Shoeing method might curb knuckling-over tendencies

BENT FOR EFFECT. A rocker-toe shoe, which bends up about half an inch from a flat shoe often helps a horse that knuckles over.

When a person stubs his toe, it’s more embarrassing than painful. But when a harness horse stubs its toe, it’s called knuckling over, and it can be not only painful, but also may have serious consequences.

Trainers and farriers have tried to combat knuckling over for decades and Lexington horseshoer Steve Stanley thinks that a rocker-toe shoe can alleviate the problem. He admits that he’s not the first farrier to try this method, but previous efforts used a rolled-toe shoe, which wasn’t sufficient to cure knuckling over.

Stand by a drawgate at any harness track and you might see a horse knuckle over as it leaves the track after a work mile. Fatigue is a factor that causes knuckling over.

“A horse can actually knuckle over at any time,” says Stanley, who has driven horses himself. “I’ve had trainers tell me that horses prone to knuckling over have done it during training miles. When horses stumble, sometimes they even drive the front of the ankle right into the ground. They can get hurt really badly that way.”

Traditional Cures

Stanley says that trainers traditionally sought to cure knuckling over by keeping a horse’s hind toes short and also squaring them, if necessary. Some trainers have also used the Memphis bar shoe, which has a bar welded across the widest part of the shoe.

“A horse carrying…

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