Q: Can you please explain exactly what bone spavins are, and can shoeing techniques help the condition?
Farrier Danny Eades DWCF replies: A bone spavin is a form of degenerative joint disease (DJD) found on the inside of the hock between the intertarsal and tarso-metatarsal joints.
New bone forms on these joints, distorting the outline of the inside of the hock. The horse finds flexion of the hock difficult and pain is caused when the joint is compressed. The horse will start to drag his toe as flexion of the hock becomes difficult.
With regard to shoeing, the best procedure is to roll the toe, thus easing the breakover, and elevate the heels preferably by shortening the toe and allowing the heels to grow. However, if this is not possible, sloping wedge heels should be applied. This will improve the horse’s action by relieving some of the pressure on the affected joints.
In some cases, elevating the heels can encourage the flexor tendons of the horse’s hind limbs to contract, causing problems, but unfortunately this is a risk that has to be taken.