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Numerous hoof gauges like these shown at Centaur Forge in Burlington, Wis., are available. From left to right are a Ruidoso Hoof Gauge, a brass hoof gauge and an NC Cavalry Hoof Gauge.
Hoof gauges might rank among the most overlooked, underused tools in farriery. Yet high-quality hoof care starts with an accurate assessment of the foot, and these tools can assist even the keenest eyes of the most skilled and experienced farriers.
Lee Green of Yucaipa, Calif., a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, stresses that the proper use of a hoof gauge provides consistency in foot measurements that benefits the farrier and the horse.
Though he concedes that some horseshoeing schools don’t train their students to use a hoof gauge, Green strongly encourages the use of the tool, which is sometimes called a protractor. He says the device, which measures the angle between the ground surface of the hoof and the dorsal hoof wall in degrees, offers valuable information that should be recorded as a farrier builds a history of care for any individual horse.
“That record will give you a reference to check back on. If you learn that a horse works best at a particular hoof angle, you can trim to that angle every time,” Green adds.
Instead, he says, many farriers routinely set the hoof angle by aligning it with the pastern angle, an approach he supports as a starting point when a farrier first works with any particular horse. “Look at the…