Hoof Care for Toeing Out

My 2-year-old filly has turned-out toes, which originate from her knees. She does not trip or paddle when moving. However, after trimming her feet, she walks on the outside of the hoof and rotates her weight to the inside. I would like to know if a particular way of trimming her hooves would help the problem, or if I should shoe her. She is due to start training soon. The farrier now trims her hooves shorter on the outside.     Linda Nichols, via e-mail

The toed-out condition you describe originates from the conformation of her forelimbs where her knees are rotated laterally (outward). This results in a condition called sheared heels, where the inside heel bulb of the foot is displaced proximally (pushed upwards). Because of her limb conformation, her hoof impacts the ground on the outside section of the foot and loads on the inside section of the foot, leading to a disproportionate amount of weight being placed on one side of the foot.

This can lead to many foot problems, including distortion of the hoof capsule, bruising, separation in the hoof wall at the heel, quarter cracks, and fractures of the bars. Treatment is directed toward trimming the foot to improve the way in which she lands. This is accomplished by trimming the impact side (inside of foot) lower than the outside. In order to maintain the trimming performed, a straight bar shoe is often applied. Additional hoof wall at the heel is removed before applying the shoe so a space is created between the heel of the foot and the shoe.

This will allow the inside heel to drop against the outside heel, and the hoof capsule will assume a more normal conformation. The bar shoe prevents the vertical movement that occurs at the heels during landing on a horse with this type of conformation.

About the Author

Stephen E. O'Grady, DVM, MRCVS

Stephen E. O'Grady, DVM, MRCVS, was a professional farrier for 10 years prior to obtaining his degree in veterinary medicine. He learned farriery through a formal apprenticeship under Hall of Fame farrier Joseph M. Pierce of West Chester, Penn. After graduating from veterinary school, O'Grady did an internship in Capetown, South Africa. Then he joined Dan Flynn, VMD, at Georgetown Equine Hospital in Charlottesville, Va., as an associate for five years. Since that time, he has operated a private practice in Virginia and South Africa, with a large portion of the practice devoted to equine podiatry. He has published numerous articles and lectured extensively on equine foot problems. His web site is www.equipodiatry.com.

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