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How To Analyze Gaits Without High-Tech Cameras

Accurate evaluation takes a watchful eye, discerning ear and lots of practice

Each time farriers watch a horse move, we are effectively practicing gait analysis.

It’s merely a fancy term for our visual and mental impression of how a horse moves.

When you visually analyze a horse moving, you should be making mental notes and processing that information. It’s important that you keep focused on how the horse responds to your work. First and foremost, does it look sound? Is it walking with short strides? Is the flight pattern of its legs ideal or are they all over the place? Is it moving across the ground fluidly or is it hitting the ground like a trash masher? What is its expression?

All of this information is subconsciously stored in your brain for future reference.

There are several efficient software programs for video recording horses in movement, but the prices are out of reach for the average farrier. You’re in luck, though. Your eyes and what’s between your ears give you everything you need to evaluate what you are seeing.

Seeing gait characteristics is an acquired skill and is best learned under an experienced mentor. Some people pick it up faster than others, but most can become proficient with practice.

Be aware that gait analysis is only one part of formulating a shoeing plan. Other components include conformation, age, work and injuries.

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Red Renchin

Red Renchin was a long-time farrier who called Mequon, Wis., and Wellington, Fla. home. A native of Minnesota and a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, he served as Technical Editor of American Farriers Journal. Renchin passed away in 2015.

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