Incorrect Hoof Form

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

“Incorrect hoof form” is a very broad and unspecific condition but in fact it is probably the leading cause afflicting lame horses as they are not able to use their limbs in a proper biomechanical fashion.

This 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.  This sort of joint alignment subjects the front of the coffin joint to excess pressure where it should be evenly distributed throughout the surface of the joint. This can lead to arthritic conditions such as ringbone.

1rfside.JPG                         2rfsideabl.JPG

Before, Recently Deshod                                         After 2nd 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.


  1. My 10 year old gelding lost his last shoe 2 weeks ago. Before he came to me he never wore shoes. I was and am still learning, he’s my first and probably only horse I will ever have the pleasure of caring for. Everyone at the barn told me he must have shoes, so I followed. Until I had a terrible bout with headshaking, which I searched for an answer and found in the Equiwinner patch (Signal-Health). He lost his front right shoe and I couldn’t get help for a week. So I decided he is done with shoes, read Joe Camp’s Why Our Horses Are Barefoot and agreed with his beliefs. His right front hoof is cold to the touch and is definately sore. I don’t want to go back to shoes. There is also a hint of pink in the hoof. Can you steer me in the right direction to help him and I was also told he has dished hooves. He has never foundered. Please help my Luke.

    • Hi Anne

      I would love to help you with Luke’s hoof issues. You are on the right track with knowing that he does not need shoes, and the fact that his hoof is cold to the touch as well as pink being present are both of concern. If you would like to send me pictures of his feet I can recommend how to improve his trimming. A horse that was barefoot for ten years with no problems and only wore shoes brielfy, should have absolutely no issues remaining barefoot. And if you tell me where you are located perhaps I can recommend a good trimmer for you. I look forward to hearing from you.

      You can email pictures of his feet to me at

      I look forward to hearing from you. Christina

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