Founder in Horses Therapeutic Horse Shoeing


Working to establish a protocol

for the treatment and derotation

of foundered horses.


Founder Information

Founder is a maritime term for sinking. The term is used in relation to the equine hoof to describe the hoof disease where the coffin bone (third phalanx, P3) begins to lose its attachment to the inner hoof wall and begins to rotate or sink within the hoof capsule. Founder is the result of an imbalance in the horse’s internal system. For example, an injury to some part of the body is combated by the circulatory system as blood rushes to the injured area. The momentary reduction in blood flow deprives the capillaries which feed the lamina. The lamina is the “velcro” that attaches the bone to the hoof wall. In the brief time the lamina lacks sufficient blood flow, the capillaries begin to die and the “velcro” attachment is weakened. The deep flexor tendon is attached to the bottom (palmar surface) of the coffin bone. The tendon is an extension of a muscle which reacts to the pain of the tearing lamina. As the muscle contracts, the tendon is in tension and pulls on the coffin bone. Once this pain cycle is established, it must be broken before healing can begin. The example of an injury is only one of many imbalance situations. Some other situations could be intestinal problems like colic, extreme or sudden changes in sous vide temperature chart , concussion, and others. watch the video on youtube

hoof pastern axis

The yellow line represents the Distal (front) surface of the hoof capsule. A radiographic opaque paste used on this surface will give an accurate picture of any hoof wall defects (critical information on chronic cases and identifying the coronary band).
The blue line represent the distal surface of P3 (coffin bone). It is drawn from the ground surface to the Extensor Process of P3. This dimension is a reference along with the Sole Depth (black Line) to monitor hoof capsule descent or reversal of descent. A measurement between the Extensor Process and the Coronary band (not shown here) is a more accurate reference.
The red line is taken from the point of articulation of the interphalangical joint to the ground surface and identifies the center of the hoof.
The green line is another sole depth dimension taken at the plantar (back) wings of P3.
The white line represents the ground surface. If this line is moved up to the distal tip of P3, The angle formed between this line and the solar (bottom) edge of The wings of P3 is the Palmar Angle of P3. The Palmar Angle varries between breeds and is relative to bone alignment.

These Dimensions are used to reposition the hoof capsule around the boney column.

Hoof-Pastern Axis: This lateral radiograph illustrates the hoof-pastern axis, center of articulation, sole depth, palmar angle of the distal phalanx, breakover and placement of the shoe. A good set of radiographs is essential for any therapeutic shoeing.

Not all founders are severe, while other founder situations can be life threatening. Early detection is the key to an early and easy correction. Some signs of founder are a tenderness in the front feet, being off on his feed, uncooperative, irritable, or “just not himself.” Indication of more severe founder is a “camped out “ stance, or standing with the front feet out in front while trying to shift weight to the hind legs. Your veterinarian should be notified if you have any doubt or if you feel the horse is foundering. As mentioned before, not all cases are severe and some may require no more than a pain reliever and rest.
More severe founder cases require more corrective work. Once a foundered horse, always a foundered horse. There is much that can be done to maintain a foundered horse into a useful or reproductive role. Once founder has stabilized, and the hoof capsule and bone alignment has been re-established, many horses can be maintained as productive animals. However, the hoof has lost its normal integrity and will always be susceptible to re-founder. Therefore proper maintenance is most important. see:

The Team Approach

There are two possible ways to treat founder: the “lets try this” approach and “The Team Approach.” There are several techniques we can try that are less costly initially. You may get lucky and stabilize the rotation. You may be able to maintain the horse with the first shoe you try. If this is the case, you are one of the lucky few. In most cases the “try” approach costs as much, if not more, than “ The Team Approach “ that takes the try out and uses the combined education and expertise of vet and farrier. Though there are no guarantees with founder, the vet and farrier work together with the owner to create the best possible healing environment.
The first goal is to break the pain cycle:
(1) Medication and stall or clinic confinement;
(2) De-rotation of the coffin bone, .ie., re-position of hoof capsule around the bone, resulting in better bone column alignment;
(3) Relief of deep flexor tendon tension; and
(4) Re-position break over to least ground resistance.
These objectives are achieved by the use of x-ray and venogram when applicable. Orthotic design is established between vet and farrier to create step by step changes to remodel the hoof. Changes and modifications are required to control and compensate for changes in the hoof as they occur.
Once the horse is sent home, the owner’s role as a team member takes effect. Close adherence to the veterinarian’s instructions are essential. Feeding and exercise instructions need to be followed, as well as advice on stall and/or paddock footing and conditions. Each of us must do our part as a member of the team to give the horse every opportunity to recover as completely as possible.


Farrier fee: $100.00 per hour plus material Material estimates: Rail shoes $100.00 per pair ( usually these shoes can be reset )
Alumn. Wedged heel per pair $25.00 to $50.00 (also resetable )
Pads per pair $5.00 to $20.00
Hoof packing $40.00 to $50.00
These are combinations of materials; not all materials are needed on every horse.

Veterinary Fees


sample Agreement below -

Each horse is an individual. Some have a greater tolerance for pain than others. Some horses’ immune systems are more resistant than others. There are many variables that make founder a disease such that a complete cure cannot be guaranteed . Founder is a disease that once stabilized, becomes a physical condition that must be controlled and maintained. When shoeing returns to a more routine operation, annual or semiannual x-rays need to be a part of the maintenance program.
Although the team approach is a network of vets and farriers working together, exchanging information and ideas, it is advised to follow through with the team that has become familiar with your case. This helps prevent any set backs, as a new team would have to become familiar with the case. If you need to move to another area, we will be happy to help you locate a team in the new location and assist with any information needed.

I _____________________________(Owner) , have read and understand the information presented and give my permission to_______________________________ (Veterinarian) and ____________________________(Farrier) to treat________________________(Name) , my _____ yr. old__________________________(Breed )___________________(Gender ). Further, I understand and agree that the veterinarian, veterinary clinic, and farrier are not responsible for injuries or death of this animal during this procedure.


___________________________________ ___________________________________

Date:_______________________________ Date:_______________________________





case studies :: testimonials

The Team Approach to corrective or therapeutic shoeing, combined with the latest in diagnostic equipment, takes the trial and error approach out of the industry and allows the vet and farrier team to design and apply equine orthotics that put injured or diseased horses in a correct healing environment.

For more information
Call Us in Georgetown, Texas, at 512.826.0066 or
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Therapeutic Horse Shoeing 2007 - 2008.