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Correcting Horses With Low Heels

Find out the best ways to correct a horse with low heel problems.

Question:

What is the best, most-accepted correction for a horse with low heel problems? Do wedges only make matters worse?

For the answer to this question, we consulted Dr. Karen Blake with the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Answer:

That is a very difficult question to answer, as many people have differing opinions on the best method to use to correct low heel problems. There are lots of combinations of flat or wedge shoes with wedge pads, which can elevate the low heel. Unfortunately, if the heel is collapsing or underrun, they can make the situation worse as the pad is placing pressure on the collapsed heel and that pressure adds leverage to the damaged heel and increases the crushing force, worsening the problem.

However, some farriers are able to use wedge pads/shoes with great success. Alternatively, there is another method to help the low heel called a rocker shoe. A rocker shoe elevates the heel portion of the foot by featuring a round bottom that allows the horse to "roll" to the area of most comfort, which is usually the toe region, and thereby unweight the heel region (which essentially elevates the heel). The goal with these shoes is to create a healthier, more comfortable foot so the heel will eventually grow out to a relatively normal angle (less low).

-- Dr. Karen Blake, member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting a qualified veterinarian and/or an AQHA Professional Horseman.