Upper Body Straightness is Key to Jumper Success

Wisconsin farrier relies on rockers and a two-plane approach to trim

Pictured Above: As a predominantly cold shoer, Martin Roche relies on a stall jack (left) and his rockering jig (below), which have been modified to stand at about waist height, for shaping and putting mechanics in shoes.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Martin Roche’s philosophy is to shoe the horse so it can do its job. For the work required of the jumper, he prefers the rocker toe shoe.
  • Roche focuses on two main areas when assessing a horse for the first time: upper body straightness and direction of breakover in the hind feet — straight or medial.
  • Understanding the discipline of the horse that you are shoeing and being able to communicate with trainers and riders about what they are experiencing is an extremely useful skill in developing shoeing solutions.

At no other time in the history of horseshoeing have farriers had more hoof-care options than they do right now. What they can’t buy, talented farriers can custom build at the forge and anvil, or create from their own ingenuity using modern materials. As a result, it is tempting to look to shoes as the be-all-end-all answer to hoof-care problems. Blanchardville, Wis., farrier Martin Roche prefers to look to the horse.

Roche, who splits his time among boarding barns, individual clients, Lodi Veterinary Care clinic and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Veterinary Medicine, has been a farrier for 25-plus years. He obtained his early horseshoeing education — and the philosophy that guides him to this day — from his mentor and…

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