Q&A: Information Gleaned from Wear Patterns

Q: When you get ready to trim and place the next set of shoes on a horse, how much do you rely on reading the actual amount of wear on the existing shoes? What do you look for and how do you use this information in deciding how best to shoe the horse?

Below are the responses we couldn't fit into print answering our December 2015 Hoof-Care Email Q&A. To provide your own feedback, respond in the Comments section below.

A: If the wear patterns are uneven, I re-evaluate my trimming first. Second, I'm going to watch foot fall in a walk and trot. How do the horse's hooves land? Are there rotational forces in place? If possible, I ask the rider about saddle fit and riding style.

There are a few factors that need to be put into the equation. It is not a simple question and the answer is indeed multi-faceted. In the end, I might adjust my trimming, modify hoof protection, advise on saddle usage and riding style and technique. 

Two of the most common uneven wear patterns are excessive wear on the toes, which often points to toe landing. In this case, very often palmar hoof pain can be the cause and therapeutic measures need to be taken. The second one is M/L imbalance, where the outside of the shoe is seeing a higher wear patterns. If my M/L balance is correct, I look for the causes in saddle fit, rider balance, riding styles and speed. 

— Christoph Schork, Moab, Utah

A: I use the wear patterns of existing shoes to tell me how the horse is moving and where it wants to break over as well as the way the foot lands. I think this is very important because it gives us a blueprint of the horse’s movement…

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