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Watching The Horse At Work

Observation offers valuable trimming and shoeing insights

Reiner, jumper, trotter, racing Thoroughbred, trail horse — each has a unique stride that places distinct stresses on the foot.

While farriers most commonly see stationary patients, many farriers also watch the horse to gain valuable insights into each horse’s trimming and shoeing needs.

Each type of performance involves specific sets of factors that can influence hoof shape, wear, balance and weight bearing. Factors to consider in the working horse include type of performance, common ground surface and the horse’s individual stride and conformation.

In a paper on racing surfaces, equine biomechanics expert Jeff Thomason of the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, and his co-authors wrote, “First, each surface property has a different effect on the energy and forces experienced by the horse. Second, the energy and force magnitudes change throughout the footfall (stance) and swing phase. Third, shoes modify the mechanics at the hoof-track interface. Fourth, the horse’s own conformation and anatomical construction contribute to the manner in which it interacts with the track, so it is important to study how the interaction varies among horses.”

In an interview, Thomason points out that farriers need to be aware of each phase of the horse’s stride: Impact, slide/stop, midstance loading and breakover.

Farrier Takeaways

  • It’s critical to consider the type of discipline a horse performs, the common ground surface, as well as the horse’s individual stride and conformation before trimming and shoeing.
  • Farriers need to be aware of each phase of the horse’s stride — impact, stop/slide, mid-stance loading…
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