Everything I know is what I read in the American Farriers Journal, The July/August issue:
Here are some notes from farrier Simon Curtis; he says the hoof isn’t a solid, rigid structure but it’s a flexible organ. The horse is suspended in the hoof capsule. That stuff that we trim off to feed the dogs is made up of keratin, tonofilaments, keratinocytes and desmosomes. Feet start growing when the foal is born and the average foal foot is about 60°. Conformation of the feet start to change rapidly due to the conformation of the foal and ground reaction forces.
Jeremy McGovern did a ride-along with farrier Doug Neilson. Neilson talks a lot about controlling distortion of the foot. This is the name of the game, if the foot didn’t distort we would just bolt the shoes on and be done with it. Neilson notes that feet that have a distortion for example in a lateral toe will have a distortion in the medial heel. This goes back to what I talked about in an earlier blog and how the foot grow around Center of Rotation.
In an article titled “What Eventing Riders Want Farriers to Know” an eventing trainer admits that many competitors especially trainers fancy themselves as amateur farriers, boy that’s a revelation. This brings up some good points one of which is why farriers need to be educated so they can explain how the changes they make affect the feet and horse. Another good point is that when a client doesn’t trust or respect the expertise of the farrier it’s best for the farrier to let that client go. I can tell you from personal experience that working for a client that doesn’t trust you is a bad deal, you can’t make enough bread out of rocks to keep them happy.
In Hoof-Care Research there was an article about two studies conducted at Western Kentucky University.One was on the potential benefits hoof boots can have on bare-foot horses, the other study was on how the effect of hoof boots changed pressure distribution on the foot. Guess what the conclusion was? Hoof boot do offer protection for horses that go bare-foot. This is ground-breaking information. Someone should do a study to see if nailing a piece of steel on the bottom of the foot would help as well.
In Therapeutic Shoeing farrier Wayne Preece discusses strategies for correct biomechanical function, here are a few of his thoughts; a foot is a 3-dimensional structure that occupies different coordinates to meet in the center, the point that we call equilibrium. We need a hoof that doesn’t cause undue stress to any part of the limb above it. What ever we do to the hoof affects the whole horse. millimeters can affect posture. The foot is being crushed between the descending body weight and a certain static reaction force. The horse is pushing down and the ground is pushing up. When we have optimal blood supply we have good foot balance, level footfall, even growth of horn, good joint alignment and good biomechanical function.
“Doc” Redden talks about developing your eye for evaluating detail of the foot. Doc says one of the most effective methods of learning observation of the equine foot is through sketching. I personally learned this from him years ago and its helped me a ton in figuring out the mechanics of the foot and educating clients. Doc says that people have different visual perspectives, knowledge, experience and interpretive values. To help vets, farriers and owners communicate on the same page, we need common ground that brings our perspectives into a close resemblance so meaningful decisions can be made….Good Advice.