Chapter 13 – Is raising the heels a good idea for foundered horses?

This, too, is a long time practice with farriers and vets, which goes back to the believed adverse affects of excess tension on the DDFT. While this practice hasn’t hurt all founder cases, it does have an adverse affect on any case that would be considered moderate to severe. Mild cases can be helped better by not raising the heels, but mild cases can often times get past the affects of raising the heels in spite of the efforts of the caregiver. What has been much more successful with reversing founder has been the ‘newfangled’ and somewhat unpopular practice of lowering the heels. There is documented clinical proof that lowering the heels has very positive affects. Lowering the heels will lower the back side of the coffin bone and will help the tip of the coffin bone begin to raise, which will put less pressure on the sole at the time of break over, put less pressure and stress on the sole under the tip and will allow the coffin bone to begin the ‘de rotation’ process. Lowering the heels alone, however, is not good enough. The toe must be pulled back, meaning the outer hoof wall in the toe region must be rasped down in order to re-establish a good pastern angle for that foot.

Raising the heels is not a good idea because it actually causes the tip of the coffin bone to point more downward, thus causing the horse to stand more on that tip, applying more pressure on the sole, which causes more irritation of the sole, which can cause greater and more frequent ‘bad’ abscesses. Raising the heels tends to have a side affect of causing the sole to bulge and does not allow concavity to return to the foot. Lowering the heels, along with maintaining proper pastern angles, proper medial-lateral balance, maintaining good frog stimulation by keeping them in contact with the ground, relieving stress in the hairline and performing frequent trims, will cause the bone alignment to restore in the hoof and will allow for better, quicker laminar connection. It will also help restore natural concavity to the given hoof without having to pare out the sole to give it man-made concavity.