TOE FIRST LANDING FOR HORSES IS BAD
Howdy Friends! Horses choose how they land on their feet just like we do. If we have a blister, or bruise, we change our foot landing to avoid discomfort. This then will effect the rest of the body. Putting stress and pressure where it’s not intended to be.
If horses land toe first, they are avoiding putting full weight on their heels. If they land flat, they are still avoiding total impact on their heels. However, a flat landing may be the best some horses can do. We just want to avoid a toe first landing.
Why would horses avoid a heel first landing?
The answer is, something hurts. Something is interfering, or something is weak. The horse is protecting their heels by not landing fully on them. But by protecting their heels, they end up damaging other areas of their body. And by continuing to avoid landing on their heels, their heels never get stronger or able to bear the horse’s full weight and impact of movement.
Healthy hooves do occasionally land toe first when moving uphill, digging in while taking off at speed, or on slippery ground. But this is a temporary function of mobility. Not a condition of impairment.
What causes a toe first landing?
Many things. From thrush, weak frogs, weak digital cushion, pain in the back of the foot.
Tight tendons, thin soles, low grade laminitis (studying your horse’s foot landing could avoid a full blown laminitic event in the future). Old injuries, arthritis, and other body issues higher up than the foot. Improper hoof care or trimming.
What are the results of consistent toe first landings?
Further breakdown and weakness of the digital cushion and frog. There will be continued pain and discomfort, a weak stride, and weak and painful under saddle. Of course the toe will continue to be too long and heels will underrun and collapse. There will be damage to the coffin bone, and an unhealthy hoof capsule.
Landing toe first is a symptom of other issues, not the problem!
Asses your horse. Have someone lead your horse at at walk, a trot or gait. Videos can help. I can actually see if a horse is a toe first mover when the horse is not moving. As toe first breaks down all aspects of proper posture. Another tip, if the digital cushion is weak, cracked or not there, the horse is moving toe first.
Repair is not that difficult. Proper hoof trimming. Move those toes and heels back. Study, learn and do body carriage and posture exercises. Many in my book, “IT’S FOR THE HORSES” It does take time, don’t be discouraged. Some of the changes will be quick, the totality will be months. But for your horse, it’s worth it. ~ Gitty Up, Dutch.