Thehorse.com - Full Article
by: Heather Smith Thomas
November 01 2009, Article # 15272
Conformation defects and pain can cause heel problems that lead to a lifetime of corrective farrier care.
A number of factors must fit together seamlessly in order for a horse to remain sound and healthy: His hooves must bear weight properly in order to stay sound, with multiple structures sharing the load. If there is too much stress on any one part, or if some parts are not bearing adequate weight to maintain proper blood flow and hoof expansion, problems might arise.
Common challenges farriers face include contracted heels and sheared heels. Scott Morrison, DVM, head of the equine podiatry service at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, in Lexington, Ky., says both of these conditions often result from less-than-ideal conformation.
"If a foot is too upright it tends to load the toe more and underload the heel portion," explains Morrison. "When the heel is underloaded it becomes contracted. Clubfeet may lead to contraction, just because the heel area is not loaded adequately. Horses lame in the heel area may become contracted because they are not putting enough weight on the heels (the most elastic part of the foot). If a horse favors a foot for a long time, the entire foot can become contracted."
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