise, small calks welded upon the sides and heels of the shoe. It will generally be best to have a tar and oakum dressing, with a full leather, put on under the shoe.
Quittor is the term used to describe a condition in which there exists either a swelling or sore upon the coronet which, upon being examined, is found to contain one or more small "pipes" (sinuses) which lead down under the coronary band and lateral cartilages into the structure of the foot itself.
Causes . Pricks in shoeing, suppurating corns, tread wounds of the coronet, badly treated bruises upon the coronet, or any other circumstance which may set up a suppurating process within the hoof and coronary substance.
Symptoms. The lameness may or may not be considerable; the animal is frequently unable to touch the foot to the ground; the bunch or sore is present, as described.
Treatment. There is absolutely nothing that will cure this condition excepting a skilled surgical operation. It will therefore be entirely useless to spend money and time in an endeavor to bring about a cure by the use of outside applications. If the horse is able to work without too much pain, it will be better to keep him at it, moderately, when the operation cannot be done. In some of these instances the parts work sound after a considerable period.
Founder Laminitis. The horny hoof is joined and held fast to the soft, sensitive structures beneath, by a great number of small leaf like objects, running the full length of the wall, at the various parts of the hoof, from the coronet downward. These objects are called lamina, and there are two sets of them, the horny or insensitive, found lining the wall of the hoof throughout, and the live or sensitive, composed of soft tissues which completely cover the entire surface with which the wall comes into contact. The sensitive lamina are richly supplied with blood and are very active in their function, which is to secrete new horn in sufficiently large quantities to keep the horny laminae and the greater part of the thickness of the wall, in good order. The hoof is strongly held in place by the close interleafing of the two sets of laminae. The healthy condition of the inner and softer horn, of the entire wall, depends upon the healthy condition of the sensitive laminae. When these become inflamed, as they frequently do in horses and to some extent in oxen and sheep, the disease is called laminitis~ or founder. When this inflammation sets up the
same processes are followed as when that attacks any other soft tissue which is richly supplied with blood, namely, the vessels become congested and an outpour of serum takes place, through their walls, into surrounding parts, which, if soft, thus become swollen. But it happens that in this instance the surrounding parts, the hoof, is so strong
unyielding that no swelling can take place. The result of this is that the animal suffers great pain, in the first place, and, unless inflammatory process is cut short, the tendency to swell is so great the sole and pedal bone of the foot, toward the toe particularly,
is pressed down until the sole becomes a bulging convex surface, through which the toe of os pedis (see skeleton) is sometimes forced; at the same time the secreting power of the sensitive lamint is lost to a greater or less extent, and the condition becomes chronic, with permanent alteration of structure.
Causes. From drinking too much cold water or standing too long in a draft of cold air, when overheated; overfeeding with oats or meal; overwork, especially upon hard roads; long sea voyages, especially when the ship rolls heavily; enforced standing upon one foot while its mate is unable to bear any of the weight, as, when one of the feet or legs has been seriously injured the other foot, hind or fore as the case may be, suddenly becomes foundered from overwork of it, in standing continuously, and taking the whole weight of that extremity of the body.
Symptoms. When the fore feet are diseased, as the animal stands in his stall the hind legs are placed well forward, in order to take the weight from the front feet as much as possible, and he sways backward so that the weight that is on the front feet will be held, as fully as may be, upon the heels. If an attempt is made to back the horse out of the stall, he resists it and the movement is made with great difficulty. When the hind feet alone are attacked the animal stands with all four feet together, upon the heels of the hind ones, while he lifts spasmodically one after the other.
When all four feet are in trouble the standing position is nearer to that which is shown when disorder is in the front feet alone, but more pain and uneasiness is expressed. The pulse is full, strong, and frequent, showing sixty, seventy, or eighty beats a minute. The breathing, if he is standing, is much hastened, accompanied by a blowing noise, and the nostrils are distended. The temperature is raised to from one hundred and three to one hundred and five; patchy sweats cover the body; the expression is anxious and he may or may not eat while standing. The feet feel hot, the arteries in the leg, just above, throb, and if the foot is tapped, as with a hammer, a sharp indication of pain is expressed. In the severer cases the animal stands groaning and sweating, the picture of pain; when an attempt is made to move him he steps spasmodically two or three times and then lies down. After getting down and remaining so for a time, the greater expressions of pain gradually pass away.
Treatment. It is very much to be desired that no time be lost before treatment is commenced and while the condition is in its congestive stage, from which the animal will generally make a complete recovery; while, if the inflammatory stage has been reached, the case will probably never fully recover, but will become chronic, with the malformation already described.
It is always best to get the horse out of the stall; give him a good deep straw bed, and induce him to lie down, which can generally be done by holding up one of the front feet when down he should be turned from side to side occasionally. The shoes should be removed, if possible, and the diseased feet put immediately into large poultices, coming well up over the coronet, made with bran and ice broken into small lumps, to which a little salt may be added in the bad cams; these poultices must be kept in place and renewed as often as the ice melts, night and day, for from twenty four to forty eight hours or until the pain is considerably relieved, when bran and cold water will be sufficient and may be continued for a few days longer. Tincture of aconite root should be given at once, in doses of twenty five drops in two ounces of cold water, and continued until six doses have been given, or until the pulse becomes less full and frequent. Thirst will be present; the drinking water should be given in a few swallows at a time as often as each twenty minutes at first; each painful of water should have one quarter ounce of saltpeter dissolved in it, until one ounce has been taken during each twenty four hours. The food had better consist only of hay and wet bran, until the fever is entirely gone. The animal will eat while lying down, if he will riot do so while standing. As soon as he is able to stand, without especial pain, the animal should be walked for a short distance, at first, which distance should be increased little by little as the condition improves. The first shoes should be those having a wide web and " bars," without any calks whatever. Do not on any account allow the animal to be bled at the tom.
If the chronic condition follows, the horse may be made useful by proper shoeing. The shoes, in these instances, are to be the wide webbed bars, but a much wider and heavier shoe must be made and fully concaved, on its foot surface, from the outer edge of the web inward; so that when nailed onto the foot the sore place will not only be covered by the iron, but leave quite a little space between the shoe and the horn of the sole above; this will not only protect the sore place from pressure, but will defend it from being hurt by stones, etc., upon the road. Such a shoe may have two calks welded on at each side of the toe and at each heel, four calks in all upon each shoe.
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