Considerations Before Raising the Hoof Angle with an Appliance

Examine the pros and cons of each method before addressing this issue

In your veterinary practice, you may find yourself wishing for higher hoof angles for many of the horses in your care. When you’re dealing with caudal heel pain, navicular syndrome on a low-heeled horse or an injury to the deep digital flexor tendon, raising the hoof angle can become an absolute necessity

Reading through a few older textbooks, a popular conclusion was to simply request the farrier to apply a wedge pad or a pair of egg bars as a go-to solution. These are simple and have been proven to be effective. However, the qualifier to the effectiveness is “under certain circumstances.” No solution is a silver bullet in every case. If you’ve prescribed these enough, you’ve likely found that they not only don’t work for all horses, but sometimes result in disastrous consequences. Luckily for the equine practitioner today, recent research has focused not only on whether shoeing modalities raise the palmar angle of the coffin bone, but also on possible unintended consequences, giving us a broader picture to enable intelligent, educated shoe selection.

As farriers, we have a wide selection of tools available for raising hoof angles, from mild methods for the horse that needs a little encouragement to grow in the right direction, to extreme shoes for severe deep flexor tendon injuries, each with pros and cons to consider.  

Before Employing the Solution

Of course, the first step when it comes to hoof care has to be the trim. Low-angled hooves typically grow more toe than heel…

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Heather beauchemin 0720

Heather Beauchemin

Heather Beauchemin, CJF (TE), has been shoeing horses full-time at MVP’s Farrier Service Inc. since 2014. She is also the American Farrier’s Association communication chair.

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