Farriers' Roundtable

Q. When extending the heels of a shoe beyond the back of the foot, how do you balance the horse’s need for support with concerns about leverage created by the steel hanging out behind the foot?

— Maryland  Farrier

A: Every horse has different needs. On back feet, I extend shoes no further than to the back of the bulbs and that depends on what the horse is used for. If he is low- or high-heeled, there is no set answer.

On front feet, if the horse has an over-reach problem I will not go past the end of the heel. That applies to roping horses, barrel horses and any horse that works or turns at high speeds. I will give a horse that is a pasture ornament more length because he doesn’t do much work.

If you shoe every horse the same way, you will end up shoeing 99 out of 100 wrong.

— Steve Eastman, Kenwood, Calif.

A: As a therapeutic farrier, it’s my professional opinion that if a horse requires extending the heels of a shoe farther back behind the foot, then that is where I put it. To do any less would be unethical.

Most horses I shoe for the first time end up in a larger shoe than what they were previously wearing — often two or three sizes larger. Support outweighs any concerns I would have about excess leverage generated by a full-support shoe.

I have found no research showing that a fully fit…

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