Hoof Irregularities: Club Foot

Arguably, the most important parts of a horse’s anatomy are the hooves.  The hooves are literally the foundation on which the horse is built.  Unfortunately, hoof structure is complicated, and there is an entire spectrum of hoof irregularities you may come across.  One abnormality that can range from mild to severe is club foot.

Club foot is characterized by a very steep angle of the hoof wall.   The heel is very high and will not touch the ground.  There is a dish shape at the toe, and a bulging at the coronet band.

two horse hooves, one is a club foot
The club foot has a much higher heel than the other.

The horse appears to be standing on its “tippy toes.”  That’s because, it basically is.  Club foot is a flexural deformity of the coffin joint, in which the back of the coffin joint is pulled upward.  Horses can be born with club foot, which can appear in either front or hind hooves, in a single hoof or in pairs.  Or, horses can develop club foot.  This most often occurs when a horse is two to six months old, due to rapid growth, nutrition imbalances, overexertion, or genetic predisposition.

two horse hooves, one is a club foot
The hoof angle is more steep with club foot.

Club foot can range from mild to severe.  Farriers use a grade scale, based on the angle of the hoof wall.  Depending on the severity, horses can maintain some level of soundness with proper shoeing and care.  In more extreme cases, weight bearing is painful and the horse will always be lame.

diagram of 4 horse hooves
Club foot degrees of severity

A horse with club foot will have that hoof for life.  It is not something that can be fixed.  Do not try and force the hoof to take a different shape with trimming and shoeing.  Instead, work closely with a knowledgeable farrier and trim the hooves to manage and maintain the horse’s comfort.  The horse will most likely need to be shod more often than the average 6-8 weeks, and may have an uneven gait without being lame.

For more information on providing your horse with balanced nutrition, visit Dr. Bray’s Corner on our Integrity Horse Feed website.



Seasonal Diseases: Pigeon Fever

Pigeon Fever, also known as Dryland Distemper, is an equine disease most commonly occurring in the Fall.  It is a bacterial infection, and in most cases horses will be fully recovered in a matter of weeks.

Pigeon Fever is caused by a bacteria called corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.  The bacteria lives in soil, and makes its way into a horse’s system through open skin such as a wound or insect bite.  It is contagious and can be transmitted from horse to horse.  For that reason, proper quarantine procedures and biosecurity practices should be observed.

close-up photo of a light brown horse's swollen breast area

The first case of Pigeon Fever was reported in 1915 in San Mateo County, California.  Originally this infection was limited to the warmer southwestern states, however within the past 20 years, cases have been reported in over 25 states including Hawaii and Florida.  It has also been documented in Mexico and Canada.

The corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis bacteria’s incubation period is about 3 or 4 weeks.  That means a horse can be infected for up to one month before symptoms appear.  Symptoms can include lethargy, fever, and reluctance to move.  The primary symptom of Pigeon Fever is the appearance of large, deep, external abscesses on the muscles of the breast, abdomen, groin, and udder or sheath.  These abscesses are caused by a toxin the bacteria releases, which causes the immune system to build a thick wall around it to contain the pathogen.

In 8% of cases, internal abscesses will develop as the bacteria gets carried to the organs. In only 1% of cases, abscesses form in the lymph channels of the legs, causing extreme swelling and cellulitis in the lower limbs.

Pigeon Fever is diagnosed through a bacteria culture and lab testing.  Except for those rare cases, treatment involves letting the disease run its course.  It can take weeks, but the abscesses will drain and the wounds will heal.  It is not highly fatal, although the symptoms have a very dramatic look to them.

gloved hand treating a dark brown horse's abscess at the base of its neck

The bacteria causing Pigeon Fever can live up to 8 months in soil, and up to 2 months in hay or stall bedding.  Flies can transmit the disease, so pest management is essential.


Making a Plan to Manage Obesity

brown horse in grass field

It’s easy for horse owners to say their horse is just a little overweight, or big boned, but it’s difficult for them to recognize that their horse might be seriously overweight or even obese. Carrying too much weight can create serious health concerns for your horse, and it’s ultimately up to you as an owner to fix the situation.

Obesity is linked to insulin resistance, laminitis, developmental orthopedic disease, osteoarthritis, lameness, poor cardiovascular conditioning, and several other ailments.

