The footcare topic most often requested by American Farriers Journal readers is balance. Yet it’s one of the more difficult subjects to get hoof-care professionals to write about because it is so complicated and there are so many different opinions.
This lack of information on effective balance is likely why a Hoof-Care Classroom at last winter’s 10th annual International Hoof-Care Summit drew such interest. The three-member panel that tackled the mystery of the balanced foot included equine veterinarian Ron Riegel, Marysville, Ohio; and farriers Larry Crile, Ostrander, Ohio; and Doug Hopper, Union City, Ohio. This vet/farriers team has worked together on balance concerns for a number of years and maintains that the coffin joint is where it all has to start.
Riegel says proper balance starts with understanding the anatomy and the specific biomechanics needed to work with the uniqueness of each individual foot. Plus, you need to know the particular disciplines in which the horse works.
Only then can a farrier develop a repeatable method to evaluate, trim and shoe that allows the equine athlete to perform at a level consistent with its conformational challenges.
While the foot bears the full impact force of concussion, Riegel says not all horses land the same. For example, few high-level jumpers land straight, as the rider is already looking in a particular direction to line up his next jump. Tugging on the rein in the same direction is a natural inclination, and the result is that horse…