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Many times our eyes are drawn to the feet of the horse, since this is our specialty as farriers. As we look at the feet, we might identify various issues that are going on.
But as we think about how to address those problems, are we looking in the right places for where they start? Does the upper conformation limit our ability to help the lower conformation? One horse in particular reminded me of the need to think about this.
A few years ago, an unwanted horse was donated to our farrier school. In fact, the 2-year-old horse was run through the sale ring but had no bidders (Figure 1). As far as we know, it had been pasture-raised and given little attention. We don’t know more than that, which is often the case when farriers come in on a new owner/horse situation.
The horse was difficult to work on due to its rare body conformation and lack of training. We kept the horse for 5 years as a unique example of various conformation deformities and deviations (Figures 2a and 2b). Our farrier students received terrific learning by seeing and experiencing an unusual live specimen.
We discussed and tried a variety of things to help this horse, as we worked on her on a regular trimming cycle. Each time she was trimmed, the hooves looked better. However, after 8 weeks, the hooves would revert to their deformed state. Nothing we could do corrected or changed the upper conformation.