Windgalls also provide evidence of distension of the joint capsule and tendon sheath.
Alternatively there may be a severely broken back hoof pastern axis (HPA), little
angle at the fetlock and a virtually upright pastern.
Horses with this stance usually are experiencing pain in the heels which are low
and often under-run, most likely resulting in a short stride liable to stumbling.
The hind limbs are affected more in the hocks; spavins seen as hard swelling on the
inside base of the hock, and the toes will be squared off from dragging due to lack
When the limb is flexed the horse is reluctant to allow the limb to be extended to
the rear, preferring to hold it up tight under the abdomen. Shoe wear apart from
the squared toe is heavy on the outside branch.
If this horse has not already come to the end of his working life, starting with
the front limbs, shoes with a shortened breakover would be appropriate whether a
shoe or ground rolled, there are a number of brand named shoes that achieve this
They reduce the effect in taking a stride and reduce the likelihood of stumbling.
The broken back HPA upright pastern would benefit from a graduated shoe, thinner
at the toe rather than raising the heel height.
The shoe would best be a bar shoe, a heart bar for maximum surface area and heel
support – this provides elevation for the foot on soft surfaces.
It relieves the heels of so much loading, so a square/dubbed toe graduated heart
bar shoe meets the requirement.
Some farriers will favour filling the back half of the foot with some form of elastomer
or silicon filler to achieve the same end, or in conjunction with a regular heart
These synthetic and plastic materials can be used effectively to create cushioning
and enhance the area of the foot. A flexible plastic heart bar can again often achieve
surprisingly good results.
The limb with a low fetlock would not benefit from any form of raising the heel,
but be shod similarly with a flat heart bar shoe fitted with fullness in the heel
quarters and right
to the bulbs of the heels – definitely not short.
Studs are not advised, but if the horse is prone to slipping on the road then to
avoid falling, a pair of tungsten pins or nails can be fitted in the back half of
the shoes, one in
each side; they stand proud by about 2mm or 1/8” and give traction, but increase
the jarring on the foot/limb.
Addressing the hind limbs – the traditional shoe in the UK for spavin has a set toe,
a strong turned up toe set into the toe of the hoof with wedged up heels; this shoe
really effective on a hard surface.
As many horses now spend much time on arenas, shoeing appropriate to this type of
surface seems sensible.
I prefer and find effective a broad webbed shoe, quarter clipped set well under the
toe, with a lateral extension. This shoe wears well and gives more stability to the
It again must not be fitted short, but with some extra length providing floatation
to the back of the foot, it will not sink into the surface so much, therefore relieving
the hock of
The horses need a sympathetic and patient farrier; they object to being pulled around.
Intolerance to uneven ground could indicate arthritic joints, ringbone, medio lateral
imbalance or sidebone to mention just some possibilities.
The experienced farrier in addition to working with the vet, utilising any radiographic
or other evidence, will notice the horse’s stance, watch the horse move, will notice
unevenness of footfall, tripping, lack of flexion and lameness if present.
The wear of the hoof or shoe if shod is invaluable evidence in determining peculiarities
of the gait of the horse.
Shock absorbing heartbar with
The shape and quality of feet will be
noted, and their relationship to the
Once aware of the evidence an
appropriate treatment can be
The type of shoe and fit will aim to
encourage an as fluent as possible
stride, level foot fall, or, if not
possible, a roll into landing and a
central base of support below the
limb, when moving through the
weight-bearing phase of the
So, easing the stride and cushioning
the impact sums up much of what
can be done.
Other than wear and tear on the
veteran horse’s feet, the metabolic
changes in some horses sadly induce
laminitis which is a subject on its
Provided the above points are
routinely addressed, both the horse
and farrier should grow old
It is up to the owner to provide a
suitable environment in which the
horse can thrive and have realistic
expectations of both the horse and
I know a number of horses in their thirties, but still enjoying quality of life,
even one or two ponies over forty, one still a leading rein pony.
Base narrow, weak hocks
Hind limb ample heel support
The areas on which to concentrate to enable the older horse to remain active in relative
Keep the toes of the hooves short to ease natural breakover and avoid stumbling,
particularly because there may be reduced flexion and stiffness in the Limbs.
Provide ample support in the back half of the hoof to reduce excessive tension on
the suspensory ligament and flexors of the limb.
Incorporate anti-concussive shock absorbing materials in the shoeing equation.
Provide extra support in the way of lateral or medial or caudal extensions for limb
stability, especially for the hocks in the hind limbs