Horse abandoned in Norfolk found to have an extra hoof
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A horse which was abandoned in an isolated area on the Norfolk-Suffolk border has become a celebrity among its rescuers thanks to a very unusual condition.
Equine charity the Horse Rescue Fund, based at Toft Monks, Beccles, was called to reports that the stallion had been left in an area between a railway and a river – his only access to water.
The horse, named Trooper by the charity, was in relatively good condition to his body, but his mane and tail were matted and his hooves were in a bad condition and it was clear he had been neglected for some time.
Sue Albone, from the charity, said: 'Shy and wary at first, he was placed in isolation for assessment where the staff were shocked to discover, on removal of his feathers, that he had an extra hoof.
'Sometimes referred to as an extra digit, it is situated on the inside of his foreleg, coming off at the fetlock joint, and although not unheard of, it is very rare.'
Examinations and X-rays by vets 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.
In the early 1900s there was a famous Shire, Norfolk Spider, born with six digits and nicknamed the Six Footed Shire.
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Ms Albone said: 'The removal of Trooper's feathers had 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.
'His main hoof, although somewhat shortened should, in time, improve with regular trimming.
'The farrier's first job was to carefully reduce the extra hoof in length by some 4cm, avoiding the sensitive tissues within, thus reducing the risk of injury to his other leg.'
An extra digit can be removed for cosmetic purposes or to prevent further injury but as Trooper can manage sufficiently, it has been decided not to operate for the foreseeable future.
Do you have an animal with an unusual feature? Email firstname.lastname@example.org