Equine Body Conformation Should Inform Your Approach to Farriery

Rotational, flexural and angular deviations result in hoof-care needs that are unique from horse to horse and hoof to hoof

Farrier Takeaways

  • Different conformational deviations occur within each discipline, breed and genetic line.
  • Every detail of a horse’s life offers the farrier information that can be used to help the horse.
  • A 4-week trimming schedule is ideal because the farrier starts losing a couple of degrees each week beyond that and it’s hard to catch up.

Conformation refers to the physical appearance and outline of a horse, and is dictated primarily by bone and muscle structures. Although every discipline, every breed and every genetic line has deviations, it’s a sensitive subject for many equine caregivers. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter how receptive the caregiver is to what you are trying to do and help the horse — somehow it still inflicts pain in their brain when you say something “negative” about their animal. For this reason, it is important to handle the subject with care. 

Our objective as farriers addressing conformation is to allow that animal to perform to the best of its ability with what it has, and enhance it. The way that we do this is through our attention to detail. Early on I made the mistake of thinking that my job was from the hairline down and I was humbled many times and taught that wasn’t quite so. Every detail is important; everything around you and every part of that equine’s life is important to your ability to help them. Fine-tuning your observational skills and understanding the types of conformational deviations you are likely to encounter…

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Michael wildenstein 0913

Michael Wildenstein

Michael Wildenstein is one of only three people in the world to have passed the distinguished Fellow of the Worshipful Com­pany of Farriers examination in the United Kingdom with an “Honors” designation. He is the former adjunct associate professor of Farrier Medicine and Surgery in the Department of Clinical Sciences of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.

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