Are You Trimming Proper Hoof Angles?

Just as one size does not fit all, one angle does not fit all

What’s the proper angle of a horse’s hoof?

The angle of the hoof has plagued farriers from the first writings on the topic in 430 B.C. As with many aspects of farriery, the person with the “microphone” has the advantage. They might make statements of fact that are in reality their opinion based on their own anecdotal evidence.

As you go through your career, you will hear various theories on how much toe or heel to take or leave. You might hear a well-respected clinician make a compelling argument for why farriers leave too much heel. You return to your practice, apply the new “knowledge” and conclude that you are leaving too much heel. Your angles are too steep.

Several years later, you’ll attend another clinic. A different clinician, who is also well-respected, makes a compelling argument for why horses need more heel. The clinician speaks to the problems of too low an angle.

This confusion persists the rest of your career.

A Well-Heeled History

A well-written article by Maryland farrier Henry Heymering titled, “The Proper Hoof Angle,” gives a detailed history of hoof angle theory. I will take the liberty of paraphrasing some of his excellent research.

For nearly 2,000 years, it was held that a high-heel foot was the ideal. It was believed the frog should not come into contact with hard ground.

In 1754, Étienne-Guillaume LaFosse declared that the hoof should be at a low angle with the frog fully engaged. Despite many complaints of lame horses…

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Bob Smith

Bob Smith is a Hall Of Fame farrier and owner of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, Calif.

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