Hooves and Farriery

INTRODUCTION TO SADDLEBRED SHOEING AND ITS FUNCTION

We believe that a horse needs to be balanced and comfortable to allow optimum athleticism with minimum stress and concussion on each leg. Horse’s hooves are all different, unique in shape and size. Each horse has a natural ability and can be taught to use its legs to the highest form of its own athletic agility. No horse can be manipulated through the hoof to deliver an action more than its conformation allows for. We believe that a horses hoof and shoe should be suitable to the individual horse’s size, allowing for a solid ground bearing surface, lightness through the hand and maximum athletic capacity.

A trainer in conjunction with the Farrier may enhance a horse’s movement by adjusting the shoeing style. The style may be manipulated by raising/dropping hoof angles, growing its own natural hoof, adding shock absorbing materials, adding wedges and changing the actual shoe. These will all have an extended effect from the hoof. A horse’s length of stride and cadence may be enhanced by simple angle changes, while forging, pointing and break over points need specialised shoes in order to correct the fault. Each division needs a different type of shoe, similar to dancers that perform in ballet and dancers that  ap dancer.

A show shoe should always be supported by a pad. The pad is placed between the hoof and the shoe protecting the horse from concussion at elevated speeds.

Correct Saddlehorse shoeing can be compared to a running shoe. A running shoe wedges outward to give the runner a larger ground bearing surface. The show shoe and padding follow the natural widening contour of the hoof wall towards the ground. The shoe becomes a natural extension of the hoof. The widened base supports a larger ground bearing surface as if it was a running shoe. The running shoe is supported with rubber or gel cushions where the human foot would rest absorbing shock and concussion. The leather padding alleviates shock and concussion on the hoof and joints while the soft medicinal soul packing acts like a gel cushion in the running shoe. Unlike people, each horse has a custom made pair of shoes. The shoes and padding should provide enough support to sustain maxim flexibility while acting as an optimal shock absorbing system.

  • ABOUT THE HOOF

GROWTH AND FUNCTION OF THE HOOF

Horses hooves grow continually, to maintain balance they should be trimmed regularly on a six week cycle. It takes approximately eight months for a new horn formed on the coronary band to grow down the foot. Horn quality reflects the bodily condition of an animal and only reflects the condition once it’s grown down the hoof and becomes the bearing surface. The horn of the hoof wall is formed on the coronary band consisting of tubules growing downward. The pedal bone is attached to the hoof wall by laminae. The white line bonds the sole to the wall. The frog and sole are not prime weight bearing areas and are sensitive. The frog needs stimulation to pump blood back up towards the heart

WEIGHT BEARING SURFACE

The horn of the foot is not sensitive. The hoof wall is formed exclusively from the coronary band while the sole and frog are derived from the solar corium from the base of the pedal bone. The sole is designed in an arch to protect the sensitive corium from bearing weight. The weight of the horse is supported by the ground surface of the wall and the rim of the sole. The bulk of the sole is clear off the ground, while the frog just clears the ground while the horse is motionless. During impact from movement, the heels expand, lowering the frog to a contact point, stimulating blood flow back up the legs towards the heart.

TRIMMIMG AND BALANCING THE FOOT

Before the horse is trimmed, you need to examine the horse’s conformation, hooves in comparison to conformation, natural wear and the horse’s movement. You need to observe if the feet and legs move in alignment with the body, check for sufficient clearance in stride between hind and front feet, check for sufficient vertical raise for ground clearance and for any signs of lameness.

When the foot is prepared for re-shoeing it needs to be trimmed to replace the normal wear like an unshod horse. A trim should bring the hoof back to a normal slope bearing in mind that a horse lands heel first. Generally, the heels, quarters and toe grow at approximately the same tempo. The frog and sole should be trimmed, ensuring that the frog has clearance from the sole to be able to clean with a hoof knife. The trim should rebalance the foot, keeping the bearing surface level.  The horn of the heels should match the horn of the toe in slope. The horn viewed from the front view, the ground bearing surface from the medial to lateral sides, should be 90 degrees to the limb axis. From the side view the hoof slope should match the pastern slope. Trimming of the sole and the frog are necessary to maintain proportions in horses that are permanently shod. It is recommended to start with the worst foot first. Angles should be gauged. Irregularities of the outer surface wall can be removed by rasping.

THE SHOE, FITTING AND NAILING

Shoeing prevents natural hoof wear and spreads the load around the hoof wall preventing segments of the horn from coming under pressure resulting in damage to that segment. The shoe surface needs to be level so that the weight can be distributed equally over the hoof with no pressure points. The shape of the shoe should follow the natural weight bearing surface of the hoof. The branch behind the last nail hole should always be set a little wider, yet always ensure that the branch still supports the heel of the hoof. If the hoof rests entirely on the leather without the support of the shoe, the hoof will rest on the pad for support. The pliable pad gives way resulting in the heel resting on the inside branch of the shoe. This will force the heel to contract due to the landing pressure applied by the horse landing heel first. Nails should present a short hold on the wall with clenches seated downwards and tight. We prefer the use of a small and thin nail to reduce damage to the hoof wall. Always ensure while driving your nail that it remains on the outer edge of the white line. The last nail hole in the shoe should be set at the widest part of the hoof. When driving the nail, weak and cracked areas should be avoided. The heavier the shoe, the more laboured the movement will become. Be sure that you fit the shoe to the hoof, not the hoof to the shoe and provide ample support.

