The Importance of a Heel-First Landing Part 1

 
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A Heel-First Landing vs. A Toe-First Landing Part 1 

Does a horse need to land heel-first? What makes a heel-first landing so much better than a toe-first landing? 

 

Think about how us humans walk; do we step down on our toe, rock back onto our heel, roll forward and push off from our toe? No! We walk the same way horses are intended to, we land on our heel, roll forward and propel ourselves forward off our toe, an efficient, smooth movement. 

 

Woman and paint horse wearing green Scoot Boots walking in a paddock

 

Mother nature built a horse with soft, shock-absorbing qualities in the caudal area of the hoof, allowing the horse to safely absorb any concussive forces generated on a heel-first approach. But… Why is it that some horses continue to land toe-first? 

 

This 4 part blog aims to educate horse owners about the damaging effects of a toe-first landing, not only for the health of the hoof but the overall health of the horse. Read through our 4 part Scoot Boot blog series to discover the benefits of a barefoot rehabilitation method to achieve a heel-first landing, just the way nature intended… 

 

 

The Importance of a Heel-First Landing 

A heel-first landing is when the horse lands on the heel of their foot after a stride. This is the healthier, natural way for a horse to land as their hoof has been designed with special shock-absorbing structures in the caudal area of the hoof to enable them to safely absorb the concussive forces of landing. 

 

If you want to find out more about a heel-first landing and if your horse doesn’t have one, please go to our blog ‘The Importance of a Heel First Landing Part 2’.

 

A woman wearing orange and pink riding a brown endurance horse in pink Scoot Boots

 

 

A Toe-First Landing 

A toe-first landing is when a horse lands on the toe of the hoof. This is an unnatural way for a horse to land as the toe does not contain the shock-absorbing qualities needed to safely absorb the shock of landing. A recurring toe-first landing can lead to excessive wear of the toes, separation of the laminae, thin soles, joint problems, contracted heels, vertical descent of the coffin bones, ligament and tendon damage, skeletal problems and more! 

 

Horses can also land flat-footed, which is when horses land with their hoof parallel to the ground. Although healthier than a toe-first landing, this is still not the preferred method of landing. 

 

For more information on the dangers of toe-first and flat-footed landings, please go to our blog ‘The Importance of a Heel-First Landing Part 3'. 

 

A brown shod horse with a toe first landing trotting down the road with its owner 

 

 

Barefoot Is Better 

If your horse is struggling with a recurring toe-first or flat-footed landing (except when moving up a hill or over rocky terrain), you will need to start implementing changes to revert to a heel-first landing. This will improve your horse’s health as well as make them more comfortable. This can largely be achieved by removing your horse’s shoes, and beginning natural barefoot trims with a knowledgeable barefoot farrier or trimmer, in combination with the use of hoof boots, such as Scoot Boots. 

 

Please go to our blog ‘The Importance of a Heel-First Landing Part 4’ for more information on why a barefoot transition and hoof boots are the best approaches to correcting a toe-first landing, a barefoot research study on horses with toe-first landings and some information from our Scoot Boot co-founders. 

 

A black horse drawing a carriage wearing green Scoot Boots whilst trotting down the road

 

 

Conclusion 

So… does a horse need to land heel-first? Absolutely! If your horse is struggling with their landing and persistent pain in their heel, give Scoot Boots a try! Scoot Boots are a protective, supportive hoof boot that ensures comfort for your horse over any type of terrain or surface, allowing them to achieve their full potential and help rid those nasty toe-first landings. 

 

Scoot Boot aims to help educate horse owners about potential issues, such as a toe-first landing, to ensure a healthier, comfortable horse. So if your horse is struggling with a toe-first landing or a flat-footed landing, make sure to read through our blog series and figure out a good barefoot approach to help correct their landing. If you have any questions or require any assistance with your horse’s recovery, please do not hesitate to contact us at scootboot@scootboots.com, we are more than happy to help! 

