No Foot, No Horse

That is the saying on the bill I receive from my farrier. I never really thought much about its importance until my mare turned 4 year old and had a late growth spurt.

When I bought her as a “coming 3 year old” she was a petite little girl, with petite little legs and hooves to match. Then, as she approached her 4 fourth year, she grew both in height and girth; my “petite little girl” wasn’t so petite anymore. Unfortunately, her petite little legs still had tiny feet attached to them. She ended up with some lameness problems stemming from her strong athletic ability not being supported by her little “tootsies”.

A trip to the good Dr. Bennett in Kentucky identified this problem and with his suggestions for different shoeing (and lots of rest since she had a tear in her suspensory ligament) we now have a sound mare ready for the coming show season.

The article, “Study: Farrier Selection Impacts More That Hoof Shape” published on discusses a farrier’s role in keeping horse sound and in the show ring:

Forty dressage and show jumping horses, divided into six groups, were trimmed and shod by one of six selected farriers over a period of one year. Their hooves were periodically evaluated and compared by radiographic exam. Of 15 variable parameters evaluated, 14 differed significantly among farriers, according to an article based on the study and forthcoming in The Veterinary Journal. Parameters included dorsal wall length, hoof angle, sole thickness, the distance from the cannon bone to the toe and wall, and other lengths and angles measured from front and side views.

The article went on to say:

Although all the parameters can affect the hoof’s shape, toe length and mediolateral (side-to-side) hoof balance are most important for the horse’s overall soundness, said Martin Kummer, DVM, Dipl. ECVS, chief assistant in the Equine Hospital at the University of Zurich and primary author of the study. “The length of toe influences the point of break-over, (and) the mediolateral hoof balance could influence the loading pattern of the joint surfaces,” he noted.

The article also discussed that although there are outside variables that influence hoof development, it would be beneficial to establish guidelines to help standardize certain aspect of shoeing horses.

I thought the article was insightful and thought provoking, as I know how miserable I am when MY feet hurt! For more information visit for the full article.

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