Why does my horse drag his hind feet?

Farrier Jodhi Beard explains why your horse drags his feet and if it's a problem you need to tackle.

Correct foot balance and shape can help address toe dragging 

Correct foot balance and shape can help address toe dragging 

Why does my horse drag his hind feet?

Horses drag their hind feet for many reasons, but the main influences are the rider, the horse's conformation or shoeing problems. 

Horses can have a high or low limb carriage - this is the flight path the limb takes as it progresses through the stride.

Low limb carriage, which can cause dragging of the toe, can be due to low heel, long toe foot conformation.

Excessive toe wall thickness can also be a contributing factor. 

What problems can cause my horse to drag his feet?

Ailments such as curb (sprain of the plantar ligament) can also make your horse reluctant to stride correctly.

If he's uncomfortable, he may not want to engage his hind end correctly so any lameness or discomfort will contribute to him dragging his feet, especially that associated with the hock, such as bone spavin. 

Things you have control over could also be the cause of your horse's toe dragging. 

For example, if your horse is tired or unfit, if you school him on a deep surface (which is harder work for him), or if you're not using the correct aids or working him on a correct contact, you could be unintentionally encouraging him to be lazy behind. 

Finally, it's worth having your horse checked to ensure he has no discomfort in his back and that his saddle fits correctly

Issues in these areas could also make it difficult to use his hind limbs correctly. 

If you're worried, chat with your farrier and vet to confirm the cause and find the best way to manage it.