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My Zimbio

What's wrong with Pigeon toes
Pigeon toes
Saturday 18th of July 2009 12:22 AM

Hello , How's everyone's riding ?  Great i'm hoping.

          In the past here we've discussed briefly wear patterns on horses shoes and feet. If you're looking to understand balance and to get your horse correct understanding wear patterns and breakover point is key.

          Every horse obviously has wear patterns and breakover point but what's very little understood is the wear pattern and breakover point both are dictated by where the knees on your horse are pointing. There is a big missunderstanding i'd like to point out right now , as follows , even if your horse's feet are pointing straight ahead which is considered correct conformation there's really about a 98% chance your horse is still pigeon toed .

          In my experience which is in it's 18th year as a farrier of all the horses i've ever worked on or examined only one - that's ONE had a knee that pointed almost straight ahead - and that's only ONE knee - the other knee was pointing outward. What i'm saying is 97-98% of horses are pigeon toed because the knees point farther outward than the feet do and since the knee dictates breakover and wear pattern the horse will be pigeon toed - and yes , EVEN if your horse's feet are pointing straight ahead.

          Here's something that may confuse you now. If your horse's knees point outward and most likely do but the feet are pointing outward ( as though toes OUT ) but the feet line up with where the knees point - you got lucky , the feet line up with the knee and the foot will break over where it belongs .   smile - don't worry - don't focus on just that if you're not understanding this point - what i really want is to just show you a quick easy way to identify a pigeon toed condition. It's a very good indication of the truth . The following photo is a classic example.

                    pigeon toed 

          If you just look at that rasp , i've placed it directly center of the direction the frog is pointing .  The rasp is drawing a line up and down through the foot showing the direction the foot is pointing. Now if you look at the rasp and see how the rasp does not line up with the knee right there you'll see the rasp is over by quite a few inches and is NOT lined up with the knee at all.  Since that happened to be the right front foot of the horse it's indicating the pigeon toed horse.

          That's the easy method. The other is to walk to the front of your horse and instead of standing directly in front of your horse stand directly in front of where one knee points - i will just about guarantee you you'll not be standing in front of your horse but more off to the side. Then just quickly shift your eye to the foot - if the foot is not directly in line with that knee the foot is out of balance and most likely pigeon toed. I've yet to see a horse whose feet point farther outward than the knee , so to me there are no real toed out horses .

         So practice , look at your horse from the front and from the bottom of his foot. Also if your horse has shoes look at the wear patterns on the shoes themselves. Remember , wherever the knee points is exactly where the foot will break over and is exactly how the wear pattern on the shoe develops.

         Before i go for now i want to encourage you NOT to use old school methods to correct a toeing problem . The old school method is to shorten one side of the foot or the other which forces the foot into a different direction to correct which ever toe in or toe out condition it is . The problem is this method will put your horse's foot out of level , meaning the coffin bone will not be horizontal like it's suppose to be. Not only will the foot no longer be level but the joints have also been rotated in a clockwise or counter clockwise manner - neither of these states are good for the horse's joint , bone , tendon and ligament.    There is a way to adress toeing conditions properly and that's for a different article - it's a bit complex , so you'll need to come back .

          If you can recognize your horse has issues you're one step closer to correct maintenance and prevention of lameness .  Ignorance is not bliss . 

          Hope your riding season goes forward wonderfully and enjoy the weather.

John Silveira.    Farrier, Bay Area Ca.

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