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Shoe Wear, Level Correlation

Q: I shoe Standardbred racehorses and I’ve been taught that if a horse is wearing his shoe down on one side more so than the other, then this is the side that needs to be lowered when it’s time to reshoe them. Is this a reasonable guide or not? When a trainer says, “Shoe this horse level all the way around,” I seem to be unsure of what “level” is.

To give me a guide, I like to look at the level of the coronary band when the foot is on the ground. I recently had a horse who had worn the outside branch of its aluminum hind shoe paper thin, yet the inside branch still had the nail heads protruding!

When I’d hang the limb and sight the foot, it looked high on the inside. Yet when it was placed on the ground the coronary band seemed to be pushed up on the outside.

—Steve Butler, stevie.b@xtra.co.nz

A: This is a classic example of why trying to balance a hoof by sighting the leg, wall and coronary band can be very misleading and cause confusion. With unbalanced shoeing, the hoof wall and coronary band often become distorted over time and are no longer a valid reference for balance.

The uneven shoe wear is a fairly accurate giveaway of a hoof imbalance. You’re correct that if one side is significantly more worn down than the other, trim the worn side. Forget what the “T-square” sighting or the conflicting coronary band…

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