Five-legged foal recovering after surgery to remove extra digit

  • A foal has had successful surgery to remove an extra limb from the inside of its fetlock.

    The condition, polydactylism, meant the one-month-old had an extra digit growing from his leg.

    The limb was complete with all the normal structures of a horse’s leg including a fetlock, pastern and coffin joint, as well as a fully formed hoof.

    fifth leg 2

    Veterinary surgeons at Performance Equine Associates in Oklahoma operated on the foal to remove the digit.

    “The removal went well and the foal is recovering nicely,” said a spokesman from Performance Equine Associates.

    “This is not from line breeding nor a twin, it is simply a developmental defect that occurs from time to time.”


    Earlier this year, a similar case occurred in the UK.

    An abandoned pony was found with five feet and underwent veterinary treatment for the rare condition at the Horse Rescue Fund in Norfolk.

    The 13hh stallion, since named Trooper, was found to be in good condition apart from his feet.

    Following clinical examinations and X-rays by Wherry Vets in Bungay and Rossdales in Newmarket it was discovered that Trooper had a duplicate lower limb growing.

    The extra leg protruding from the off fore had a normal cannon bone followed by an undeveloped pastern, pedal bone and hoof.

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    “Where the extra digit had been allowed to grow and strike the ground repeatedly the pressure had created a large split in the skin which had become infected with maggots,” said Sue Albone from the Horse Rescue Fund.

    “The farrier’s first job was to carefully reduce the extra hoof in length by 4cm, avoiding the sensitive tissues within, thus reducing the risk of injury to his other leg.

    “His main hoof, should, in time, improve with regular trimming.”

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