Don’t Let The Hinds Become An Afterthought

English farrier explains how he assesses a horse behind for conformation and balance

Farrier Takeaways

  • Attention to detail in a horse’s hinds makes a difference in how a horse performs in the forelimbs.
  • A hoof capsule that isn’t loading evenly won’t grow evenly.
  • Dynamic assessment often points out problems that can’t be ascertained with only a static assessment.

Assessing a horse’s conformation is a staple for farriers, and for good reason. Certain conformations offer an understanding of movement, wear and potential lamenesses.

“We’re all familiar with different types of conformation in the front limbs,” English farrier Sam Head told attendees at the mid-November Thoro’Bred Extravanza in Anaheim, Calif. “But how many of us truly consider the same in the horse’s hind?”

It wasn’t all that long ago that the hinds were essentially an afterthought, he says.

“When I was an apprentice, the boss would trim the front feet on the young horses and I would trim the back feet,” says Head of Vulcan Horseshoes. “They weren’t as important as the front feet. If I screwed them up, it didn’t matter as much.”

While the fore feet are no doubt important, the hinds play an integral role.

“A lot of the time,” he says, “it’s the attention to detail behind that makes a difference in how a horse might perform in front.”

Conformation And Weight Distribution

Athletes of a two- and four-legged variety have at least one thing in common — conformation.

“When we have a horse that has a turned out conformation, it’s much less athletic,” says the third generation farrier, who shoes…

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Jeff cota 2023

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 editor of American Farriers Journal.

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