James Gilchrist, a veteran farrier who shoes in the Wellington, Fla., area and at the Palm Beach Equine Clinic, is a strong proponent of evaluating a horse before beginning his hoof-care work.

“In our practice, we always watch these horses work under saddle,” he says. “A lot of them will move totally differently when they have a rider on their back than they do just being trotted in hand down the aisle. If you just watch them walk down the aisle before you shoe them, you’ll miss a lot.”

Gilchrist also says he used hoof testers on almost every horse he shoes — even those he knows well.

“The competition schedule they keep is so intense that a lot of times they’ll get a little sore in the heels or across their frogs. The horse may be sound and moving good, but a lot of times you can head off a problem or talk to a vet about it.

“We always evaluate the old shoes before they come off for wear. Maybe they’re wearing outside or a little on the inside. A lot of times if they’re getting sore in their backs you’ll see them wearing their hind toes a little bit more than what they normally would.”

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