Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Toe of Hoof Raises Off Ground when Weight Bearing

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If severe lameness accompanies this sign.
  • If you feel the problem is severe or has come on suddenly.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
  • If you do not notice lameness.

The deep digital flexor tendon attaches to the rear of the coffin bone (P3) within the hoof. Any disruption to the deep digital flexor tendon of the lower limb can cause a horse’s toe or foot to raise off the ground while bearing weight.

This usually occurs when some or all of the tendon fibers are cut in an injury (usually to the back of the pastern or cannon bone), when the tendon is mechanically ruptured, or it may accompany chronic navicular syndrome. Often you will also see severe lameness or a sagging fetlock.

WHAT TO DO

Confine your horse to a stall and call your vet immediately. Wrapping the limb will not help much but if your horse must be transported, splinting the limb with the toe flexed can help protect the area. Horses that recover after injuries to the tendon may still have mild elevations of the toe.

WHAT YOUR VET DO

Your vet assesses the structure and function of the lower limb, especially the deep digital flexor tendon. In addition to assessment of the limb and lameness evaluation, ultrasound and radiographs may be required.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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