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The 'High Foot' and the 'Low Foot' Discussion

Characteristics of a 'high foot'

The 'high foot' in more extreme cases can be 'clubby' (not a true club foot, as a true club foot is a congenital defect). Which means, it is the hoof that has a much  steeper angle, has a shorter toe, higher heel, and who's contact surface is not as wide or as long as the 'low foot'. This means, it does not bare as much weight as the 'low foot' because weight bearing would have caused this foot to widen and lengthen it's contact surface.

Why is the 'high foot' high?

The 'high foot' has become higher as a compensation effort. If we observe a horse with a 'high foot' and a 'low foot' you will notice that the 'low foot's' corresponding shoulder appears to be bulging if we stand behind the horse on a raised object and observe it's back and shoulders. This confirms to us that the 'low foot' leg is in fact longer than the 'high foot' leg. This means,  that the horse's 'high foot' is indeed a compensation due to a shorter limb.

If stood square, we can observe by taping behind the knees, one at a time, that the 'high foot' knee will give out ( bend) confirming the lack of weight bearing of that limb, and confirming the contraction of the impar ligament and the deep digital flexor tendon.


-because the 'high foot' is bearing less weight, it will have less circulation

-because the heel of the 'high foot' is raised, the impar ligament is being shortened

-because the heel of the 'high foot' is raised, the deep digital flexor tendon is shortened

-because of the 1st 3 consequences, p3 will receive less stimulation, therefore over time could show navicular changes (less calcification of the bone) and/or changes in angulation

-because the angle of the 'high foot' is steeper, this hoof's breakover will be faster, thus dumping weight on the 'low hoof', making it more difficult for the horse to travel straight

-because the rider wants the horse to travel 'straight', the horse will compensate with his neck, causing tensions on the side of the 'low foot'

-Because the 'high foot' has a quicker breakover, the corresponding hind ( opposite hind, diagonal to the 'high foot') will have to shorten it's stride, causing tensions in that limb as well as the back and sacro-iliac

- the 'high foot's' steeper pastern could experience arthritic changes quicker

-the 'high foot's' heels will contract over time

- the 'high foot's' frog will get narrower and shorter from less use over time

What to do

-have a professional measure the horses limbs, to obtain the differences

-have a professional measure the hoof and shoulder angles

-trim the horse according to each foot, as individuals

-have the horse stand on shims, adding until the shoulders are balanced, both in height and angles

-the horses 'high foot' must be shimmed corresponding to the measurements 

-by equalizing the limbs, we are balancing the weight bearing of the hooves

-the 'high foot' will need to be treated to increase circulation, and the impar ligament and deep digital flexor tendon will need to be treated due to having been contracted

over time

-the 'high hoof' will gain a healthier appearance

- the 'high hoof' will widen and lengthen it's contact surface

- the deep digital flexor tendon of the 'high foot' will become less contracted

-the impar ligament of the 'high foot' will become less contracted

-p3 will receive more stimulation and possibly re-calcify

- the horse will move straighter

-the shoulders will work balanced

-the hindquarters will work balanced

- the neck will stop compensating

-the 'high foot's's pastern angle will become less steep

- the 'high foot's' frog will widen and lengthen

please note: the horse will always need the appropriate shimming of the shorter limb, to avoid becoming 'clubby' once again.

To watch a work in progress 

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