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Shoe trailers.... good or bad?

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    Shoe trailers.... good or bad?

    Thoughts on shoe trailers? In my horse's case, it was suggested by my vet to limit a twisting motion on the RH foot on landing (foot twists out). Vet also says this twisting is *usually* a hock thing. This horse gets hocks done bi-yearly, but the twist is always there to some extent.

    I am now second guessing my vet's shoeing advice. Do you think these trailers would damage and/or torque joints by limiting the leg's twisting motion? Would it be better just to let the leg twist like it wants? Horse naturally toes out (moderately), which probably isn't helping.

    Coming up on her hock injections and farrier visit, I'm wondering if I should get these taken off, worried about it irritating the joint.

    Picture of my horse's foot attached. Any farriers here? Mine doesn't have any strong opinions about it.


    Image 68752551-10157496308094127-3931051963935883264-n hosted in

    Does horse toe out from the ankle or higher up on the leg?

    Horses SHOULD have a natural toe-out on hind hooves to avoid hitting fronts, allowing hind hooves to go around the fronts at speed. They should show toe out from ankles to the ground. Looking at hind end from the rear, a straight line should run down thru the rump, hocks, cannons, fetlock, then hooves toe out. You see this as an example in books showing good and bad faults of hind legs of horses. The Ideal Horse will have equal distance between hocks, cannons, fetlocks. More distance between fetlocks than hocks, is true "cow hocked" while closer fetlock width than hock width will cause other issues. Horses that do not align, could have the twisting reason in the bony column, you may be able to see it. Perhaps Farrier's trained eyes can pinpoint it for you. There are more than one reason horse could twist.

    Front legs of Ideal mature horses will shown in the books as bone aligned from shoulder, forearm, knee, cannon, fetlock, hoof, as a line drawn down thru center of all those points. Not the same Ideal Look as hind legs.

    Have you talked with the Farrier before about the leg twisting? Can you provide any X-rays of legs if Vet took them? Always helpful to the Farrier! Has Farrier tried any shoe changes to reduce motion? Perhaps horse is not shod "special" because Farrier thought changing horse's natural movement would cause more harm than help. As you said, perhaps changes will just move the twist elsewhere, causing wear in another place. On older horses this can hurt them, bones are worn in place with years of use, so forcing bone to work differently can cause problems.


      TThat is not what the therapeutic farrier uses on my injured horse's back hooves. She does use special steel shoes then custom bends them for his issues.

      Those issues are:

      Sickle hocked - base narrow.
      refractured his sacrum (that is RE-Fracture) in March, 2019.

      She works with the vet/chiro in a delicate balance to allow the shoes to relieve some of the stress further up. That probably doesn't make sense and I'm sorry but I am not good at explaining things. I know that the farrier's shoeing idea works - the horse was close to checking out last spring. He can now cancer a little at liberty and is back to only seeing the vet/chiro once a month instead of every two weeks.

      This horse is IR/Cushings and has foundered on the front in the past. He is an expensive version of Humpty Dumpty.


      I understand the concept of the shoe on your horse but it in no way resembles what my farrier did. Your farrier had better have some therapeutic training and know what he's doing, is all I can say. One wrong move on those hooves (trimming) and he could do more harm than good


        You might want to consult a good sports/lameness vet to see if this is the best way to address the issue - or if the issue should be addressed at all. I have known a good number of horses who were twisty in their hocks/rear feet but remained sound. Maybe there was some pathology there that was not addressed or maybe it was the structure of these particular horses. Either way, it did not cause issues with them in lower level work. (None were GP jumpers or GP dressage).

        I would want to make very sure that a trailer as you showed will not cause more problems before putting it on. I havent seen that kind of trailer. Only a smaller one used for a horse that interfered behind and ripped off his shoes.


          I would NOT try to change the way any horse, let alone an older one, moves by changing shoeing. For ex: My very experienced farrier always winces when clients/trainers ask him to make different shaped/angled hooves look the same. Tons of horses have a high vs low angled hooves in front. If that's the way they were born, he says you need to trim/shoe the horse to they way it is naturally. If you trim the hoof that is "taller" with a false angle, you'll cause strain/pain issues. If you try to make the low-heeled hoof taller by adding a wedge, you can crush that heel, making it even worse.

          I'll admit I've never had a horse that was shod all around. They've either had enough good horn to go barefoot all around or only have shoes in front, in the case of my TB. If the foot needs to twist to accommodate conformation issues, I would let it. As others have said, not allowing the foot to twist is going to transfer that diffused torque somewhere else.
          Savor those rides where you feel like a million bucks, because there will be those where you feel like a cheap date...


            I have never see a good long term outlook for horses wearing trailers. They are usually an excuse for poor balancing.

            Unless this a a newborn foal, leave it alone.

            And even then it takes an expert.
            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


              My concern when looking at the rear bulbs of your horse in photo is that the bulbs are now grossly deformed. One is huge compared to other. This is not normal or healthy. You've got too much weight pounding down on the oversized bulb as shown by it's overgrowth.
              Imagine what problems this is causing INSIDE the hoof. Improperly weighted footfall and improper pressure on the hoof and body up higher. This to me looks like the trailer will cause more long term problems. I'd have it removed.
              "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


                That's a rather large trailer, LOL! Excessive twisting is caused by the foot being low laterally. Take a d/p x-ray of the foot post shoeing and p3 is probably parallel to the ground. Take another pre shoeing and p3 will be low laterally. There's going to be a lateral toe quarter flare and the lateral heel will look underrun.

