Blake Brown

Reading Shoe Wear Gives Farriers An Edge

Not everyone does it, but farriers who know what they’re looking for on the bottom of old shoes can find clues to help keep a horse comfortable and healthy

WEAR WISE. Blake Brown routinely examines old shoes before pulling them, looking for clues that could help him improve the horse’s next shoeing.

Be sure to look at the shoes every time you pull them off,” says Blake Brown, a Penryn Calif., farrier who worked at a veterinarian clinic for 20 years. “I saw lots of cases that confirmed, time after time, what the signs of shoe wear were telling us.”

Now retired from day to day shoeing, Brown still works as a consultant to farriers and veterinarians.

“The first thing I do is analyze the horses’ conformation before I pull the shoes off and watch them walk. Then I look at the shoes to see if they confirm what I’ve seen in their conformation,” he says.

“Ideally, you’d like to see the wear of the breakover at the toe in the center of the shoe or ever so slightly to the outside of the center. That’s because a normal conformation can be up to 3 degrees toed-in and be considered within acceptable standards of conformation. Anything beyond that is excessive, and that changes the position of the breakover of the foot and can cause gait abnormalities,” he adds.

“What you want to do is get the horse to break over as close to the center of the foot as possible, and the shoe wear will tell you if that’s happening,” Brown says.

Another Believer

Fifty-eight years of shoeing have also convinced Bill Miller of Rochester, Wash., about the value…

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Ron perszewski

Ron Perszewski

Ron Perszewski is a freelance writer and former associate editor of Ameri­can Farriers Journal.

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