It has recently come to my attention that some of my trimming clients may be confused when I tell them that their horse has a bit of “coffin bone remodeling”. While this makes complete sense to me now, it didn’t always. What exactly is coffin bone remodeling?
To begin, the term remodeling, by definition, means to “change the structure, shape, or appearance of” something. The coffin bone within a hoof provides structural support and a basic internal mold for the entire hoof. When the coffin bone becomes “remodeled”, or changed, this can mean that there is loss of bone tissue (degeneration) or a structural change in bone shape. In Veterinary medicine, this loss or change of bone substance is a devastating diagnosis because there is not typically a way to recover the bone, but in other modalities of treatment and trimming, there IS hope.
When the coffin bone changes shape structurally, it can be seen from the outside of the hoof (wall and sole) as the outer structures “follow” the shape of the bone. This change may or may not produce lameness. When the coffin bone changes in the form of lost bone tissue, it’s not seen from the outside, but will result in lameness of varying degrees as the loss progresses.
What causes coffin bone remodeling and what can you do to fix it? Many factors can change the structure of the coffin bone, as bone adapts itself to a variety of influences. Chronic laminitis, Osteomyelitis (infection of the bone), the way a horse moves (and how much), shoes, and various trimming methods, for example, can all effect the bone structure. Removing shoes and implementing a proper barefoot trim that keeps the coffin bone parallel to the ground within the hoof capsule certainly makes the most sense when it comes to recovery. In keeping the coffin bone ground parallel, it will promote even distribution of stress along the edges of the coffin bone, thus eliminating the need for the bone to change with movement. In terms of the health of the bone structure itself, one can ensure an ample amount of movement and exercise (not stalling a horse) will help to prevent bone loss. If your horse has had bone degeneration from Osteomyelitis resulting from an injury or from chronic abscessing, it’s most important to first address the infection and THEN work on the recovery of bone structure.
In many cases, the bone loss and structural changes can be recovered once the conditions are changed to eliminate stress on the bone and allow for the proper blood flow to the hoof through proper movement. In some cases, additional help may be needed to stop further degeneration and recover lost bone tissue. For Love of the Horse’s Hoof Bone Repair formula has been proven to increase healthy circulation, stop bone loss, and recover bone tissue while also helping to relieve pain. This along with the proper trim will make a complete recovery more than possible. Coffin bone remodeling doesn’t have to be a devastating diagnosis.