 

 

 

Building a Barefoot Community 

The team at Scoot Boot believe passionately in the barefoot horse and strive to build a supportive community of barefoot horse lovers. We aim to share everything we know about going barefoot and are eager to hear your barefoot success stories. Please reach out to us!

 

Four black and brown horses walking through a grass field wearing green, orange, red and blue Scoot Boots

 

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Send us an email: scootboot@scootboots.com

 

Woman wearing a gree jacket bareback jumping in a sand arena wearing green Scoot Boots

 

For more information about using Scoot Boots here: https://scootboots.com/collections/all-retail/products/scoot-boot-one-pair-mulitple-straps 

 

A palomino horse with a long curly maine standing in an autumn forest wearing black Scoot Boots

 

 

Bibliography 

Blogs:

Barker, N., 2010. Heel First, Flat and Toe First Landings. [Blog] Rockley Farm, Available at: <http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2010/10/heel-first-flat-and-toe-first-landings.html> [Accessed 1 July 2020].

 

Barker, N., 2013. Rockley Farm. [Blog] Research, Facts, Evidence and Reasons for Blogging, Available at: <https://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2013/08/research-facts-evidence-and-reasons-for.html> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

EquiMed Staff, 2014. EquiMed. [Blog] Contracted Heels, Available at: <https://equimed.com/diseases-and-conditions/reference/contracted-heels> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Hoof Function: Heads Up! Heels First!, 2019. DocFoals.com. Available at: <https://docfoals.com/blogs/news/heads-up-heels-first> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

KPP Staff, 2015. Kentucky Performance Products. [Blog] Dealing With Arthritis in Senior Horses, Available at: <https://kppusa.com/2012/08/02/dealing-arthritis-senior-horses/> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Scoot Boot Staff, 2020. Scoot Boots. [Blog] What Can We Do About Navicular? Can Barefoot Rehab Really Help?, Available at: <https://scootboots.com/blogs/blog/how-scoot-boots-transitioning-to-barefoot-can-aid-in-navicular-recovery> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Journals:

Gillis DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, C., 1997. Tendinitis. The Horse, [online] Available at: <https://thehorse.com/14788/tendinitis/> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Pullen, G., 2001. Barefoot Benefits. The Horse, [online] Available at: <https://thehorse.com/14968/barefoot-benefits/> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Magazine:

Pascoe, E., 2014. A Pain in the Heels: A New Look at Navicular Disease. Practical Horseman Magazine, [online] Available at: <https://practicalhorsemanmag.com/health-archive/pain-heels-navicular-disease-14612> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Ramey, P., 2013. http://www.hoofrehab.com/WhyToe-First.html. Horseback Magazine, [online] Available at: <http://www.hoofrehab.com/WhyToe-First.html> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Websites:

Scoot Boots. 2020. Sizing Advice. [online] Available at: <https://scootboots.com/pages/sizing-fitting> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Smith, M., 2017. Barefoot For Soundness. [online] Barefoothorse.com. Available at: <http://www.barefoothorse.com> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Smith, M., 2012. Heel-First Landing: A Good Indicator Of A Balanced Trim. [online] Barefoothorse.com. Available at: <http://www.barefoothorse.com/barefoot_Breakover.html> [Accessed 1 July 2020].

 

VetZone. 2012. Tendon And Ligament Strains And Sprains. [online] Available at: <https://www.vetzone.com.au/Home/Articles/Article/tabid/1927/ArticleID/1551/Tendon-and-Ligament-Strains-and-Sprains.aspx#.Xv1F8i1L2CV> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Videos: 

HorseHoofHelp, 2011. Importance Of Heel Strike. [video] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQZUDVZqhq0> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

Scoot Boots, 2018. The Barefoot Trim - Less Is More!. [video] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6npbyuBU36Q&feature=youtu.be&t=43> [Accessed 2 July 2020].

 

TheHorsePT, 2019. Heel First Landings - Hoof Biomechanics With The Horse PT. [video] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n17CfwgOuQ> [Accessed 1 July 2020].

 

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