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shoulder to hoof angle relationship
equinebiomkanix

 

I was sent an article by Dr. Kerry Ridgway DVM that discussed some of his findings in horses with high heel / low heel syndrome which in my mind has many of the same hallmarks as leg length disparity, or club foot syndrome.  In the article he describes some of the influences this condition has on the horse and the rider as well as how to clinically evaluate a horse with high heel / low heel.  He suggests the following:

 

 

<My experience has lead to the conclusion that the best course of corrective shoeing is the use of wedges as orthotic devices, applied on the lower heel in order to achieve the same heel height and pastern angel as the more upright foot.  Sometimes it is necessary to also use a ‘lift’ such as a rim (or full) pad on the same or opposite foot as well, in order to create full symmetry.>

 

 

 

He also discusses the some of the factors that cause the horse to rotate the shoulder on the long heel / short toe side forward as the opposite maintains a more rearward posture.  He asserts that the more upright hoof and the more forward shoulder must exist to accommodate each other, shoulder angle roughly approximating hoof angle, which is most likely an accurate conclusion.  I do know that horses can rotate the scapula forward to compensate for discomfort from a number of sources.  For example, a very narrow fitting saddle or one that is set too far forward will interfere with the rearward motion of the top of the scapula and cause the horse to shorten it's stride and even hollow out it's back.  Likewise, false or forced collection will have a similar effect.  Ultimately these horses will begin to work more off their front ends, grinding down their heels and possibly developing caudal heel pain symptoms as well as muscular and skeletal problems in their backs and hips.  Removing the cause and encouraging the horse to round it's back and use it's hind quarters will enable it to gradually begin shifting the shoulder posture more rearward.   It's a slow process but even older horses will demonstrate the change over time.


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