Rescue horse Trooper lives with a very rare condition – five feet

Trooper is now enjoying life with the Horse Rescue Fund. Photo: The Horse Rescue Fund
Trooper was born with a fifth foot. Photo: The Horse Rescue Fund

A rescue stallion now in the loving care of a British charity is being carefully managed with a very rare condition – he was born with an extra foot.

Trooper is polydactyl. While it is possible to surgically remove the extra hoof, he is doing OK and veterinary advice at this stage is to manage the condition.

Trooper came into the care of the Horse Rescue Fund last November, after the charity received a call from the Environment Agency asking if it could take in an abandoned coloured colt.

He was eventually found in an isolated area between a railway line and a river.

However, Trooper was not the yearling colt expected, but a stallion aged about eight years old.

Given that he was taken into care just before Remembrance Sunday, it was decided to call him Trooper.

The charity’s chairman of trustees, Jackie Crook, said that although his body condition was good, his hooves were clearly in bad condition, particularly his off fore, which appeared to be cracked right up to the coronet band.

Trooper’s mane, tail and feathers were so matted with burrs that it was clear he had been neglected for some time. The only way to remove these matted burrs was to cut them off.

Staff at the Horse Rescue Fund were shocked to find an extra hoof when they cut away Trooper's matted feathers. Photo: The Horse Rescue Fund
Staff at the Horse Rescue Fund were shocked to find an extra hoof when they cut away Trooper’s matted feathers. Photo: The Horse Rescue Fund

Once back to the safety of the charity’s yard, Trooper was placed in isolation where he could be given a full assessment. This was when staff were shocked to discover, on removal of his feathers, his extra hoof. It is a very rare condition.

Trooper’s extra digit is situated on the inside of his right foreleg, coming off at the fetlock joint.

Clinical examinations and x-rays by veterinarians caring for Trooper showed that he has a duplicate lower limb originating just below the knee, with a well developed second cannon bone followed by the other bones which are not completely normal in size or development.

Consultations with the specialist equine practice, Rossdales, in Newmarket, then followed to evaluate the best course of treatment.

As Trooper had been managing OK, it was decided not to operate at the present time.

“It is felt that any operation would carry a significant risk, creating a large wound which could be slow to heal due to him having typically thickened skin often associated with cobs,” Crook explains.

An x-ray of Trooper's affected foot. X-ray image: Wherry Veterinary Group
An x-ray of Trooper’s affected foot. X-ray image: Wherry Veterinary Group

“Although, on arrival, Trooper appeared to be one of the more healthy abandonment cases, he needed blood tests and veterinary checks to rule out any of the underlying health issues common in these equines as a result of their indiscriminate fly grazing.

“The removal of Trooper’s feathers revealed the extent of his problems.

“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. ”

The farrier used by the charity was tasked with carefully reducing the extra hoof in length by some 4cm, avoiding the sensitive tissues within and thus reducing the risk of injury to his other leg.

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

Trooper has adjusted to his new life with the charity. He is a firm favourite with the staff due to his placid and sweet nature.

Troofer's hoof condition is being carefully managed. X-ray image: Wherry Veterinary Group
Troofer’s hoof condition is being carefully managed. X-ray image: Wherry Veterinary Group

Crook says Trooper will continue to receive the regular handling needed as part of his rehabilitation, with the aim being to find a suitable companion loan home for this individual and unique horse to safeguard his future.

She said care of Trooper had involved high veterinary costs, with his castration planned and the possibility of further treatment or an operation on his extra hoof.

“Trooper has had quite a problem with the split where his two hooves join, but at last we seem to be getting on top of it, ” Crook told Horsetalk this week.

“Our vet was very pleased with him when she came over last week.

“Unfortunately, we have not been able to have him castrated yet as, on the day it was scheduled, we had major frosts and the ground was just too cold for him to be laying on for any length of time.

“Since then it has rained far too much, so he is still entire at present, but is a very well mannered gentleman for a stallion, I am glad to say.”

People can make donations to Trooper’s ongoing care on the charity website here.
Cheques can be made payable to Horse Rescue Fund at Woodstock Farm, Post Office Road, Toft Monks, NR34.
The charity’s website can be found here.

Trooper may still ultimately require surgery, but for now his condition is being managed. X-ray image: Wherry Veterinary Group
Trooper may still ultimately require surgery, but for now his condition is being managed. X-ray image: Wherry Veterinary Group

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