Negative plantar angle - ideas?

My young mare was at the clinic for an unrelated reason - while she was sedated I opportunistically took profile xrays of her hinds, on a hunch that she had NPA.

Below are the xrays and photos of her feet, along with video of her moving (excuse any audio, I had a side convo about soup going on). I had suggested frog support pads to my farrier last time he was out, as her hind frogs have always appeared slightly prolapsed to me. I am not sure what other options there are, so I’m asking for the COTH collective wisdom to educate me.

Note - she goes completely barefoot in the winter, and is sound like that. She infact moves better and interferes less when barefoot, in my opinion.



Movement videos:

My farrier and vet will tell you to trim the toe as much as possible, and let the heel grow. My horse will tell you a 2* wedge makes all the difference in comfort (but know there are risks to wedges). Some farriers who seem to know what they are doing will tell you you need caudal (heel) support, and to put various types of bar shoes on (let me know if this works!).

At what point in the cycle were the rads taken - right after a shoeing or was the horse due? These aren’t all that bad yet, but you sure don’t want them to get worse.


She’s about 2.5 weeks into the cycle. She gets trimmed and reset at 6 weeks.

I have heard that wedges can cause more problems than they’re worth, but it would be neat to try them on to see how it impacts her movement. I see a lot of toe-stabbing in her hinds, and she trips behind somewhat often.

She has way too much toe to only be halfish way through there shoeing cycle. Before putting on wedges or a frog pad, or anything else, I would have her trimmed properly to take the toe back and probably set her shoe back a bit to change the break over.


What were her measurements? Sole depth will tell you a lot about how much you can actually bring the toe back. What is her hoof pastern axis??? – this – is a huge thing. Horses don’t have a magic number they should be at, the HPA is the most important component!
Mine is in a 2* wedge pad now, after 3 frustrating years of trying everything else. It would work for awhile, then she’d backslide.
Also, shorten your trim cycle. We started with 4 weeks, are now going 5 but no more. If you are leaving her bare behind I would definitely do 4 weeks.
What is the overall hind end conformation? Sometimes that is the more contributing factor. I know if I study my mare’s angles all the way up to her hip, it makes sense that her heels want to slope under rather than down. She has lots of heel, it just refuses to grow the way it should, no matter what we do. Keeping her well trimmed and in regular work, even if just light, staying on top of her angles, has made a big difference in her stumbling behind and “keeping track” of her hind end.

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I rasp her toes back when she’s barefoot about once a week, and keep them mighty short. Only right before I put shoes on do I let them grow a little longer so the farrier has enough to do what he’d like with them before putting the shoes on.

I did not have sole depth measured. Mare was at a clinic for an unrelated reason to her feet, these were just quickie xrays while she was already there.

Her HPA can be seen in the photos. I feel dicey about this though, as a horse who even shifts their weight forward to look at something can alter the HPA. It’s never truly “neutral”. I personally believe it to be a “law of averages” type thing, and (again, IMO) her’s seems to be decently neutral when she’s standing at rest. I didn’t adjust her weight distribution for the photos above, she was just standing relaxed in the ties.

I don’t think I have a current conformation photo, I’ll take one tonight/tomorrow.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Adding to say I agree with shortening the shoeing cycle. That alone will help you keep the toe shorter, and will allow the farrier to keep making incremental adjustments and avoid drastic long-short changes across the 6 week cycle. Definitely shoot for 4 weeks if you can, at least while you’re trying to resolve this.

After what I’ve been through with my horse, I don’t think a lot of farriers/vets realize how uncomfortable even minor NPA can be.

That being said, there are some biomechanics folks that will tell you that sometimes NPA is the result of postural problems, and not the other way around. This is not something I’m very familiar with, but it makes some sense to me. Something to keep in mind. (But certainly it looks like there is more your farrier can do as far as trimming.)


heels need to be trimmed to where they belong, and leaving heels alone in cases like this almost always either make the situation worse, or keep things creeping along at a snail’s pace. That’s especially true if you’re using wedges.

when used improperly, yes. Put them on while leaving heels alone is a great way to keep crushing heels.

