Heels! and What a Weekend!

What a weekend. That's all I can say. A roller-coaster weekend of air travel, visits with the grandchildren who each grew a foot at a least since last visit, meeting a precious, new granddaughter for the first time, elation and joy and love turned to shock and horror with the news of the shootings in Orlando then coming home again to settle back down into ... life.  And then, learning of the sad accident and death of Mark Russell -- a treasured horseman. 

Advice to all?  Take one day at a time. Cherish each moment of every day. With your loved ones, your friends, your fur-critters ... one moment at a time. Life is such a wisp of spirit and one just never knows what's just around the next minute marker on the clock. 

My mind is a whirlwind still ... and I am late for this Monday's writing. I tried to write while on the plane but that just didn't work out for me. Trying to type on a kindle pad just doesn't cut it. Fat fingers on tiny keys with the most extraordinary auto-correct.  *sigh* ... and so, I sit and write now, 9 o'clock on Monday night. But hey -- I have deadlines, you know. 

So given that anything I might author from my mind still full of fog and cobwebs probably would't make too much sense, I thought I'd share a snippet from my book, "10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves" ... (presently in the process of being revised for 2nd printing and available in e-book or Kindle only at present time) ... and so I now share with you the following food for thought:

"Recent publishings from a well noted German Veterinarian notes that long heels will leave a coronary hairline in less than the optimal 30* angle indicating the Coffin Bone does not rest parallel to the ground. While “close to” ground parallel state of the Coffin Bone is ideal, every hoof is different and one cannot take a noted “number” and apply that number to every hoof on every horse. If a horse were to live on level, firm, hard, ground then a ground parallel Coffin Bone would be ideal. However, many horses live on sand or soft pasture and when the heels are trimmed such that the Coffin Bone is depicted as ground parallel, it will obtain a negative palmar angle when the hoof is loading heel first into the soft ground.  This puts undue stress on the tendons and ligaments that support the equine digit causing inflammation, tearing and other insults to the tissue internally. No one can say with absolute certainty that a 30* angle of the hairline depicting a ground parallel Coffin bone is correct for “every” horse. All factors must be taken into consideration – the horse’s environment and husbandry, natural movement of the horse, general health of the hooves, general health of the lower limbs and their supportive tissues and extent of the movement of the horse.

General guidelines for trimming a horse’s heels leaves a few mm one way or the other both in height of the heels and the angle or the coronary hairline. 24* - 28* seems to hold the general consensus whereupon damages are not forthcoming to the internal structures of the hoof and lower limb. This gives enough lee-way for the heels to sink into soft ground but still reduce the concussion on the toe on harder, firm, solid ground. This means that heels that are trimmed to about ¼ to 3/8ths inch above live sole at the seat of corn and brought back to the widest point of the frog give generally favorable results in terms of soundness and wellness of the hoof and lower limbs.


One can see the negative palmar angle of this hoof where the bottom of the P3 is angled negatively to the Ground Plan and causes a broken back axis of the foot and lower limb."

Pete Ramey says there should be about an inch of collateral groove depth from the deepest part of the sulci to the heel buttress to ensure correct heel height and support for the back of the hoof. But remember -- as with everything to do with horses, "it depends" ...  on what you ask?  On the individual need of the individual "hoof in hand" on the "horse in hand".  Those of you reading this who have gone through my NHC101 course or who have followed my posts over the years know that saying well.

If you have a tender footed horse, take a look at the heels and tell me what you see.

Of course, as always, questions and comments are welcomed. Would love to discuss this with you all!     


Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications includingThe Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 18 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. For further information please click here:  www.thepenzancehorse.com/2012/RESUME.pdf


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