|The old adage, "sound foot-sound horse" is tough to maintain when a horse sustains foot damage, leg injury or his conformation causes him to apply weight unevenly to his feet. In such instances corrective shoeing will be needed to restore strength, durability and balance to the horse's feet and legs.||
A horse showing the results of a white line infection
|Situations such as these are usually both preventable and correctable. To leave such problems uncorrected presents a likelyhood of further infection, deterioration, and eventually the possible loss of the horse!||
A blown away toe
|Sometimes just wear and tear or genetic weakness can result in "poor suspension" and uneven balance at the feet.||
A horse with weak suspensories
A simple formula for keeping most horses sound is this:
The angle of the foot should be such so that when the horse is walking with some energy (not shuffling), he touches down ever so slightly heel first and with his medial and lateral (inside and outside) hoof edges touching the ground at the same time. This form of contact "loads up" the foot correctly and dissipates energy efficiently when the horse puts his weight on it. (It should be noted that some horses with conformation problems may not be able to make even contact, so the farrier should do the best he can with what he has to work with.)
Horizontal toe length is also an issue. Many post legged horses, horses with stifle problems, stumblers and horses with slipper feet (where the front of the hoof tends to curl out) benefit from having their toes blunted back on the front edges or "rockered" in order to relieve toe pressure.
Barefoot horses should bear weight on their bars and sole callouses and their hoof walls should be beveled to miinimize chipping and cracking.
If you are interested in unusual and interesting foot and shoeing situations, check out Danny Love's Farriers' Corner and do some exploring!
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