Specialising in Performance Horses, Movement, Lameness & Laminitis
Using a Scientific approach to Hoof Care
Using a Scientific approach to Hoof Care
Here is some information on why regular quality Hoof Care is important to you and your horse and the reasons that I schedule shoeing at approximately 4 weeks and Trimming at 4 to 6 weeks.
While not all the information below may pertain to your particular horse, PLEASE take the time to completely read all the information. If you have any questions that are not answered here or by the web sites linked towards the bottom of this email please don’t hesitate to contact me.
To the untrained eye, your horse’s feet might look quite O.K. or even nice, but a trained eye will notice the seemingly small angle misalignment, the extra length of the toe, the broken forward, broken back axis of the hoof/pastern (and internal bone) or even the slight stretching of the laminae, an indicator of laminitis or possibly even founder. All conditions that are extremely undesirable, can make your horse uncomfortable and may even cause pain when moving or standing or lead to greater problems later. Imaging the discomfort you would feel if you walked directly on your toe and your toe nail was left to grow unchecked.
The appointment time frames for trimming/shoeing are based on a number of factors that allow me to provide the maximum benefit to the horse as a Farrier and Hoof Care provider.
Trimming/shoeing needs to be performed within a period that will allow your horses hooves to have grown a reasonable amount of hoof wall, but not so much as to allow the hooves to grow long and out of balance which can cause problems, or further increase existing problems (founder, laminitis etc.). Studies have shown that a period of between 4 to 6 weeks is the optimal time between treatments, regardless of breed or size. It is often found that ponies require increased hoof care, despite their feet looking good. This is due to the fact ponies have a smaller/denser more upright hoof capsule that does not flare out and crack like a larger horse, but tend to grow up, especially at the heels. This can lead to the bones of the hoof/lower leg being at a greatly increased (upright) angle.
The longer the period between trimming/shoeing, the longer the hoof grows and the more the horse’s hooves become out of balance. This leads to stance/movement problems and excess stress and strain being placed on bones, ligaments, tendons of the leg and foot as well as causing problems within the hoof itself. A long toe can also cause problems such as long toe/low heel syndrome, contracted heels and toe or quarter cracks. The excess strain on the internal structures of the hoof and hoof wall can often result in Laminitis (stretching of the lamiae). Not to be confused with Founder.
With a Foundered horse the treatment period needs to be needs to be reduced so that the heels can be kept trimmed and the toe length does not become excessive. This can happen very quickly with a Foundered horse as it is standing/balancing incorrectly (in an attempt to reduce the pressure on the already sore/painful areas of the hoof) and the lack of movement of the horse due to the pain. Frequently trimming the heels allows the horse to reduce the pain in the hoof caused from pressure exerted onto the tip of the coffin bone when standing and moving.
A horses hooves grow at an average rate (approx. ¼ inch every 4 weeks) regardless of where the horse lives and work load it is under or whether it has shoes on or not. And while this may not seem a lot to you, to the horse it is a full shoe size, that is why shoes are a little larger than the hoof at shoeing time, as this allows the horse to grow into the shoe and NOT over the shoe.
If a horse has a hoof balance issue (being turned in/out, long toe/low heel, inside or outside of hoof being longer than the other) it tends to wear away the side that is bearing the most weight (the shortest side), while the other side of the hoof is not worn as much and thereby increasing the problem. Cracks in the hoof wall due to incorrect weight bearing or long toes can also result.
The solution to most hoof and leg issues in horses is correct timing of trimming/shoeing to reduce the amount of hoof growth or the amount the hoof is worn incorrectly.
Of course if I attend to a horse and there is less than ¼ of an inch of correct/even growth this means that the hoof is being worn down almost as quickly as it is growing and I DO NOT trim the feet as this would cause the horse to become sore over the following few weeks, due to lack of natural protection.
With a horse that is shod, the hoof is not worn down at all as it is protected by the shoe and therefore continues to grow forward uninterrupted. So correct timing of shoeing is very important. The hoof will grow over the shoe if left too long, thereby causing a broken back hoof pastern axis and increasing the leverage needed for break-over. The now small shoe may also cause corns, under-run heels and sole bruising.
Older horses, like older people experience more joint pain then their younger counterparts. Regular, correctly trimming/shoeing can help ease any discomfort by maintaining the correct angle and length of the hooves. This can ease their way of going (moving) therefore keeping them going in more comfort and less pain for longer.
The condition of your horse’s hooves not only affects the health and comfort of your horse but directly reflects my ability and reputation. I have worked very hard to gain the abilities and knowledge, that allow to know how to keep your horses feet in the best condition possible and this has thereby increased my reputation as a quality Farrier and Hoof Care provider, something I am very proud of and intend to continually strive to keep.
Information on how you can assess your horse’s hooves for length, balance and more can be gained at the website of the “Equine Lameness Prevention Organisation”
Below are more sites with information of hoof care, treatment periods and hoof conditions.
I hope this helps you to understand the necessity of why I do what I do when I do it.