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14013 Georgia East Hwy 136
LaFayette, GA, 30728


At Georgia Horseshoeing School, we train farriers by providing knowledge and skill at the highest level. Using the latest technology, we provide farriers with the best education possible. Learn corrective horseshoeing, hoof repair, gait analysis, blacksmithing and business management for horseshoers.

Helpful Articles

For horse-owners, farriers, anyone who trims or shoes. We have valuable information on abscesses, contracted heels, hoof cracks, forging etc. 

Difference between Thrush and Canker 

Ginger C.


From the Farriers' National Research Center & School. Dedicated to providing education on hoof care and shoeing for horse owners and continuing education for farriers……

The Swan Center Case - “Tennessee”:  

“Tennessee,” a 14-year-old Appaloosa gelding is one of 40 horses residing at the Swan Center Monastery in Marble Hill, Georgia.   Many of the monastery's horses come from rescue situations and require special handling and care. Some are too old and debilitated to ever be ridden again, but most fully recover their health. These horses are the foundation of the various riding programs which the monastery offers for children and adults, mentally and physically challenged individuals, and the elderly. Tennessee” has been a key player in these programs, and a favorite of the summer camp children.   He has a humorous personality, a laid back nature, and can be trusted to go anywhere, and face anything in a calm, relaxed manner.  

Tennessee has white hooves and he is prone to thrush, so we did not think it was unusual when this condition appeared one spring, after a particularly wet winter. All four feet were affected, and the rear hooves were much worse than the front.   We treated it accordingly, using several different thrush remedies, each one stronger than the last. He did not respond to the usual treatments, so we contacted our Vet to see if anything else could be done. His recommendations did not correct the situation. Over a period of a year we contacted several vets and even called the University of Georgia, to see if anyone had any answers for us.   In spite of all of our efforts, the frog became extremely soft and spongy and bled easily.   The infection went so deep that the hoof wall started to break down.   It became progressively worse until almost a third of his hoof was gone. None of the professionals we contacted could come up with any solution other than putting the horse down. 

I, along with other monastery residents, met to discuss Tennessee's condition, and to brainstorm about possibilities we had not yet considered. We had had so much experience with bringing horses back from the brink of death. We could not accept that there was nothing that could be done to save such a wonderful soul as Tennessee.

The Headmaster suggested that we call Ralph Casey.   She reminded us of what a wonderful resource he had been in the past - knowledgeable of horse shoeing information no one else seemed to have.   I had met Ralph many years ago when I went to his horse shoeing school so I could learn to take care of our horses personally.   I remembered how much I had enjoyed and appreciated those classes.   They enabled me to keep our horses feet healthy and saved us countless dollars, allowing us to do our own shoeing. 

I called Ralph and described Tennessee's condition. It took Ralph about a minute to sum up the situation. He said, "He's got canker…….this is what you need to do." Needless to say I was elated to find someone who actually knew what we were dealing with and how to treat it.   We brought Tennessee to the Farriers' National Research Center.   Ralph evaluated Tennessee and suggested that we focus on getting the back hooves sound first, as they were the most life threatening at the time. He proceeded to cut out all the dead frog and sole. The hooves bled profusely, but Ralph was unconcerned. He gave us the program of treatment, described below, minus a few special topical solutions that Ralph said only specialist should use. Our stable manager, Suzanne Jones, followed this program to the letter. 














The results seemed miraculous. We saw immediate improvement and within six months, the rear hooves were back to normal, and we were able to begin treatment on the front hooves. Tennessee was soon back in action, entertaining the kids with his mischievous antics, and providing them with hours of riding pleasure. What could have been a tragic ending to the life of a much-loved horse, turned into a tremendous learning experience for everyone. We have Ralph Casey and the Farriers’ National Research Center to thank for keeping Tennessee with us.   We deeply appreciate Ralph and the Research Center for the contribution made to farrier research and equine education.

The right hind hoof showing the bulge at the heels and the severe deformity of the hoof described as canker.

 The right hind hoof with o visible signs of canker remaining. This was taken prior to trimming to show the amount of good solid, healthy foot growth.

The left hind hoof with the same successful results, before trimming.

This is the left hind hoof, side view with canker.

