Low Heels in Horse's Hind Feet

Dr. Bob Judd, DVM

Today on the program I am going to talk about horses who have low heels in the hind feet and how to solve the problem.  Low heels can cause lameness due to heel bruising and heel damage. They are common in the front legs, but can also occur on the hind legs.  We see a lot of horses with low heels at our clinic. You may have a horse with low heels and not be aware of the problem.  I would encourage you to look at your horse’s feet and if your horse is walking on the heels and the hoof wall stops before it gets to the heels, it’s abnormal.  Your horse should have at least 1 inch of hoof wall at the heel.  Other symptoms of low heels are that the frog is prolapsed.  What this means is the frog is lower than the rest of the sole; the frog should be level with the solar surface and the horse is actually walking on the frog.  In horses with a prolapsed frog, all of the weight bearing is on the frog and this causes pain and bruising.

Many people believe that if your horse has low heels you simply use a wedge pad to raise the heels.  However, Dr. Steve O’Grady from Northern Virginia Equine indicates that using wedge pads to raise the heels actually crushes the heel further and causes more damage.  To treat a prolapsed frog, we recommend applying a pad over the prolapsed frog, and then applying a poultice pad. The poultice will soften the frog and allow it to be pushed back into place over a 48-hour period.  The frog will be pushed back level with the sole and then the horse can be shod.  If you have a horse with a prolapsed frog and low heels, you need a veterinarian and farrier to treat this condition as it can be difficult to treat.


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