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Crushed or Under-Run Heels

What are crushed or under-run heels?

Crushed or under-run heels are overgrown heels that have become crushed under the weight load on the foot. Some breeds tend to be more apt to suffer from crushed heels. However, many crushed heels develop as secondary pathology, rather than primary. For example, a horse that suffers a major injury to one front foot will often over-load the other front foot and crush the heels down on the "healthy" foot over time. However, poor trimming and shoeing can cause or perpetuate the process. Under-run heels are a real pathology, however they occur, and are one of the most difficult to fix.

Under-run heels are most often noticed in a horse that has hooves prone to flaring, but upright hooves can also be under-run. In a flared foot, the heels are visibly crushed and the quarters flaring out dramatically. This is often seen on horses with thiner hoof walls and soles due to genetics. Your farrier or vet may tell you this type of horse "can't grow heels", but the truth is, it's overgrown heels,not lack of! This foot will look very "splat" to a casual observer.

Many upright under-run heeled horses seem to be on a long stilt and appear to have plenty of heel.When viewed from the side at ground level, this type of hoof will have a weight-bearing heel starts at the middle of the hoof/leg axis. The toe appears very long and many farriers attempt to keep dubbing the toe back, when in fact, the heels need to be trimmed back.

Overgrown crushed heels
Crushed heels