Why Farrier Balance Radiographs?

We’re going to start this article by saying:

Get your Farrier films now!  

WHY? Because balanced hooves promote soundness and that’s in your control.  

Keep reading to learn more...

Being in the horse veterinary profession for so long, I know that a lot happens to horses outside anyone’s true control. I hear this from clients as well. However what I am about to share is one of the things that can be in your control; and in turn, makes it priceless and “a must” for horse owners. 

Hoof Balance is a major factor in horse soundness. If a horse has bad angles, the soft tissues in the hoof and up the leg receive significant and unnecessary strain. The horse’s body and hoof can adapt for a while, but it will eventually give way to lameness.

Correcting and managing hoof angles is something every owner should do to prevent lameness and keep your horse healthy for life.


Case Study: Zuko

Included here are some very recent radiographs from our horse Zuko (13yo, OTTB, gelding, low-level work). The normal looking outside appearance of his hoof masked the great imbalance within his hoof.

Before recognizing his hoof problem:

  • He was heavy on the forehand. 
  • He swapped hind leads.
  • He was back sore. 
  • He had under-run heels.  
  • He abscessed and lost shoes frequently.

Check out the before and after radiographs below.

Before Shoeing:
  • Look at the dotted yellow line called “Palmar Angle” (PA). PA is the line of the bottom of the coffin bone relative to the ground surface. Zuko tilts higher at the toe, and lower at the heel. Zuko has a “Negative PA”. Ideally, the PA has the heel higher. 

Too much weight and strain is placed on the back of his foot. This crushes the heels, makes them under run, and makes the horse uncomfortable. You try walking with your toes higher than your heels.  
 

  • Look at the orange lines – they represent the “Hoof Pastern Axis” (HPA) and this should be a straight line from the tip of the toe to the fetlock. Here you can see a “broken” line centered on the short pastern bone. Zuko has a “broken HPA”. 

The distribution of weight is not placed on the strongest and ideal portions of the bones. The wrong surfaces are bearing the weight so arthritis and ligament strain will eventually occur. Is it easier to hold a push-up with arms straight or arms bent?

After Shoeing (2 cycles):
  • The dotted yellow line tilts the correct way. The coffin bone is slanted correctly. Zuko has a “Positive PA” now.

A positive PA is needed to sustain soundness and decrease deep digital flexor tendon strain on the navicular region. 

  • The orange lines (HPA) are straighter and better aligned. Now, Zuko has a less-broken HPA. Ideally, the orange line is perfectly straight.

Straighter aligned bones bear weight more appropriately as nature intended on the correct cartilage surfaces to slow progression of arthritis. 

After correction, 

  • Zuko is lighter, more willing, and more forward.   
  • His sacro-iliac (SI) and back are less sore. 
  • He uses his hind end better. 
  • He does not swap hind leads.
  • He tracks better. 

 Remember:

  • Get farrier balance films every year.
  • Vet and farrier must work together to keep your horse sound.
  • $200 Packages available for 4 lateral radiographs and consult.  (multi-horse and group rates available)

Below is Zuko’s full trim & shoe series. Take note of the progress and improvement on all the feet over time. We’re not done yet, but we’re on the right track! 

LEFT FRONT:

RIGHT FRONT:

LEFT HIND:

RIGHT HIND:


Call or text 703.505.2320 or CONTACT US HERE to schedule your appointment for farrier balance films.

Remember, this is soundness that YOU control!
  • Look at the dotted yellow line called “Palmar Angle” (PA). PA is the line of the bottom of the coffin bone relative to the ground surface. Zuko tilts higher at the toe, and lower at the heel. Zuko has a “Negative PA”. Ideally, the PA has the heel higher. 

Too much weight and strain is placed on the back of his foot. This crushes the heels, makes them under run, and makes the horse uncomfortable. You try walking with your toes higher than your heels.  
 

  • Look at the orange lines – they represent the “Hoof Pastern Axis” (HPA) and this should be a straight line from the tip of the toe to the fetlock. Here you can see a “broken” line centered on the short pastern bone. Zuko has a “broken HPA”. 

The distribution of weight is not placed on the strongest and ideal portions of the bones. The wrong surfaces are bearing the weight so arthritis and ligament strain will eventually occur. Is it easier to hold a push-up with arms straight or arms bent?  

After Shoeing (2 cycles):

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