Sport Horse
focus: Equine Podiatry
Sponsored by Richard Mansmann, VMD, PhD of
Equine Podiatry & Rehabilitation
Mobile Practice of North Carolina
In 1998 we began using a formalized preventive foot care program.  Obviously some form of evaluating the horse’s external hoof conformation is critical.  Radiographs in an organized fashion to enhance evaluation of the horses’ front feet for their owners, farriers and in some cases their veterinarians have become the hallmark of any program.  New information concerning these 50 horses’ front feet was gained for 64% of these horses. 
(1) Consistency in taking the lateral radiograph is critical.  Our protocol is
If the horse is shod, LEAVE THE SHOES ON, so you can see the relationship of the shoe to the coffin bone
The front feet blocks are constructed as mirror images of each other and the horse is on stood on each block.  Its height is set so when the horse’s feet are placed on the block the central beam will hit the foot about ½” above the shoe/hoof surface.  The goal is to see the bottom of the coffin bone rather than joint evaluations.
The cassette should be touching the medial side of the foot
The beam is aimed at a point halfway between the anterior and palmar aspect of the coronet band. (see figure 1)
Our film focal distance was 24” (61cm)
The ultimate film has appropriate contrast so as the horn and bone can be evaluated.
A fixed length marker (soldering wire) is applied to the front of the foot.  If you want to have accurate evaluations of the actual start of the coronet band, consistent placing of the wire must be accomplished.  Make sure the wire is taped flat against the hoof wall over its entire length.

Over the years we have developed additional ideas that we have included in some of our current evaluations depending on our initial clinical examination that have increased the efficacy of our evaluations. 

(2) Considering dorso-palmar (DP) radiographs to evaluate medial to lateral balance. 
Looking from the front and hind position is critical and can give significant information that can be confirmed by the DP radiographs.  Making sure the beam is directed at a 90 degree angle is important.  The really only valuable measurement is the distance from the distal medial and lateral wings of the coffin bone to the shoe or block.  Evaluating joint compression or widening on either the medial or lateral side can be influenced by very small positional changes in the horse standing on the block.

(3) A consistent and serial DP can be very helpful in evaluating any laminitic horse to evaluate the potential of medial (or less common, lateral) rotation or sinking of the coffin bone.
Considering lateral radiographs of hind feet.
Over the years we have become more concerned with the total evaluation of all 4 feet and how they connect to the total horse for its well being, causes for lameness and important in rehabilitating any lameness problem.  Making radiographs the hind feet is more difficult than radiographing the front feet, however of equal importance.  The most significant difference is that many horses tend to toe out a bit and are reluctant to stand up on one block while the other limb is being lifted to be placed on an opposite block.  We modified a “tray” concept that is filled with removable dowels. The “tray” is slid under the horse and he is then led up onto it.  The dowels can be removed so the cassette can be set anywhere so it is 90 degrees to the x-ray beam. The total height of the tray with dowels is set up as the same height as the front feet blocks.