High Performance Hoof Care, LLC
Vickey M. Hollingsworth, DAEP 

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Flare

Detrimental to hoof integrity, soundness, and joint health!

Identifying and addressing flared hooves is critical to maintaining long-term soundness and joint health. Flare leads to uneven hoof loading during the impact and stance stride phases, which leads to increased torque on joints.

Flare can usually be managed and further eliminated within two or three trimming appointments. In some cases, flare may be severe due to conformation or congenital deformities and must be addressed every trim. Flare gone wild can lead to quarter cracks, white line disease, and lameness.

Cracks

Toe and Quarter Cracks can be fixed!

When a hoof experiences cracking, generally one or more contributing factors have affected the hoof:  excess length, flare, infection.  Hooves should be trimmed on a reasonable cycle so that excess length is removed before it causes a problem. Small cracks often start at the toe, which allows bacteria to invade the white line. This bacteria undermines the hoof integrity, which allows the crack to grow even deeper.

Fixing toe or quarter cracks involves keeping the horse trimmed on a short cycle (4-6 weeks), using antiseptic preparations to kill white line bacteria, and assuring the hoof has no flare and is in proper balance.

Underrun Heels

A contributing factor to Navicular pain and disease

Underrun heels is often caused by the horse's natural conformation type coupled with incorrect trimming or shoeing that crushes the heels. Horses with long, sloping pasterns are more prone to a low, underslung heel angle. If this is coupled with a trim (or lack of trims) that allows heels to run forward, the problem can become a nightmare.

Underrun heels are difficult to fix, and can cause the horse extreme pain and lameness. Addressing this problem involves bringing the toe back under the horse, and careful hoof mapping. Hoof mapping is a process of determining the widest point of the foot, location of the coffin bone, and the center of articulation. Radiographs are often helpful in these cases, because a negative palmar or plantar angle is generally involved as well.

Hoof Chips

An easy fix!

Undoubtedly horse owners worry about hoof chips probably more than any other hoof problem. Of all the calls I receive from new prospective clients, hoof chipping is at the top of the list of concerns. Not to worry!

Hoof chips are generally caused by a couple of things:  trim cycle is too long, and the attending farrier trimmed the foot flat without any bevel or mustang roll. A good barefoot trim will thoroughly round the edges of the foot so there is no sharp edge. This alone reducing chipping by 80%. Keeping the horse on a reasonable trim cycle so excess length can be removed is critical. Chips are almost never problematic and are resolved within a trim cycle or two.

Hoof Neglect

The main cause of lameness and poor hoof quality

Neglecting the trimming and care of equine hooves is common amd the main contributing cause to severe lameness, poor hoof quality, chips, cracks, and mechanical founder. Sometimes hooves become severely overgrown because an owner cannot find or keep a trimmer, and sometimes the owner doesn't realize hoof care is important. Contributing factors such as family illness, financial hardship and even poor equine behavior are often factors as well.

Fortunately, neglected feet can be trimmed and brought back into balance in just a couple of appointments.

Bad Shoeing

Inadequate shoeing causes significant threat to soundness

Every farrier or barefoot trimmer has had an off day where a foot just doesn't turn out the way you like. Bad shoeing on a chronic basis, however, can create severe hoof deformity and lameness. Bad shoeing is often marked by poor heel support, snubbed off toes, low nails, badly shaped shoes, and a poor trim. Using the wrong type of shoe for the situation and resetting on a long cycle further create imbalance and hoof deterioration. Owners unfortunately are tasked with the tough job of recognizing poor shoeing jobs and knowing when to switch hoof care providers. 

Bull Nosing

A symptom of hoof neglect and improper trim causing negative HPA

Bull nosing is when the feet (usually hinds) take on the appearance of a bulged dorsal wall, underrun low heel angle, and sometimes a long toe. When bull nosing is present, generally the angle of the coffin bone is negative, meaning the rear portion of the bone is lower than the front portion. This comes from hoof neglect and improper trimming or shoeing. If the toe plane is left too high, the heels are trimmed too low, and the heel pastern angle (HPA) is not maintained correctly, the coffin bone can sink too low in the back portion of the foot creating bull nosing.