Examining the front hooves, we found the canker to be in the beginning stages so we immediately cut away what we could and put the horse on the same daily routine for another three months. Notice what a small area on the front hoof is diseased and since we caught it in time it will not develop into the ugly mess as in Photo #1.



 Since the first photo of this canker appeared in articles, we were flooded by requests for additional information on the treatments. Most horse owners are willing to work with their farriers but nearly all of them want to object to exercising the horse in the deep sand based round pen for the recommended time. The horse is sore and they think it is cruel. The horse may limp or give a little, but as time goes on, they will almost look forward to it because it begins to feel good.   The sand helps to grind out the canker and is vital in the complete removal of this disease. I formulated this procedure to help relieve the weekly cutting away of the growth, which was good for the horse and me and less expensive the owner.   I have always emphasized that owners should fully understand the importance of maintaining the lower limb and hoof area and to work with their farriers.   I also promote continuing education and certification for all working farriers.   In this particular case, this horse would not be sound or even alive today without the daily dedication shown Suzanne, the stable manager.


Ginger C.

“ My horse is lame and won’t get up, limping or has broken his leg!"


He has an abscess. The horse owner will see their horse out to pasture, unable to bear weight on a limb, which instills panic. To see a horse with a full-blown abscess is quit dramatic. Often he will not bear weight on the affected limb. Usually the hoof will be warm to the touch with a rapid pulse. A certified farrier is knowledgeable about abscesses and can trim out the hoof and use a pair of hoof testers to find the sore spot. Often times the farrier will bore out the abscess to relieve the pressure. It is recommended to soak in warm water and Epsom salts making sure to soak up to the coronet band. With winter weather also comes ideal conditions for abscesses to form. If the hoof becomes too dry it will crack allowing bacteria to travel up into the hoof wall and sole. Too much moisture can cause the same thing if your horse stands around in muddy damp areas. With the southeastern U.S. humidity, the morning dew is enough to cause a horse’s hoof to become too soft and sponge like. This condition is prime for dirt, bacteria and fungi to be worked through the sole and hoof walls. Once worked in, there is no way out and most of the time it will occur in the front hooves.


The grime becomes locked in and begins to fester. The fester begins brewing, creating pus and heat from the rotting flesh locked within, causing great pressure against the hoof wall. This is similar to a bruised finger or toenail on you. Anyone having experience with this can testify as to how unpleasant this is. But climate is hardly the only culprit. Riding a horse over rough, rocky terrain is a leading cause of abscesses. This is worsened if the horse is not properly shod.

Photo 1

Stone bruises caused these abscesses that busted out in the sole of the hoof.


Photo 2 and 3

These cracks were caused by an abscess that blowout in the hoof wall closer to the coronary band. They are now cleaned out and ready for bonding and shoes to help prevent more cracking and infections. Along with dry conditions, hoof supplements to promote healthy growth, all should be normal in 8-10 months.




Contracted Heels-Another BIG Problem!

Ginger C.

In most of our articles on various shoeing topics, we talk about conformation first. The conformation of the horse will dictate how the hoof will land while the horse is in motion, whether it be at a walk or run. Our program referring to the 6 Steps in our Grammar School of Trimming and Shoeing DVD  plays an important role in providing the best support for the horse.  After all the purpose of shoeing the horse is, “To keep the boney column in alignment so when the hoof strikes the ground, the entire boney column, including the spine, equally absorbs the concussion.”  These two are the basis of the continuing education we offer here at the FNRC and is the basis of every evaluation made on horses brought to the center.  Without a true and understandable evaluation, the farrier cannot apply his knowledge towards successful results and in return explain his work to the horse owner. 

Contracted heels can be caused when a foot or portion of the foot is not bearing its share of weight, causing it to shrink, become thin. It can be caused by lack of moisture, poor circulation due to lack of exercise.  Contraction may be in one foot or both feet.  It may be on one side or both sides of the foot.  Neglected or irregular maintainance, trimming and/or shoeing and even improper shoeing can cause contracted heels.  A contracted foot has heels buttresses closer together than normal and a frog that is smaller than normal. 

The bars are attached to what we call a fish hook at the buttress.  The heels, at the buttress, are about 1 ½ inches in width, when there should actually be 3" wide across. 






Baby's First Trim

Ginger C.

Guaranteed to be the most important
trim of its’ entire life! 

Here we are on the Horseshoe’n Time in front of a crowd of eager student farriers, professional farriers and horse owners alike.

