Category Archives: Hoof Problems

hoof problems


Contracted heels can be the end result of many different factors. They are not typical of any particular breed or conformation and may occur anywhere. Sometimes it begins from birth when the foal has very upright pasterns; this condition then allows the heels to grow longer than the toes causing a very upright appearance.

The result then, if it is not corrected, is that the frog loses its pressure contact with the ground, then it also begins to contract or shrink and this causes the hoof capsule to become even narrower across the heel. This whole shrinking process may have only taken a few months to get to what now looks like ‘donkey footed’ in appearance, but will take a lot longer to return to normal, with the aid of careful trimming.

Sometimes as a result of hoof or leg injury, the horse will begin to step short with one leg. This will cause the toe to wear excessively and allows the heel … Continue Reading ››


Quartered heels come in many different variations, and always seem to happen to your best horse. Necessity is the mother of invention when attempting to repair these. I have never found any two the same but the basic principles of repair are always similar. The old method was usually to make a shoe which stayed away from the area of hoof which was affected by the injury. Because the broken wall behind the injury was not able to take any weight bearing pressure, the injury hopefully would then grow out. This method is seldom successful, it takes too long and the horse’s work has to be altered because of the lack of hoof stability and lameness. Trial and experiment over the years together with the use of a bit of modern technology has proven there are some more positive ways to achieve a better result. Basically there are two reasons for any kind of cracks occurring in the hoof wall; the first one is because the hoof wall has been allowed to develop flares or wings anywhere from the toe to the heel - this causes … Continue Reading ››


Seedy Toe is NOT a mysterious and unknown ailment. It never fails to amaze me how Seedy Toe can be seen so consistently by horse owners as the symbol of impending doom and disaster when it can be cured so easily. It also never fails to amaze me that so many farriers just ignore Seedy Toe. Invariably the horse owner will say ‘the farrier said not to worry about it, but it is getting worse’. I am consistently contacted at least four to six months after the problem should first have been identified. Seedy Toe, sometimes called White Line Disease, is a microscopic bug infection which enters this area of the hoof via cracks, injuries or separation of the hoof wall and regenerates very quickly in a non-oxygenated environment. Seedy Toe is a problem that is common to all areas of Australia and common to most breeds of horses. Detecting it is often a difficult task, as sometimes there will be no external signs visible on the hoof wall. A horse owner may only be aware that the horse has short periods of … Continue Reading ››


The cause, the effect and the resolution of Seedy Toe – also known as White Line Disease. THE CAUSE: It seems that weather conditions play a big part in the cause of Seedy Toe - lots of rain followed by warm days and good spring grass growth. These three things promote rapid hoof growth and very often that hoof growth can get way ahead of the maintenance trimming schedules; not only are the hooves growing fast but they are also quite soft and very flexible. The end result is flaring of the hoof wall, which causes it to separate from the laminae at the junction of the white line, hence the term White Line Disease (Pic 1). This condition allows dirt and foreign materials to be pushed up into that area of the sensitive tissue under the hoof wall which then causes aggravation, then inflammation, then infection followed by an abscess. Horses in flooded areas have even more problems with Seedy Toe if they cannot be moved to higher ground or into dry stabling or if the water is too deep … Continue Reading ››


I have lost count of the number of consultations over the last year where each owner has explained in great detail that the horse in question has to be shod with bar shoes and rolled toes or egg bars or wedged heels or something similar, because it was diagnosed with suspected navicular disease two or three years ago. According to each owner’s lament, the horse is tripping and stumbling and has never really been sound; even x-rays which are sometimes years old were never really positive. If they were positive and there is navicular degeneration, the previously mentioned style of shoes may be appropriate and should be continued with. So what is the problem with these vague symptoms? It is very important to fully understand the basic principles which may be causing stress to the navicular bone area and heels either side of it. As seen in Pic 1, the deep flexor tendon travels down the back of the leg and passes over the navicular bone then attaches to the underside of the pedal … Continue Reading ››


Founder or Laminitis is one of the most damaging ailments for the horse’s hoof. The causes are varied but the effects are always the same with varying degrees of severity. The two main causes are either an over-enriched diet coupled with a lack of exercise, or trauma to the horse through injury or sickness or stress. Founder can be found in nearly any breed nowadays but is still more prevalent in ponies, which have a tendency to be overfed and under worked for their size. Most pastures in the settled areas are far too improved for horses (they were developed for dairy cattle) and are too rich in carbohydrates; this causes a high pulse rate which causes the laminae under the hoof capsule to swell in the toe area (like a blood blister under a thumbnail) and instant lameness. The horse starts to try and walk back on their heels, because this swelling causes the laminae to expand, pushing the sole down and the hoof capsule to turn up. Trauma or stress founder has exactly the same effect; there are countless books on the subject written by specialists in this field, … Continue Reading ››


Valentines Day is an appropriate time to discuss the eternal love affair between horse owners and their horse or horses, and the farrier is an integral part of this relationship. I am an Australian farrier and have been shoeing horses for 50 years, and my wife says quite firmly that I am more horse than human. I think she means it as a compliment.

During my own 50 year love affair with horses, I competed in every equine pursuit possible, was a respected colt breaker, was head farrier for one of Australia’s top racing stables for eight years, and nowadays I travel year round teaching people the importance of Hoof Care.

Whenever you think of Hoof Care, think of Valentines Day and that will make you think of the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart). Hoof Care is not rocket science, and there is absolutely no need to make it … Continue Reading ››