Luke Proulx of Stevenville, Ontario emphasized the farrier’s role in making sure a horse is centered on a “good foundation,” during a talk at the Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners in Pittsburgh, Pa., during September.
The Canadian farrier, who has shod at multiple Olympic games as well as other international competitions, says one reason this is important is that once a horse is shod, it may have to work on different kinds of surfaces. A horse centered on a good foundation will be more confident when it moves.
“A hoof print is very important to a horse,” he says. “When a horse cannot penetrate the ground, he’ll raise the foot and slam it down to try and penetrate the ground. He wants to make a hoof print and drive off of it. “
Proulx compares a horse that can’t penetrate the ground to a driver of a car that hydroplanes on a rain-covered highway.
“You take your foot off the gas,” he explains. “That’s what your horse does. He’s going and he can’t get hold of the ground, and all of a sudden, he back off.”
To be able to help a horse in situations like this, a farrier needs to study the horse’s conformation and how it moves, and know as much as possible about the conditions it will be working in.
“This is why I believe the section (dimension) of shoes is very important; to create confidence in the horse,” Proulx says. “We can modify our shoes by creasing, or using concave. Sometimes flat shoes are very useful too. On a dressage horse that is base-narrow and toeing in, and all of a sudden he’s loading up on the lateral sinking prematurely on the lateral heel, you want to put some width there to keep him up.”