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Trimming and Shoeing Strategies for High-Low Feet

Hall of Fame farrier details how he improves performance in horses with mismatched feet


Pictured Above: Danvers Child finds that about 70% of high-low horses have the low foot on the left side. Images: Danvers Child

The prevalence of asymmetrical, mismatched or high-low feet has changed dramatically over the past half-century. What once was rare is now an almost daily occurrence that farriers must maintain to keep horses performing as well as possible.

Yet, how should farriers tackle asymmetry? Maintenance techniques have evolved almost as dramatically as high-low feet have become commonplace. During his presentation at the 48th annual American Farrier’s Association Convention in Tulsa, Okla., Danvers Child discussed characteristics of high-low feet, how they affect performance and how he approaches trimming and shoeing them.

What are High-Low Feet?

Simply put, high-low feet are disproportionate in that one foot is higher than the other. Since the feet are so dissimilar, each have their own characteristics.

Farrier Takeaways

  • High-low feet can be aggravated by how they are worked. When the horse is dominant with one foot, encourage clients to balance the horse’s workload on both the left and right.
  • A low foot dominant horse often struggles changing leads to the
    high-side foot.
  • A horse’s trapezius muscles cannot be overdeveloped and bulging like biceps. Rather, it’s likely the result of a postural issue.
  • Shoe each foot individually using a systematic hoof mapping approach to help the horse move with suppleness.
  • When there is a disparity in a front foot, there will be a diagonal disparity in the hind.

The low foot typically is a broader, more…

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Cota

Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 25 years. A native of Maine, he is the Managing Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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