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Cocked, Bowed-Back Pasterns

Q: Recently I was called to shoe a 4-year-old horse that had lived his whole life in a pasture in Nebraska. He was barely halter broke and had never had his hooves trimmed! 

The problem was his severely bowed hind pas­terns. His lateral wall was about 1-inch lower than the inside hoof wall. I trimmed him, trying to balance the hoof as best as I could, then  used a square-toe shoe with a moderate trailer, which was fit as wide as possible to help support the weak pasterns.

Due to the weak pasterns, his stride lands on the lateral wall. Will adding the short trailer help or compound his problem? 

After the shoeing, the horse looked and acted more comfortable. Does anyone have long-term suggestions for this horse? His intended job was to become a ranch horse. I advised the owner that the horse’s outlook for heavy use was probably poor.

I’ve never worked on a colt this bad and am hopeful he might improve with regular hoof care.

—Loyd Tollett,

A: From your description, it sounds like this young ranch horse walks over on the outside of his hind hoof(s). Your trimming and shoeing approach at this stage in this horse’s life (4-plus years) should be aimed at support and protection. His bone structure is not likely to change since the growth plates in the lower leg should be fused. Support to the outside of the hoof is still important.

You probably are only going to be able…

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