Figure 1a is a radiograph of a retired Quarter Horse gelding in April 2021. Figure 1b shows the horse in October 2022; note the lower hoof-pastern axis, so we increased the wedge on the shoe again after seeing this radiograph.

How Floatation Helped Two Horses

Two cases featuring a Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred show examples of how floating the heels can help a horse

I’ve worked on many horses throughout my career that I just couldn’t seem to get to grow any heel on their low-heeled foot. If they did, they would crush it, or the base of the foot would be pushed forward.

Using methods that are already widely accepted throughout the industry, I will offer a unique approach that could help improve these types of feet. I wrote this article to help you think about improving these types of feet. The techniques I present are already in use within many of our practices. The specific strategy here is heel flotation. Before I go forward, this technique can also be applied to hind feet, but my focus is the front feet.

Two farriers inspired this approach for me. First, Bedminster, N.J., farrier Bob Pethick spoke at our clinic years ago. He told of a horse that was a chronic hind limb, lateral heel crusher, whose shoe was sprung on the problematic heel. The sprung shoe accidentally created a float and the horse functioned high on that lateral side as a result.

Ashland, Ohio, farrier Randy Lui-kart delivered a presentation at the International Hoof Care Summit in 2019, suggesting the same thing for similar reasons, with the addition of a leather pad insert to fill the gap in that case.

What Causes a Low-Heeled Foot?

This is a long-standing question amongst farriers. One step further, what causes the degree of severity in these low-heeled feet? Take your pick: high-low syndrome, handedness, lameness, conformation, poor…

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Todd allen

Todd G Allen

Todd Allen, CJF, APF, is a Vandergrift, Pa., farrier who has been shoeing horses for 40 years.

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