Horses Tripping

I don’t need to tell you horses tripping can be very dangerous. I have heard and seen a lot of quick fix solutions. The primary fix I hear about is to shorten the toe and increase break over. My question is why is there room to have the toe shortened? Your horse’s break over should always be as short as possible without laming the horse. I have even heard of squaring the toe off. Does putting a square toe on a round hoof sound right? A square toe on a hoof may work consistently if your horse stepped perfect, went perfectly straight on perfectly level ground all day, every day, but it doesn’t. Your horse’s breakover needs to be as short as possible all around the hoof in order to move correctly when turning and adjusting for footing changes.

The primary reason I see for tripping is due to soreness in the heel area causing the hoof to land toe first. Toe first landing is not how a horse needs to move. When the toe hits first the lower leg has got to move backward upon impact in order to redistribute weight on the whole hoof and never really put complete weight on the heel, if it is sore. This is not the only thing that goes on with toe first landing but I’ll leave it at that for now. The horse is supposed to land heel first, this impact is the part of the shock absorbing phase of the stride. As the leg moves forward the weight of the horse is fully supported at this stage. This phase is also a part of the shock absorbing effect. Then the horse rolls over on the toe in order to dig in and get forward movement.

Some, in order to get a better breakover, also let the heel get taller. This can help break over for the simple reason that it takes pressure off the sore, soft tissue in the back of the hoof. One problem when lifting the heel is you will need a lot of heel to keep this pressure off the compromised area if you are working in deep footing.

The other problem is that if you are lifting the frog off the ground and it and the other soft tissue in the back of the foot are not receiving good pressure then the “use it or lose it” effect comes into play. The soreness will just continue to get worse. Look at your frogs.  If they are thin, weak looking and full of fungus you have a problem. Do you have a deep crevice in the widest part of the frog called the central sulcus, then you really have a problem. These signs only address the outer soft tissue. The inner soft tissue may very well have issues also if your horse has been tip toeing around for any length of time.

Don’t try to cover up the issue of heel soreness with incorrect trimming and fancy shoes. Address the true culprit of the soreness, achieve heel first landing, proper form and function, and watch your horse be as sure footed as 55 million years of evolution made him to be.

Comments are closed.