Let me remind you that farriers usually start out as horse owners, which is what leads them to choose the profession.  Helping to educate “all” horse enthusiasts is our goal and today our topic is probably…no wait… it IS one of the most crucial elements in a horses’  life that will lead it to grow into a healthy, sound and athletic equine companion.

Our baby today is with his mom, owned by Randy Keene of K & K Farms in Calhoun, Georgia.  Randy owns and brings a lot of horses to the research center on a regular basis and starts his babies out with a trim right about a month old.  By handling it from birth makes our job a lot easier and I must say this one was an excellent candidate for our show.  With Randy by mom’s side and our assistant farrier, Kevin Cotton making baby feel comfortable, we begin. 

Let’s evaluate its’ little feet now ( photo 1 ).  A normal baby is born natural one day of it’s life, on its’ birthday!!  A normal baby will not have one leg longer than the other, off balance lateral and medial, one toe longer than the other and so on.  It is pretty close to being perfect as God intended it to be. The farrier’s goal is to keep the horse natural, just like he was the day he was born. We are going to follow our same evaluation of using the “6 Steps to Balancing the Hoof & Horse for Sound Shoeing” as we do for mature horses.

As the hoof hardens and the frog toughens up and it’s walking and running regularly, the conformation will dictate how it’s foot will land.  Most horses are “cow-hocked” or “toed out” on the hind quarters, which is normal.  This little front foot is wearing out on
the inside (medial) causing the wall to straighten as in photo 2. This indicates that its’ conformation is causing the foot to bear more weight towards the inside causing it to flare out on the outside (lateral) wall. You can also see that the foot is already becoming unsymmetrical which in turn will cause the foal to become unbalanced. Balance is defined as equal weight distributed all around the hoof. There are 6 steps to balancing the horse for sound shoeing: toe length, leg length, lateral and medial balance, symmetrical, natural angle and bone in the center of the shoe. 

All of these steps help keep the bony column of the leg in alignment, wherein where the foot strikes the ground, the entire bony column, including the spine, equally absorbs the concussion. Although the foal is obviously barefoot at this stage, it is detrimental to keep these principles in mind. Our school has spent many years designing the “6 Steps” program to make it simple enough for horse owners to understand.

The tubulars running down the hoof from the hairline down as in photo 3, will begin to grow incorrectly and in this case they are already changing angles in the heel area. If simple corrections are not made early on in the foals’ life, it can lead to permanent hoof growth abnormalities.

We demonstrated the gentle rasping needed for the outside hoof wall to match the inside.  To remove too much hoof wall will be detrimental. Healthy hoof wall is precious material in the eyes of a farrier!  The opposite front foot needed the same.  We 
demonstrated the safest technique in handling the hind feet in photo 4 as we moved outside to complete the trim with his buddy and owner, Randy Keene.  Notice how both mares are calm awaiting their trims.  I must commend any and all horse owners who work with their horses so that the farrier can perform his or her job properly without getting mangled, beaten and kicked and otherwise thoroughly abused!

In Photo 5, it is always a good idea to let everyone take a “milk break” on the set of Horseshoe’n Time and… 
we try to accommodate all of our guests.

Reparing a Hoof Crack for the Barefoot Horse

Ginger C.

Barefoot horses are very often neglected when it comes to trimming such as the case for broodmares, seniors and those rarely ridden. And let’s not forget the youngster who really needs trimming all throughout its first two years to ensure proper growth and balance as well as getting him ready for his first shoes. 

Regular and routine maintenance is just as important or you will end up with a lame and limping horse one day.  Hoof cracks, chunks torn out of the hooves, curling up toes and the sides spreading out called “flares” must all be taken as seriously as the shoeing process.  Excessive long toes can cause permanent damage to the hoof and soreness in the withers, hips and legs and severe cracks and splits.  Each horse brought to the center is evaluated using our “6 Steps to Balancing the Hoof and Horse for Sound Shoeing” and can be back in shape within a few shoeings, if caught in time. As we go though the evaluation process with the farrier staff, each horse owner has a chance to learn as much as they want about the entire process. This provides much needed communication between owners and farriers! Surprising to most people, hoof cracks can be repaired for those barefoot horses, which wish to remain barefoot.  Cracks that are completely through the hoof wall definitely need to be repaired.  The hoof can easily become infected and you could lose the horse if not attended to immediately.  Though a crack may look as thin as a pencil line on the outside of the hoof wall, it can become a major problem as the horse compounds more pressure and weight on it by merely walking.

