Shoeing To Minimize Knee Action In The Western Pleasure Horse

The less knee action, the better



Washington State Farrier Don Hampton knows that the last thing a show ring judge wants to see in a Western Pleasure horse is excessive knee action. That’s why he shoes these horses to provide more flat-kneed movement.

“It’s the opposite of shoeing gaited horses, where you want that knee action,” says the Ellensburg, Wash., shoer. With the stock type of Western Pleasure horse, Hampton backs up the front shoes so the foot breaks over quickly at the center of the toe, and the knee doesn’t pop and snap to raise up.

Long Toes Have To Go

During show season, with the pleasure horse that grows a lot of toe and grows it fast, shoeing at intervals not exceeding 4 weeks is important. “When they get a long toe, they have to snap that knee to lift it,” Hampton explains.

In two or three visits, Hampton’s effective shoeing makes a big difference. “I take the toe off, leave the heel and extend the shoes out behind the back at least half an inch,” he says. “Just because you’re taking toe off doesn’t mean you’ll put on a shorter shoe.”


On most horses, he sets the front shoes back almost to the white line. But in the case of a horse with a Thoroughbred-type foot, where there is almost no heel, he’ll back the shoe up clear to the white line. He rounds off the front of the foot, as opposed to radically squaring it. 

The center photo demonstrates using a piece…

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