Managing Toed-In Conformation On Your Horse
EQUESTRIAN COACH ASK THE EXPERTS
Sarah asked the following question:
I’m just wondering if you would mind explaining how toed-in conformation in a horse can be managed, and what is the outcome of training a horse with this fault? Thanks!
Toed-in (or pigeon toed) conformation in horses isn’t a big deal unless it's extreme. The opposite condition, which is splay-footed (toed-out) conformation, is a more serious fault.
When the front legs deviate from correct alignment, this causes an unnatural flight path of the limbs. A horse that's splay-footed travels inward toward the opposite leg, posing the threat of interference with that leg. The toed-in horse paddles as he moves, winging outward and not having a chance of interference with the opposite leg.
As far as managing this fault, I wouldn't recommend corrective farrier work past 2 years of age. When a young horse is still developing, a good farrier can encourage the developing bone structure to correct itself by keeping the inside of the hoof higher and the outside lower.
However, once the bones are developed, attempting corrective shoeing can cause lameness because at that point the horse is used to this alignment and should just have a balanced hoof that supports the way the bone has formed. I always encourage using open front boots to protect your horse’s legs while working, but otherwise I wouldn’t be overly concerned with this deviation.
Please feel free to ask any follow-up questions!
Until next time!