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My Zimbio

A Case of Contraction
Monday 30th of November 2009 05:06 PM


Hey !  Happy Holidays.

     There's been times when i've mentioned the following when it comes to shoeing - "One thing leads to another to another and to another".  It's a serious statement and the very reason i personally take shoeing as seriously as i do and urge you to do the same.

     There's one area in particular where the above statement really holds true " Long Toe Syndrome ". If you've been following this blog at all you'll see me mention the long toe syndrome quite a bit , it's one of the real common problems that i see everywhere i go , Long toe stretches tendons , rotates coffin bones , and can bow a deep flexor tendon quite easily , and so right there you can see the connection one thing leading to another and i haven't even gotten to what i want to talk about today which is Contraction and Contracted Heels.

     When i mentioned long toe syndrome and the problems it causes i left out the following : Long Toe leads to sheered heels and then to the topic today which is Contracted Heels or Contraction and when combining all of what's already been mentioned here the real problem with the contraction is the stress it places on the Navicular Coffin Bone Joint which leads to Navicular Disease.

     What is Contracted Heels ?  Basically it's the narrowing of the heel area of the foot. Contraction isn't necessarily just a symptom of the long toe but in it's severe cases horse's can be born with it and that would be a genetic problem.

     What's the problem with the Contracted Heels ?  Not only does wider heels help support the foot in the heel area while the horse travels but that navicular bone should be the focus here. While the narrow heels in and of itself is not such a problem when thinking of how your horse travels it is a problem to the navicular bone especially if the contraction happening where before it was not.  That navicular bone needs some room to breathe inside the horses foot. Since it rests nicely against the coffin bone and that particular joint ( navicular/coffin joint ) is subject to quite a bit of abuse you'll not be wanting to put a squeeze on the navicular bone by the narrowing and Contracting heels.

     i don't have a visual example of how the process of letting your horse get longer toes actually causes the contraction so you'll need to use your imagination alittle bit here. A quick demonstration of the mechinics involved during contraction would be if you put a rubber band on the table in front of you - one that forms a complete circle nicely as it just lies there on it's side - now - put your left forefinger in one side of the rubber band and your right forefinger directly opposite on the other inside edge of the rubber band - now just very slowly pull your hands wider apart while your forefingers are there - you'll immediately notice how the width of the circle keeps narrowing.

     Below is a contracted foot - this horse was put down due to extreme contraction - it was genetic and the horse was born with the condition.  As you see at the top of the hoof (Top most part of actual Hoof) there is virtually no space between the left and right bulb of the foot - and the frog severely sunken . That's contraction.


     Now remember - this is Long Toe Syndrome in the photo below . The red lines should line up "Parallel" - the hoof angle needs to change to match up with the pastern angle depicted by the more verticle red line. 

                             Long Toe Syndrome

      And this photo below is the more desired result . I wasn't able to get the horse perfect but it's a great start and a good guide to follow.   You can see a little bit of hoof wall at the front of the foot ( long toe ) labeled "Excess Hoof". This is a marked improvement over the photo above.

                    More Correct

           So keep those toes back - if your horse has long toe you'll need to set the shoe on the foot more to the rear of the foot and actually "RASP" the excess toe OFF. You'll safely be able to move the shoe as far as the white line as long as your finished result is all in line with the pastern bone angles -  I'll cover more on Angles in another posting.

                                   KEEP THE TOES BACK .

 Happy Holidays

as usual Happy and Safe riding and always remember to

John "TheFootDoctor" Silveira

Put yourself on the mailing list early notification for the F-R-E-E eBook that's coming soon " Inside Horseshoeing Secrets of Lameness Prevention " and you'll be the first to recieve - email me at and you're good to go !  

Have Fun.



Response 1
Thursday 24th of December 2009 12:57:31 AM
Submitted by: tori abb
I appreaciated the info I do my trims myself an have a pro do the job 1 time a year to check my angle and keep me straight. I take any chance I can to learn and save a dollar. I worked for a blacksmith for a while .It isnt as easy as you guys make it look!! RIDE ON!!

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