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Ace, a Quarter Horse with Chronic High Heels


The Before and After pictures below are of Ace , who had historically high, contracted heels on both front feet.

Prior farrier's had tried to lower his heels unsuccessfully over the 8 year period he'd had with his current owner.

I was certain that taking him barefoot would resolve the imbalance and his heels would come down naturally . After 6 months barefoot, he was moving well but wasn't landing as strongly on his heels as I would like. Thinking that the high heel was the reason, I tried lowering the heels slightly and he was comfortable on good footing but was tender on rocks.

Up to that point he had been a gravel-cruncher barefoot on the trail - nothing slowed him down! Dropping his heels 1/3 inch using a heel bevel rendered him tender for two weeks.

After that trim, I inspected his feet carefully and waited several months to try again. He was super sound, but his high heels placed his coffin bone at about 4 degrees, much higher than I'd like.

Then I took a good look at his frogs; they looked fine if constricted, and his owner was extremely careful about keeping his feet pristine. But as I looked at the tightly contracted heels and the cramped frog between them, my suspicions grew.

His owner was insulted when I asked her to soak for thrush, and, begging her to humor me, I asked her to soak his feet in a mild Lysol dilution for 20to 30 minutes a day for 5 days the week before I was due to re trim.

I took the Before shot, to the right, before trimming his foot.


This is Ace's foot before trimming the month before I asked his owner to use a Lysol dilution soak.

I wanted to soak his foot to see if "Invisible Thrush" hidden deep in his tightly contracted frog was the reason his heels stayed long and he over-used his toes.

You can see the toe flare from his weighting the front of his foot.

Also the angle of the cannon and pastern show that he's placed his foot under himself slightly to reduce the weight distribution to the back of his foot.

When I returned, she was still feeling insulted about my inference that *her* horse had Thrush! But she immediately let me know that she had not only done as I asked, but ad soaked for 40 minutes a day for 7 days, as opposed to the 20 to 30 minutes a day for 5 days, just to be sure.

When I started trimming his feet, I was delighted! His heels had decontracted almost 1/2 inch, his high bar and 1/2 inch of retained sole in the heel area shed voluntarily in huge chunks, and we were left with the After shot on the right.


The picture on the left show Before cleaning up the shedding sole and bare and lowering the heel, and the picture on the right shows the After.

I wish I had taken better pictures of this trim because his heels came down almost an inch, but its hard to see that from these pictures.

I had someone Mentoring with me and they took the pictures while I trimmed away, delighted with Ace's changes. The pictures are all great even if they aren't the great documentation I'd like; Ace was as thrilled with the changes as we were and that was so much fun to capture.

Ace loves having his toes trimmed!

Linda Cowles Hoof Care
Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
Copyright 2008 Linda Cowles
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