Contracted tendons in a foal most commonly affects the forelegs and can occur in one or more limbs.
Foals with a tendon contraction will stand with slightly raised heels, as the pull of the contracted tendon raises the foal's heel off the ground, with more weight placed on the toe of the foot.
It is not unusual for a newborn foal to have contracted tendons - but most cases in newborn foals will resolve themselves without treatment as the foal starts to run around and stretches its muscles.
A foal can get problems with contracted tendons during times of active growth spurts. This is caused, in theory, because the bone grows at faster rate than the tendons.
This contraction of the tendons can be congenital, but most often the cause is over feeding concentrates to a foal.
Other causes of contracted tendons in foals can include restricted or limited exercise, hard ground, nutritional imbalances and intrauterine malposition where the foal is badly positioned in the mare's womb.
Lack of use of a leg caused by pain and lameness may also cause deep digital flexor tendon contracture. When a foal has an injured limb which is in disuse, the deep digital flexor muscle will flex the coffin joint in the foot, this may result in the development of a club foot.
If left untreated contracted tendons may result in the development of a club foot with contracted heels.
A hoof affected by a contracted tendon will begin to shrink from the lack of a normal contact with the ground and the angle of the hoof will often increase by 5 to 10 degrees.
As the heel grows higher the the weight on the toe is increased and the white line may separate from the wall of the hoof, bruises may develop on the sole of the foot.
Other complications such as seedy toe may develop as a result of pressure on the toe. As the foot becomes more narrow and upright more pressure is out on the bones of the foot and changes may occur on the coffin and navicular bones.
If the contracted tendons are caused by overfeeding, cut down the amount of hard feed being given.
Early treatment by an experienced farrier can give good results and may be the only treatment needed in mild or moderate cases.
If the condition of the foal does not improve or gets worse your vet may recommend having its legs x-rayed to look for any abnormalities.
You should consult your vet for advice to ensure that you are giving the best treatment, as if left untreated the foal may be unrideable as an adult horse.
Contact your farrier.
Trimming the feet of a foal with contracted tendons should begin as
soon as you see a change in the angle and shape of the hoof.