Owl Canyon Hoof Care and Rehabilitation

Blaine St. Peter Ft. Collins, Colorado             970-420-5496 


    I met Levi on July 6th, 2009.  He had recently been taken to the veterinarian for radiographs of the front hooves and was diagnosed with incurable founder.  

        In the words of his owner Priscilla, "On June 4th, '09  we went for a second opinion.  After looking at the x-rays, the vet looked me in the eye and said "I can give you no hope for him, he is not safe to ride".  I thanked him for his honesty, paid my bill and left with my horse.  Approximately the 1st of July, I was able to contact Blaine.  Over the phone he was giving me instructions on proper feeding.  On July 6th of '09, Blaine came for the first trim.  At that time he recommended the blood test and to remove the stall mats and put in pea gravel for footing.  The first time we had the gravel down, Levi romped and played in it.  That was the first time in months we saw him playful.  Blaine has been a real God send to us and Levi."

        Priscilla had heard about me from another veterinarian and a trainer in Cheyenne, so she gave me a call.. I asked to have a blood test done to determine how bad his insulin/glucose ratio was. I advised the owner to take him off grain, and start soaking his hay to eliminate the excess carbohydrates in his diet and level off his metabolism. I suggested that she provide an area of pea gravel for him to stand in to help support his coffin bones and provide stimulation to promote new sole growth. She filled the barn floor and paddock area with 4" of small  pea gravel. 

On the first trim there was 3/4" of exposed red keratinized lamelar wedge showing between the sole and the hoof wall. I followed the founder trim protocol (as set forth by the studies at Auburn University in conjunction with Pete Ramey and Debra R. Taylor DVM, MS, DACVIM  ). I removed the load bearing forces on the hoof walls and lowered his heels to bring the coffin bone back into proper alignment. This made Levi much more comfortable. The load bearing forces will be kept off the hoof walls until complete reconnection of the dermal laminae of the coffin bone, and the epidermal laminae of the hoof wall has been achieved. There are two important reasons for doing this. One is to place the break over in the correct relationship to the coffin bone. This will allow for proper movement of the horse. The other reason is, that without a strong connection of the hoof wall to the coffin bone, it can not reattach to the coffin bone, and the hoof wall can not physically carry any load without constantly pulling further away from the coffin bone. When the hoof walls attain reattachment to the coffin bone with healthy laminae, they will then be trimmed to the appropriate length to equally share the load with the sole and frog.

Priscilla started exercising him on a regular basis using Easy Boot Epics with 1/2" comfort pads. She started with 20 minute walks and was riding him several miles within a few weeks! The following pictures show the progression of healing. As of January 2010 he is completely sound with only 1/2" of detached hoof wall left to grow out.


 Notice the marker line on the left picture (straight line in front of the hoof) showing how much the hoof wall has been thinned toward the lower portion of the hoof  in order to give the impression that the hoof angles look correct. This was done with complete disregard for the proper orientation of the coffin bone to the ground.  The bottom of the coffin bone should be much closer to parallel to the ground. The tip  of the coffin bone is being driven downward into the sole at this steep angle. The pressure created by this steep angle of the coffin bone can cause the destruction of the distal artery as well as deformation and disintegration of the coffin bone. The upper tip of this marker line also indicates the location of the hair line. Note how low the coffin bone is in the hoof capsule in relation to the hair line. The coffin joint should be near the same level as the hair line to allow the joint to rotate freely without interference from the hoof wall . The right coffin bone is very close to descending through the sole. The gray area that extends from the front of the coffin bone to the black area is all keratinized lamellar wedge. This material is emitted from the dermal laminae covering the coffin bone. The hoof walls have virtually no real attachment to the coffin bone. 

This is before and after the first trim showing the removal of peripheral loading of the hoof wall, so that the wall can grow back in the proper orientation to the coffin bone and become reattached to it.

    The left picture is after one month. Note that the angles of the walls are very different on the left and right hooves in the first picture. If we had taken radiographs we would have found the coffin bones are at nearly the same correct angle on both hooves. The right picture is Levi as of January 2010 and the angles are the same because the walls are now attached to the coffin bone.

           After the third trim on Sept. 7th, shown on the left. Achieving a shorter toe length and smaller lamelar wedge between the sole and the hoof wall. The right photo which is after the fourth trim on October 12th, shows an even more narrow lamellar wedge.

Left picture is the first day I saw Levi in July 2009.  The right picture is Levi as of January 2010.   He has been regularly ridden on 10 mile rides since August 2009.  Note that the hoof angles are now the same!! New radiographs and photos will be taken in February and posted here. Check back to see them and the owner's story in her own words.

These last five photos show near complete healing as of February 18th, 2010

Check out this video taken that day.

Levi Founder Video After 7 Months of Rehabilitation

 Radiographs taken June 4th 2009  on left                                       February 22nd on the right

                  Unfortunately the Feb 22nd right radiograph was sent to me reversed