Thoughts on Managing Hoof Capsule Distortion

Bob Pethick provides usable insights on distortion and considerations when addressing these concerns as a farrier

Bob Pethick likes to kick off his lectures by showing an Ontrack Equine slow-motion, close-up video of hooves in action. The Califon, N.J., farrier treated the attendees at a University of Tennessee Equine Podiatry Conference to this thought-provoking movie.

“It’s amazing they stay sound at all,” remarks the Hall Of Fame farrier. “They need all of the help that we can give them.”

The video set the stage for Pethick’s discussion of hoof capsule management. Here are some of the highlights from his presentation.

Understanding balance. Before diving into a series of cases, Pethick asked the audience what do we really know about balance. The first citation in Pethick’s talk goes back to William Russell’s 1903 book, Scientific Horseshoeing, and his work on the “center of gravity” and other reference points — the chief among these being the center line of the frog.

“As far as medial-lateral balance goes, that’s a reference point of the hoof capsule that stays the same,” says Pethick. “It is stuck between the wings of the coffin bone and can’t really go anywhere, so it is a good guideline to see how much distortion is in the hoof capsule, both in toe quarters, as well as the heel quarters.”

Farrier Takeaways

When evaluating and working with horses, farriers must constantly consider the effects that environment, conformation, shoeing and other factors have on distortion.

A solution to a hoof-care problem can sometimes introduce a negative consequence, so thoroughly think through the cause and effect.


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Jeremy mcgovern

Jeremy McGovern

Jeremy McGovern is the former Executive Editor/Publisher. A native of Indiana, he also is president of American Horse Publications.

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