Performance And Conformation

At higher levels of competition, understanding how a horse is put together becomes increasingly important

It’s natural for hoof-care professionals to focus primarily on a horse’s lower limbs as they work, but a general knowledge of equine anatomy and conformation is also important. This knowledge becomes more critical for those who work on performance horses. The higher the level of performance, the more critical that knowledge becomes.

That presents a challenge to those just starting their hoof-care careers. When already faced with learning and honing the skills and techniques needed to shoe any horse, as well as developing a client list to build a practice, it can be difficult to find the time to study the finer points of conformation and what they might mean as to how a horse performs in a particular discipline.

We talked with several veteran farriers about some of the conformation-performance issues they’ve encountered over the years, and also asked them to share their advice for increasing your skills in this important area.

They include:

  • Blake Brown, a Penryn, Calif., farrier who was the staff farrier at Loomis Bay Veterinary Clinic for more than 20 years and whose career spans half a century. He remains active since his retirement with his Hoofsense consulting program.
  • James “J.D.” Downs, from Loveland, Colo., who in a decade of shoeing has developed a specialty with reiners and Western pleasure horses.
  • Bob Lanners of Carol Stream, Ill., who has spent more than 30 years as a farrier, specializing in Saddlebreds.
  • Tim Shannon, a 29-year veteran, who shoes in Moreno Valley, Calif., and…
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Pat tearney

Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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