How Hind End Geometry Improves Performance and Balance

Cornell University Farrier Steve Kraus explains the geometrical effects of trimming and shoeing

Pictured Above: In the impact phase, there are a lot of forces that affect the lower part of the limb. As the horse moves over the foot, the forces travel up the limb. During the thrusting phase, these forces are going back down the limb. In the swing phase, they’re traveling farther up the leg as the horse is extending. As the swing phase is completed, it goes farther up the backside of the leg.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Proper geometry is facilitated with trimming for hoof alignment with the load above the hoof.
  • Hind-end engagement maintains front-end soundness and the hind feet are often fitted differently than the front feet.
  • Hind-end engagement and soundness are diminished with faulty conformation or inadequate shoeing.
  • A horse with a proper hind end and a marginal front end is preferable to the opposite.

Car manufacturers know placing the power at the rear of the vehicle allows for better balance. Nearly all race cars are rear-wheel drive so that when accelerating from a stop, the vehicle’s weight transfers to the back of the car and provides increased traction.

In many respects, the horse is the race car of the animal kingdom, a rear-view drive mammal with its hind end functioning as a piston, says Steve Kraus, head of Farrier Services and Senior Lecturer of Large Animal Surgery at Cornell University.

The certified journeyman farrier points to draft horses as proof. Heavy horses needed to stay sound so they could do draft-type work and buyers selected horses…

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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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