Re: crushed heels was Underslung heels

Abby Nemec

John Stewart wrote:

We will probably have to agree to disagree on this point.
In the grand scheme of things it's probably a minor point - I do know that I use hindfoot support and stimulation (in general I say "hindfoot" to mean the rearward portion of the hoof capsule) to restore good function and growth patterns in the heels/heel quarter walls, bars, and heel soles.

Curious that today I should have been back shoeing a little mare I used to work on. She has one "up foot" and one "down foot". Thermal images on her feet showed that the heels of her crushed-heel foot were drastically colder than the heels of her clubby foot. It took me two years of shoeing to get them growing consistently (and warm on thermography), but I did it, and she stayed balanced for well over a year after that. The owner leased her out for 8 months, and the mare changed farriers. The new farrier let her feet get too long, and ALL her former problems returned (there were angle issues in her hinds too). Now she's back. I corrected her trim today, and fully expect her feet to return to good form within a couple cycles, but I think this is a perfect example of what you & I are both saying. She has a conformational flaw, and with the right shoeing approach she is manageable. Without careful attention & too-long feet, she started to fall into the bad growth patterns again.
What I was able to do was to identify those breeds at the two extremes - The
Thoroughbred with the weak-walled collapsed feet and the Friesian or
Lucitano at the very strong-walled upright end.
In my part of the US that upright foot would be the Morgan.

In between there seemed to
be breeds (or cross-breeds) which seemed to tend to distort in a consistent
pattern, which seemed to depend on the strength of the hoof wall. This
seemed to be the case regardless of what the horse was being asked to do or,
for that matter, how early in their life they were being asked to do it.
I absolutely agree that there are breed characteristics in hoof type. There are breed characteristics in just about anything, so why not feet?

Young Thoroughbred feet will generally collapse quickly after shoes are
applied to them, either very early when they are shod for racing, or later
if they are not.
I have seen plenty of shod TBs, however, with nice thick walls, dense
frogs, functional heels and bars, in short - very, very good function,
even after a decent racing career. It's a matter of trimming to develop
those things, whether or not shoes are applied. I've also seen TB feet
brought to good function, even after showing crushed heels. There is definitely a conformational predisposition, whatever the breed of horse, but it can be shod/trimmed to counteract it.

I know that Dr Bowker talks quite a lot about the importance and the changes
that occur in the lateral cartilages and the digital cushion, under
different circumstances. They may well be of importance in how the foot
functions and in the maintenance of shape, however, I don't think they are
involved in the major distorting forces on the hoof and bars, of the horse's
weight, via the hoof's attachment to the pedal bone, aginst the reactionary
ground forces.
But they have to be, don't they? If the frog shares in weightbearing, then don't the internal structures that connect the frog to the bony column have to take a role? Take a look at the heel bulbs on those TBs with crushed heels. They are generally flat and weak (not always, but usually).


Abby Bloxsom

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