Tips for Recognizing and Creating Equine Hoof Shapes

Training your eye to understand the contours of the foot is critical to forging it at the anvil

Pictured Above: International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame member J. Scott Simpson shared the five common hoof shapes — Norman (top left), Stubby (top center), Spike (top right), Tag (bottom left) and Ralph (bottom right)

Farrier Takeaways

  • You have to understand the shape that you’re creating before you can make it at the anvil.
  • Every shape on the hoof exists on the horn. Learn these arcs and use the horn as a die to build efficiency and flow into shoe shapes.
  • The horizon line on the horn is important because it can and will move as the stock is being bent/turned around the horn.

A farrier’s eye for seeing shape is one of the underrated skills that farriers develop. Yet, a farrier’s eye and the ability to efficiently work the horn of the anvil often go hand-in-hand.

Learning to efficiently shape a shoe to a hoof has one of the largest learning curves in shoeing horses. International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame member Dr. Doug Butler of Crawford, Neb., wrote Shoeing in Your Right Mind to help farriers train their eyes to see balance, symmetry and asymmetry.

The late J. Scott Simpson, a fellow Hall of Famer from Walla Walla, Wash., studied five basic hoof shapes that corresponded with P3. The work done by both of these iconic men in the industry will help train your eye and develop a system for shaping shoes.

This article will discuss elements of hoof and shoe shape, and techniques to effectively create that shape using…

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Tiffany gardner

Tiffany Gardner CJF, APF-I

Tiffany Gardner, CJF, APF operates Gardners Equine farrier service in Arlington, Texas. She’s a graduate of Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, Calif.

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