Expert Exchange


Dr. Strasser and Sabine Kells on Hoofcare
Reprinted from The Horse's Hoof, Volume 1, Issue 4

Q: What do you do with a horse who has a suspensory problem? My vet says that he must have shoes on while the suspensory is healing, then can go barefoot after it is healed.

A: Dr. Strasser - "Suspensory problems" come from too little blood supply because of shoeing or contracted hooves. Such problems can only heal without shoeing, with enough movement, and with good blood circulation. Restore hoof mechanism by trimming the hoof into natural form.

A: Sabine Kells - My first question would be, what are the symptoms, and is it really a suspensory problem or perhaps edema (swelling) due to reduced circulation in the lower leg (reduced hoof mechanism)? Secondly, even real suspensory problems will virtually always (except for direct injury) have to do with overstressing due to heel pain, so the true cause should likely be sought in the foot. Third, regarding the suggestion to shoe the horse until the suspensory problem is healed, how can reducing circulation, temperature, and cellular metabolism in the leg (see thermographic images of horses' legs with shod hooves) contribute to quicker healing? If anything, it will delay any healing or even prevent it from taking place (though the horse has amazing regenerative powers and frequently heals, at least to some degree, despite everything we unintentionally do to prevent healing).

Q: What can you do about uneven leg lengths? The farriers say that a pad must be placed on the short leg to even the horse out, and of course this means shoes.

A: Dr. Strasser - It is a misunderstanding to say that a horse can have "uneven leg length"; the legs are not uneven, but rather the shoulder muscles are cramped on one side and shorten one flexor tendon more than on the other leg. A natural trim combined with muscle massage and energy treatment helps to relax the muscles. Then the "shorter" limb "grows".
I never have seen or heard about differences in bone length, however if it is the case, then it is possible to leave one hoof (hornwall) longer than the other. [HOOFPRINT END TEXT SYMBOL]

Dr. Hiltrud Strasser is a German veterinarian who has been researching lameness for 20 years, and her startling discoveries are revolutionizing hoofcare. Sabine Kells is a Certified Strasser Hoofcare Specialist, Strasser Instructor, and co-author of the Strasser Certification Textbook.

Reproduced courtesy of The Horse's Hoof, PO Box 40, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340-9998,

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