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  • Writer's pictureHolistic Equine

Successful integrative barefoot hoof care needs teamwork! demonstrated here in this challenging case.

We apply healthy hoof guidelines to assess the current balance and decide on appropriate intervention and recommendations, and these include:

• Positive palmar or plantar P3 angle of typically 5-8 degrees • Straight hoof pastern angle or HPA (when viewed on a horse standing perpendicular to the ground) • Healthy posture – where all 4 cannon bones are typically perpendicular to the ground in a resting position • Phalangeal (foot and limb bony column) and capsular (outer hoof capsule) alignment • Appropriate vertical depth of foot and hoof • 3-dimensional balance of the hoof around the centre of rotation of the foot around the axis of the limb (phalangeal/capsular alignment)

In this case, there would appear to be very low palmar P3 angles, broken back HPA, low vertical depth to the foot within the capsule, a very long toe and under run heel and unhealthy heel:toe ratios of around 25:75.

Snowy's owner has tried many hoof care professionals but their intervention didn't seem to work and the hoof continued to distort.

Our intervention protocol involved safely trimming to help him heal and grow a hoof closer to the ideals identified. As I am based several hours drive away, I taught Snows owner how to trim his toes weekly but this wasn't really done until the most recent 5 weekly trim cycle - this is also when the biggest improvements were made!

Snowy is no longer pulling to walk on the grass verges and will happily walk over small stones. His shorter toe, thicker sole, healthier cartilage (frog/ungular cartilage/digital cushion) and healthier hoof wall angles from toe to heel are as a result of balancing the hoof to the foot AND the bony column. It is interesting to note that at not point in time has the frog been "on the ground" and the heels have been encouraged to grow to create height at the back of the hoof and therefore a more positive palmar angle.

Snowy is expected to continue to improve and we will write a more detailed case study in the future so watch this space! I believe lower heels (either through wear and/or trimming) started the distortion that lead to the less than ideal hoof proportions and poor base of support to the limb over time.

If, like our clients, you want to learn a PRO-Active approach to hoof care and wish to prevent lameness in your horse, consider booking us for an Integrative Podiatry Consult, Educational Event, On-line Course or join our new VIP membership where you can learn top tips straight from an expert!


We take an integrative and holistic approach to whole horse hoof and body health. We appreciate the relationship between body, limb and hoof and seek to address imbalances while positively influencing appropriate static and dynamic hoof balance and biomechanics.

Beccy Smith BSc DAEP EBW – Independent Equine Podiatrist and CEO of Holistic Reflections CIC

Holistic Reflections CIC – a 100% non-profit organisation promoting wellbeing and resilience in people, horses and the environment - for the benefit of all.

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