After a client invests $40,000 on footing for their arena, it’s hard — maybe impossible — to convince them it’s ruining their horse’s feet. Uxbridge, Ontario, farrier Dave Dawson had a client express concern that their horses were frequently tripping and stumbling.
Human medicine and athletic stores rely on visual maps to recommend orthotics or sneaker styles based on a person’s gait. Pressure plates measure how an individual distributes their weight as they walk or run and converts that data into a graphic interpretation. That information is used to pair the right support or shoe style for specific gait pattern or abnormality to reduce the risk for injury.
Car manufacturers know placing the power at the rear of the vehicle allows for better balance. Nearly all race cars are rear-wheel drive so that when accelerating from a stop, the vehicle’s weight transfers to the back of the car and provides increased traction.
Veteran farrier and founder of the Crawford, Neb., Butler Professional Farrier School, Dr. Doug Butler is credited with saying, “Hoof quality may relate more to the hoof’s ability to regulate moisture content than anything else.” Although Lafayette, Ind., farrier Danvers Child jokes that he and Butler, both members of the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame, sometimes have disagreements, they see eye-to-eye on this point; the key topic of client discussion should center around regulating the moisture content in hooves.
One Friday a month, 30 farriers in western Pennsylvania gather at Allegheny Equine Practice. At least one, often two, lame horses are awaiting them. A veterinarian performs a lameness exam and explains the steps involved. The horses are blocked and radiographs are taken.
Five identical horses awaited Texas-based farrier Virgil Conde at a former client’s farm. Each was a clone of an elite Arabian halter horse. It wasn’t quite like seeing double since their white markings varied. Some had stockings, others didn’t. One had a blaze; another had no white on the face. Even the hoof pigmentation was different with some having white feet and others dark.
It’s not uncommon for farriers to feel pressure from clients who ask for a shoe style or trimming method because the people winning in their discipline “do it that way.” Suddenly, it becomes the “go-to” preference and influences availability of supply.
Jimmy Petty had the reputation of being able to shoe any horse brought to him. He shod 7 days a week, for 12-14 hours a day and was proud of the status — until he got hurt. In 1997, a Quarter Horse mare flipped over on him, crushing his lower lumbar.
Horses that are nervous, lame or irritable aren’t the most pleasant to trim or shoe — and they can be downright dangerous. Sedation is commonly used in these types of horses so that a farrier and equine veterinarian can work safely. In fact, 90% of farriers say they shoe sedated horses, according to a recent American Farriers Journal poll.
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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