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  1. #1
    Just backed
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    Aug 2009
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    146

    Default barefoot mediolateral balance

    Ive been thinking about this and wondered what the general thought is.
    As I understand it when a horse is barefoot the greater the amount the horse works and wears its feet the more the hoof grows in response to the wear. If the horse consistantly central loads heel first then the hoof grows correctly. If a horse has an injury or conformation fault the hoof will grow to support the leg causing hoof deviation as opposed to flaring.
    But if the horse isn't landing heel first or loads one side more than the other the hoof will continue to grow the support for the movement unless the enviroment/footing changes such as pea gravel that helps change the landing to heel first.
    If the enviroment cant be changed due to being on a livery yard do you trim to 'rebalance' and 'correct' the movement over a period of time or do you continue to allow the hoof to 'sort itself out'.
    But if the horse habitually moves the same way due to muscle memory and continues to wear the hoof the same way wont it continue to grow that way even if an injury has mended.
    Hope that all makes sense :-) Any ideas? Of course said barefoot horse would be on good diet, its more that if diet is as good as you can get but horse still doesn't walk heel first how do you get the heel first landing when there is mediolateral balance issues. I know there are a few 'hoof people' on here and wondered that they thought.

  2. #2

    Default Re: barefoot mediolateral balance

    So happy that you raised this issue. Partly because I see so many cases of it not been addressed correctly. Sometimes even caused by the way the horse is trimmed and/or shod.

    Often the odd wear is caused by a problem higher up - sometimes it becomes chicken or egg in that the odd balance can cause problems higher up which then make the foot worse.

    The sad (?) thing is it is incredibly easy to address if you know what you are doing, but it equally easy to mess it up if you don't or think you do, but don't really.

    This is one example, but there are others http://barefoothorseblog.blogspot.co...t-now-you.html

    This is another http://barefoothorseblog.blogspot.co...ated-hoof.html which is very interesting because regular work and trimming keeps the hoof in reasonable shape, if the horse stops working even for a relatively short time it starts to go awry again.
    Last edited by LucyPriory; 15-10-10 at 02:54 PM.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    14,750

    Default Re: barefoot mediolateral balance

    I have one stonkingly sound horse who always puts the outside of his off fore down first and always has. He wears the foot level and moves straight, so I don't mess with it.

    My hunter had a fairly strong imbalance in the fore and hind on the diagonal he was reluctant to carry me on when I first backed him. A year or more of schooling has straightened him up and his front foot is now symmetrical and the hind has a radical change of angle on the outside wall grown half way down.

    I had a toe in horse who I tried to trim to straighten him up but his problem was cannon bones that twisted from the knee down and it made him worse. He wore his feet unevenly and I trimmed him to stop the unevenness getting too excessive, but not to correct it.

    My horse with spavin in the hocks loaded the inside of his hind feet more than the outside, normal for spavin, and grew higher heels on the inside too. Since standard spavin shoeing is wedges on the inside, I left well alone as he was coping with his hocks by doing it.

    So as an owner/trimmer, not a working trimmer, my own limited experience has been that the imbalances of horses I have had have been a result of things higher in their bodies.

  4. #4
    Foal
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    Apr 2007
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    Somerset
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    18

    Default Re: barefoot mediolateral balance

    The whole ''must land heel first to be correct'' theory is the human again deciding what is ''normal''.
    Look at nature - a horses hoof naturally lands heel-first in some conditions, flat in some and toe-first in others. Like humans, all horses are different - we must not try to make all horses move the same way. Balance the foot, and the horse decides how he wants to land on his hooves, and this varies greatly.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: barefoot mediolateral balance

    Caroline are you a farrier or pro trimmer? I ask because I know of no other trimmers who do not think heel first is the horse's preferred way of loading its foot.

    Every single hardworking sound barefoot horse I have ever seen lands heel first on smooth tarmac and smooth concrete. The first sign of improvement in navicular rehabs is when they move to a heel first landing, documented time and again in video on rockleyfarm.blogspot.com (Thanks must go to Nic for posting such a marvellous resource for us all to refer to and NO I do NOT have any commercial relationship with Rockley, nor am I a friend of Nic's but I really value what she is doing with foot lameness research).

