There may be no single phrase heard more in farrier circles than “backing up the toe.” It comes up in discussions of balance, long toes and low heels, navicular syndrome, caudal heel pain, breakover and numerous other hoof-care topics.
But is everyone talking about the same thing? There are times when backing up the toe seems to center primarily around the placement of the shoe. At other times, it involves actually removing excess toe and in other situations, it involves a combination of the first two. It’s possible that there are still other “definitions” being used out there.
During a talk at the Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners conference in Norfolk, Va., in September, British farrier Simon Curtis also brought up the idea that because the phrase centers around the toe, some farriers may not understand that it involves more than just that part of the hoof.
“Most of us understand that we need to get the toe back where it belongs, but what is less understood, I believe, is how we need to dress the heels back,” he said.
The member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame from Newmarket, England, was talking about dealing with long-toe, low-heel types of feet, which often develop toe cracks because of the long lever created by the toe. He often sees the toes trimmed back, and then shoes fitted so that they extend just beyond the heel buttresses with a goal of adding support. But he often sees…