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5kiddos 10-24-2013 07:03 PM

Low, underrun heels
If a horse has been trimmed to have low, underrun heels, how long does it typically take to correct? He has always been barefoot.

Also, what risks are associated with having low heels?

stevenson 10-24-2013 07:07 PM

it causes stress on the ligaments and tendons. I have problems with farriers not' leaving heels or standing the hoof up ' it puts the bones in the hoof out whack. There are a few bones in the foot, and I dont use the proper terminology, the hoof bulbs will get weak also.
It takes a year to grow out a hoof , more or less , depending on the horse and the nutrition.

5kiddos 10-24-2013 09:01 PM

Is there anything that can or should be done to alleviate the stress on the tendons/ligaments while they are growing out? This horse has always been barefoot, but someone made the suggestion to shoe him for a bit? I am switching farriers.

MyBoyPuck 10-24-2013 09:09 PM

If it's a flat pancake foot that doesn't easily grow heel, shoes are your best option for getting the bones correctly aligned. If it's just poor trimming, backing the toes up to the white line and dragging the heels back to the proper spot can allow the new hoof growth to come in with the correct alignment. Obviously the shoes are an instant fix while the latter will take about a year. Best to get some xrays and see how out of whack things currently are.

Having the bones out of alignment long term can lead to navicular changes, coffin bone rotation, and ligament/tendon damage. Sometimes none of those if you get lucky, but always good to have a properly trimmed hoof.

loosie 10-24-2013 11:44 PM

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There's a difference between low, too low & underrun heels, which are generally too long but crushed forward. Horses should have low heels and unless they're crushed forward, they're not *generally* too low.

Under run heels, if caused by farriery, is often IME caused from farriers leaving heels too long & 'standing the horse up', which frequently goes along with trimming toes from the ground surface but leaving them stretched forward. Over time this leads to the overlong heels collapsing. Depending on hoof form & the horse's posture, this doesn't necessarily take much. Shoeing long term without respite & consideration about balance, especially before maturity & the hooves have had a chance to grow strong also commonly results in run forward feet with horses who have long, crushed heels & far from recognising what they're seeing, frequently farriers lable these horses as having 'no heel'.

Under run heels, or very low heels esp combined with long stretched forward toes can cause P3 - the major bone within the hoof capsule - to be ground parallel or negative angle(lower heel than toe) on the bottom surface. This puts a lot of strain on ligs & tendons, especially in the navicular region. Crushed, non-functioning heels & lateral cartilages also aren't able to become strong & function properly for weight bearing/impact/shock absorbtion, so this also further inhibits health & strength of the rest of the 'package'. Run forward heels generally go along with run forward toes.

How long does it take to correct? As with everything, it depends. On the horse & length of time it's been going on, how it's treated, the environment & lifestyle/work of the horse, etc. For eg. I've heard so many farriers say they can't be fixed & I've never seen the problem resolved where conventional shoes were used.

I personally feel that shoeing makes treatment a lot harder to address, if not impossible, as it forces the walls to be fully loaded. However, using 'frog support' pads or such, to load and raise the frogs/heels without loading walls can help allow the heel to 'relax back' again & become more upright. This also raises the back of the foot to correct the angle of P3 & relieve unnatural strain from this.

princessfluffybritches 10-25-2013 11:49 AM

Loosie's right. Most underrun heels are caused by someone using the theory of "not trimming a heel will let it grow taller". I am in shock with seeing farriers even shoe on top of rolled in heels (heels that have bent over to the inside) their reason being "let the heel grow".

Outside this forum there are not many people who understand that growing heel is to continuously back up the toe, relieve the quarters (lessen stress of heels being pulled forward), and most importantly giving the heels a light rasp. IMO I think that heels come around faster if "thinking" they are trimmed. A light rasping.

Loosie had mentioned to me that , well I hope I got this right, to give a swipe to the area between the point of the heel ,and where it starts (correct me if I'm wrong).

So I think I just reiterated what Loosie said, LOL

Patty Stiller 10-26-2013 10:01 AM

A healthy heel is SHORT and not under run. Under-run heels are LONG and have run forward under the foot. That moves the ground pressures pushing up in the foot forward so the internal structures in the back of the foot can not properly support the coffin joint . And it adds stresses the tendons and ligaments in the back of the leg.
The long term issues associated with under run heels are
1)sore heels causing a toe first landing,
2)which in turn directly leads to navicular issues and coffin joint issues.

The fix can be as fast as fifteen minutes .The fix is to trim the heels short so the ends come back where they belong. It is really that simple. But along wot that the TOE of the foot (the point of break over) must be also brought back if it too has run forward, as many of them have.

After an initial correct trim ,if the bone alignment is wrong internally (very rare) then a shoeing with wedges *and frog support* can get it right. But in most cases that I have done the heel and break over issues are fixed in the trim (whether preparing for shoes or barefoot) . ONE trim. fifteen minutes.

The WORST thing we can do is try to grow more heel on ANY hoof because that is the cause of the under run heels in the first place. Keep them short. Usually when someone thinks a foot needs more heel is it because the TOE is distorted, stretched forward, creating an illusion of a lower hoof angle then what is really going on inside the foot.

spirit88 10-26-2013 10:30 AM

Wouldnt taking heels back to were they belong after 3 years of being under run in one trim. Wouldnt that make the horse sore?

Also wouldnt that be a drastic change for a horse? whos used to being with long run forward heels. I know under run heels and long toes arent right....but to change all that in one trim isnt that to much at one time?

NorthernMama 10-26-2013 11:37 AM

Whether the change can be done all in one trim or over several trims depends on the particular situation. I have done a fix in just one trim, but I have done others where I just wasn't comfortable making that much of a change all in one short. However, I am NOT a professional and prefer to err on the side of conservatism until I have things figured out. I have spoken with a couple of trimmers who have made dramatic changes in just one trim and the previously sore, quiet horse took off running and bucking in the field when turned out.

3 years is a very long time for sure, but it really depends on what shape those hooves and the horse got to in three years which would be dependent on environment - ground, feed, general nutrition and exercise... 3 years in a soft green field is far different than 3 years in a rough field with a variety of terrain or a dry lot.

Patty Stiller 10-26-2013 08:24 PM


Wouldn't taking heels back to were they belong after 3 years of being under run in one trim. Wouldnt that make the horse sore?
I have never made one sore yet doing it. Leaving them crushed forward makes them sore. but also as I said shoes MAY be needed for one or two shoeings to align the joint for a while as the foot remodels. And proper shoes (NOT plain old flat shoes) can move the breakover of the toe back where it belongs all at oncetp jump stsrt the toe to back up to where it belongs faster.


Also wouldnt that be a drastic change for a horse? Whos used to being with long run forward heels.
It makes the foot correct. So it will not make them sore. The long heels are what makes them sore so in other words you are removing a source of pain, instantly.


I know under run heels and long toes arent right....but to change all that in one trim isnt that to much at one time?

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