James Gilchrist of Palm Beach Farrier Service in Florida, thinks it’s a good idea to use hoof testers, even when a horse doesn’t have any apparent problems.

“We hoof test just about every horse we shoe, even though we know the horses very well,” he says. “The competition schedule they are on is so intense that a lot of times they’ll get a little sore in their heels or a little sore across the frog. If you detect that, you may be able to head off a problem, even though they area sound and moving good.”

Gilchrist, who shoes many top Grand Prix horses, says the busy schedule these horses work means close attention to detail is vital. Before he picks up a hoof, he watches the horse as it walked, then trotted. He also says whenever possible, he wants to observe a horse while it is being ridden.

“A lot of these horses will move totally different with a rider on their back than they do when they’re being trotted in hand,” he explains. “If you just watch them walk down the aisle before you shoe them, you’ll miss a lot.”

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