As footcare professionals know, the angle formed by the bony column of the phalanges with the hoof wall is referred to as the hoof-pastern axis (HPA), and is considered ideal when the dorsal surface of the hoof is parallel to the alignment of the digital bones (Figure 1).1
After 20 years of horseshoeing, I believe farriers and horses would benefit if more emphasis was placed on the biomechanics of the hoof. That’s why, after consulting with other farriers and closely scrutinizing the horses I’ve worked on, I’ve come to define balance as the relationship of the hoof capsule to the coffin bone.
Breakover is a function of the equine foot. A chronic problem that we see in the clinic where I work is that the breakover of the hoof capsule is out of balance with the coffin bone at a given point in the shoeing cycle.
Illinois farrier Vern Powell shares the benefits of looking at feet in terms of steel length instead of a standard factory shoe sizes. It could give you a leg up in a forging competition or when sitting for an examination.
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