Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Foal, Contracted Tendon DDFT, Coffin Joint

Synonyms: Contracture of the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon
Distal Interphalangeal Joint Flexural Deformity


The deep digital flexor tendon runs down the back of the cannon bone and attaches to the rear of the coffin bone within the hoof. If the tendon is too short relative to the length of the lower limb, then the heel is pulled up and the coffin bone is tipped up on end, resulting in a steep hoof wall, also known as a "club foot." This disorder can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired, and is more commonly seen in front limbs but can occur in hind limbs.

If congenital, this problem is usually noticed when a foal first stands. In the newborn foal, there is a short window of time in which simple treatments may make a great difference to the course of the condition. Prompt communication with your vet is the key. If acquired, this problem becomes apparent during the growth of a foal, and nutrition may play a causative role.

This problem can also occur in a horse of any age with an underlying lameness that causes abnormal use of the limb, especially if they do not bear weight normally for an extended period. See the other related record Club Foot, Flexural Deformity (in Adult), for more information.

my vet's role


In many cases, some treatment is required. With young foals, trimming alone (with no other treatment) often results in a club foot. Inferior check ligament surgery is commonly performed and is of great help in managing this problem. Proper shoeing must be performed along with the surgery for the best results.

my role

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • Is there a genetic basis for this?
  • If I breed this horse, will I likely see this problem in their progeny?

  • Will this degree of club foot cause lameness?
  • Will this improve on its own or is treatment necessary?

Recognize the problem early and treat it aggressively. Recognize the potential for a hereditary cause. Select for horses of good conformation.

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP