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Increased Knowledge of the Equine Anatomy Can Help Farriers Improve Hoof Care

The choices farriers make in trimming and shoeing should take into account bones, tendons and other internal structures of the limbs


Pictured Above: Cody Gregory, farrier and instructor at Heartland Horseshoeing School in Missouri discusses the structures that make up the equine anatomy during a GE Forge Goodwill Clinic in Ocala, Fla.

The choices farriers make when trimming and shoeing to achieve a certain result are going to have an impact on the entire equine limb and, at times, may result in unintended consequences. Understanding the anatomy of the equine limb beyond the hoof can help reduce the chances of a farrier’s action having an adverse reaction elsewhere. It can also improve the quality of communication among equine colleagues.

Cody Gregory, an instructor at Heartland Horseshoeing School in Lamar, Mo., offered a primer on equine anatomy as part of the GE Forge and Tool Goodwill Clinic at the grand opening of Ocala’s Farrier Supply. Gregory discussed bones, front and hind limb anatomy, joints and tendons.

Bones in the Front Limb

A horse has five main types of bone structures: flat, sesamoid, long, short and irregular. Each type of bone serves different purposes, Gregory says. Flat bones, like ribs or the skull, protect vital organs. Sesamoids are small bones that allow the horse to change the direction of pull.

Farrier Takeaways

  • When discussing the location of bones or other structures within the equine anatomy, using the correct terminology will ensure all members of the horse’s management team are on the same page.
  • Raising and changing the angle of the horse’s heel puts more strain on one tendon and less on another —…
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Kristen Kubisiak

Kristen Kubisiak has been a writer and photographer with newspapers and magazines for 15 years. A native of Wisconsin, she is the Managing Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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