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Using Radiographs to Check Alignment

The value of looking through casts to check for proper coffin bone alignment during a shoeing cycle can reveal valuable information. The time to check on the alignment during the shoeing cycle can be anytime during the cycle as long as the time is noted. The reason for radiography is to monitor when changes are happening and are the changes beneficial for proper bio-mechanics. Often these changes are not easily predicted because of the degree of pain and the associated challenges can and will often vary significantly from case to case and can even change relative to a horses’ comfort, movement and to the degree of laminitis each horse has. One of the biggest reasons to monitor these changes is to check for space between the coffin bone and the base of a shoe, pad, cast. Many times, the space between the coffin bone and the shoe, pad or ground surface is limited. This is often referred to as thin soles. However, the bigger issue is the space for the solar artery that feeds the sole. So, in order to increase sole thickness, there must be space for the new thicker sole to grow into. Many times, angles are blamed for a horses’ discomfort when it is actually sole pressure. A manifestation that is often recognized with many chronic laminitis cases is excessive sole pressure that turns into sole abscessing during the recovery of many horses suffering from acute and chronic laminitis episodes.

It might be beneficial to think of the sole on many of these laminitic horses as having a dried-up sponge that is left on a countertop in the kitchen it’s curled up thin and hard. If a little water is added the sponge will increase in thickness with hydration. However, if a sponge is under something that will restrict its ability to increase in size there will be a puddle next to the sponge with very little change in the sponge’s ability to absorb water. Because there was not enough area for the sponge to absorb the same about of water it could have adsorbed if there was room for the sponge to expand and absorb more water. With that analogy if the sole of a laminitic hoof does not have room to absorb and increase in size to grow a thicker sole then there will be a limited area (thickness) the sole must increase in size, shape and thickness.

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