There are safety factors all around us — ladders, bridges, elevators and a host of others. Safety factors tell us how much more load can put on a structure before it fails.

“Man made structures, in the EU at least, have to take at least 8 times more than it’s supposed to,” Renate Weller, a professor in comparative imaging and biomechanics at the Royal Veterinary College in England, told attendees Wednesday at the 13th annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. “If you walk into an elevator, it usually says it can take 630 kilos (nearly 1,400 pounds). So, really, you can put much more into an elevator. You can put elephants in an elevator and it should hold — if you can squeeze them in.”

While man made structures generally have a large margin for error built into its safety factors, horses aren’t afforded the same luxury.

“Unfortunately, the horse has a safety factor as little as 1.2,” she says. “That means at any given point, they are that close to breaking.”

There are a number of variables that contribute to such a high-degree of risk.

“Even at a walk, the front end of a horse experiences half of its body weight,” Weller explains. “So, if you have a 500-kilo (approximately 1,100 pounds) horse, that’s a quarter of a ton. If the horse goes faster — up to a trot — it’s about body weight, so that’s half a ton. If the horse goes faster, then it goes up to 2½ times body weight. This is initially a car pressing down on the front leg of a horse every time it hits the ground.”

A horse’s conformation plays a crucial role in how much force each limb experiences. The good news is that farriers can influence this.

“Changing the foot through trimming,” she says, “or by applying a shoe changes the moment arm of the ground reaction force around the joints and thus changes the moment arms of the flexor tendon.”

Shoeing The Hind Limb For Performance And Therapy

In many corners of the world, the front limb receives more attention and is valued much higher — gaining a bum rap for the hind limbs in the process.

“In some cultures, the young farrier or assistant farrier first gets to do the hinds because that’s not so important,” says Cortona, Italy, farrier and veterinarian Hans Castelijns. “As farriers, when we modify something on the hind limb, sometimes the effect is more on the front limb than the hind limb. So, we need to consider the whole horse.”

Hind limb problems start when the horse is a foal.

“If you do not correct certain conformations at birth, then I can look at adult horses and tell you how they were born,” says the Hall Of Fame equine veterinarian. “If the owner has known the horse since its birth, they often confirm it.”

Angular deviations, which are valgus, have a tendency to self-correct, Castelijns says. That’s not the case with varus deviations.

“Varus deviations — those that are bowlegged — are always the hardest to correct,” he says. “I think it’s normal for a sport horse to be a little valgus in the hocks.”

If a foal isn’t corrected, long-term problems can occur.

“The moment you put a side extension on the varus, or bowlegged limb, a foal already starts to walk better,” Castelijns says. “If you don’t do that, you are predisposing the foal for hock problems.”

Another critical problem regarding hind limbs is interference.

“Interference is extremely difficult to correct,” he says. “Just to show you how complicated this is, sometimes you do exactly the opposite with the shoe to keep the horse from interfering.”

In one case, Castelijns discussed a horse in which its right hind was interfering with its right front.

“When you brake the outside branch,” he says, “it makes the right hind swing inward and set down outward.”

Castelijns will continue the second portion of his presentation, “Shoeing The Hind Limb For Performance And Therapy at 2:20 p.m. Friday.

Hoof Capsule Management For Sheared Heels And Quarter Cracks

Sheared heels and quarter cracks are problems that seems to have grown in frequency, says Hall Of Fame farrier Bob Pethick.

“Where do horses spend the majority of their time?” the Califon, N.J., farrier asks. “They spend a tremendous amount of time standing on rubber mats, concrete and blacktop. This is going to affect the back half of the hoof capsule.”

Rubber mats only contribute to another problem.

“People clean out the horses’ feet before they come in the barn because they don’t want to mess up their aisle,” he says. “They take the foot pack — the natural dirt — out of the bottom of the horse’s foot. Now, the horse is standing on its walls.”

As a result, the center of the foot is not supported.

“You’re going to end up with more distortion if you don’t support the center of the foot or the hoof capsule,” Pethick says. “Using either a frog support pad and/or a pad with sole support or a full pour in the bottom of the foot, will minimize the amount of distortion you’ll have in the back half of the foot versus just an open shoe.”

Trade Show

Summit attendees swarmed the first two sessions of the Trade Show — and with 130 exhibitors, they had plenty of footcare products to explore.

Finger Lakes Custom Manufacturing has one of the more unique attractions. Neal Purdy and his crew in Skaneateles, N.Y., repurposed an old Amish buggy into a shoeing rig.

“It’s just a little twist on things,” Purdy says. “It’s a conversation starter, but it’s also a little taste of the creativity and craftsmanship that we offer.”

The rig is a definite hit with attendees. Attendees gathered around the horse-drawn, wooden-wheeled creation.

“That’s what you call a sweet ride,” says Ken Best of Northport, N.Y.

The rig is outfitted with propane tanks, a drill press, grinders, swing out anvil and forge stands and horseshoe racks.

“We put the shoe rack under the seat in the cab,” Purdy explains. “There’s no wasted space.”

Rising Shoeing Stars

Three young farriers were recognized for their outstanding progress in the industry just 3 years after graduating from farrier school.

Joanna Bailey of Buckley, Wash., won first place and received $1,000, as well as her expenses paid to this year’s Summit. Bailey graduated in 2012 from the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, Calif.

Eddie Cleckler of Springville, Ala., and Victor Frisco of Crestwood, Ky., were the runners up and both received $500 and free registration to this year’s Summit. Cleckler graduated from Lookout Mountain School of Horseshoeing in Gadsden, Ala., while Frisco is a graduate of Kentucky Horseshoeing School in Richmond, Ky.

All three winners also received a plaque, a 1-year subscription to American Farriers Journal, and the AFJ “Kitchen Sink” package.

The three schools that produced the winners also received plaques that honor them for having educated the young farriers, as well as a copy of the AFJ “Kitchen Sink” package.

The program is sponsored by Electric Hoof Knife, Hawthorne Products, Life Data Labs, Purcell Farrier Supply, R.J. Matthews Co., Vettec and American Farriers Journal.

Hoof-Care Classrooms

A number of footcare practitioners conducted Hoof-Care Classrooms on Wednesday afternoon.

• English farrier Mark Aikens discussed the Flying Anvil Foundation and its efforts to grow and improve farriery in India.

• Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., farrier and veterinarian Mark Silverman presented, “Hoof Wall Rebuilds: Combining The Old And The New.”

• Dr. Thilo Pfau, a researcher at the Royal Veterinary College in England, lectured about the “Whole Horse Biomechanics: Looking At The Racehorse.”

• San Los Obispo, Calif., farrier Pete Healey discussed “Considerations For Hoof-Pastern Alignment.”

• Steve Kraus, the head farrier at Cornell University, presented, “Shoeing For Specific Disciplines: Keeping Polo Horses Competing.”