During a talk at the Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners conference in Norfolk, Va., in September, British farrier Simon Curtis also brought up the idea that because the phrase centers around the toe, some farriers may not understand that it involves more than just that part of the hoof. 

“Most of us understand that we need to get the toe back where it belongs, but what is less understood, I believe, is how we need to dress the heels back,” he said.

The member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame from Newmarket, England, was talking about dealing with long-toe, low-heel types of feet, which often develop toe cracks because of the long lever created by the toe. He often sees the toes trimmed back, and then shoes fitted so that they extend just beyond the heel buttresses with a goal of adding support. But he often sees this done without properly trimming the heels.

“With a tight shoe fit right to the buttresses of the heel, unless we dress the heel back, we could put a shoe on a foot of quite considerable length,” he says. “It will still be shorter than a shoe fitted right to the heel when a foot has been correctly trimmed.”