More on Heels ... and ... crutches

Well, last week I discovered just how important the heels are - on a human. Due to an unfortunate accident with a little pony hoof, I had the back of my heel partially avulsed. Yeah, that's a BIG ow!  While I can't make an analogy between the back of a human heel to the heel buttress on a horse's hoof, it got me to thinking, again, about the value of the horse's heels. In my own situation this meant that I can put no weight on the foot as with each step the wound would open further.

So, I am on crutches with strips to hold my heel together and wrapped firmly for stability.

Can't do that sort of stuff with a horse. They don't work too well on crutches.

Boots can help, of course, but does not 'fix' an issue that is caused with over-trimming of the heels.

However, thinking of the unfathomable amount of heels on horses that are trimmed away, all in the name of a 30* hairline or getting the frog of the hoof in contact with the ground, even with the best of intentions, I've been acutely reminded of the pain these horses must go through.

It is truly disheartening.

I spend alot of time researching and some of my research involves watching various videos on 'How to Trim a Horse's Hoof' or some such title. I am almost obsessional about keeping up with new 'findings' about the Equine Digit.

So I see alot.

This past week, with so much time on my hands due to being totally 'grounded', (and now, researching on a borrowed laptop or my phone because my PC bit the dust today) one video came to my attention that explains, in EXCELLENT terms, about the value of the horse's heels.

Please take the time to watch this video in its entirety. It contains invaluable information. Doesn't matter if you are a horse owner of a pasture companion or of an income-producing performance horse. This information is pertinent to ALL HORSES. A huge thank you to Linda Harris for this information!!!


After watching this please go take a look at YOUR horse's heels. If you have a horse that is 'ouchy' or downright lame, check out the heels. See what's there. If you find that your horse has less than what you feel, after watching this video, ample heel, go back to my blog post here: WHY THE HEELS ARE SO IMPORTANT


Can you clearly see and identify the heel buttress in this photo above after watching the video?  Nice!

If, after watching the video and then reading the blog post, you have ANY questions or comments, please feel free to post in the comments below!  Or, you may also contact me privately for an assessment of YOUR horses' hooves.

Featured image Pete Ramey.


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:



Thank you for this video! I have been trying to understand why my heels are running forward when I feel like my toes are plenty shortened up. But this I think is what I have been doing wrong. I’ve been rasping back the heels a bit trying to get them back in the right spot, and now I see that was really the wrong thing to be doing. Thanks again for sharing all your knowledge. I have really been getting a lot out of your videos on this site and am so glad I came across this one. My horses will be thanking you too I’m sure. Makes me feel so bad that I’ve been making this mistake.

Amy March 12, 2018

Hi Cheyenne … I’m sorry I didn’t see your post before now. There are a few landmarks that will tell you if the hoof is trimmed too short in the heels. One of them is the hairline angle. A 30* hairline angle puts the coffin bone right in parallel position to the ground when the horse is standing on firm ground. The angle should be a bit less steep than 30* in order to allow the hoof to descend into soft ground without undue stress on the tendons and ligaments in the back of the hoof and leg. Another way to tell is the depth of the collateral groove just under the heel buttress/seat of corn. There should be a minimum of 3/4" of depth there, better if 1". Anything less is going to cause issues. So those are two ways to tell if there is good heel height. Overall, there are other ‘landmarks’ to use – one of which is to be able to slip a credit card under the frog at the back of the foot when the horse is standing on firm ground. The frog should not be weighted when the horse is static.
I hope this helps some. Please feel free to contact me personally, if you like. :)

Gwenyth Santagate May 26, 2017

I have a question. If the heel buttress is trimmed out of the hoof and the cartilage pulls down, and the wall and the bar create the false buttress, would you be able to tell by feeling the heel? Would there be visually more skin than hoof in the back?
Or, if the wall and bar did not create a false buttress would you be able to tell by the presence of a very low heel? I guess I’m wondering, if it’s all skin in the back, are the buttresses gone? I sort of wanted to know if there was a visual way to tell.
I hope you understand my question. It’s the only way I can think of to ask. :)

Cheyenne May 04, 2017

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