@No1 is right - there’s way too much foot here for only 2.5 weeks, and assuming this is a consistent pattern, your farrier is the cause of this. It is possible that the way this horse moves/stands (for whatever reason including soreness and conformation) has been the catalyst, but there’s no good reason for there to be this much toe at only 2.5 weeks.

The convex profile of the feet says this has been going on a long time.

Whether wedges are needed here is something to be determined after a proper trim is done to see how much the angle is raised. But IMHO there’s enough negative angle here I doubt there’s SO much toe that can be removed (vertically or horizontally) that you could get much beyond 0*, so more heel height would likely be needed. But, sometimes you can be surprised.


I can excuse this in a vet, but it’s inexcusable in a farrier :frowning:

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Thank you for your comments. I have mentioned long toes to my farrier multiple times. It’s not such an issue when she’s barefoot because I just keep pulling the toe back. It’s when the shoes go on in the summertime that I need him to heed the short toes pleas I aim at him.

It came to a head last year when she tripped and I came off really really hard. Then he pulled the toes back like he meant it.

Setting the shoe too far back really does impact her movement though, so I understand it’s a balancing act.

She hasn’t liked these hind shoes from the the moment they were nailed on though. Interfering, tripping, toe dragging.

Does she need the hind shoes? If they’re causing that much trouble, perhaps just remove them. I’ve got a horse who can’t wear hind shoes—interfering, exaggerated hock movement, stabbing—because his walls are too thin and the nails hurt when he puts his foot down.


I trail ride a lot during the summer time, and she gets very footsore and wears her feet to nubs. I’ve tried boots but every model ends up rubbing, and then she gets cellulitis. I’ve tried renegades, scoots, and slings. I got flustered and gave up at that point, not to mention the risk every time she gets cellulitis.

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Understood. Mine can’t wear boots either, I just limit his trail riding.

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Is there another farrier you can use? IME, once you get to the point that you are seeing red flags and trying to tell the farrier how to fix them, you just need a new farrier. If there is stuff obviously wrong to a non- farrier observer, there is probably plenty wrong that would take a farrier to see as well.
BTDT many times, if you are trying to coach your farrier you need a new one.


Yeah, it’s time for a new farrier. You are paying for their knowledge and ability to do the work. Having to tell him what to do, even if he is capable of doing it well, says he just doesn’t care enough to do a good job every time.

Yes, too far is never good. Shoes should be put where the breakover belongs, maybe a smidge behind that so the cycle’s growth doesn’t push it too far forward. But it’s Trimming 101 to determine that breakover point.

Adding shoes at the end of long toes just moves the breakover even farther out :frowning:


Farriers around here are about as rare as vets.

Let me try one more time with this guy. Maybe the rads will wake him up. If it’s not him, I’m going to end up hauling out to someone which isn’t the end of the world but is very inconvenient.

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I would expect a competent farrier to find the rads to be a wakeup call. It is possible that just looking at the feet without them, he doesn’t feel he can bring the toes back. But if he looks at them and doesn’t see the issue, I would move on.

Also, in my opinion, you should not have to rasp back the toes to keep the feet short in a 6 week cycle. They should be short enough to begin with, and maybe by week 4 you might experience some superficial chipping that you could clean up, but you shouldn’t have to maintain the trim yourself. If you do - it’s just another sign that you need a new farrier. Maybe a 4 week cycle is necessary for some horses, but most do not need it that often.


I guess I just see so many people on here and elsewhere saying keeping the toes back and heels not heading forward is the best thing to do for feet that I just go at it when they look even remotely long. She also wears the outside of her hinds more than the inside, so I would rebalance the foot with a swipe or two.

She grows a lot of foot, all year long.

My mare has 0 plantar angle on LF that is only apparent on xrays. Both my horses do well with wedge pads to correct angles.


Hmm I wonder if this may depend on the individual’s region and the turnout situation? I’m in the Northeast of the US on dirt paddocks & many are on 5 week cycles, I do 4 weeks personally. I’m not sure if it’s the specific dirt in the paddocks or something else but I seem to have to be on a 4 week cycle even through the winter!

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