Pigeon Toes

It is possible to correct a pigeon toed stance with proper trimming.



Here the horse has been trimmed once or twice and still shows the pigeon-toed stance. The inside toes have been lowered to initiate the correction.  As a result, the hairlines are sloping down on the insides (medial side).

  Left Front Prior To Trim                                   A few months’ into trimming

lfbef.JPG         lfsole250.JPG

The thick wall on the left side of the picture on the left (before), is the primary factor causing the pigeon-toed stance. It is a chicken and egg situation of whether it is caused by the horse’s posture or vice-versa, but it can be short-circuited by the ‘intervention’ of thinning the wall.  In the second picture,  the wall thickness has been evened out with trimming, making it more symmetrical. The assymetrical thickness was contributing to the pigeon-toed stanceThe wall separation has narrowed as part of the improvement, as well. Note that the heel points are not yet perfectly aligned; the uneven heel alignment is also a contributing factor, or possibly a result. In any case, lining them up helps the feet adjust to the correct posture. The heel bulbs are decontracting – being further apart in the later photo.

Close-up Views:

RF                                                                   LF

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The inside walls have been correctively lowered and therefore the hairlines look somewhat unlevel. The curving and bulged up hoof rings (on the lateral Right) are very apparent in the middle of the hoof, and have reduced further up the foot. This is indicative of a previously unbalanced trim resulting in these rings, and the incorrect stance.

Left Heels Before                                          Left Heels after Trimming

lfheelsbf200.JPG            lfheels200.JPG

Before, the inside wall is longer than the outside wall, and both are sloping to the inside. This is a major contributor to the pigeon-toed stance. After a few months of trimming the walls are more even in length as a result of lowering the inside wall repeatedly.  The inside toe also needs shortening from the bottom (red arrow) and continues to require it. The outside wall is beginning to grow outward in the correct direction.

After about six months, the feet are straighter


Click on the photo for a larger view.

The horse does occasionally revert to a pigeon toed stance if not trimmed on a regular schedule, which indicates that the condition is not ‘conformational’, rather, the soft tissue has adapted to the posture and requires time to readjust.

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  1. My twins have some issues with their legs due to being cramped in the mare’s uterus. It’s tough to keep up with, since with eight legs between them, seems like we have eight different corrections. I know we’re making progress but it sure seems to be slow.

  2. Wow, twins – how unusual! How old are they now? Are they barefoot? How often do you find they need trimming?

    It would be great to see pictures of them, and perhaps provide some comments. Feel free to send them for posting if you like. Or perhaps a link.

  3. They are eight months old now. Earlier in the week I started telling their story on my blog, MiKael’s Mania – Arabian Horses I’m not sure how to go about posting a picture here but I will try to get some pics of their legs and figure it out.

    They are barefoot.Ideally, we try to trim them every 3 weeks but that doesn’t always happen. One of the problems we have with them is their foot wants to roll over in the back if it gets any length at all and that affects our corrections. It’s like walking a tightrope.

  4. Thanks for the link. I have been enjoying their story over there.

    If you submit pictures to me via email, I can post them.

  5. Warning!

    Please do not correct a pigeon toed horse if your horse is over 6 months (preferable correct faults before 3 months).

    If you do you will give your horse DJD (degenerative joint disease). Your horse will become lame (this may take years) and get arthritis like conditions much earlier; as the foot may look straight on the outside but as the horse has grown pigeon toed his bones are only in alignment if the foot is allowed to remain pigeon toed. It is best to get radiographs of such a horse to insure good bone alignment through correct foot balance.

    Again please, please, please do not do as this article recommends with adult horses as you are setting them up for a host of problems that I see so commonly in the clinic.

    • Thanks for this caution. I’m thinking of adopting a pigeon-toed mare who is about 11 years old. I do my own trimming and am guessing I should not hope to correct the problem. I would like to help her avoid future issues all the same…

  6. This is something that should be evaluated via radiographs and decided upon by the team of owner, vet, and trimmer.

    The pigeon toed stance can result from assymetrical foot shape and hoof wear (e.g. thicker walls on the inside) but not have caused any skeletal adaptations, beyond the age of 3 months. The horse’s skeleton continues to grow until at least age 5. There is nothing magical about the 3 month mark.

    If there are no skeletal adaptations (crooked joints) there is very little transition and no pain involved in making the correction. If there is some skeletal adaptation, it can still be reversed in a horse that has not matured. The joints will level out correctly. On the contrary the unlevel joints leading to the pigeon toed-ness are what cause the DJD down the line.

  7. there’s so much missinformation on how to correct pigeon toed horses as well as toed out horses. 98% of horses are pigeon toed, even if their feet point straight ahead there’s still a 98% chance the horse is pigeon toed.
    The practice of lowering one side of the hoof wall to correct these conditions is a bad one creating binds on and into the joints. There are alternative methods to what is taught in the textbooks and in the schools – has provided me with a 17 year 100% track record – not one single lame horse. you can check it out at the following: http://Farrieritis.Care4Horses.com

    If you own horses , you never want to miss out
    john “TheFootDoctor” Sil

  8. I have a question i have a 6 year old mustang gelding.we do competive trail together. he is severely pigeon toed and his left front the hoof wall slants inward. im just wondering if i should hae him shoed to fix it i realize he’s 6 and was able to live sound in the wild and from now on. but it worries me. should i fix it? or trim it often and leave it alone and hope he stays sound?

    • Hi Monique,
      No do not shoe your horse for this reason. Shoeing will not correct it. What you need to have done is have the farrier trim the inside, slanting wall shorter than the outside for several trims or one hoof growth, to try and get it to even out. Your horse is only 6 so it should still be possible to fix it. I’ve worked with mustangs and their feet are so hard that nothing wears them down naturally even abrasive rock, so they tend to grow in these incorrect shapes unless monitored very carefully and trimmed often and correctly. Do not leave it alone, eventually he will develop ringbone on the opposite side that is slanting in because the tendons will be overstretched on the other side to compensate for the incorrect hoof form.

  9. correction. the inside hoof wall slants in**

  10. I have a filly who will be 2 in May. She is already pigeon toed due to incorrect trimming from previous owner I would like to correct this. I noticed her frog angle is all correct its just the hoof it self. if I,correct it now she should straighten out again right. Since she won’t be down growing until she hits 5.

    • Hi Janine,
      The most common cause of pigeon-toed-ness is M/L imbalance, and 90% of that is high on the inside. But it could be high on the outside too which gets a little more complicated. There are very few cases that are congenitally pigeon toed, as you say it was caused by improper trimming. Especially if you have had the horse since its birth or soon after and you saw the problem emerge.

      Now is the time to correct this before joints adapt to this situation. If you would let to send me photos of your filly for a consultation I would be happy to look at them for you. You can reach me at barefoothoofcare @ verizon. net Also where are you located?

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