Toe In Conformation

The Body of the Horse
This section is all about what happens in and on the horse from nose to tail. It is divided into systems.

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Comments 3

  1. Most likely the conformation is compromised, so what I say here may not apply to this horse.

    In most toed in horses I have seen the bar is broken on the lateral side. The bar break happens from heels that distort forward (underslung) curving the bar beyond its tense strength…it cracks vertical, perpendicular to the coffin bone at the center of articulation. The horse will not load that heel because of pain…correcting a vertically broken bar is difficult for the inexperienced…I call it ‘slipping the bar’.

    When bars become permanently curved , whether they break or not, it creates a pressure point at the center of articulation of the coffin joint creating chronic pain and reducing blood flow to the navicular region.

    Most times farriers dismiss the relevance the bars have in blood flow. Few understand the bars weight bearing role. Bars are designed by evolution to prevent the heels from moving to far caudal (backwards)…they do NOT prevent the heel from moving forward (underslung)…Heels moving forward will curve bars causing the hoof wall at the quarters to bulge outward. When a horse is shod this bulge cannot happen, instead the pressure is transferred to the coronet which can be seen by an upward curve in the hairline at the quarters.

    1. Post

      Your descriptions here are clear and are all the result of physics applied in dynamic vector forces on the hoof. This discussion is well beyond most to understand as static vector analysis is tough enough for most horse professionals and owners.

      But consider this – the horse is capable of surviving abnormal forces if given the materials to work with. I sound like a stuck record, but assuming that the horse can, over time, withstand and adapt to the non-perfect forces, is it possible that the real culprit here is a generally poor hoof? If good shoeing or trimming is applied and the problem continues then there must be an underlying problem.

      What I am trying to say here is simply that we just can’t look at good farrier work without looking at nutrition, training, and even the stall size and bedding. At least that’s what I keep seeing over the years. I personally hate the word holistic but I also want to avoid tunnel vision because many issues are multifactoral. Is the “chronic pain and reducing blood flow to the navicular region” all from loading and the “bars becom(ing) permanently curved” from the conformation or is it all secondary effects from a weak hoof unable to support the load?

      This question is beyond me to answer, but I think hoof professionals and specialists need to be looking at as many possibilities as possible because I am not seeing today solutions that are consistently successful. What I am seeing is an increase in the incidence of lameness in competitive horses today.

      1. I agree with you completely…I am a hoof physical therapist…not a farrier. I have simplified hoof care to the “Five Basic Hoof Structures” so all can easily understand. I think like the arborist ..most farriers are carpenters…a short excerpt from one of my articles.

        A farrier can no longer be a carpenter where his job is to cut and shape using synthetic material to acquire the “right” measurement for the external shape. It’s time to think like the arborist, with a better understanding about the hoof as growing tissue constantly evolving. How everything we do effects the growth direction of the five basic hoof structures and their relationship with the internal structures.

        When a tree needs pruning a good arborist will make sure he understands the reason he is cutting.

        “Because each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree, no branch should be removed without a reason. Common reasons for pruning are to remove dead branches, to improve form, and to reduce risk. Trees may also be pruned to increase light and air penetration to the inside of the tree’s crown or to the landscape below. In most cases, mature trees are pruned as corrective or preventive measures.
        Routine thinning does not necessarily improve the health of a tree. Trees produce a dense crown of leaves to manufacture the sugar used as energy for growth and development. Removal of foliage through pruning can reduce growth and stored energy reserves. Heavy pruning can be a significant health stress for the tree.
        There are many outside considerations, however, that make it necessary to prune trees. Safety, clearance, and compatibility with other components of a landscape are all major concerns. Proper pruning, with an understanding of tree biology, can maintain good tree health and structure while enhancing the aesthetic and economic values of our landscapes.”

        The arborist understands that all trees are trying to grow the same. The roots grow in the ground spreading out in equal directions from the trunk. The trunk tries to grow high and straight to the light. The crown is made up of branches that want to spread out in the light. The branches have leaves wanting to bask in the light.

        If life was perfect then every tree would be perfect, but life is not perfect, it has a way of influencing destiny. A rock can influence the roots. Taller trees can influence the trunk, crown and branches. The arborist knows this, but he also must understand the soil, precipitation, wind direction, invasive plants, insects, and wildlife and how each of these will affect the tree’s growth.

        Before any trimming can begin, the good arborist knows that every cut he makes has the potential to improve or destroy the tree. He has learned he cannot force the tree to grow in the correct direction, but must nurture change. When he makes a mistake, as experience has taught he will, he cannot put the cut back where it was. This is where he looks to the wisdom of the carpenter for some good advice, “measure twice and cut once”.

        Today’s hoof care must evolve. Waiting four or six weeks for the hoof care provider to examine a hoof is too long, unless each of the five basic hoof structures is growing in the correct direction. Domestic hooves must be cleaned and checked daily by someone with hoof care knowledge. Optimizing hoof performance means correcting growth direction before any hoof pathology can develop.

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