Putting A Number On Ideal Hoof Wall Length

Proper measurements with a toe rule can point farriers in the right direction

What is the ideal length that hoof wall should be trimmed to?”

Gerard Laverty’s question was met with a pregnant pause before the attendees at the Oregon Farriers Association mid-September clinic chuckled all at once.

The answer is rather elusive. Most farriers know it when they see it, but assigning a single number to it is simply irresponsible.

“When you read any book, it will not give you hard and fast directions on how much to trim off a horse’s hoof,” says the faculty farrier at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, British Columbia. “I use a toe rule on every horse I trim for that reason.”

Like many of his colleagues, Laverty used dividers in his trimming regimen. That changed when he was introduced to the toe rule.

“I had a number with the toe rule, instead of just a space,” he says. “When using dividers, you trim one toe and you’d go to the other one and scribe it to get them the same length. But what length is it? Unless you actually measure it, you didn’t have a number. With the toe rule, you get a number.”

Farrier Takeaways

  • Accurate measurements from a toe rule provide a number for the ideal hoof wall length.
  • Horses’ hind toes generally are slightly longer to provide leverage.
  • Starting new farriers on the hind feet first, rather than the front, can help avoid trimming the fronts too short.
  • Ideally, the measurements taken of the foot will be fairly uniform.

The Day-To-Day Goal

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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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