Contracted Heels

STEVE: Contracted heels are both a matter of conformation of the horse’s foot. In addition, they can be exasperated, or made worse, by improper shoeing, and/or shoe placement, and/or trimming. By not opening up the heels, or the cleft in the frog itself, what we will see here on the bottom is that the wall will tend to roll in here like this. And you need to open that wall up to allow for expansion. We don’t have the entire foot here, obviously, but, contracted heel across the base of the navicular, or the bottom of the foot, will create a heel or navicular syndrome type pain. And contracted heels with time can be a very, very, problematic and can certainly affect performance, overall, in the ability of a horse to maintain a certain gait, or at least a real free fluid gait with time.

ALEX: Contracted heels don’t happen overnight.


ALEX: So, how do you keep that from happening?

STEVE: Well, obviously, proper trimming when they’re young, number one, to open up those clefts and allow for expansion of the foot itself. Making some frog pressure so it allows for the pump to increase the area, so you can increase circulation, and this sort of thing. In addition, when the horse is shod, you can, basically, make sure placement of the shoe, full- size shoeing, backing the toe up, and this sort of thing, which, basically, will take away from too much pressure on toe and allow the heel, not cutting the heel off completely, and when you make too much concussion, and that sort of thing. So, all of these things add up to, basically, maintaining the conformation of the foot, maintaining the angle properly without cutting off the heel, and, basically, allowing for good foot expansion in the shoe itself.

ALEX: How important is it for a horse to have frog pressure and sole pressure? And, how much is too much or how little is too little? And, maybe with the, showing us on the horse.

STEVE: Well, you’re not going to really see it on this, you know the way you can really appreciate, because this horse really has kind of a flat sole. There’s a fine line between what you can live with and what is problematic. Typically, you want to have a good prominent frog, but not too much.

ALEX: Mm-hmm.

STEVE: If it makes too much contact, you know it, basically, can bruise a frog and create more problem. So, you want it have it trimmed back to where it’s low.

ALEX: Mm-hmm.

STEVE: You want to have a nice cup in the sole, but you don’t want too much cup, because you make the sole a bit thin. You will sometimes see that a horse, this horse has almost a little bit of a drop sole, there’s a little too much, not enough cup in there. And, too much sole contact can create soreness as well. So, there’s a fine line between what works for you, what’s functional, and what basically creates a hindrance or a problem. So, you know, you want cup, you want expansion, you want a good cleft, you want a prominent frog, but not too prominent, not too dropped, and not too much, you know.

ALEX: Good.

STEVE: As far as that’s concerned.

ALEX: Okay.