The principle that a veterinarian-farrier team is required to help horses maintain soundness, maximize performance and overcome lamenesses is undeniable. It is a balance of knowledge, skill and an understanding of the other member’s responsibilities, as well as your own. At the early December American Association of Equine Practitioners Annual Convention, the coordination of these efforts was showcased in a podiatry workshop that called on veterinarians and farriers to discuss the management of a variety of equine foot conditions that hoof-care professionals commonly face. Among these subjects were presentations on the veterinary and farriery roles in addressing underrun heels.
As with other subjects covered in this session, Dr. Andy Parks led off the discussion of the condition with a survey of biomechanics. The University of Georgia professor and veterinary surgeon says that from a biomechanical point of view, underrun heels are not so much about angles, as they are about the relationship between the extensor and flexor moments and the center of pressure (COP) — “the point on the ground surface of the foot through which the ground reaction force works.”
“It clearly is an imbalance between the load on the heel and the integrity of the heel to bear that load,” he says.
In his explanation, Parks finds that there isn’t definitive evidence in research as to why underrun heels occur, but that there are many potential causes. Considering the biomechanics of the ways underrun heels occur, Parks first identifies when the heels are structurally weak…