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Article last updated: April 6, 2021
Long toes are a common problem that must be addressed to avoid a multitude of possible injuries to the horse.
“Backing up the toe” is the main concern that appears simply by removing length from the toe, setting the shoe back off the toe, adding a modification for breakover (rolled toe, rocker toe, etc.) or any number of other ideas.
While this might make the foot look aesthetically pleasing, 6 weeks later all the work that was done previously needs to be done again. Focusing on just the toe leaves out the rest of the foot. Instead of thinking of backing up the toe, the focus needs to be on “backing up the whole foot.”
British farrier Simon Curtis explains that, “Most of us understand that we need to get the toe back where it belongs, but what is less understood … is how we need to dress the heels back.”1 In order to understand how the heels affect the toe, think of the hoof wall as a chain that has been laid on a table. If you pull out the front of the chain (simulating a long toe), the back of the chain comes together and begins to move forward. This illustrates that the heels follow the toe. Therefore, it makes sense that if the heels are brought back to the highest and widest part of the frog, the toe will be easier to control when running forward.