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Managing Conformational Faults: A Farrier’s Approach

Understanding deviations and their role in load distribution are critical


Pictured Above: Toe angle plays an important role in dynamic balance, Jake Hall says. Increased toe length will heighten toe-first landing, as well as produce abnormal concussion pressures, which can cause other problems

A horse’s conformation exerts a tremendous amount of influence on the hoof capsule, and in turn how a farrier trims and shoes the foot.

Ideally, one should be able to drop a plumb line from the shoulder to the ground that bisects a distal limb that features a carpus and hoof that point forward. Yet, ideal conformation is rare and the result of deviations can be found on full display.

“Conformation is a major defining factor on load distribution and what that hoof capsule is going to look like,” says Jake Hall, a Columbia, Tenn., farrier who discussed his approach to managing horses with faulty conformation at an early summer clinic that was hosted by Mascot, Tenn., farrier Eugene Church and his wife Sabrina.

Viscoelasticity And The Creep

The complex viscoelastic nature of the equine hoof wall is designed to absorb concussion.

“It’s a solid structure; however, it allows for expansion and contraction,” Hall explains. “The foot opens up and closes, but it will return back to its normal structure.”

To demonstrate, Hall played a video that’s been widely circulated on social media that features a single section of foot that was harvested from a cadaver limb. The thin section is comprised of the continuously connected layers of the foot from the distal phalanx to the stratum…

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Cota

Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 25 years. A native of Maine, he is the Managing Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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