What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Winging In, Front Hoof Swings Inward Toward other Limb


The travel of the hooves in movement is primarily related to a horse's conformation. This arc of flight - "winging in" - is typical for horses that toe out, whether base wide or narrow. Horses whose forelimbs travel this way are inclined to interfere (hit the opposite limb with the hoof). They also tend to acquire medial splints, and you will often see these bumps on the inside of the cannon region of the limbs.

As long as the tendency for winging in is moderate, it is not considered a major unsoundness. However, recognize that any deviation from correct conformation produces unequal loading of the joints and ligaments of the limb, and therefore may predispose to certain lameness conditions.

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    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the horse is lame or interference becomes a significant problem.

your role


What To Do

Notice the arc of flight when your horse is walking back toward you on a flat surface. Examine the inside of the cannon regions for hard bumps (splints) and feel the insides of the lower limbs for interference scars.

Assess for lameness at the walk and trot. For horses with conformational abnormalities and changes in arc of flight of the limbs, it is particularly important to maintain a consistent shoeing or trimming interval. These horses tend to grow long flared outside (lateral) hoof walls.

Performance horses may benefit from splint boots and bell boots to reduce injury from interference. Talk to your farrier about shoeing and trimming, which should be aimed at shortening breakover and balancing the hooves. However, the aim should not be to try to correct, but to manage the condition.

What Not To Do

Do not try to "correct" conformational defects or gait through shoeing or trimming, without expert guidance. You can do more harm than good.

your vet's role

Your vet considers conformational differences like this when evaluating lameness. Particular conformational changes predispose to particular conditions and your vet will be on the lookout for those.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Do you notice lameness now?
  • Is the horse performing to your expectation under saddle?
  • Is there limb to limb contact in movement (interference)?
  • Does this horse have a history of lameness?
  • What is the status of your horse's hoof care and shoeing?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP