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Considering the issues of underrun heels

‘I am passionate about the correct orthopaedic fitting of any shoes to a horse’s feet and even more so when the shoes are for repairing podiatry problems that afflict our horses.’


Consider the very common issue of underrun heels and contemplate the pros and cons of how shoe choice and placement will either help or hinder the outcome of this condition.

Traditional industry thinking is to place the shoe where the treating professional believes the foot or hoof capsule alignment should be. Therefore, in the case of underrun heels, they want to place the back of the shoe under the alignment of the heel bulbs for support, even though the shoe alignment is behind the hoof capsule structure itself. When adopting this shoeing strategy with the shoe being fitted further back for added palmar hoof support and the hoof capsule wall finishing away from the trailing branches of the shoe, the extended branches of the shoe will act as a vice on the hoof wall structure during the loading phase of the limb or when the animal shifts its weight and leans on the back of the foot. These trailing branches of the horseshoe inhibit the ability of the downward movement of the distal bones of the limb, preventing the optimal articulation and flexion of the distal joints. The flow-on effect is a change in the vascular and nervous systems, creating more issues for the animal. These vascular and neurological changes translate into the surrounding tissue of the entire palmar section of the foot, which then becomes stressed and overloaded, forcing the forward migration of the hoof capsule away from the vice-like effect and, therefore, defeating the purpose of fitting the shoe in the first place.

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