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Sheared Heels or Heel Shear?

Sheared Heels or Heel Shear?
by Dave Farley, CF

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image1In this article, I will show you how I shoe a horse with a mild heel shear. In future articles, we will deal with the two severe stages that I call sheared heels. I will not attempt to diagnose the cause of this condition, which is explained in several great textbooks. Instead, I will shoe the horse just as I do in my everyday practice.

Most textbooks describe this condition as one heel being higher than the other, when viewed from the back of the foot. If you are a farrier, you see this condition often and each of us have our own way of dealing with sheared heals. In my business, I try to deal with the heel shear before it becomes a sheared heel. I personally believe that there are three stages of this condition. I approach each stage of this foot fault a little differently.

Starting trim of left hand - notice inside heel pushed up even from this angle.

This case is what I call a mild heel shear. Notice that the inside heel is higher than the outside. I consider this mild because the frog is still attached. If you hold the foot with both hands the heels will not separate and move independently. Also, notice that the bulb has little deformity when the foot is bearing weight and viewed from the rear. Most feet with this mild condition will not show any lameness or gait fault. I believe that feet should be as close as possible to the center of the limb above it. Notice that the wall of the high heel is straighter and does not have a normal angle. I take this into consideration when I fit the shoe.

I trim to the highest, widest part of the frog. I use a #2 Kerckhaert DF Grand Prix shoe. This shoe has a wide outside branch that helps horses with stiff and/or rotating hocks that need more lateral support. Using this shoe, I hammer and/or grind the inside branch. This takes away more medial ground surface of the shoe allowing the affected heel to sink more than the outside or lateral heel.

Notice the inside (medial) fit of the shoe. If you have a horse with this mild condition, and your approach is similar, this heel shear probably will never become a sheared heel. This horse is sound, happy and a ten mover.

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Cleaning up only what's necessary to protect the
integrity of the hoof.
Inside heel of the shoe forged to allow the hoof to sink.
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You can see the inside heel after hot fit in these views.
The shoe ground, drilled and tapped.
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Fit wide for lateral support.
Note the support on the medial heel also.

 

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