Farriers' Roundtable

Q: “If a horse bears more weight on the front side of the hind hoof, why do so many shoers seem to compromise this area by squaring the toes and setting the shoe back?”

—Washington Farrier

A: The question assumes that the front of the hind hooves bear more weight than the back of the feet. I disagree. The front of the hind feet might bear more weight when the horse is standing still, perhaps, and when a foot begins its breakover. But when the hoof is landing, it should lanA: This is a question that is certain to generate debates in barn aisles and coffee shops everywhere. I have been to clinics and seen good friends argue incessantly over the use or misuse of square-toed hind shoes.

My answer to this question is simply, I don’t know! Many com­petent farriers routinely use these shoes, but no one has convinced me that this is the best for the horse.

You cannot open a shoeing magazine without reading about purchase. The dictionary defines purchase as “a grip applied manually or mechanically to move something or prevent it from slipping.” Square shoes take away the purchase. Do yourself a favor and read “The Physics Of Propulsion” by John Scruggs in the December, 2001, issue of Loose Shoe magazine. If that isn’t convincing, watch a barrel race or a three-day event. The barrel horses with squared toes will pull themselves around the barrels with their front limbs rather than propel with the hinds…

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