Supporting the Horse’s Foot with a Horseshoe

When a horse needs ‘support,’ are farriers and clients on the same page for what this means?

Pictured Above: Support often means how we approach the back half of the foot, but the front half is to not be ignored.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Don’t think that support only comes on the heel or caudal aspects of the shoe.
  • Each of the four segments of weight-bearing has support requirements that are rapidly changing.
  • Don’t disregard client questions regarding “support.” Take time to educate them through discussion.

“Extrinsic and intrinsic factors acting upon a body providing static and dynamic stability so that body can function without failure.”

The statement above defines “support.” I have heard colleagues share their opinions of support for many years. I have even heard farriers say that some support can become leverage. Some others think it is a stupid word and can’t explain it. However, any mechanically insufficient feature that causes body instability to the point where a horse has to compensate or cannot compensate for it, that feature becomes unsupportive, causes inefficient movement and possibly lameness.

Support comes in many forms and requirements for the horse. It comes first through the bones and associated anatomy that enable a horse to stand, hold its feet and legs in the correct position and move the anatomically correct way; for example to push from the hind legs to jump a fence. Support also comes in the form of shoes. The list of shoe considerations includes length (enough to keep the horse from rocking back when at mid-stance) traction, resistance and substrate but there are many more.

Many farriers…

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Randy luikart 2014

Randy S Luikart

Randy Luikart is a Hall of Fame farrier based in Ashland, Ohio. He has shod horses for more than 50 years and is a past president of the American Farrier’s Association.

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