High Low Syndrome

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High Low Syndrome

This is a discussion on High Low Syndrome within the Hoof Care forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • What is hi/low syndrome in horses ?
  • High low syndrom

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    01-28-2013, 10:23 PM
High Low Syndrome

According to my limited knowledge on the topic, high low syndrome is when one heel is higher than the other, with one hoof being club like and the other being long. How big of a deal is it? Has anyone had success with barefoot and frequent trimming by a good farrier? Is it bad farrier work or an actual, physical syndrome? How difficult is it to correct? Especially in a 17 year old horse?
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    01-29-2013, 04:07 PM
Green Broke
I am not a professional farrier or trimmer. To answer your question based on my horse with a genetic minor club hoof and another horse with high/low syndrome thanks to severe founder, the hooves can be helped.

Just not all in one whack unless the Owner wants to strain or tear ligaments and generally really sore the horse up. Any farrier or trimmer working on horses with this type of issue really needs to KNOW what they're doing, not just "talk the talk"

If you haven't read this article, it may give some clarification.


Where it says in part:

Treatment of High/Low Heel

So what should one do to correct
the problem? The goal is to balance the

feet and it is not as easy as just cutting---

As you read further along, please note where the recommendation for trimming the hoof is every four weeks, rather than every 6 - 8. The purpose behind that logic is to keep the hoof continuing on it's re-hab path, as opposed to trimming back 6 - 8 weeks of growth and not making any new progress.

It also speaks to the hoof with the higher heel as being the sore hoof. That is the case with my foundered horse.

It is not the case with my club hoof horse --- he has never been hoof sore in the 16+ years I have owned his 18 yr old self. I have, indeed, been very fortunate to have people work on his hooves that had a fair understand of club hooves and what to do (or not) for them.

Hopefully the Professional Trimmers on this forum will give you a much better reply than I have.

But, in the end, the horse generally should be able to be "fixed", just don't attempt the re-hab in one fell swoop
Captain Evil and Tessa7707 like this.
    01-29-2013, 07:48 PM
Your writing got so small Walkin!

Here's another Tessa; http://www.barehoofcare.com/AB%20art...lub%20Foot.pdf

It is generally not just about the trim - usually a body/postural issue, tho can be due to trimming or weak heels(so horse walks on toes) & so whether or not it's 'fixable' is also not just about the trim either. Even if it originated from bad trimming(usually this is bilateral IME), if it's long term, the body will have compensated & adapted. With bodywork, changes of management, etc, you *may* change a 'club' but especially in an older horse, it's about good management of what you've got when it comes to hoofcare. *That goes for managing the 'low' foot too, which may often be a 'splat' foot. The low foot can often become underrun & flared, so the walls of this one may need careful management too.

How big of a deal is it? How big of a deal are we talking? There are so many different degrees & stuff that may be going on in the hoof & body that can't say without lots of info. Severe club feet can effect soundness generally & will likely affect long term soundness. But many horses have a mild 'high-low' thing going on & it doesn't effect them at all. Many can have quite clubby or odd feet without obvious effect if it's well managed.
walkinthewalk and Tessa7707 like this.
    01-29-2013, 08:13 PM
    01-29-2013, 11:19 PM
Thank you very much. I have talked to one farrier who is a big believer in barefoot hooves as long as it works for that horse. Comes recommended by some people I really respect. I'm also contacting another 'regular' (not a barefoot type) farrier to ask his opinion. I had never heard of 'high low syndrome' but I had heard of club foot. Is it the same as club foot? It doesn't look really bad, definitely not as bad as the pictures in some of those articles. I will take a picture next time I see her. I'm fully prepared to have her feet done every 4 weeks. I guess you guys would have to see the extent of her high low, but is it unreasonable to think a horse with high low could be used 6 days a week, 2 hours a day (max) mostly walk and jog and canter maybe twice a week?
    01-30-2013, 02:38 AM
Nope, not necessarily unrealistic at all, but as you already realise, 'it depends' Good on you for 'collecting' some different opinions before making up your mind.
    01-30-2013, 03:48 AM
Hi-lo and club foot are not the same. Dare I say every horse has some degree of hi-lo in that they have a "high" side where the arc of the hoof is higher, and a "low" side where the arc is lower. They will have one bigger shoulder, and one more well developed hindquarter (usually the "high" side).
My PSG horse who has competed successfully internationally in a sport where unevenness is penalized (dressage) has hi-lo. You can't "fix" it, the feet will always grow differently. His RF always grows more heel and tends to contract and his LF always grows more toe and tends to collapse in the heels. Shoeing will exacerbate the issue by "pulling" the low foot forward and contracting the high foot. However, when on a 4-5 week schedule you can minimize these effects and balance the hooves with shoeing techniques. Which is what I've been doing for the past 5 years. You do need a great farrier with excellent blacksmithing experience and the patience to stand for a 3 hour shoeing. He measures the feet every time, records it, and over time he's found out exactly what angle and length to trim to in order to keep the hooves balanced. As well he adapts the shoes every time. We play with different positioning of the clips, putting length out the backs of the shoes, etc..
He definitely disagrees with any kind of wedge pads to deal with hi-lo, or any special shoes.
Barefoot can also work, but again, you need to stay on a short (under 6 week) schedule to keep the hooves even ish.

