Farriers' Roundtable

Q: What is the proper length, angle and heel support for the hind feet of jumping horses?

A: To me, proper hoof angle and toe length will vary, not only from horse to horse, but sometimes even from left to right on the same horse. The proper hoof angle is one that keeps the three pastern bones in alignment, thus reducing stress on those bones and joints when the horse is in motion.

I don’t believe one needs an X-ray to see this. Look at a lateral view of a well-maintained hoof — no distortions (if they exist, fix them first) —then seek to gain or maintain alignment of the horse’s lower limb when deciding how to trim that hoof. It’s also wise to look at each leg individually. I am not a big believer in the hoof gauge, but will use one as a reference, not a guide.

Toe length is easier. Common sense goes a long way here. If you are working too hard to get sole relief from the shoe (by means of some ticklish paring with the hoof knife), then you are too short and, if this is a performance horse, you will realize this the next time it goes to work. I like to trim what I believe to be a safe amount of hoof without excessive use of a hoof knife on the sole. Again, as with hoof angle, measuring toe length is a nice reference to have for each horse.

Remember that not…

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