treating crushed heels was Underslung heels

Abby Nemec

Claire C. Cox-Wilson wrote:
AH !!! Wow!!! I see it well.
Thank you Dr. John for posting those. would you go about getting those to grow correctly??
Obviously you need to back up the toe considerably but this poor horse
has basically no heel to stand on. How would you offer support and
promote straight growth???
Claire from AZ
My experience has been that if you don't back up the toes, then backing up the heels does absolutely no good, it's like spitting into the wind. Up until recently, my approach has been to aggressively back up the toes, aggressively remove flares from the foot (nailing high, usually, as John mentioned), put a heel support shoe on, and use either Equi-Pack/Equi-Build as a full-foot support right to the ground or a frog-support pad, preferably with Equi-Pack underneath it. Moving the toe back relieves strain on the flexor apparatus. The heel support shoe brings the heel of the shoe back under the bony column where the support needs to be, relieving strain on the suspensory apparatus. The sole/frog support holds the frog and digital cushion in place and stimulates growth and development there, encouraging good support for the coffin & navicular joints. When I say "heel support", I only mean that I extend the heel of a regular open-heeled shoe out to a point directly under the center of the cannon bone. I do NOT like bar shoes - the Equithane provides all the heel support of a bar shoe without the negative effects.

Using this approach, the frogs, heels and bars correct themselves. I usually don't trim the heels and bars aggressively on the first trim because even though they don't belong there they provide some protection of sorts for the fragile tissue in the heels - which is crushing because there isn't enough of it in the first place, so I don't like to take it all off. That is NOT to say I don't trim them - I do, most definitely, but not aggressively. I'm aggressive with moving the horse's FOOTPRINT back to where it needs to be. This usually results in such rapid growth that I'm back in 4 or 5 weeks and can then trim more aggressively, removing the malformed, misdirected hoof horn and readjusting the footprint.

Actually though, I've modified my approach somewhat in the last 6 months. I still do the corrective trim, I still move the footprint, but now instead of using the Equi-Pack (which is a great product) I'm using hoof casts to provide improved support to not just the frog & sole, but the whole wall. Here's a link to the Equicast hoof casts. It's a new product on the market, but a VERY tried & true process. Dave Richards, the guy who owns this company, has been casting feet for 15 years or more, and has finally developed a really good product specifically for equine use.

I've been putting off talking about the casts because I'm still in the early stages of using them (for laminitis in particular) but the results I'm getting are phenomenal, and this is of course the exact right topic for them.

The best application is any one where you look at the foot and think "that horse just needs more foot" (like crushed heels). We haven't found a protocol for using them effectively on strictly bare feet, but we're working on it.


Abby Bloxsom