Shoes or Slippers

Comfortable feet come from shoeing to the properly determined conformation of each individual horse

HALL OF FAME farrier Jim Ferrie provides therapeutic shoeing for many horses and insights to fellow farriers. 

Providing comfortable shoes is an issue of anatomy that goes beyond a horse’s foot — all the way up its leg and into the shoulder, according to Jim Ferrie, an International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame member living and working in Newmilns, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Ferrie even defines comfort in terms of functional anatomy. Comfort for a stationary horse is defined as equal stress on all joints and surrounding structures, he says, while comfort for a moving horse equates to a level footfall for all limbs.

“That’s what we’re trying to achieve,” he says. “If you trim and shoe according to these principles, you’ll do all right.”

Life And Limb

Ferrie believes there is more than the horse’s comfort at stake.

“A good shoer can put 5 years on the working life of a horse by keeping undue stress off the joints,” he says, and conformation is the first consideration. “Eventually, if you don’t shoe to the horses’ conformation, they reach an age when they can’t cope with it anymore and they go lame.”

As an example, Ferrie points to a horse he knows of with outwardly rotated cannon bones (See Figure 1.) not taken into account by the horse’s shoer.


FIGURE 1. Outward rotation of the cannon bone.

“The 8-year-old horse now lives at a veterinary school and is (nerve) blocked all the way up to the shoulder. It’s lame,” he says. “The whole…

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Ron perszewski

Ron Perszewski

Ron Perszewski is a freelance writer and former associate editor of Ameri­can Farriers Journal.

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