What discipline do you find challenges you the most when the horse interferes and why?

A: Any issues I see — whether limb-to-limb contact or a horse looking off — leads me to search for imbalances in the body and feet. As a trimmer and body worker, I always evaluate the whole horse before actually working on it. Checking the spine for alignment is very important. I also check the hips and shoulders. I will have my clients move their horses in all three gates. I will also make sure their feet are trimmed properly.

— Debbi Baglione, Arroyo Grande, Calif.

A: The most challenging discipline is hunting because of the deep, English mud we have here in winter and the challenging fences these horses jump out of onto the poor ground. To overcome this, I shoe hunters with sloping hunter heels in front with 8 nails to reduce the likelihood of an overreach pulling the shoes off.

I shoe the hinds with a hunter heel on the inside with any sharp edges beveled off to prevent brushing injuries. I have fewer issues with these horses as a result.

— Marc Jerram, Bishops Wood, England.

A: Conformation can be a tough problem to solve once a foal grows to the point of the bone formation growth centers close.  Sometimes eager owners precipitate this problem themselves by overfeeding and “pushing” the growth of a foal.  Slow growth is best and produces fewer problems.  Sometimes, some early corrective measures are best.

 — Mac Barksdale, Orlando, Fla.

A: Racehorses are the toughest to shoe for interference problems. Any time you add speed you will incur problems you never imagined and they are difficult to figure out.

As humans, we often cannot see fast enough to discern the problem, so we have to listen to the horse’s body language. Because horses do not train or run the same every day, they may only interfere when they reach a certain speed or a particular area of the track. They also may tire quicker some days and develop the interference problem even sooner.

A video camera is the best way to diagnose gait faults at speed. Watch the video in slow motion and you are often surprised at what actually happens compared to what you thought happened.

— Barry Denton, Skull Valley, Ariz.

A: Endurance and/or competitive trail riding horses are my most challenging. Horses are ridden at speed to cover ground — especially those doing endurance.  Some riders aren’t educated in regard to helping the horse stay balanced, which leads to more interference issues particularly when both horse and rider tire during the course of the ride.

And let’s face it — most riders don’t like suggestions on trying to ride better.  They just want the farrier to fix it. 

— Diane Saunders, Bristol, Vt.

A: Barrel and rope horses seem to interfere a lot as they turn and drop their inside shoulder, causing the rear leg of the same side to hit the back of it. And reiners, when they slide, can interfere with a front shoe

— Josh Buriss, Hempstead, Texas

A: Barrel racing is by far the one discipline that presents the most opportunity for interference with my horse. The ground at every race has different footing. When you first go out, the top of the ground is smooth, but at the end of the run you’re running through the tracks of the other horses that ran before you.

The surface varies from sandy loam to clay or sand or a mixture of both. How the arena is raked and watered can also make a difference between my horse interfering or not.

I shoe every 5 weeks to keep my horse balanced. It minimizes the interference. Conformation is key in keeping a horse sound in such a demanding discipline.

— Melinda Williams, Palm Springs, Calif.

A: Dressage is the most challenging equine discipline. It’s not the horse that interferes with this discipline as much as the horse’s human riding partner.

The horse needs work and repetition of training. We as riders are in a hurry to cram the horse into a framed-up box in order to get the look for the performance. When I say, “cram,” I mean side reins, tie downs and more gadgets to keep the horse head down for a framed-up look and feel.

In the beginning, you want so much out of the horse.  I think headset is something we all want to see immediately, I know I did. I soon realized in all my years of training and riding and a lot of schooling horses that the headset was never there on the horse. You had to play with the bit and the horse would set its head.

The constant in this discipline is repetition for both human and horse.  As riders and trainers, we need to take a step back and ask ‘why am I having this problem?’ I had to ask myself this question and seek help from a professional. There are numerous factors. Is the horse in pain or sore? Are the teeth OK? The answer is not cram the horse in to the box you want, but what is appropriate for my horse. Horses progressively get better with age. No horse fits in the same box, they work to their ability and from the heart. 

— Andrea Oman, Phoenix, Ariz.

A: I find racing the most difficult due to the extreme speeds. The weight of even an aluminum shoe can drastically change the flight of the foot if the horse has poor conformation.

For example, if the horse tends to swing its leg inward with each stride, the weight of the shoe will exacerbate this inward swing. Some strike themselves repeatedly with each footfall. Some horses cannot be corrected by modifying the shoes, and even running with wraps seems to destroy themselves due to interference. 

Racehorses are usually shod every 4 weeks, a shorter interval than other performance horses. Because of this, there is little hoof to take off in between. Horses cannot be shod with pads since pads reduce traction; so sore-footed, thinned-soled horses tend to be a problem. Aluminum shoes are set with 3 1/2 inch nails, shorter again than their steel-shod performance counter parts. This means that the shoe must be very true, and the nails clinched tight or they will come off when the horse is traveling at 38 mph. 

— Luanne Bean, Norco, Calif.

A: It’s not about the discipline or breed. Interfering has to do with how good of a breakover and angles you have on the front. If you have a good balance regarding the center of gravity, the front hooves will leave the ground sooner, giving enough room for the hind to land without interfering.

— Philip Himanka, Erie, Colo.

A: Dressage, because it requires a complexity of movements with varied directions and amplitudes, and also demands a great connectivity between horse and rider.

Luiz Gustavo Tenório, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil