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A sport horse presents with hind limb lameness, is refusing or missing leads, “hollowing out” its back over jumps and the rider notices a behavioral change when the animal is working. With additional symptoms such as pain over the heels and navicular area, many veterinarians and farriers will run down a list of possible causes that might contribute to this issue.
Dr. Debra Taylor of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine told attendees of the 2014 International Hoof-Care Summit that this may be a familiar scenario for many veterinarian-farrier teams. She credits the work of equine vet Ric Redden of Versailles, Ky., for helping her understand that in some cases, the generating issue could be a negative plantar angle.
“When I started noticing this, it changed the way horses moved and the way they performed,” adds Taylor. “It was such a rewarding thing to tweak and it’s so simple.”
Upon examination, a horse with a negative plantar angle may appear overly straight in the hind legs, or tightly braced in the shoulders, back or loins, displaying an uneven profile over the lumbar and croup region. Other horses may stand in a sawhorse posture or appear in a camped-out stance. When walking, a low plantar angle may look like a short step length with the horse’s toes being stabbed into the ground. This is very noticeable during a trot.
Taylor says there often are several consistent signs that cause a misdiagnosis of sport horses with negative plantar…