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Q: “How can you help a horse best recover from underrun heels?” —Minnesota Farrier
A: The general cause of underrun heels is a distortion of the hoof capsule due to a shifting of the breakover too far forward, allowing for excess loading and crushing of the heels. Giving the horse more heel without moving the breakover back only makes the problem worse, as it increases the heel load.
In addition, the shoe raises the foot off the ground, allowing the frog to drop, especially in excessively wet conditions. This increases the pressure on the heels even more.
I usually set the shoes back and brush the heels of the foot back with my rasp to the widest point of the frog. This moves the breakover back and gets the support underneath the heel of the foot. I then use Equi-Pak clear instant pour-in pad to provide frog support. This takes the stress off of the heels and transfers it uniformly over the entire hoof.
For horses with sore or bruised heels, I float the heels by inserting a piece of pad at the sore heel or heels, pour in the Equi-Pak, and then pull out the piece after the EquiPak has set up. This leaves a small gap between the heel and the shoe to alleviate pressure on the sore spot. This also allows the heels to come back, preventing further crushing and underrunning.
I also sometimes have good success using a rocker shoe with a pour-in pad. This allows…