Balance as a Tale of the Tape

Hall of Fame veterinarian says measurements can define hoof imbalance

Opinions abound as to what constitutes balance in a horse’s foot. These opinions are largely based on a person’s experience, but also on how an individual looks at a problem; that is to say, not every one thinks the same way.

Because we approach things differently, we often have varying opinions on how we would get to the same place. With that in mind, it may ultimately be easier to approach this subject backwards.

A wide variety of terminology is used to define shape or form, which may help an individual categorize the problem of hoof imbalance, but does not necessarily allow for free discussion of the matter.

For instance, we may all describe a foot as having long and low conformation, but five different people may have five different interpretations as to just what long and low means. This is why defining the problem objectively (with measurement) can provide an important starting point.

Measurements can be made of the foot directly or with software specifically designed for this task, such as Metron software.

Getting The Numbers

Begin with the horse’s weight, which is determined using a weight tape or a scale. Then measure each forefoot, noting the measurements of the hoof length (medial and lateral heel lengths in addition to the vertical distance from the coronary band and sagittal toe length) in order to calculate the angle of the heel. In addition, the frog’s length and width are measured at their longest and widest points.

The hoof angle, using…

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Toby Raymond

Toby Raymond is a horse owner and freelance writer who lives in Vermont. She is a frequent contributor to American Farriers Journal.

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