Unlimited access >

Hoof experts: want to analyze my horse's feet?

Hi!!! I am a lifetime rider but new horse owner as you all might have seen by my ten million posts on the Horse Care forum.

I’ve been trying to learn everything I can about feet, and have been dying to post my horse’s feet online and get some opinions about them!! There’s nothing really specifically wrong, she’s sound and doing fine, but she is a QH and has less than perfect conformation so I’m sure there’s areas that can be worked on.

In her PPE she hoof tested positive on both front frogs, so I x-rayed her front feet, and the PPE vet said the X rays looked alright to her. I’m not sure how much weight to put in hoof testers, my farrier seems to think it’s not the most important thing in the world but I’m not sure how universal that opinion is… And she is slightly toed out in front as well.

I gave my farrier (who is also new to me) the x-rays and the vet’s writeup, and he put rubber pads on her because the vet suggested some experimentation with her shoeing setup. However right after he did it he was like “she probably doesn’t need these,” so in her next appointment which was about a week ago, I asked him what he thought about just pulling off her front shoes altogether and he was like, “sure we can try it.”

So now she’s barefoot! I’m hoping after like one more week I can assess whether I’ll keep them off and probably will invest in some good hoof boots then. I didn’t have any real reason to pull off her shoes other than just to try it for a cycle or two, and get a baseline of her hoof health - obviously open to putting them back on her if she needs it.

Here’s some feet pix (just of the front), I have a lot more but these are the most recent (from the past week!) Thoughts? Red flags??

I don’t see anything alarming. Good bevel. If you don’t already, try to stay on a 4-week trim cycle :wink:

I would address some of the pooling bar tho, but that’s just me.

1 Like

I am not an expert but they look good to me!

The pooling bar is the ridge around her frog right? what would you do to address it? I just tried to google it but I didn’t find a whole lot, at least for a non-farrier layperson.

Does anybody see a bit of high/low going on? I am trying to educate myself and not sure how of if to deal with it.


1 Like

Come up halfway on the frog, from the apex. I lay my knife parallel to the sole plane and scrape outwards toward the wall. Then I bring back/straighten the remaining bar.

Search out all the goodies from James Welz of The Horse’s Hoof.

Nothing jumps out at me :slight_smile: It’s a little hard to see things in the best detail, not due to the quality of the photos, but due to the angle of the camera lens not being perpendicular to the things we’re seeing. That distorts things pretty quickly.

I do agree about the bars, but if it’s been several weeks since the last trim, that could explain it. Some horses just don’t grow bar “properly” for a variety of reasons, but sometimes the bars don’t grow properly because they aren’t trimmed properly, regularly. Time will start to tell on this, since this farrier is new. But at this moment, I’d want to clean the bars up a bit, especially the medial (inside) bar of the LF.

I do see some hi/lo going on, high RF low LF. I’m not quite sure from these pics whether either one of those is a normal foot and the other is high, or low (see above note about lens angle).

What I do see of both feet have a bit o heel contracture, which can be from low grade but chronic mis-management of the heels. The heel bulbs are a bit too pointy, and the frogs not terribly wide in relation to the size of the feet.

As a note, since he appears to point out with both feet, the lateral half of the foot is more than half the foot. The question is - is the trim causing him to toe out, or is the toeing out conformation, and you’re just going to be managing the feet. I would assume the xrays didn’t’ show anything to suggest it’s a trim issue, but it’s something to make note of and maybe go back and look at and ask questions about.

From the outside, they look great. Walls are a little thin, concavity doesn’t strike me as particularly deep. Hopefully the vet made markers on the feet so that sole depth could be calculated? If so, what is that number?

I agree with your farrier that hoof testers aren’t the end all be all, but they can be a good diagnostic tool as part of a bigger picture.

Dang, I thought I was doing a good job getting all the way down to the floor to try to be perpendicular! But now that I look at them again I think the actual camera was on the top side of the phone.

I definitely agree about heel contracture which was part of the reason I wanted to pull off her shoes and try barefoot? To my uneducated eye, her bare back feet look a little better in that respect than the front. Hopefully i’m not wrong about that… pics below (sorry, the side ones are not great again!).

I think the toeing out is her conformation, but again I could be wrong - see below for an okay pic of her from the front, she’s leaning a little bit but you can kinda tell.

Is the sole depth calculation the same as the palmar angle? I just looked back at the PPE report and all she said was that the right front has a slightly negative palmar angle, did not put down a specific number but I remember when I spoke to her on the phone that she said it doesn’t look negative but it measures negative.

Here’s the side view x rays if that helps :joy:

Not at all :slight_smile: But I’m glad you mentioned this, and put up the xrays, because that P3 angle immediately jumped out at me. At best it looks ground-parallel, 0*. That’s a red flag, definitely not something I’d say was “alright”

She does look conformationally toed-out, at least from the new picture, looking turned out from the knee down.

Sole depth looks ok, but I would ask your vet if she can get you a number. I see the 4cm and marks on the side so assuming that 4cm means that’s the distance from the ground, it should be easy for the computer to measure sole depth. I think that would be a good thing to have , if for no other reason than a baseline.

