Farriers often hear an owner say, “My horse stumbled, so my trainer said to tell you to rocker the toes.” Many trainers and owners believe that a rolled or rocker toe is all that is needed to “correct” stumbling.
If questioned, the owner or trainer typically rationalizes that if the farrier can speed up the breakover, the horse will stop stumbling. However, if you simply accept this response, you may overlook potential problems that the horse may be experiencing.
You should not accept the requested treatment until you identify the cause. As a farrier, once you commit to an action, like rockering the toes, the trainer or owner attaches the responsibility to you for correcting the problem. If the horse continues to stumble, the client will assume this is a result of your inability to properly build and apply a rocker toe shoe. You will lose a bit of your reputation and probably a client.
If a horse is well shod, the foot dressed correctly, trimmed to the proper angles and length, shod with the appropriate shoe and it still stumbles, rockering the toe will do little to nothing to prevent stumbling. Before you accept responsibility for “fixing” stumbling with a rocker toe, you need to evaluate the cause.
Read more advice on how to identify the actual causes of stumbling and get you client to take an active step in addressing it in the September/October issue of American Farriers Journal.