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When given the opportunity to write about shoeing a normal foot, my first move was to discuss the topic with a well-respected colleague, who quickly asked me “Jeffrey, what is a normal foot?” Naturally, I began to reflect on my daily work, thinking that most of my feet were fairly “normal.” But then I thought about the question more and came to the realization that almost all of my so-called “normal” horses present me with some type of a conformational or structural challenge that I am constantly striving to improve.
A “good” foot is perhaps a better description and certainly desirable, but it too may be elusive if you think of all of the factors that must be considered and met before labeling the foot as “good” or “ideal.”
Before looking at the foot and making decisions about its footcare needs, farriers must evaluate the horse for soundness. Making judgments only based on surface characteristics, such as foot conformation, the integrity of the hoof capsule and the overall condition of the foot may be misleading if the horse is not observed in motion.
If the horse isn’t sound, you can instantly recognize that you are not working with a good foot.
A thorough farrier will always take time to watch a horse walk, turn in each direction and observe the horse at a trot. Sometimes it is helpful to watch the horse work under saddle prior to working on the horse. During this observation…