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Monday, May 26, 2008

Triple Crown "Crack"down: Update from Ian McKinlay on Big Brown's Latest Hoof Malady

This device from Holland was marketed in Europe for stabilizing quarter cracks on Standardbreds. This photo shows clearly what a typical quarter crack would look like after being cleaned up. Notice where the start of the crack is at the hairline vs where the bottom of the crack is at the shoe. A quarter crack is a fissure in the hoof wall and is a reaction to stress so it will generally follow the angle of the horn tubules if the intertubular horn is weak, or the path of least resistance. Big Brown's crack is only 3/4" long, according to Ian, and is up at the top of the wall.

As promised yesterday, Hoofcare and Lameness caught up with hoof repair specialist Ian McKinlay today. Ian has promised a photo of Big Brown's new quarter crack on Wednesday of this week.

Ian was called to Belmont Park the other day when trainer Rick Dutrow noticed something wrong with the medial (inside) hoof wall on Big Brown's left front foot.

As avid Big Browners will recall, the left front foot is the site of the original wall separation that started the chain of hoof repair and layups for the champion colt over the winter months. Ian had removed the heel tissue on the inside heel of the left front, as detailed in previous posts and videos on this blog. The horse then shipped to Florida, where his right front inside heel was removed and repaired by Tom Curl.

Since then, Big Brown has been training and racing on a designer adaptation of a Thoro'Bred racaing plate that is glued on his foot without nails. The Yasha shoe system is like an orthotic insert between the shoe and the foot. One density of plastic, similar to the gasket that holds your truck's windshield in place, circuits the shoe and holds adhesive in place. Another density is a thick block pillow on which the remains of the heel sits as it grows out. Big Brown raced successfully in these shoes, winning the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Note: in the "combi" Yasha paradigm, the plastic coats the foot surface of the shoe and acts like a dual-density rim pad. Some Yasha shoes have dual densities for different parts of the foot. Big Brown's shoes do not look like this.

"He doesn't even need the shoes anymore," McKinlay said today. "He could be in a regular shoe now."

My first thought was that a crack had developed at the hair line above the patch because of the stress from the material as the colt pounded down on the heel but Ian assured me that was not the case. "It's back around a little ways toward the heel," he said, "but not near that area. Besides that heel is all grown down now."

Many reports state that the crack has been "patched" but that is not the case. The crack has been cleaned up and treated with drying agents to dry it out and allow drainage of any infected area inside the crack. Then it was laced with the sutures as illustrated in the video posted on this blog last night (scroll down to May 25 video post to see that technique illustrated).

"As soon as I tightened it down, the foot started to cool out," Ian said. "Call me Wednesday to find out how it went."

Ian will check Big Brown again on Wednesday and decide what the next step will be in, in terms of replacing or relocating sutures, covering the crack with hoof wall adhesive, etc. The horse would then have nine days to train up to the mile-and-a-half Belmont.

In an email just received this evening, Ian gave an update: "By the way, his foot went cold within five hours of lacing him up, couldn't ask for more than that."

1 comment:

Gabrielle Dareau said...

I would just like to point out that a horse's hoof only becomes cold because the healthy circulation has been inhibited by the restriction of the hoof's normal pumping action by shoes, and this devise obviously exacerbates this effect. A cold hoof is not a healthy hoof, as anyone who has a barefoot horse will know.
These quarter cracks could have probably been prevented by correct natural trimming which avoids undue stresses on the hoof wall, and encourages a strong hoof from the inside-out.