Keep Sport Horses On Solid Footing

How the hoof interacts with surfaces is critical for keeping horses sound

Before shoeing the equine athlete, a farrier must weigh a number of variables.

What is the riding surface? How will the surface affect the horse’s performance? How will it affect the shoeing needs? How will the horse’s conformation influence the interaction between the hoof and surface? How will that in turn influence the forces applied to the foot, and consequently limb loading?

“Everything that we do to the bottom of the foot affects structures up the limb,” farrier and equine veterinarian Vern Dryden told attendees during The Better Practices, Better Results Lecture, presented by Kinetic Vet, at the 2016 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. “So whenever we change mechanics on the bottom of the foot, it has a reaction up the limb — the flight path changes, the dynamics in which the foot loads change. We have to be cognizant of these and make educated decisions.”

The composition of the surface and the interaction of the foot, he says, coupled with the physical demands of the horse, determine the proper shoeing protocol.

In the case of a horse with a proximal suspensory injury that will perform on a soft surface, a farrier must understand how to shield it.

“I penciled the heels out (Figures 1 and 2), and this horse in a soft substrate (Figure 3) is going to actually float in the toe region and dive down in the heels,” explains the vet from Bur Oak Veterinary and Podiatry in Lexington, Ky. “That effectively helps to protect…

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Jeff cota 2023

Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 30 years. A native of Maine, he is the Lead Content Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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