    Toe first landing on a smooth hard surface is incorrect and has been shown to damage the DDFT in experiments with cadaver horse legs. Therefore only flat or heel first can be correct and personally I would always listen to the horse and every darned one I see is heel first on a smooth hard surface. My own rehab horse was so toe first that his foot double-clicked as it hit the floor toe-heel, and he came sound soon after going heel first landing and has remained so ever since.

    I strongly believe that if a horse is toe first landing on a smooth hard surface, (shod or unshod) that you have problems brewing which will show sooner or later with lameness if the horse is in work.
    Last edited by cptrayes; 15-10-10 at 08:04 PM. Reason: seddit rong

  6. #6
    Sport horse Spinal Tap's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: barefoot mediolateral balance

    My mare is pigeon toed, her front hooves are quite asymmetrical & because she breaks over off-centre, she puts a big roll on the outside of her toes when she does roadwork. My bits of trimming basically involve putting a matching roll on the rest of her foot to try & prevent flare but I don't do anything else, she has grown the foot she wants under her so who am I to argue I've known horses with funny looking feet where farriers have tried to make them look better and the horses have hardly taken a sound step afterwards, so I just accept that my horse has slightly gimpy paws and that's how it is She lands heel first and when her trimmer comes the most she needs to take off to balance her heels is a mm or two, so although the impact her conformation has on her breakover is quite significant, it doesn't seem to affect her heels a great deal

    Don't know if this is any help

  7. #7
    Out to Pasture
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    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: barefoot mediolateral balance

    I'm beginning to see that the heel first (not excessive btw as my pony with laminitis does excessive heel first landing) landing is measured on flat tarmac or concrete. Horses going over varied terrain land in all sorts of ways depending on the terrain and gait etc. Are horses supposed to ALWAYS land heel first? I see heel first landing on flat as a measure of strength in the foot rather than an absolute way of landing? Is this incorrect?

  8. #8

    Default Re: barefoot mediolateral balance

    Amandap - I think you have it right. I also think peeps can get themselves a bit .... because of simple miscommunication. Which is why forums can be a dangerous place. Sometimes I really get the shivers with some of the material which is pedalled.

    So here is my take (which lines up with yours - just different words)

    Foot landing on a dead level flat surface with a sound horse is usually heel first and is a good measure. On a sloping surface, or grass or an arena, trail, mountain etc it is going to be different.

  9. #9
    Old nag
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    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: barefoot mediolateral balance

    Foot landing on a dead level flat surface with a sound horse is usually heel first and is a good measure. On a sloping surface, or grass or an arena, trail, mountain etc it is going to be different.
    Fully agree - although there are times when they choose to go toe first, often on a surface that they are unsure of so folks don't need to get wound up if they see a toe first at times - usually with the horse looking down.

    I do think there is a lot of unnecessary mystique created around the ML balance - and to be ruthlessly truthful, trimmers and farriers can only take a guide from the sole plane, heels, heel bulbs and hairlines - no one can tell for sure if the balance is really correct without an xray of the foot!

    Like cptrayes, I have one whose feet look unballanced, but I know they are spot on - I have xrays to prove it. The hoof looks longer on one side than the other - but it works for the horse, P3 is level, and if I interfere with that then it is giving him discomfort higher up

  10. #10
    Out to Pasture
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    Default Re: barefoot mediolateral balance

    Quote Originally Posted by LucyPriory View Post
    Amandap - I think you have it right. I also think peeps can get themselves a bit .... because of simple miscommunication. Which is why forums can be a dangerous place. Sometimes I really get the shivers with some of the material which is pedalled.

    So here is my take (which lines up with yours - just different words)

    Foot landing on a dead level flat surface with a sound horse is usually heel first and is a good measure. On a sloping surface, or grass or an arena, trail, mountain etc it is going to be different.
    Thanks for this. I often read about heel first landing being the aim but it never seems to be quallified and some peeps seem to have the impression it's an absolute thing. Glad I seem to have understood the phrase properly.

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