Calvary Axe

Evidence-based Farriery is Revolutionizing Hoof Care

Scientific study is measuring the effectiveness of anecdotal traditions


Pictured Above: The expression “no hoof, no horse” comes from the cavalry when a soldier was required to present his deceased horse’s hoof to receive a new one. The soldiers would have this axe in their possession to carry out that duty. The axe is part of Douglas Bradbury’s collection at the United Kingdom Horseshoeing Museum in Derbyshire, England.

No foot, no horse.” What does that mean?

Originally, it came from the cavalry. A soldier needed the hoof of his deceased horse in order to receive a new one. Today, however, the expression has come to emphasize the importance of caring for our horses’ hooves.

It has been widely documented that shoeing has a direct effect on the musculoskeletal system of the horse.1

Farrier Takeaways

  • The relatively recent introduction of objective evidence-based farriery research is moving hoof care away from traditional, anecdotal evidence and personal experience.
  • Scientific research has recently concluded that hoof anatomy and biomechanics are closely interlinked, therefore establishing that farriery interventions have a significant effect on equine locomotion.
  • The lack of evidence-based research into farriery techniques causes many of them to be subjective.

Until recently, farriery has been based on tradition, anecdotal evidence and personal experience. With the introduction of objective locomotion assessment and, importantly, pressure plate systems, a new revolution of evidence-based farriery research is taking place.2

Scientific study of the relationship between hoof balance and the wider musculoskeletal system is still in its infancy. However, with the expression that began this article, it’s…

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Yogi Sharp

By Yogi Sharp, DipWCF, a farrier based in Brighton, England, studies the relationships and effects that hoof care has on the rest of the equine body.

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