The Negative Effect of Metal Shoes 

The dorsal view shows two highly distorted front feet. The hoof wall of both feet shows horizontal compression folds that act deeply into the coronet. The hair at the coronet is pushed up, sticks out like a roof, the coronet is not even. The hoof walls desperately try to grow down steeper but are distracted into a flare after the first two inches of growth. The two clips on each hoof increase the problem. The hoof cannot wear off on the shoe; every excessive hoof wall length accumulates and causes compression. The path for distortion is paved.


The view from the side shows what is inevitable for the hooves on a shoe. Under-run heels that lead to a severe hyperextension. The horse had trouble to walk. His steps were insecure and clumsy. Both toe walls are bent.


The medial view of the right front hoof shows how the one clip presses into the hoof wall. The horse was lucky not to be lame. The main load of that limb is on that medial side. The dorsal view shows how the lateral hoof wall flees from that center of pressure whereas all forces act upwards on the medial side. That clip will always work its way into the hoof if the hoof shape is not corrected. 



Right after treatment:

Compression and leverage have been eliminated, with the correct filing technique the correct abrasion will take place in the next weeks. The horse will walk itself into the correct shape in the next months. 


The solar view shows the destruction the clip left behind. Patriot had deep thrush in both front feet.

4 weeks later:

The hole from the clip can heel. Solar and palmar view show how the medial load affects the whole balance of the hoof. The lateral hoof half is being pushed outwards. The medial bulb is pushed up under the load, the heel angle is much steeper than the lateral.



The heels will grow out much steeper in the future. The hoof-pastern axis will be aligned.


Both feet seem high, the horn tubules of the hoof wall are compressed. That compression acts into the coronary band which is being pushed up. The hair stick out like roof. Especially where the two clips are on each hoof, the coronet bulges up even more. A front hoof should only have one clip in the middle, not two. The clips cause even more stiffness for the quarter walls. In addition, the hoof walls flare and bent, the horn tubules can't wear off. 


right front before shoe removal
left front before shoe removal

The heels underrun immensely. The owner was recommended the metal shoe because the horse had flat heels. Unfortunately, flat heels cannot be cured by a shoe. The shoe will make it worse in the long term due to the over proportional wear in the heel and zero abrasion in the toe. Exactly the opposite will happen. The foot will become even more flat. 

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Right after treatment. There is a huge difference in the tubule orientation and the coronet. The hair sticks out less. The new hoof wall can now grow down physiologically. 

right front after treatment
left front after treatment

The documentation ends because the poor guy died of a colic.


I introduced Snickers in my book 'Hoof Physics'.

He has arthritis in his right carpal joint and is therefore forced to break over the lateral part of his toe. The medial part of his toe has become a huge obstacle which makes it impossible for him to use at all. The coronet at that spot is bulged up, compresses the corium and deflects the newly produced horn tubules in their physiological growth orientation. A vicious cycle starts. If not given the opportunity to use that part of the hoof, it will become more and more a disturbing factor and force the horse to only use the lateral part of his hoof. The deformation will continue rapidly. 

Cutting that extra length off from underneath would be a huge mistake also. The horse has walked itself into that shape to compensate for existing predispositions, in this case, his arthritic knee. He needs the supporting length on the medial side. Due to the hinge joints, he is not capable to tilt, any abrupt hoof wall shortening would cause more discomfort. 


right front

right front with arthritic knee, laterally abraded toe

left front

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Both hind feet are loaded on the inner side, the bulbs of the left hind foot are extremely shifted (red line). The dorsal view shows how Snickers is forced to turn the hoof out because of the incapability to tilt. It completely twists the limb. 

The right correction with Preventive Hoof Care is to manipulate the abrasion of hoof horn, to make it easy for the horse to use other parts of the hoof as well so he can slowly walk himself into the physiological shape if he chooses so. 

left hind dorsal

left hind leg, turned out, crooked

left hind plantar

plantar view left hind, bulbs not on one level

5 months later.
The arrows indicate the change in horn tubule orientation. The hoof wall grows down straighter. Snickers is able to straighten out his hind legs. The bulbs are more leveled.
The hoof walls have not been cut or filed from underneath! 


arrow shows demarcation line, new hoof growth vs old leverage
arrow points to leverage
bulbs are more leveled

10 months later:


Right hind hoof

before 1. treatment:


after 8 months:



Right Front


No matter how I tried to position the horse, he would always return into the same favored posture, putting more weight on the left leg and turning the right leg outward.

The lateral quarter wall of the hoof (left in the picture) is clearly straighter than the medial quarter wall. The slanted medial side is uncomfortable for the horse to use. Nevertheless, it toes-off on the medial part of the toe wall.

The sloping medial hoof wall is an unpleasant obstacle for the horse. It avoids standing on this levering side. Therefore, it turns the hoof outward to avoid discomfort. Thus, postural anomalies are created in the long run. The whole leg seems twisted, starting in the carpal joint (knee).