The first step towards helping your horse lose weight is recognizing just how overweight they are. Assess your horse’s body condition score (BCS) and determine how far they are away from the ideal BCS of 5. For tips on body condition scoring, read Dr. Bray’s article here.

For your horse to lose weight, they need to be in a caloric deficit. That means they are burning more calories than they are consuming each day. Consider your horse’s activity level when feeding. A more active horse will require more calories than a sedentary horse. But even an active horse can be fed too much and be overweight.

Develop a weight management plan with your trusted equine veterinarian and nutritionist. Set realistic goals and keep in mind that changes will be gradual. Here are some key components of a weight management plan:

Increase exercise

This can be as simple as moving your horse from a stall to a larger pasture, or more structured like increasing the frequency they are ridden or lunged.

Restrict grazing

A properly fitting grazing muzzle can work wonders for an overweight horse living on pasture. It will limit the amount of grass your horse can consume by slowing them down and making them take smaller bites of grass.

Choose the right forage and feeding amounts

Choose a hay that is high in fiber and low in energy. This will help your horse feel full without adding extra calories. Alfalfa is not an ideal choice for the overweight horse. Instead, choose a mature grass hay. Feed 1 – 1.5% of your horse’s body weight in forage per day, split in to as many meals as possible.

Hold back on grains

When adding a balanced feed supplement to your horse’s forage, avoid grains. Look for a feed that contains essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your horse needs, with a high fiber content. Consider feeding Integrity Lite, available with our without molasses. Its nutrition profile makes is a great choice for overweight horses, or horses that are less active and require less calories in their diet.

Increase feeding time

Encourage your horse to spend more time eating. Using a haynet with small openings, or doubling up on haynets, will keep your horse from taking big bites of food. Remember that a horse’s digestive system is designed to be eating small amounts of food over long period of time. Anything you can do to help your horse eat this way, will help them maintain a proper weight and healthy digestion.

Most importantly, stay consistent.  Reevaluate your horse’s BCS every few weeks, and make sure they stay on track.

About The Tevis Cup

The Western States Trail Ride, more popularly known as the Tevis Cup, is the oldest modern day endurance ride.

men riding horses on mountain trail black and white

In endurance riding, the equine and rider are a team, and the challenge is to complete the course.  There are checkpoints along the trail where each horse’s physical and metabolic health is examined to ensure they are fit to continue on the ride.

The Western States Trail stretches from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Sacramento, California.  The Tevis Cup ride covers a rugged 100 miles of trail from Tahoe to Auburn.  Horses and riders must complete the ride in 24 hours or less.  The mountain terrain makes this trail one of the most challenging rides worldwide.   It was even named as a “Top Ten Toughest Endurance Event,” in Time Magazine.

horse being ridden up steep cliff

The ride was first completed in 1955 by Wendell Robie.  He and some friends set out to prove skeptics wrong.  Many people doubted that a horse could cover the 100 miles in a single day.  Robie held the ride every year since and funded efforts to aid in the trail’s preservation.

The Tevis Cup is awarded to the horse and rider who complete the 100-Mile, One-Day course in the shortest amount of time, and who’s horse has passed a health examination by a veterinarian.  It is named for Lloyd Tevis, an early benefactor of the ride.

Another prestigious award given at this competition is the Haggin Cup, awarded to the horse in the “most superior condition,” of the Top Ten finishers.

people walking on forest trail

The Tevis Cup is such a difficult competition, that it is typical for even the most seasoned horse and rider pairs not to complete the course.  In 2018, out of 150 entries, only 64 successfully crossed the finish line.  The motto of endurance riders is “to finish is to win,” meaning that completing the ride, regardless of time or placing, is a victory in itself.

To find out more about the Tevis Cup, view future ride dates, or see past ride results, visit http://www.teviscup.org/.

To find out more about the sport of endurance riding, visit the American Endurance Ride Conference at https://aerc.org/.

Welcome Tomcat Chex of Amazing Grace Ranch!

horse staring down steer

Integrity Horse Feed is proud to announce Tomcat Chex as the newest member of our team!

