The Pros and Cons of Top Dressing the Foot

Farriers discuss the benefits, potential problems and value

Pictured Above: Distortions typically occur in the bottom half of the foot, and top dressing is usually needed only in the affected areas, John Voigt says.

Farriers agree on the definition of top dressing as the practice of rasping the top side of the hoof to remove any flares or other distortions before shaping the shoe and putting it on. Not all agree, though, that it’s the right thing to do.

Chris Broadus, a Shelbyville, Ky., farrier who shoes Thoroughbred horses, says he caught a lot of flak about a year ago when he posted on a farriers’ social media site that he doesn’t top dress his horses’ feet.

“I don’t do that,” he says. “I take out all of the flares and distortions from the bottom, running my rasp around the edge to shape the foot that I want.”

Farrier Takeaways

  • Top dressing involves rasping the foot to remove distortions and achieve uniform hoof wall thickness before the shoe is applied.
  • Top dressing should follow the coronary band and the inside of the white line to conform with the shape and location of the coffin bone.
  • Correctly done, top dressing enables solid nailing and better-fitting shoes.

That’s the way Broadus was taught to do it, he adds, “but more importantly, I believe it leaves a stronger foot on the horse. I’ve found with my horses that not top dressing creates a stronger foot over a period of time.”

Broadus believes his approach removes less of the hoof, and his…

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Ron perszewski

Ron Perszewski

Ron Perszewski is a freelance writer and former associate editor of Ameri­can Farriers Journal.

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