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Everything seen on the hoof is important to farriers, veterinarians and owners
Horses aren’t uniform creatures. Each one has a slight — or not so slight —deviation in conformation that affects the way it travels and performs. That’s why Michael Wildenstein stresses the importance of evaluating everything —from the hairline of the hoof to the muscling in the shoulders — when trimming and shoeing.
“Everything you see is important,” says the resident farrier at Cornell University. “It’s important to us as farriers, it’s important to veterinarians and it’s important to owners.”
To start, the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame member evaluates the bottom of the hoof for defects or penetration, which can be difficult to find. “A hoof brush and a hoof pick make a big difference in your ability to see what’s going on,” he says. “Sometimes your greatest trimming tool is your brush.”
He told attendees at last winter’s International Hoof-Care Summit that the next step is to move on to the hairline, looking for divots, high points and areas of wear. The angle of the hairline, he explains, will give a good indication of stress.
“Because the hoof that you see is soft tissue, that hoof is deviated by the pressures or the stresses deployed upon it, whether it is from above or below,” he says.
Once the hairline and solar surface have been assessed, Wildenstein determines the parameters of what he calls the “true hoof,” beginning with the point of the frog.