Tomcat Chex is a 2002 stallion by High Brow Cat, out of Miss Reed Chex.  His lengthy list of achievements includes:

$148,000+ NCHA earnings
18-time Limited Aged Event Finalist
1-time Limited Aged Event Futurity Champion
2-time Limited Aged Event Reserve Derby Champion
NCHA World Open Champion Stallion
NCHA Res. World Novice Non Pro Champion
NCHA Open Novice National Champion
Cow Palace Cutting Champion

His offspring are incredibly accomplished as well!  Integrity Horse Feed is thrilled to be in partnership with Tomcat Chex, his owners Jalinda and Rick Covey, and Amazing Grace Ranch.  This stallion has an incredible story, right from the start!  Read on to learn about a real life story of serendipity and fate!

Tomcat Chex

From amazinggraceranch.com

The Purchase of Tomcat Chex

Bred by Erenberg, Tomcat Chex was purchased by Jalinda and Rick Covey, Dixon, Calif., in November 2003. The yearling stallion had been consigned to the PCCHA Futurity Sale by Erenberg. “We bought him through the 2003 PCCHA Sale in Burbank the last year the Futurity was held there,” reminisced Jalinda. “He was a long yearling and the only High Brow Cat in the sale.”

Jalinda said that the sale took place just before all the High Brow Cats started winning and she just loved the way he looked – and especially loved the bottom side of his pedigree. “He had great bone, and everybody was looking at him,” said Jalinda. “He was out of the stall more than he was in the stall. They had people so serious that they had him x-rayed.”

I told my Dad I would love to try and buy Tomcat Chex, but he will bring more money than we can afford, and his response was, ‘Well, let’s just pray about it. If it’s God’s will, it will happen.’

As fate would have it, the owners of the stallion Playboy Perfecta were offering an incentive purse for his offspring at the PCCHA Futurity and Jalinda was showing one. “I had a horse that Russ Elrod competed on in the Open and I rode in the Non-Pro,” said Jalinda. “We both kept advancing and we knew we had made the Finals, so we knew we had a shot at that money.”

The sale was held before the Finals but at that point, we knew that we had won the Incentive part of the Gelding purse, which was about $25,000. I said, ‘OK, Dad, if we bid on this colt, the highest we can go is $25,000. We know we have that much money.’

When the auction of Tomcat Chex started, it kept going really fast – everyone was bidding all over the place. We never even had a chance to bid. The bid was already up to $20,000 and then it stopped. They gave Phil Rapp the microphone and he was talking about how he was going to show a High Brow Cat that year at the NCHA Futurity. He was pumping up the High Brow Cats, saying, ‘I really think they’re going to be great horses.’

While he was talking, my husband got the attention of the ring man who was standing down below us. He told him that he wanted in on the bid. As soon as he handed the microphone back to the auctioneer, he gave our bid to the auctioneer. There was about a 30-second lull – it wasn’t very long – and the auctioneer hit the gavel on the podium and said ‘sold.’ Then he pointed right at us. Our hearts jumped with joy…we couldn’t believe it happened so quick. I think the auctioneer could have gotten more money because people would have jumped right back in there. But that’s what I mean, it was totally “God’s will.”

brown horse

Sherry Hagemeier, the Star Milling sales representative for Northern California, is over the moon that she was able to reach out to Jalinda:

“In my journey with Integrity and trying to get as many horses on it as I can, I started looking at key riders and breeders of horses. Jalinda and Rick Covey of Amazing Grace Ranch came into mind as people that I wanted using our Integrity Horse Feed. I have known Jalinda and Tomcat Chex for years and he has always amazed me with his talent.  He and Jalinda along with trainer Gavin Jorden have made such a dynamic team to watch.  I approached Jalinda with the idea of feeding her current show horses (Tomcat Chex babies) on our Integrity Horse Feed, and Jalinda asked that I send her the information to read.  Jalinda later called me and said she was ready to start some horses on Integrity. I asked which ones and when she said Tomcat Chex I about fell out of my chair.

Since Tomcat Chex has been on our Integrity Horse Feed Jalinda has seen amazing changes in him and is thrilled with the results. I am so honored that Jalinda took the chance with me to put her amazing horses on our Integrity Horse Feed.

I believe that this amazing journey will achieve a great partnership. Welcome to the Integrity Horse Feed Family.