Caldwell Figure 1

Challenging Common Shoeing Beliefs

Scientific investigation on shoe placement and other topics of farriery continue to affect widely-held theories


Pictured Above: Figure 1 shows a good example of a typical English hunter front shoe-fit style. This style of shoeing is designed for horses working at high speed over mixed terrain. The heels of the foot are reduced in height so as to extend the bearing border palmar/plantar with the heels of the shoe dressed and fitted to correspond to the shape and angle of the heel buttress so as to minimize premature shoe loss and injury. The overall fit is described as a peripheral outline fit and would normally be employed in conjunction with a reduced shoeing cycle of between 21 to 28 days. This technique was thought to enable the horse maximum grip over variable terrain, while allowing the hoof to free its bearing border of undesirable debris, such as compacted mud and/or stones. Photos: Mark Caldwell

Shoeing horses has often been termed a “necessary evil.” Certainly, it is not natural, but neither is the domesticated life most horses must endure. Domestication results in a separation of the horse from the natural environment and lifestyle that directed its evolution. The “unnatural” conditions of domestication usually include wet climates, restricted activity, changes in nutrition and breeding factors, often imbalanced human “training” and, of course, trimming and shoeing. The hoof’s form and function are direct expressions of a horse’s environment, management, manner of movement or locomotion and amount and type of physical activity in addition to the standards of farriery care.

Domestication promotes potentially damaging changes in healthy hoof shape…

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