That P3 angle needs to be addressed though, sooner rather than later. It likely hasn’t been around too long, as there’s no deviation in the hoof wall - yet - to suggest it

Seeing the rads though, there is some distal descent, as seen by the joint between P3 and P2 being noticeably below the coronet band which is thankfully fairly visible. Why so many vets don’t use metal to mark the coronet band, and true apex of the frog, when taking hoof rads for the entire purpose of checking what’s going on in there, is beyond me :frowning:

You are so helpful JB!!! Thank you for all this info :hugs:

Good to know about the distal descent, I had never even heard of that before!

As far as addressing the P3 angle, do you think it’s a matter of the farrier working on it over time, or like call the vet now and get some interventions going ASAP? He hasn’t really mentioned anything to me about it and he did look at these x-rays too, but I also haven’t specifically asked.

1 Like

I hope the farrier has noticed the angle, and has plans to address it. He might not have necessarily thought he should bring it up to you. When is he due to come again?

It’s not a call the vet asap deal. But it does need to be openly acknowledged and a plan to work on it. This might mean back in shoes, with a wedge of some sort, for a few cycles, but there should be a plan.

1 Like

The heels look long and underrun. And the bars need some attention. Much better than a lot of feet I’ve seen, but I’d bring those heels back and down.

What do you think about the heels on her back feet vs. her front? Am I right in thinking the back are slightly better or are they both equally bad? Back foot photos are in post #8.

Yes, the hind feet are in better condition.

In general, hind feet hold up to less than stellar trimming better than fronts, largely due to not only carrying less weight, but due to their function. For reasons I don’t quite understand, it seems easier to keep a more spade-shaped foot in good health, than a round foot :woman_shrugging:

The LH/dark foot looks like the medial/inside heel is high, and the lateral/outside bar is overlaid, both of which are causing that flare on the lateral quarter/heel area, but also the tiny bit of flare I see on the lateral toe quarter

The same is going on with the RH/white foot, to a lesser degree. This suggests to me the farrier is likely having a bit harder time trimming properly while working on the medial sides of the feet, which puts him more under the horse.

1 Like

Agreed with everything JB has pointed out so far (even before I saw the radiographs when I looked at the pictures showing the solar view, I immediately thought he looked flat and probably didn’t have enough angle to P3). Someone else said it somewhere, I think, but the heels are running forward and the horse is long in the quarters. His white line also looks weak to me, which can happen for a whole number of reasons including nutrition and environmental.

My gelding ended up with a similar looking foot this summer when I had him shod - I ended up pulling his shoes the day before the farrier was due to come and trimming him the way I wanted.

Not to hijack your thread, OP, but I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while and maybe somebody on here knows more about the education trimmers versus shoers/blacksmiths get: I cannot understand for the life of me why (IME) shoers neglect to do a proper trim prior to adding the shoe. I watched the farrier who did my gelding this summer: no toe taken (even though there was plenty to take), just touched the bars and a bit of sole to create the flat plane for the shoe, rasped the foot flat and voila, done. Hence why I started trimming him myself prior to being shod. I see this exact scenario play out with literally every farrier I’ve met and I don’t get it. It’s not correct from the perspective of what the foot needs to stay in balance so I can’t figure out why this is such a common approach.

(To be clear, I am not trying to demonize all shoers…this is just getting so common and the more I teach the more I see poorly managed feet. I started working with one woman recently whose mare has gone from barefoot and sound to shod and lame. I looked the hinds (done a day prior) - the bottom had been touched up with a rasp and that’s about it. The horse had major medial flares, REALLY poor medial-lateral balance, toe cracks due to the sheared heels caused by the crappy balance, squashed frogs…I couldn’t believe the horse had been done the day before I saw it)


But to be fair, there are plenty of trimmers who can’t trim well either :slight_smile:

Yep, far too common BUT, maybe not any more common than poor trimming in terms of percentages. We just see a lot more of it from farriers because there are so many farriers compared to trimmers.

Some areas of the country have a lot of these, some have a lot of really excellent farriers.

Just as there are trimmers who have no formal (or any) education, all self-taught, there are lots of farriers who are the same, and poor shoe placement just compounds the poor trim.

1 Like

here is a good article to help you understand distal descent :wink:


Wow that is interesting!!! I’ve definitely noticed a tiny bit of flare in the back feet.

I have heard this from so many people and what freaks me out is that I definitely don’t trust myself to judge a farrier’s work but I know there are tons of not great farriers and trimmers out there… this is why I’m so grateful for COTH!!!

@JB oh, absolutely. Plenty of crap to go around in all areas. Also plenty of fanatical trimmers that think shoes are the devil and if you use a bit you’re guaranteeing yourself a spot next to Satan.

OP - yes, I’ve heard the same from a few students. Confidence in understanding what you are seeing is the biggest barrier to people vocalizing things to their farriers (or getting bold and trimming themselves - for me, it took an colt starting apprenticeship where I was under a horse literally every day to get me confident enough in what I know to just start doing it).

You know more than you think you do, and you have every right to ask questions of your farrier’s work: you’re paying for it, after all. A good professional in any area of expertise should be willing to take critique and learn

1 Like

I was in your position years ago… questioning what I was seeing, knowing it wasn’t right but didn’t feel I was qualified to speak up… fast forward to today and I now trim my own. If I happen to have one down the road who I feel would do better in shoes, I do have a farrier I trust to do that but to leave one barefoot I have no one around here I can trust, so I figured if I wanted something right I needed to learn to do it myself… and I love doing it.