What if my horse's hooves are wider than long?

What if my horse's hooves are wider than long?
Brand: Institue for Barefoot Equine Management Ltd
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What if my horse's hooves are wider than long?

By Thorsten Kaiser

We often get requests to assist with hoof boot fitting based on hoof measurements. When those measurements are in such a way that the hoof is longer than wide, aka Length > Width, then this is usually relatively straight forward since the boots are designed to accommodate such a hoof.

Longer than wide

The hoof often gets likened to a slanted, truncated cone. A cone would project a circle to the ground, however, since we are talking a bout a slanted cone that meets with a horizontal surface (the ground), the projection is oblong, it is slightly longer than wide. In most cases also the coronet is slightly longer than wide. These are attributes of a healthy hoofcapsule.

Wider than Long

While we have boots that accommodate a hoof with Width = Length, the problem arises when Width > Length. This would result in the length requiring one size of the boot while the width would need another size, sometimes differing by two boot sizes. Since the boots are usually longer than wide, there would be a gap in the toe and the boot will twist in the best case, or worse, they come off and get damaged.

Here are common scenarios why the hoof presents wider than long:

  • The length measurement is incorrect. Often as a result of the heels being too long or very underrun and then the heel buttress gets measured at the wrong location. Once measured correctly, the hoof measures longer than wide and the fitting should be relatively easy.

  • The hoof has quarter-flare present. This is by far the most common scenario. One can see the flare by looking at the hoof from the front and compare the coronet contour with the contour at the bottom. If flare is present, the line along the hoof connecting the coronet and the bottom will appear curved or has a distinct “kink” in it (see red dotted line below). If that line was running straight (yellow dotted line below), the hoof would be less wide and usually would measure longer than wide, or at least as wide than long. For those proportions it is easier again to find a fitting boot.

  • There are situations where the hoof is indeed wider than long, but that is usually linked with more severe situations that usually involve substantial loss of parts of the pedal bone. Usually, boot modifications are needed to get something that fits well. Please seek the advice of someone who is trained for that type of pathology.

The flare as described above often cannot be completely rasped off in one go as there is simply too much of it present. In those cases, project a line from the coronet to the base where the hoof would finish if there was no flare. Then address the flare to that line in the bottom third of the hoof. Keep repeating this every two weeks until the flare has grown out.

Areas where the coronet is pushed high will need further relief at the hoof wall below the coronet distortion, so that the coronet can “relax”.

It should be the goal of Barefoot Hoofcare to improve the health of the hooves. Hoof boots are a great tool to assist with this, but advise against using boots as a crutch to mask up underlying problems.

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