The BEST, number one, hands down way I've found to "monitor" my horse's hooves is to square him up on a level surface and see if his knees are even. This has routinely been the only indicator of how "good" or "bad" the feet are that I have found to work 100% of the time. The other way that works OK (if you have a decent rider on the horse) is to check the reactivity on the TMJ to palpation, and on the neck between vertebrae (this is where a good RMT or body worker comes in). Regular massages after farrier work really help to release the overworked muscles higher up in the body.

Good luck! Hi-lo is definitely manageable with a good team of farrier, vet and a body worker (mine uses massage and active release).
loosie and Tessa7707 like this.
    01-30-2013, 12:40 PM
Green Broke
[QUOTE=loosie;1868801]Your writing got so small Walkin!

Ack! Thanks for letting me know. It looks fine from my side - lol lol

I had changed the font back down from that of the quotes, evidently I shouldn't have done that.

My apologies to anyone that can't read it. I'll go back in and bump the font number up a notch or two <shaking head in dismay-lollol>
    01-30-2013, 07:37 PM
In a simple word, yes, it is very hard to correct barefoot. The low foot will almost always pancake and lose whatever heel it had to start with. The farrier has to be very careful to keep the toe short on the low foot and keep the heel from running forward. It's much easier said than done. Many many farriers mistake long underrun heels for low heels and that's where the problems begin.

The high foot is just as tricky. If you get a farrier who does not respect what the hoof is saying, and lobs off all the heel in one shot just to get it to match, you'll be in a world of trouble. Tendon stress galore. The heel needs to only come down when the sole is "giving the okay" so to speak. You need to follow the plane of the sole and only lower it when it is flakey.

If you do nothing else, be sure to use a trimmer who comes highly recommended. Your chances of success or failure depends entirely on how it's trimmed. Good luck.
    01-30-2013, 09:25 PM
I'm talking to two different people on this subject. Lets call them Sally and Sue. Sally has a horse who's high low is worse than the aforementioned horse. Her horse started to go lame in March and was limping at a walk in June. Her farrier at the time was what you'd call a traditional farrier, and the horse had shoes (didn't catch if he had them all around.) after her horse went lame, she began to do research, talked to a specialist back east, and hooked up with a barefoot farrier up here. This barefoot farrier takes a holistic approach and looks at the whole horse. This farrier started to rehab him and now is totally sound.
Sue uses a different farrier, who she highly recommends, a younger man that has apprenticed under a farrier who "is so good people take their horses to him to have them shod" she has a horse that has been sound for a year and a half that couldn't be kept sound before. Not sure on specifics. I called this farrier and asked his opinion. He said he had never heard of high low syndrome, but that he has worked with horses that have one heel higher than the other. He said he couldn't say what he'd do without seeing her feet. I know this is all so vague, but maybe someone can glean some useful information from this to help me come to the best decision for this particular horse. I'm leaning toward Sally's farrier, if nothing else but because she has had success rehabbing a horse with the same issues.

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