For Webster, N.Y., farrier Esco Buff, one of the simplest ways to accomplish balance evaluation — is to use sidewalk chalk. This method can be used on horses that are barefoot or shod.

Chalking can be done on shod or barefoot horses. Be sure to chalk the entire shoe or hoof wall, from heel to heel.

Pick up the foot and completely clean the ground surface. Using sidewalk chalk (I’ve found red and blue work best), completely color the ground surface of the hoof wall or shoe.

Walk the horse in a straight line for about 20 feet, preferably on concrete or macadam, although with practice, you can accomplish this on hard packed dirt surfaces.

Note how the chalk wore off the foot or shoe. Ideally, the chalk should wear evenly off both heels and toe. More than likely you will see the chalk worn off one side of the foot or off one heel and a toe quarter more than the other diagonal heel and toe quarter. If so, this is telling you that the hoof is not in balance with the body. The chalk wears off the high side or the side that hits the ground first. Trim again and re-test and you will see the chalk wear off the heels and toe evenly.

For more on evaulating a horse in a whole horse approach, read Esco Buff's article in the July/August 2010 issue of American Farriers Journal.

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