Articles by Heather Smith Thomas

Using Diagnostic Imaging to Pinpoint Foot Problems

The vital information that technology can provide is another reason for farriers to work closely with veterinarians
Many new diagnostic techniques and imaging modalities have come into use and it can often be challenging to understand which ones might be best suited for a given lameness problem. It is also important to know when to use these tools.
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Conformation's Influence on Motion

Understanding the subtle details of a horse’s conformation will best prepare you for effective trimming and shoeing
How a horse is put together — body proportions and angles, leg angles, straightness or imbalance in limbs — influences how that horse moves, how its feet push off and strike the ground and how its hooves wear and grow.
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Dealing with Sheared Heels

The causes of this common problem may be more complex than they appear on the surface
Among many of the challenges a farrier must deal with are sheared heels. Scott Morrison, the veterinarian and farrier who leads the Podiatry Department at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Lexington, Ky., says this problem is usually the result of less than ideal conformation. Usually the horse toes in or out, putting more stress on one side of the hoof wall (and heel) than the other. When a horse develops sheared heels, the stressed heel becomes jammed upward, the hoof symmetry is distorted and one heel is bearing most of the weight.
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Advice for Dealing with Underrun Heels in Western Peformance Horses

A pair of Texas farriers share how they deal with this all-too-common problem
Many horses tend to have underrun heels, in which the main support for the foot grows out from under them. The toe is often too long and the hoof angle broken backward, putting too much weight on the heels, which tend to become low and squashed.
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Cutting Back on Shoe Loss on Hard-Working Western Horses

Farriers share tips for keeping shoes in place while still supplying proper support for horses working in arenas and ranches
On occasion almost any horse will experience the loss of a shoe catching it on a gate or fence while pawing and jerking it off, or scrambling in deep mud and stepping it off, or some other abnormal situation. Some horses, however, routinely pull their shoes off due to the way they travel and overreach. In these cases, careful measures must be taken to eliminate foot contact.
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