Hoofcare & Information for Barefoot Soundness

Linda Cowles Hoof Care - Serving the greater SF Bay Area and Northern California

Home Services ArticlesCase Studies Links


Set-up Trim, September 15, 2005
February 22, 2006
September 22, 2006

9/2005  This 22 year old Arab gelding has years of very successful competitive trail riding behind him. He has a little bit of ringbone and a tendency to knock his FR coronet band with his FL hoof; imbalance or conformation is causing this horse to consistently interfere.He has a club foot and was shod with wedge pads on both front feet.

The "SHOD" pictures were taken several days after the shoes were nailed on.

The owner chose to pull the shoes 2 weeks after the shoeing because she was concerned about the angles and under run heels.

He's in a stall with a paddock that is bedded in rice hulls and gets ridden or ponied weekly in Epic boots.


Hoof Analysis

I tried to diagram the photo of the Front Right foot below after the shoe and wedge pad have been removed to show

1) where the toe would be if it hadn't gotten rasped to the white line, and
2) how the longer wall in the quarters influences the tendency of the heel to become under run

What this effort proves is that I need to get better with my graphics tools!!

The black line drawn horizontally on the wall is drawn parallel to the coronet band, 2 inches down. I explain why I do that below.



The farrier had been rasping the wall at the toe to make the toe look shorter, particularly on the right front. This may make the toe look "normal" but doesn't change the placement of the coffin bone, P3. It relieves some of the break over stress.


The farrier had also rasped the significant quarter flare that occurred as the wall in the quarters became longer than the wall in the toe or heel. The rasping has exposed the white line in the area of the rear nail holes.


This is a post trim shot; I didn't rasp any of the walls surface, but did round the toe and add a very slight bevel.

My theories on under run heels is that

1) the toe gets long and the horse starts moving toe-first. Toe first movement pulls the toe forward even more and results in a lamellar wedge, and the heel - connected to the toe by the wall - gets pulled forward with the toe.

2) the wall in the toe and heel become compressed at the base at a faster rate than the wall in the quarters with time and travel. Even with shoes on, the heels and toe become compressed - effectively shortened - at ground level and become relatively shorter than the wall in the quarters. The longer quarters begin to flare, and they often flare outward and upward into the coronet band because a shoe is in place as the base keeping them from flaring down. The wall in the quarters presses upwards, distorting the coronet band, and bending the wall around the quarters, folding the heels under.

What we see as a result is growth rings in the foot the stretch downward at the toe and in the heel, and an upward swirl over the nail holes in the quarters.

A long toe goes hand in hand with an under run heel. At the toe of this picture,, I drew an approximation of where this horses toe would be if it hadn't been rasped off so that the hoof looked "normal". It's based on following the angle of the hoof wall at the top 1 inch of hoof wall. The lighter wall at the base of the toe is an indication of where the outer wall has been rasped away to a very thin layer. This weakens the wall considerably, accelerates the rate at which it "compresses" and also accelerates the overall distortion of the foot as the wall begins to bulge outwards slightly.

The line drawn around the base of the foot is a line I use to help clients see length imbalance. The line is drawn relative to the coronet band, following its contour with a rasp. In this case I corrected the line, so its thick, but it still functions as a useful trimming tool in a case like this, where the growth rings have been rasped smooth. This line helps me balance the foot relative to the sole and the coronet band. I use the amount of wall at the sole to determine how short to take the wall, and when the coronet band flares up, I know that the wall has further to drop.

An alternative way of getting this sort of coronet-relative construction line is to use a compass or protractor.

Because the feet were short to begin with, I beveled the toes slightly and added a tiny bevel around the edge of the wall to keep it from chipping. Those small change made a significant difference in how this horse used his feet.


The hoof to the left has been very conservatively trimmed; the inside wall was shortened 1/8th inch and the toes were beveled The outside heel had been slightly longer, and that was very lightly rasped to get it even.

I would have liked to rasp these heels to draw them back - if there was any length! - to get the relative placement of the heel buttresses even.

Ideally we want at least 1/16th of an inch of wall adjacent to the sole on newly unshod horses.

This horse had full pads on. The owner has boots and prepared the horses paddock by adding rice hulls for the first month.


UNBALANCED WALL LENGTH may be causing this horse to consistently interfere in front, but it may be conformation... time will tell. There is scaring on the coronet band on the Front Right from years of interference. These walls were short from a recent shoeing, so we were only able to start getting them balanced. See the Arab Test Case for more pictures.


Front Right heel and sole

Front Left heel and sole


Rear left heel and sole

The back feet weren't padded, and the rasp marks at the toe are still obvious. Whenever I have a change, I watch farrier's with good reputations trim. The people I've watched lately all carve the sole out and rasp the sole at the toe.


Right rear sole

Several Weeks Later... October 27th

I've been doing these guys (Ace, Granddar, Rio and Stretch) every few weeks and taking lots of pictures and... the saying "watched pot never boils" comes to mind!

These four horses all had the whole walls rasped excessively at the toe and in the quarters so their wall wore down much faster than we'd like it to. In the ideal world, this fellow would have grown at least 1/4 in of sturdy wall (note the movement of nail holes down the wall) however its broken or worn off almost as fast as it touches the ground.

What we're seeing in each case is getting much better... their walls are thicker, and they are starting to get a scoop in the quarters naturally as the weaker wall wears away. Their heels are all getting stronger, their coronets all are smooth, and their frogs are extremely tough.

These guys are all bedded on rice hulls which may be why their soles aren't looking calloused. They had been extremely thin due to excessive rasping and paring when shod, and are now getting much more durable.

Several of the great changes we can see specific to Granddar's feet are that his heels are getting much stronger; they had been under run and had wedge pads when he was shod. The front of his walls no longer have that mint of outward bulge that I associate with under run heels, and his coronet bands look great. His wall is hitting the ground much thicker now as the rasped wall grows out.

For the future I want to see his right heel get MUCH stronger... once his wall is strong enough to actually be long we can start working with his angles.


Linda Cowles Hoof Care
Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
Copyright 2008 Linda Cowles
Home | Contact Linda | Privacy | About Us