Heel Height and Pastern Angles

A Right Front Foot With Poor Hoof Form Causing Steep Pastern Angles

The foot starts out with very poor hoof form, and in fact the horse was lame at the time of the before photo. The lateral cartilage (1) is unnaturally pushed up and and bulging out of the back of the hoof capsule, the heel (2) is too high and forward and the lateral quarter (3) is too long causing the flare and chipping. But the most glaring problem is the steep pastern angle (red line) resulting from the heel height and location and toe length.

1rfside.JPG       2rfsideabl.JPG  Before                                                                       After Second Trim

It is commonly believed that the pastern angle is fixed and the hoof should be trimmed to match it.  This is a misconception, as the joint is mobile and the angle easily altered according to the hoof form, provided there is no joint adaptation and the joint still retains a normal range of motion.  In this case the pastern angle was changed to a much healthier alignment in two trims by lowering the heels, bringing them back towards the widest point of the frog, shortening the quarter walls, and shortening the toe.

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  1. That is a very informing pictorial post. I love reading your posts because I learn something new about my horses feet every time. It’s amazing that a little trimming can correct something like that so easily. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for the kind words. I was truly amazed by this horse’s improvement in only one trim. As you can see the heel was forward and long, especially forward (underrun). Bringing it lower and especially further back, in line with the widest point of the frog, helped him immensely.


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