HOOF CARE AND ROUTINE MAITENANCE

Hooves need to be cleaned daily to prevent unsanitary diseases such as thrush. Stables need to be dry and clean in order to prevent white line disease.

Dressings are recommend to keep hoof soft and pliable. The dressing should be massaged into the horn of the coronary band. The moisture content of the hoof varies according to the footing the horse is exposed to.

CORRECTIVE SHOEING TECHNIQUES

It is vital that hoof care and corrective processes are started in foals before the age of 6 months. When they reach 6 months, their bones start setting up till they turn two. Corrective procedures can be applied at any age to correct stance and motion.

TOE OUT

Usually associated with a narrow chested horse, it will appear narrow through the shoulders while hooves appear to be base wide. Normal hoof wear and landing on toe out would be in the inner/medial side of the hoof. Correct by levelling the hoof landing surface. Over correction would entail lowering the outer/lateral side of the hoof.

TOE IN

Usually found in big chested horses, hooves will appear to be base narrow. Normal wear and landing for a toe in horse would be on the outer/lateral side of the hoof.  Correct by levelling the hoof landing surface. Over correction would entail lowering the inner/medial side of the hoof.

COW HOCKED OR BOW LEGGED

Cow hocked would present when a horse is toed-out on the hind feet, while bow legged is toed-in . They are corrected in the same format as the front hooves as mentioned under toe in and toe out.

PADDLING/DISHING

Normally found in a pigeon toed horse, the break over is on the outside portion of the toe resulting in the leg swinging outward in flight to compensate. To correct, set break over at the centre of the toe. Set the shoe wider on the lateral side.  If the case is severe, had a small toe calk on the outside toe and roll the inner toe. This should encourage break over on the inner toe

KNOCKING OF THE KNEE

Normally found in horses that are toed out, the break over is on the outside portion of the toe resulting in the leg swinging inward in flight to compensate. To correct, set break over at the centre of the toe. Set the shoe tighter on the medial side.

HOCK STIKING/BRUSHING

Normally found in horses that are cow hocked, hind legs tend to strike the opposite leg with their hoof. Correct by forging a square toe shoe with a trailer on the outside of the heel. The shoe should be set back under the hoof while the inner branch follows the hoof contour.

ROPE WALKING

Normally found in horses that are bow legged.  These horses tend to move in an outward arc, twisting the heel out and landing base narrow. Correct by forging a square toe shoe with a substantial heel calk on the outside heel only. The calk assists in elimination the twisting of the leg.

FORGING AND OVER-REACHING 

Forging is when the toe of the hind shoe lands on the heel branch of the front shoe. In most cases the front and back feet are travelling at the same speed. Over-reaching is seen when the hind foot lands on the front bulb or deep on the heel branches of the shoe where it can hook and step off the front shoe or stumble from the delayed flight action of the front hoof.

To correct these, the front feet need to be trimmed to increase break-over speed or by slowing the hind feet.

These types of interference could be a result of faulty conformation, incorrect training, poor riding, heavy shoes, long hooves and fatigue in the horse. Horses do not have a tendency to forge while barefoot. First examine the reason before attempting an altered result.

ELBOW HITTING

Normally found in horses with excessive height in their stride. Forge a flat toed, heel weighted shoe and raise the hoof angle by about 2 degrees. The flat toe will delay break over, opening the stride for the horse to maintain its flight. If extra aid is necessary, a crease may be forged into the toe extending around to the first nail hole of each branch.

CORRECTIVE SHOES AND THEIR ACTION

LATERAL EXTENSION SHOE

The outer portion extends beyond the hoof wall and inner toe is rolled. Corrects lateral deviations

LATERAL EXTENSION SHOE WITH A GRAB

The outer portion extends beyond the hoof wall, a grab is added on the outer toe and inner toe is rolled. Corrects lateral deviations in severe cases

EXTENDED TOE CALK SHOE

A flat, triangular extension from the outer toe of the shoe. Corrects the point of break over.

SQUARE TOE SHOE

The square toe is used on a hind foot. It aids in centring toe break over. To be set on the white line of the toe.

OFFSET SQUARE TOE SHOE

The offset toe is used on a hind foot. It aids in centring the toe break over. To be set on the white line of the toe.

CALK HIND SHOE 

The heel calk makes the first contact with the ground and eliminates twisting on the landing and strike off

LEATHER PADS, PLASTIC PADS, WEDGES AND ACCESORIES

Leather pads are placed between the show shoe and hoof. They act as shock absorbers and protect the sole from bruising. They are the same thickness from toe to heel.

Rim pads are made from leather or plastic. The centre is cut away to expose the solar surface of the hoof. The rim pad acts as a shock absorber.

Wedge Pads are a plastic pad used to change the hoof angle. It tapers like a wedge, thin on one side gradually increasing volume to a thick side

Clamp band is used to add extra security in holding the shoe and padding on the hoof, distributing the weight over the entire hoof instead of relying solely on the nails

Hoof packing is essential when a horse wears pads that cover the solar surface to replace natural moisture normally found under the hoof.

For more Information please contact: THINUS RADEMAN – 083 925 5808