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Our most important lessons as farriers often are learned through that one horse. These cases deliver an education that can’t be duplicated in any classroom. For me, that horse was Stretch.
This big palomino Quarter Horse stood at 17 hands with a muscular build and square frame atop tube-like hooves. His owner Nan Stahl rode this horse for years throughout Sonoma County, Calif., and loved him dearly.
About 10 years into my farrier career was when my education with Stretch began. I kept this horse sound for 2 years until he became lame and was diagnosed by the veterinarian with navicular disease in his left forefoot. This was 1989, before a lot of access to diagnostic tools were readily accessible or used. I struggled with this case. I was young and easily frustrated because I wanted to “fix” Stretch.
I made a deal with Nan. If she bought whatever stock or shoe I needed and documented everything I did, the shoeing would be free. She still insisted paying me for the trim. She kept diligent notes on endless spreadsheets.
At each appointment, we measured both front feet three times: length of toe from the hairline to distal toe tip, width of heel and hoof angle. These three measurements were performed three times: before he was trimmed, after he was trimmed and after the shoe was applied. We documented…