Aligning the hoof parallels of the heel and toe.

Extreme case of an upright angle of the pastern accompanied with divergent hoof which requires extreme corrective shoeing. 

After two shoeing (using the reversed shoe) notice the "softening" of the pastern and increased strength and growth in the toe, in the first inch of the new growth. The bottom of the toe is crumbling due to a previous weak toe growth. Also the new toe growth shows obvious alignment with the heel. (click image  to enlarge)

Extremely collapsed (convergent) hoof requires extreme corrective shoeing.

Same foot after couple of shoeings using the toe extension. Note the straightening of the coronet.

Same hoof six months later
(Winter shoes with pads)

The left foot on the same horse.

The extension of the toe is noticeable in this picture. Once when the toe straightens out, no need for the extension. The extension of the shoe in the heel is somewhat too long.
(Click to enlarge)


    "Old fashioned", simple, no modern veterinary science, requires no Sci-Fi shoes and does the job.

    The aligning of the heel and toe is not an easy task and in some cases not feasible. First and foremost one should remember that in most cases during the so-called corrective shoeing, especially in the case of alignment of convergent hoof of the forelimb, the horse should not perform, especially not on hard surface. In other words, the horse can be exercised but he cannot perform in extended gaits like in case of racing, dressage and others. Therefore we primarily implement the corrective shoeing during the off-season. Ignoring this could lead to various complications in the moving apparatus, often resulting in the lameness of the horse. Once when this is said and noticed, the following procedures can be implemented.


Divergent hoof  

    In the case of divergent hoof the overriding strength of the hoof is in the heel, hence that is where our attention is placed and that is what we work with. We cannot work with the toe since there is usually hardly any to work with. In this case where the parallels going away from each other and where the heel usually grows faster, while the toe growth seems to be somewhat stunt, I have implemented the following. Since the heel is too high we of course cut it more every trimming, however, it seems to stubbornly grow faster back, hence we are not getting anywhere. The most successful method for equaling (altering) the toe and heel hoof growth in extreme cases of divergent hoof was done in my practice by using the old fashioned "reversed" shoe. This will cause the horse to move so-called "ahead" of himself, in other words, the horse keeps his front legs more in front, in order to prevent stumbling and/or falling down, while landing on his heels. The nature of the horse is of course trying to correct the deficiency of the missing toe, which will than often grow faster or at least equals the heel growth. The hoof is simply being reset by the alternation of the hoof growth. This came very useful in the treatment of some cases of the foundered hoof. One must remember that the position of the coffin bone rests on the position of the hoof parallels and not the other way around. In most cases (not always) when the hoof growth is corrected, so that the heel and toe are growing parallel to each other, the coffin bone lines up with them, since the entire hoof is supported by the inner "hoof wall". The same was also helpful when correcting to some point the clubfoot. Once when at least two thirds of the hoof is parallel, we can resume normal shoeing, though one must be very observant as the hoof could come out of the alignment when prematurely resumed to normal shoeing. In the less extreme cases of the divergent hoof I've used the egg bar and rolled (rocked) the toe; in mild cases the rolled (rocked) toe did the job. Both, the egg bar and the reverse shoe, which in reality is a rear half of the egg bar, will collapse the heel, while the rolled toe (missing toe in the reverse shoe) will stimulate the growth in the toe and sole in the front part of the hoof. Both of these methods are only temporary and must be discontinued in time, other wise they will have some adverse affects, like underrun heel, or better said convergent hoof. We can go from one to the other if we do not pay attention.

Convergent Hoof

    In this case the overriding strength of the hoof is in the toe, hence that is where our attention is placed. Since the convergent hoof is accompanied with the so-called under run heel (collapsed), most people are concerned with the heel. We must remember that the toe and heel influences each other's growth. In cases where the toe is bulged (it is not always the case) it is important to straighten the toe first, which will usually straighten the heel as well. Extending the shoe forward in the toe until the hoof parallels are achieved does the straightening of the toe, which in return will help the heel to line up. One must exercise caution in training and riding during this corrective shoeing process, especially by the forelimbs. Ignoring this can result sometimes in serious and permanent injuries, mainly where the navicular region stress is concerned. Horses should not perform any extended gaits during this process. In the hind legs it will have much lesser risk factor. The extension of the shoe under the heel should be kept at normal, only slightly extended, because the over extension of the shoe at the heels could have similar side effects as often seen in the use of egg bars, which is collapsed (underrun) heel. In this case, the shoeing intervals should be shortened to prevent the hoof outgrowing the shoe, thus the shoe becomes too short and the heel begins to collapse. Once when the hoof is shod in this way, the hoof growth usually accelerates and sometime the horse must be reshod within three to four weeks to insure success. Same as in the case of divergent hoof, the corrective method must be discontinued in time, to prevent adverse affects of which some could be serious. The under run heel is often inverted (turned in at the bottom) and it should be removed if possible, in other words it must be cut out. If it must be cut out severely, the temporary implementation of a wedge pad can be useful, as well as in some cases addition of a straight bar, especially in the wide hoof. Here the problems often rest with the trainers, owners and veterinarians alike, who will tend to complain that the heel is too low and should not be cut, which is of course nonsense. The problem with the underrun heels usually lies in the fact that they are not trimmed enough, hence they will rot in time and collapse.

    Once when the heel and toe are parallel, the attention can be placed on the angle of the hoof and not before. Without the alignment of the heel and toe, the angle of the hoof remains distorted and not real, hence using the angle-measuring contraption on such foot is in vain and the reading is inaccurate.


The heel will give more accurate angling of the hoof, rather than the toe.


Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek