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How to Evaluate Medial-Lateral Balance of a Horse’s Hoof

The key to the outcome is how the leg bears weight

I was taught in horseshoeing school the methods to evaluate medial-lateral balance (transverse plane) of a horse’s hoof by picking up the leg and sighting down the leg to check the perpendicular status of the heels to the plane of the hoof and leg

There are tools you can purchase that allow visual assistance to evaluate the perpendicular status of the hoof and heels in relation to the hanging leg. We all have been to clinics where the clinician has shown us different methods to position ourselves with respect to the distal limb so that these positions do not skew our observations. We all have been taught and is easily demonstrated that moving the leg in any manner can skew the observation of this relationship. Unfortunately, if you have 100 people evaluating this relationship, it’s possible to get 100 different perspectives of that evaluation.

Farrier Takeaways

  • The hanging leg is not always reflective of the leg’s weight-bearing.
  • Misalignments found during evaluation inform how the leg functions.
  • Diagonal imbalances must be dealt with diagonally.

What is it really that we are trying to teach and evaluate? Eventually, you should get to the answer, “how the leg is bearing weight.”

But the leg isn’t weight-bearing during that evaluation. Making sense of that skewed non-weight-bearing observation of what we desire to find out is arbitrary and becomes difficult to teach. Our evaluation of that weight-bearing becomes variable as no two people will do it precisely in the same manner.


Hang a leg and

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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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