South Dakota 5 year old Missouri Fox Trotter with 3 months Professional Training ridden in eggbutt snaffle and wintec western saddle in round pen and 45X160 arena by rider of average experienced.

Question: When I bought this mare 1 yr ago, her hind hooves were "squared" .  Trimming her at the angle the seller suggested and using shoes has not helped. She has been
barefoot all winter and wears her hind toes between trimmings.  How should the hind feet be trimmed to break over better and not wear the toes?

From Panelist Laura

Are you having problems with gait or just concerned about the hind toes wearing?  Some MFT's are purposefully trimmed and shod with a square toe in the hind feet to help them breakover quicker to enhance the fox trot.  If for some reason you want a rounder toe, have your farrier set the hind shoe so that the front of the shoe is where the toe would have been if it wasn't squared off.  It will take time to grow out the foot.  This will also delay 
the breakover and may make it harder for your horse to foxtrot.  


From Panelist Stella

If she's wearing her toes, too much bodyweight is being supported by that, rather than being balanced centered over her hoof...sounds like this angle is considerably higher than her natural pastern angle, which is what you want it to be to balance squarly over her hoof for even wear. Sometimes people change angles for a quick fix to correct gait, rather than use training methods, but this will eventually cause problems with the strain. 

It is better for the horse's long term well-being to correct this to her natural pastern angle, and use training if it adversely affects gait...that may be initial, but give it a chance first, for the tendons and ligaments to readapt...then she'll likely gait better, you may or may not need some training to help.


From Panelist Lee

I am unclear on what you mean by breaking over better and not  wearing the toes.  Many/most  horses wear the toes out on their hind shoes as a natural result of the way the hoof lifts from the ground.  If you want her to break over more quickly with a hind hoof, the general approach is to box, square.roll  or "back up" the toe so that there is a shorter phalangeal lever  in that hoof.  So, to break over better, you in a way artificially "wear" the

If the problem is that she is having trouble dragging her hind hooves, that problem is most likely not in the hoof but higher up in the hind leg. Exercise to build up her stifles and hocks, hill climbing, work over poles or low obstacles, may help strengthen the hind legs to the point that they no longer drag the toes.

Try to find a farrier who is competent to shoe and trim normal horses, have him trim her to her natural angle in back, shoe her that way as well, and see how she does after a program  of physical therapy through this type of exercise.

Good luck with your horse.

Lee Ziegler

From Panelist Bob

Without seeing you horse this is a very difficult question to answer. There are several things that could cause un-natural hoof wear. Squaring the toes behind makes for quicker break over and a shorter flight path. It is usually done to prevent forging/interfering. What I would suggest first is to trim your mare normally and leave her angle behind 2 degrees higher than what her natural (hip/pastern) angle would be. You will also need to well round her toes as well. If I could see pics or a video I could tell you a lot more.

Bob Blackwell 

From Panelist Liz

Hi ,

Her feet should be trimmed anatomically correct for her conformation.

No so called gaited horse farrier work. Just a normal length, natural angle with the pastern. If the toes are catching you could have them rolled just a bit. More important though, I would have the horse checked for any mis-alignment in the back or hindquarters. It the
saddle causing a pressure point on the back that could be keeping her from lift the hinds. Also getting the horse in condition physically and supporting the frame so the horse is using it's self correctly may help a bunch.


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