Category Archives: Hoof Related Lameness


There are three main problems in hoof care today

  1. Long toes and low heels

  2. High heels and short toes

  3. The presence of flares

It is this last problem of FLARES that causes most lameness problems associated with the hoof. The guideline is that a flare anywhere in the hoof is your greatest enemy.

For example, the pigeon toed horse develops a flare on the inside toe quarter, resulting in the diagonally opposite heel (or the outside heel) becoming crushed and rolled forward. This can result in a stress crack above that heel and a flare to the inside heel. (Pic 1 and 2) To correct this, we often tend to build up that low outside heel, but in fact we should reduce the flare diagonally opposite which has caused the problem. The resolution … Continue Reading ››


Pedal Osteitis is deterioration of the pedal bone (or coffin bone). Interestingly, I have found the condition is most prevalent in geldings; it seems that after they are gelded their system generates more calcium in the bones of the lower leg, in particular the pedal bone or P3. Lack of frog pressure resulting in reduced blood circulation allows the porous P3 to become calcified, restricting the nerves and causing the horse to become concussion sensitive, particularly when nailing. I have noticed that geldings with Pedal Osteitis gain an erection during the nailing process of shoeing. When the hammering stops the erection disappears. This is a good guide to early detection of Pedal Osteitis. Of special interest are the horses which show intermittent lameness, have good healthy hoof walls, show no reaction to hoof testers, work OK on soft ground but appear to jar up on solid surfaces, are unsound at the trot but canter and gallop freely. These horses fit into a category of ‘Predictable Hoof Related Lameness’ – the age does not seem consistent as I have noted the condition in horses from two year olds upwards. They are identified … Continue Reading ››


Bruising in the hoof wall is often unwittingly excused as self-inflicted injury. ‘Oh he must have stepped on a rock or something’ and ‘He was probably kicking the fence’. Yes these things do happen, but too often bruising is an indicator of hoof related problems leading to lameness. We are all aware of the pain when we bend a fingernail back, plus it creates a visible blood line in the nail bed. If it hasn’t happened to you, try pressing your fingernail hard against the edge of the table (Pic 1). The same results happen when the toe of the hoof is too long, or if the heels are allowed to flare. Bruising is not just in white hooved horses – the bruising is not visible in a black hoof (Pic 2) however you can rest assured it is there. Bruising is almost always associated with the presence of flares, which cause the hoof wall to bend outwards and become distorted; this in turn stretches the laminae/white line area and results in a bend in the wall about half way up, so now the blood vessels feeding the sensitive laminae begin to rupture … Continue Reading ››


The discovery that your horse has developed corns, or indeed has corns that will not go away, must be recognised as a warning sign that something is not right somewhere in the hoof. This information will help rectify the problem and should enable you to start on a programme of preventative maintenance.

Corns occur back in the heel area at the junction where the bars meet the hoof wall – this is called the buttress of the heel. That v-shaped pocket is called the seat of the corn area and if the horse has corns there will be a reddening of the sole tissue that looks like bruising.

Often there will be no reaction to the hoof testers when they are applied to this area, often there will be no increase in the digital pulse to indicate hoof trauma but the horse just looks uncomfortable when working.

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Hoof-related back strain is a syndrome that is affecting both horses and riders in all forms of equine pursuits. It has always existed to a lesser degree; however it now seems to be showing up more frequently and is a problem that must be eliminated. One cause of this hoof-related back strain in horses is incorrect hoof/pastern angle in the front feet, resulting from either long toes/low heels, or from high heels/short toes. This drastically alters the natural normal gait of the horse, so many riders then accept the fact that their horse is rough to ride and assume that the saddle must be the problem, or that perhaps they should have tuition with a riding instructor because the horse seems to be erratic in his movements or disunited. Often this course of action leads to the discovery that the horse has muscle soreness in his upper body, anywhere in the neck and shoulders or along his back or over the hindquarters, and then the owner enlists the aid of a vet or the chiropractor. This is really only a bandaid cure because the real cause of the problem is quite simply in … Continue Reading ››