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Midway, Ky., farrier Steve Norman gives much of the credit for his success to his mentor, the late Jack Reynolds. He says the legendary racehorse farrier showed him two ways to help Thoroughbreds.
“Back up the heels and put some shoe under the horse,” he recalls. “It really got me through a lot of storms.”
He still uses Reynolds straightforward advice on a daily basis to help horses continue to compete.
Prior to any shoeing solution, Norman says it is more important to make sure you correctly balance the foot. A proper trim in relation to the horse’s needs can help many racing Thoroughbreds. Like most farriers, Norman will watch the horse come to him so he can analyze the conformation before picking up the foot. Those few seconds are invaluable to him.
“Conformation has much to do with the displacement of the heels,” he says. “When I get to the foot, I still want to evaluate the conformation and take an eye to the hoof capsule, mediolateral balance, leg, shoulder and so on to understand what I’m dealing with.”
Looking at the bottom of the foot, Norman looks at heel length, sole depth and foot shape in his process before trimming the foot. Again it is not different than everyday farriery, as Norman points out. However, anyone who works with Thoroughbreds knows managing their feet can sometimes prove difficult.
Too much heel is the cause of most problems Norman sees. The view from the ground…