We also see horizontal lines, stress lines,  that seem to be narrower, more compressed, exactly on those medial hoof wall parts.

The rings are compressed more in the section of the hoof where the greatest

leverage is at work. It is the section that has less load and usage. The horn tubules bend, cannot wear off and simply fold in wrinkles.

2 months later:


The slanted hoof wall grows down more vertically. The horizontal compression folds disappear, the horn tubules can grow down unhindered. The arrow indicates the change in horn tubule orientation. 

3 months later:

Finally we see how the orientation of the medial hoof wall tubules changes. The first inch of new hoof wall is much straighter than the rest. The hoof accepts the remodeling and will change its shape. Phoenix still turns his feet out but loads both feet evenly. The legs are standing closer together and under the body's weight.


The hoof a year later. It stands evenly under its limb, is loaded more evenly. Both quarter walls are much straighter. Phoenix puts more weight on that leg overall. The coronet is even. 


Sam is belgian draft horse. The poor boy is very shy and cautious. He had several injuries to his back that disabled his right hind leg. When I met him, he could only walk sideways, not being able to put proper weight on his right hind. Due to that fact he is not able to pick up his left hind foot, only if he leans against the wall with his right side. He had a huge toe crack in his right front hoof that got worse in the past months. The farrier was not able to pick up his feet properly, Sam was scared of anybody. I managed to do all 4 feet with a lot of patience trust. Between the treatment intervals, Sam had a Chiropractor working with him. With the combination of the right hoof care and Chiropractic, he recovered amazingly. After the very first hoof treatment, he managed to use his right hind foot much better for the first time which helped for the Chiropractic to kick in faster. 

The next video was taken after the 3rd treatment, he was walking much better:

During the 4th treatment, he was able to give both!! his hind feet normally!! Without leaning against the wall. The crack in the front hoof grows out nicely.  

6 months later:

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The crack is slowly closing up. Another 6 months to go. Sam has improved greatly. He can give me all 4 feet without leaning against the wall. 

Unfortunately, he recently was diagnosed with EPM, a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system and spinal cord. Just after his hooves improved so well....But he manages. Still cantering through the arena!


Will is a 13-year-old Thoroughbread with terribly distorted feet. The owner was told he has foundered and cannot be ridden anymore. When I met him, he just blew an abscess. I told her he was not foundered and he could be ridden as soon as he is not limping from the abscess anymore. 


The x-ray from his left front does not show any foundering. Although I didn't have the original radiographs yet and the picture quality is not ideal, it shows clearly bone remodeling of the coffin bone. Due to ongoing leverage forces over the years, the coffin bone has no other choice than to adapt to that unphysiological hoof shape. The toe wall tubules fold into wrinkles, the hoof wall pulls away from the coffin bone. That hoof is much smaller and steeper than his parallel front foot and does not allow any diversion of its designated tubule orientation. 


That little foot wants to grow down much steeper than it actually can right now, the flare of that toe causes the coffin bone to come closer to the ground, causing pain. The tip of the coffin bone deforms. The red arrow in the picture below indicates where the abscess broke through. The vet recommended to keep the hoof wrapped for another 6 weeks which would have been a disaster! The abscess broke through; now it is absolute important to keep air on it so that the fusobacteria can die. The sole was undermined with bacteria that ate their way from the front end of the hoof into the heel where they finally exited.


Underneath a mass of macerated horn was already a layer of new pioneer horn that needed air to dry off. I expected the sole on the lateral side (left in the picture) to come off in the next weeks. 


Left Front:

A terribly distorted hoof. The arrow points to a huge ditch in the hoof wall, caused by compression forces that push into the coronet. The Arrow points to the point where the angulation of horn tubules changes. They try to grow down alongside of the coffin bone but are terribly diverted and bent into a huge flare. The solar view shows macerated horn. That hoof had no heel, no baring edge. The bars and sole were one big chunk of hoof horn undermined with bacteria. I expected another abscess soon. 



6 Weeks Later:

I could clean out the affected areas. As expected, the left hoof developed an abscess as well which I opened two weeks before. Both hooves now show a bearing edge. Will was walking fine. 


It now becomes clear how steep the toe wall actually wants to grow down.


That time, I was able to do his hind first for the first time. The lateral quarter wall of his left hind was terribly diverted as well. The solar view shows how a mass of sole horn and bar pushes the hoof wall outwards. The hoof wall tubules on that side had a horizontal orientation on the bottom.


Another 4 weeks later:

The hoof wall can grow down its physiological orientation.

Left, dorsal view


Right, lateral view


Both feet show a protective bearing rim for the first time, the right foot develops heels.



Left Hind


The first few millimeters grow down in the correct orientation.

4 months later:

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