Lameness, contracted heels?

My mare has come up slightly lame in the last week. It’s very subtle, you can only really tell when she’s trotting with a rider, but it looks like possibly front feet. I was looking more closely at her hooves today and grabbed a few pictures, I wanted to see what you guys think. Her heels look pretty contracted to me, but I’ve never been very good with hoof issues. I’m wondering if this could be contributing to the slight off-ness. There’s otherwise no heat, maybe a bit of discomfort if I push on her heels but she’s fairly stoic so it’s hard to tell. Naturally I will get the vet out, I worry about things like navicular, but it has to wait a couple weeks, I have to help pay for my mom to move and have to pay for my OWN move after a soon-to-be-break up (unless it starts getting worse, it’s currently so subtle as to be barely there so I think we can wait just a bit but obviously that’ll change if it deteriorates any).

Hopefully pics load. Any advice is appreciated! Sorry for the not stellar pics, I had to hurry and I thought they looked okay at the barn but now at home they don’t look as great.

I literally gasped at the pictures :frowning:

You need a new farrier yesterday (assuming the one you’re using now has been doing these feet for 6+ months)

In general, front feet should be pretty round, with half, or more, of the length of the foot BEHIND the midline. The midline is marked by the end of the bars. The actual end, not the overgrown end.

The actual end of the bars is also mid-way down the actual length of the frog, not the overgrown length. The actual length, the true apex of the frog, is where the frog joins the sole, not whatever overgrowth there is above that.

You need a new farrier today. These feet are headed into trouble you may not be able to recover from.


That’s what I was afraid of…

I would pull the shoes. Get a new farrier. I would probably put the horse on a 4 week trim cycle. I would want those toes beveled and brought back. Ground contact will improve the heels, as will bringing back the heels. Should not be super difficult to repair. Soft ride boots if the horse is sore barefoot.


That’s my initial thought too. I worry about abcesses and bruises in our area, it’s both very rocky and swings wildly between very wet and dry and hard. Trying to think if there’s anything out there now for turn out that might help.

These are not healthy feet. In addition to not being balanced, you may be dealing with some deep sulcus thrush. It can go hand in hand with contracted heels. Check that crack between the heels and make sure you can’t stick your hoof pick down in there.

You’re being extra generous, LOL. I think just trimming & shoeing the horse like this once is enough to tell you he/she is useless. There is no excuse for putting shoes on this hoof shape - especially the RF, which has an almost horizontal hairline.

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One more singing the chorus of “fire that farrier yesterday and find someone new”.

You could probably do better job of trimming yourself, even if you only know how to pick hooves — that is how eye popping swear-worthy of a job that farrier has done.

He/she will ruin your horse if you don’t lose him before the next appointment.

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I wouldn’t take this horse barefoot yet, not unless there was ample use of boots. The feet are so unhealthy

That said, if the only option is a trimmer, then shoes have to come off, and just be ready for using boots a lot, so he can be comfortable to move enough to help get the feet healthy

It seems the OP’s footing is rocky and sometimes very hard, so that’s almost guaranteeing these feet will be very sore without shoes or boots.

LOL, yeah, well… :slight_smile: That said, I used 6 months because I didn’t know if this was the first time this farrier had trimmed, and the shoes were put on 10 weeks ago :slight_smile:

Horrible shoe job and overall farrier work, but also, 10 weeks is too long for a cycle. We do 4-6 weeks around here.

JB was just using 10 weeks as a hypothetical situation to explain that she didn’t have all of the info.

We have no idea how many weeks this horse goes. I was the one who used 10 weeks in my example

Oy… As a trimmer, only on the inside, I would gasp too. I’d never do that in front of a client. T’would be unprofessional.

I’ll echo @4horses - Boots that will fit, pulled shoes, LOTSA Keratex or DuraSole on the soles only, movement a plenty (like 24/7 if possible), thrush treatment (I love Simple Green Pro 3 soaks: 1 part SG3 to 20 parts water for 15 minutes).

Strong bevel, bars coaxed out little by little. Two-week tweak trims for a while, then as healing begins, no more than 4 weeks.

Were you close to me, I’d gladly come visit.


I’m going to see if my old farrier can come out to help her her back, but she’s so busy I don’t think she’d be able to. I did send her pics though, waiting to see what she says.

I don’t know the farriers in the area I’m in now very well, so I’ll have to ask around. The farrier we use is a barn wide one, she gets done every 6 to 8 weeks I think currently. He DOES come out every Tues so could theoretically work on her as often as needed, but not sure I really want him to keep working on her. So I have to figure out what I can do in the mean time.

I’m THINKING at least get him to pull her shoes tomorrow, then start asking around quietly for recommendations. What do y’all think?

I wouldn’t pull those shoes until you have boots in your hands that fit her



Those feet are very likely to be more sore than they already are, without the small bit of protection the shoes are providing.

I would ONLY consider pulling them if there is nice soft footing for her to live on full time, until an alternative shoeing set up (which includes proper trimming) is done, or boots are in hand. Unfortunately you really need a pretty freshly trimmed foot to order the right size boots.

Find a local FB group and see if anyone has used boots. As poorly shaped as these feet are, you may be going through a couple sets of boots as they change from very oval, to rounder. This is, of course, if a trimmer is the best person you can find and shoes aren’t an option with him/her.


I agree that I would not pull the shoes until you have a plan for a new trim. Taking the shoes off isn’t going to change anything other than make him sore. And I wouldn’t buy boots to fit the feet before a new trimmer has at least taken a look. Otherwise you might need new boots in 2-3 months when they get the foot shape more normal/round.

I’d like to see a body shot of the horse, out of curiosity.


I would go the boots and frequent trimming route, if it were me.
From my experience, hoof health is a culmination of overall lifestyle/ management (movement, diet, biomechanics of the gait/ movement, trim, footing). I’ve found adding copper and zinc to the diet to help with thrush and build stronger hoof wall for pennies compared to “normal” hoof supplements. The horse needs to be moving as much as possible as well (turnout and hand walking/ riding during stalled hours). Low sugar grain (if any). Very frequent trims will get the hoof back faster - a little every few days and not more than 6 weeks between trims once the balance is under control.