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Low heels can lead to lameness in horses!

Meet Pyttla - a pretty adult Icelandic Horse mare, officially 'sound' but early signs of toe drag which concerned the owner led her to seek our expert help. We recognised a lack of vertical depth, low palmar and plantar P3 angles and concomitant issues leading hoof experts believe this creates. This placed Pyttla at risk of trauma, injury, disease and infection.

In studies, low plantar P3 angles have been found to be associated with increased incidence of lameness in the hind limb, primarily in the stifle, then the hock, then the ligamentous tissues (see: An investigation into the association between plantar distal phalanx angle and hindlimb lameness in a UK population of horses

P. E. Clements, I. Handel, S. A. McKane, R. P. Coomer

First published: 30 September 2019 It is critical that these hoof morphologies are recognised and a positive intervention used to promote healthier hoof proportions and posture. Our intervention was a trim to help create and stimulate a return of healthy 'ideals' plus boots fitted with raised pads to support the palmar/plantar P3 angles. After 5 weeks, the hoof is improving and although we don't consider her currently 'healthy', she is moving positively towards her goal of 4/6 or above, which we believe all horses can be and should be if they are intended for performance (ridden/driven work, etc). You can learn more about healthy ideals here

5 weeks ago we rated her hoof score at 3/6 and she is now 3.5/6 - meaning healthier ideals (posture and hoof proportions) and greater resilience to injury, trauma, disease and infection. For information on hoof scoring click here.

"all horses have the ability to heal, providing they have a supportive environment to facilitate healing!"- Beccy Smith

What do you consider 'healthy' (which is a widely different question to what is 'normal')?

What guidelines might you use to help you assess and implement an intervention plan to create or maintain healthy ideals?

How would you be able to assess whether a horse is at risk of injury or ready for ridden work?

Is your farrier, trimmer or EP using guidelines which appreciate and support healthy palmar/plantar P3 angles?

In order to see the problem, you first have to look! - author unknown

A horse with less than ideal hooves like Pyttla can appear to be 'sound'... until they're not.... horses are masters at hiding problems, pain and lameness... until they breakdown and cannot hide it any longer. Proactive approaches to wholistic hoof care can allow for early recognition, intervention and prevention of lameness IN THE FUTURE. 💚🐴

Beccy Smith BSc ADAEP EBW

Diploma in Advanced Applied Equine Podiatry and Independent Equine Podiatrist, Consultant and Therapist

CEO and Founder of 100% Non-Profit Community Interest Company Holistic Reflections CIC

If, like our clients, you want to learn a PRO-Active approach to hoof care and wish to prevent lameness in your horse, consider booking us for an Integrative Podiatry Consult, Educational Event, Mentorship, On-line Course or join our new VIP membership where you can learn top tips straight from an expert!


We take an integrative and holistic approach to whole horse hoof and body health. We appreciate the relationship between body, limb and hoof and seek to address imbalances while positively influencing appropriate static and dynamic hoof balance and biomechanics.

Beccy Smith BSc DAEP EBW – Independent Equine Podiatrist and CEO of Holistic Reflections CIC

Holistic Reflections CIC – a 100% non-profit organisation promoting wellbeing and resilience in people, horses and the environment - for the benefit of all.


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