Equine Problem Diagnosis
Poor foot balance can cause a broad range of issues
The photographs above show some pretty extreme examples of hoof problems but numerous less noticeable issues can be caused through imbalance. If your horse suffers from one or more of the following then it would be a worthwhile exercise to establish whether poor foot balance could be a factor:
- Swollen legs, continually resting a hind leg or pointing a toe
- Tripping or stumbling
- Forging or brushing
- High head carriage and a reluctance to soften over the back
- Schooling difficulties such as being on the forehand, a reluctance to go forward or inability to track up
- Failure to realise potential or a deterioration in performance
- The horse is not lame but 'not quite right' and you can't put your finger on the exact problem
- Nervousness or bad temper
Observe your horse whilst they are standing in a relaxed manner. Are their legs "under" the body as in example 1 below or do they stand correctly over a good amount of ground like the same horse in example 2 which has now had the near fore and near hind correctly trimmed? Standing like example 1 could be a direct result of the toes being long, leaving the horse without any option but to stand in an unnatural position which puts stress on the whole frame, especially the back.
Loose school your horse and watch the way the feet hit the ground. Do they land toe first, flat, or heel first? Toe landing is another indicator of incorrect foot balance and could bring about long term damage if not corrected as each foot fall will cause the coffin joint to subluxate.
Using the Hoof Evaluation Protocol carefully map the feet to establish whether there is distortion and what level it is. If the results show the feet to be at level 2 or higher then foot balance needs to be addressed in order to avoid long term damage. Correcting the issues now can prevent heartache, expense, distress, discomfort and pain. Discuss your findings with your farrier and ask for them to be addressed.
Check for medial and or lateral imbalance-looking at the underside of the foot is one heel higher than the other (see example 3 below)? Looking at the hoof front the front, is one side longer than the other? Medial / lateral imbalance will cause the horse to land on one side of the foot before the other which can cause extensive long term damage to the internal structures of the foot, ligaments and tendons, and distruption to the blood supply. See the Dissection Day report and photographs if you are in any doubt as to the severity of the problems this condition can create if left uncorrected.