                Most likely your Farrier is over lowering the medial aspect of the foot when trimming. Stop trimming the medial short and after a few shoeings the flaring will grow out and the twisting will be significantly reduced.

                Eric Russell CJF


                  I second having a sports lameness vet take a look at your horse. And if something special needs to be done, maybe check in with a farrier that has lots of practice working with that particular issue and the shoeing it would require.


                    IMHO, assuming we're not talking about a weanling/yearling, these sorts of bottom up fixes usually end up doing more harm than good.

                    Even something as simple as the grip created by borium studs in the winter can cause issues for a horse with natural twist when the hoof is on the ground.


                      I used trailers on a previous horse, but that was to address a specific injury (he tore a cruciate ligament so stifle would never fully recover). And they were much smaller than that & didn't angle out. They helped him a great deal with his comfort level though.

                      I don't think they are necessarily bad, but would agree that it's not a bad idea to ask for a qualified second opinion, especially if it's such a major modification.

                      Does the horse have any pain or soundness issues associated with the twist or is said twist new? If no to those things & horse has been working comfortably, I would be inclined to not try to "fix" it as doing so often just results in bigger problems (at least that has been my experience, heh). Hind feet should toe out a little, this allows the stifle to work correctly & clear the body.
                      Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                      Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                      We Are Flying Solo


                        That does seem like a supersized trailer. We tried trailers on one of my horses that interfered behind and they didn't help him, but never anything close to that big - I'd have been afraid he'd hook himself on a fence or something with those (but he was especially talented at stuff like that). Has the vet that suggested the trailers seen these? I wonder if they are what the vet had in mind.


                          If you look at the op's pic and draw a line down the center of the frog you can see the lateral aspect of the foot is failing. It's very doubtful any vet will pic up on this and an x-ray will suggest the Farrier needs to keep trimming the medial lower.
                          Eric Russell CJF


                            I'm with all of the above -- and, I once had my farrier trimming/shoeing a horse of mine with hind trailers.

                            Actually, two -- but two different farriers.

                            In the first horse's case in what should be considered ancient history it happened so long ago, it was a new-to-us TB that came with weak stifles and sore hocks from a lifetime of racing (8 yrs, 80 starts). Our farrier at the time had him in trailers - looking back, this exacerbated rather than fixed some of his issues. He kept interfering, and couldn't be ridden without brushing boots. He ended up blowing a suspensory, in what was confirmed to be a case of "very bad shoeing". Changed farriers and the interfering went away. At the time I was still relatively new to horses, so I can't tell you much about his feet other than, looking back at old photos, I recognize he was grossly flaring behind, and had some very seriously flat and long toes up front.

                            In a more recent example (last 5 yrs or so), I had a farrier put trailers on a TB of mine that was dealing with some flaring behind, and was wearing his hooves unevenly. When I asked why the farrier put trailers on I was given a roundabout answer. I suspect the real reason was because he was trying to prevent the horse from pulling his front shoes, which he did frequently with this farrier. I switched farriers shortly thereafter, but that one cycle did enough damage to my gelding's hooves and way of going that we had some soundness issues all summer related to soreness in his hind feet and what I think may have been a minor sprain somewhere in his pastern. I had him x-rayed right after and sure enough, thin soled, NPA behind, and what the vet felt was good enough evidence for subclinical laminitis (inflammation but no sinking/rotation/separation) -- from the outside, you could tell the trailer did some damage the next few months because his hoof grew in with fever rings and major wall issues/jamming near the heel on the side the trailer[s] were on. I was so mad with that farrier.. Happy to report since I swapped, things have looked up significantly for this horse.. it is now several years later and all persistent issues I had with the prior farrier are gone - including the constant tossing of shoes and soreness behind.

                            So in summary, no, I would not ever put shoe trailers on a horse again.

                            If your horse is twisting his hocks, consider looking into injection more often, and/or combining with stifle injections if your vet feels they are warranted. Often, hock-wringing means both are involved and sore in my book. If she's not on Legend or Adequan yet, I'd get started..

                            I'm assuming that photo isn't yours... but if it is.. even from this vantage I can see that's a majorly unbalanced hoof.
                            AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                              Sorry I'm slow to the table here.

                              I have an OTTB who has shown through the FEI 4* GPs. He lives in wedge pads up front and trailers exactly like shown in the picture you posted behind. The trailers do NOTHING to prevent the horse from twisting or picking up their foot toward the outside. In fact, my farrier initially tried to straighten my horse's movement behind (not with a trailer) and wound up really messing him up by doing so. The way he shoes him now allows him to use his entire hind leg exactly as he is built to do, but provides him with extra lateral support as he does so. That's all the trailers like you've shown do - provide support.

                              So for starters I will say that trailers like you've posted do zip to address twisting movement. But also, I would never (again) try to prevent a horse from moving like they naturally least in my case it caused way more problems than supporting his natural movement.

                              But beyond that I will also say that my guy has lived in those trailers now for 5 or 6 years showing at a high level, and has not had any sort of a negative impact from it. YMMV, of course, but I have no issues with trailers.
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