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A: The majority of lameness is associated with the front legs from the knee down, while any hind lameness can be very difficult to pinpoint. Horses drive off the back legs, and if any performance is required — like running, jumping, pulling, etc. — the hind legs receive a tremendous amount of strain, but problems with the hind often go unnoticed. The hock is a large joint that works in unison with the stifle and the fetlock.
One variable to consider before shoeing this horse. is conformation. Horses that are cow-hocked, sickle-hocked or have short, upright pasterns, etc., can have added stress on the hocks. Footing and expected use are equal concerns. The hock works much like our ankle, front to back. Any twisting side to side can act like a grinding motion between the joints and can abuse nature’s synovial fluid.
Not knowing this horse, a basic answer would be to keep a short toe and reasonably higher angle (55 degrees). A wedge shoe might be used to accomplish the higher angle, and maybe even a bar shoe for better support. Use a rolled toe and some method to reduce concussion such as a Vettec pour-in pad. If any twisting is obvious, try studs for traction and stability.
—Danny Ward, Martinsville, Va.
A: One type of chronic hock pain is…