On occasion, Steve Stanley will come across a knee-knocking horse.
The Versailles, Ky., shoer finds that these horses often fall into one of two categories. The first, and more easily helped by farriers, are good-gaited horses start hitting their knees for apparently no reason. The second group is is where conformation and gait are the factors that cause the interference.
These cases in the second group are all unique and no generic “one size fits all” application can work. Here are some general rules about this type of horse:
1. Knee knockers usually don’t like to be high on the outside part of the foot. This means the lateral side when checking medial/lateral balance. Caution should be taken here. Tipping feet hard by lowering the outside branch of the hoof will distort the foot over time, creating a flare on the inside (medial wall) of the foot, giving that side of the hoof more mass to hit the knee with. Distorted feet cause many other problems as well.
2. Less weight is better. The heavier a shoe, the more animated the gait. Therefore, a heavy shoe will increase the deviation. The only time a heavier shoe helps a knee knocker is when that shoe makes the horse more comfortable. They used to say “shoe ‘em heavy to go over the knee.” I think that’s more wasted motion and it’s also difficult to achieve.
3. Having more grab to the outside can help this type of knee knocker. This includes Borium, half-round/half-swedge and lateral extension shoes.
4. A diamond-toe shoe can create more clearance on that side for the foot to clear the knee. Careful clenching of the nails is very important on the medial side. If a horse has large clinches sticking up on the medial side of the hoof and strikes the other knee with that surface, there will be bloodshed.