Can flared hooves be corrected?

Before trimming: flare on the outside of the near hind hoof.
Before trimming: flare on the outside of the near hind hoof.

Q. My yearling’s hind hooves seem to flare out to the outside and are relatively straight on the inside. One hoof (the nearside) is slightly worse than the other.

His dam has the same thing, with the worse hoof on the same side, too, which leaves me in no doubt it is genetic. When trimming, the inside seems almost to want to turn under, while the outside wants to go out.

I have trimmed as best I can (see the after shot) to minimise the look of the flare without upsetting his legs (I hope!). Is there something else I should be doing, or a better way of trimming?

Don, Wairarapa, NZ


A. Hi Don

Well done on spotting the deviation in your yearlings hooves and for trying to do something about them before they get out of hand.

The same hoof - near hind - after trimming.

While the pictures don’t look too bad, I can visualize what your concern is, as it is a reasonably common problem. From my own past experience working on large breeding farms, the most common hind foot issue we saw was the near hind “coming in” under the horse while it walks.

The off side also can have this problem, but predominantly we see it on the near side. The reason is still somewhat unclear, but repro veterinarians I have talked to about this suggest it has some relationship to the way the foal is positioned inside the mare. The end result of this is that the hoof wall tends to grow more vertical length on the inside, and collapses somewhat on the outside resulting in the lateral wall flare. I expect if you stand behind your horse as it is walked away from you, you will see the near hind foot coming in almost all the way under the horse to the centre line, possibly even crossing further under the horse.

Depending on the severity as a foal, treatment usually consists of remedial trimming, and use of a lateral extension on the foot to help support the limb / foot, and prevent the collapse of the lateral heel.

The yearling's offside hind hoof after trimming.
The yearling's offside hind hoof after trimming.

At the stage of life your horse is at, you are somewhat limited as to correcting the limb as all of the growth plates have by now closed, but you can still keep up with a corrective type trim.

As I suggested earlier, we usually find these hooves are higher on the inside than they should be, so this is the first place to start. Having said that, when the inside is lowered, it usually makes the flare on the outside look worse, so this then needs to be addressed.

My best suggestion to you would be to contact a reputable farrier in your area that is familiar with young stock, and have them take a look at your horse to see if they can help you with the problem.

Unfortunately, trimming instructions can become a little difficult to give by email, and can be misunderstood, so I hope this is helpful to you!


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