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


Sheared Heels, Coronet Not Same Height at Heels or Quarters of Hoof


Looking at your horse's foot from behind, you notice one heel appears higher than the other. In other words, the coronary band is not level. It is higher medial or lateral (inside or outside) The "sheared" heel is higher than the normal heel. This condition results from unbalanced forces being applied over a long period of time to one side of the ground surface of the hoof wall or another. It can occur in either hind or front feet.

Unbalanced forces often result from limb conformational abnormalities (angular limbs). An example might be a horse that toes out significantly and bears more weight on the inside of the hoof. In this case, the tendency might be to drive the coronet band higher on the inside. Hoof care and management can either help or worsen this condition.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.

your role


What To Do

It is always wise to promptly bring changes in hoof appearance to the attention of your farrier. They may recommend a shoeing or trimming prescription to reduce upward forces on the affected heel.

In some cases, sheared heel may be associated with lameness, and a veterinary lameness exam will be needed. Assess your horse for lameness at walk and trot, but realize that you may miss subtle lameness. It may be helpful to take a photo of the heels directly from behind, with the horse standing square on level concrete, and with the hooves cleaned out. Share this ohoto with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet will assess the horse's conformation, the specifics of the hoof abnormality and will perform a lameness exam. At that point, they will provide diagnosis and options for treatment.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Is there digital pulse or heat in foot?
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • How does this foot compare to the others?
  • Do you notice any lameness?
  • Do you notice a hoof wall crack associated with this?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP