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There’s More to Toe Length than Meets the Eye

Toe length is relative to each horse and many factors should be considered for what is best for a particular horse


Pictured Above: When it comes to toe length, which measurement are we referring to? Too often when working with non-farriers, the perception of “looking long” by many clients is not only misguided, but often times ignores what is best for the horse.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Farriers must be able to communicate with owners about toe length, particularly those who don’t understand negative consequences of excessive shortening.
  • Preserving sole depth is of the utmost importance in trimming the foot and in regard to toe length.

Which toe length do we talk about? What — there is more than one?

No doubt we all discuss toe length, but exactly what toe length do we mean? Most people will comment that feet are too long simply by looking at the dorsal aspect of the hoof.

There are actually three places to measure toe length; all are interconnected structurally and usually have minimums, which are required to have a hoof that is protective, mechanically optimum and strong. There are anatomical and mechanical strengths gained from that interconnection. A sacrifice of any one of those lengths will compromise the hoof and its function.

Three Measurements

The first measurement — the most visual and one frequently referred to by veterinarians and horse owners — is the dorsal wall toe length, measured along the dorsal wall. Often done by sight (the complaint would be that “it just looks long”), it is generally considered the shorter measurement would be the better. For some reason, the concept that a horse…

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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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