Hoof Beats Magazine

DEC 2017

Official magazine of the U.S. Trotting Association, covering harness racing and the Standardbred horse.

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he value of a flat, level shoe- ing surface is never more evi- dent than during evaluation of the hoof capsule. Uneven stress of the hoof will reveal itself in many ways. Stress indicators in- clude heel shear, quarter cracks from that heel shear, a flared or dished hoof wall, even the growth rings from the coronary band. One manifestation of stress, which is sometimes overlooked, is the coronet band itself. Noticing the relationship be- tween the ground and coronet band can help you decide how that hoof is adapt- ing to the workload. The caveat to this is that the horse must be standing on a level and uniform surface. The blacksmith's shop, or a well- prepared barn area, is the best surface to achieve this. While making the front shoes for a horse I was working on recently, there was something about the hind feet that was continuously catching my eye. The horse was originally scheduled to be shod in front only. While completing the front shoes, we finally pinpointed the thing about those hind feet that was grabbing our attention. Fig. 1 shows the coronary band eleva- tion at the inside toe of the left hind foot. Both hind feet were this way. This type of distortion can be influenced by gait, con- formation, soreness, and farriery. The way the hoof contacts the ground and loads is ultimately the reason for a coronary elevation. With little hoof growth to work with, we had limited op- tions to try to relieve the situation. We decided to shim the opposite side of the hoof with leather wedges ( Fig. 2 ). I find leather to be the most forgiving material on the hoof and it is easy to work with, in terms of creating the tapered effect we needed for this case. The idea behind us- ing the shim is to elevate the low side of the coronary border to even the load of the hoof across both sides. Fig. 3 shows the result of this attempt. Horsemen and farriers use many ways to determine if a hoof is level. Eye- lining is the most common method. While holding the lower leg in our hands, we sight down the back of the leg to look at the heels of that hoof and decide if they are equal height. We have all done this. It is the most common way to view level- ness of a hoof, but probably the least reli- able. Relationships between your body to the horse, the hoof to the elbow of that same leg, and the position of your own head while eye-lining the hoof can lead to different perspectives and a widely varied interpretation as to how level that hoof is. Since our objective is even loading of the hoof capsule, I would spend at least as much time assessing the horse's foot while it is loaded. Most of the time we look at the loaded equine leg and evalu- ate the vertical relationship between the hoof and limb. Another, and equally important, in- dicator is the horizontal relationship between the coronary band and level ground. This sometimes overlooked indi- cator can be a harbinger of future prob- lems or the confirmation of a level and healthy hoof. A level coronary band is the first step to a well-balanced hoof capsule. Without taking the time to look at the horse's hoof from all possible views, we may rob ourselves of valuable informa- tion. The extra time spent could quite possibly keep you and your horse out of a jam. [ ] Shoeing News FARRIER ADVICE FROM A PRO y by Steve Stanley Toe Jam Ensure a hoof is level by viewing it on the ground Since our objective is even loading of the hoof capsule, I would spend at least as much time assessing the horse's foot while it is loaded. Farrier Steve Stanley of Versailles, Ky., has shod some of racing's top trotters and pacers. y The views contained in this article are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association. y To comment on this article, email us at readerforum@ustrotting.com. FIGS. 1-3 BY THE AUTHOR • AUTHOR BY ED KEYS 96 HOOF BEATS DECEMBER 2017 Fig. 1 T Fig. 2 Fig. 3

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