Photo 1
You can see by using a hoof pick, we are cleaning out manure, sand and junk that was packed up into what started out being a hairline crack.

Photo 2
Here, the crack was made wider using a dremel tool in order to pick and clean it out further. The dremel tool will also help us to place the tiny holes in the hoof wall to prepare for the lacing. 


Warning: Please DO NOT try using dremel or power tools on your horse’s feet, please consult your certified farrier 


Photo 3
We carefully laced this crack with a wax-coated thread.  This is not to hold the crack together, but to hold the bonding material in place. Think of it as re-barb being placed in concrete to provide a stronger hold. Fortunately, this horse is not afraid of what we are doing and the sounds around her because she is familiar with shoeing.  This is the greatest asset we have going for us in these types of situations.

Photo 4
We are always experimenting with types of hoof bonding material.   This particular one can be mixed, poured and smoothed by hand with no chemical or harmful odor and side effects. After applying the material, waiting for it to set and dry, the hoof was rasped and shaped, as a normal hoof would be.

Photo 5
The crack will eventually grow out, if you will allow your farrier to continue the maintenance on a 6-week basis.  If not, sometimes all of the effort to correct something and the money spent will be wasted.  These photos were taken of two different horses during tapings of Horseshoe’n Time.

Why take a 2 week course?

Ginger C.

You will learn to trim and/or shoe what we refer to as the normal standard straight legged horse.

All students will learn our 6 Steps which you will apply to every horse that you touch and evaluate. 

We are very cautious about your safety and horsemanship skills while handling horses. You will concentrate on the overall conformation of the horse and the anatomy of the lower limb and hoof while trimming to remain barefoot and certainly the difference in trimming prior to shoeing.

Shoe shaping, manufacturers and styles such as regular plain what some call “keg” shoes and pre-shaped front and hind factory made shoes. We refer to this as “forge work” using shoes that are plain, heeled, clipped, applying traction to start with. Shaping the shoes on the anvil is referred to as “cold shoeing.” Heating the shoe in the propane or coal forge to shape at the anvil is referred to as “hot shoeing.” When the shoe is shaped correctly, placed back in the forge and set on the hoof wall, this is also referred to hot shoeing, then placed in cold water to cools, then nailed to the hoof. There are many reasons for “hot shoeing” to be discussed. The phrase “corrective shoeing” is anything that modifies the shoe to fit the hoof that is not a perfect size or shape.  Nail sizes and styles and choosing good farrier tools, anvils and forges are important. There is a lot more to “forge work” than most students realize so be prepared.

Farrier Industry Facts

Ginger C.

The following are facts about the Farrier Industry. We provide this information to you for your education about this industry as well as your use to provide this information to any office that request "Demand for Trade" data for funding. Much of this information came from The American Horse Council website. You may gather more information through the American Horse Council at You may also check with your local Horse Council to get local area data.

•The Farrier Industry is one of the most lucrative divisions of the equine industry.

•The professional farrier is respected as the expert in the lower limb and hoof areas of the horse more so than the equine veterinarian who only received six hours in horseshoeing techniques during their years at college.

•Professional farriers are self-employed individuals or groups who govern themselves through two national farrier associations, setting standards for professional shoeing.

A self-employed farrier can make an exceptional salary by serving his or her community with qualified and professional services if prior training is properly received.
There are well over 25,000 farriers in the U.S. today. Farrier Services are not often advertised as other occupations simply due to the fact that qualified farriers are already in high demand by the horse owning public.
Many farriers only need to advertise at their local livestock retail stores in every rural area of America, talk with horse groups, clubs, riding clubs, etc.
There are more horses today than there were before the automobile and owners take their expensive passion more seriously.
With more education available today with the internet, videos, new horse training techniques and an ever-growing horse population, the public is demanding more qualified and professional farrier service. 

According to the most recent survey in 2010 gross income for both full time and part time farriers averaged $73,108.00. 
This was an increase of 16% over the average gross income 2 years earlier.
During a typical week, a farrier will handle the foot care needs of 48 horses belonging to 18 clients.
During a years time, he or she handle 1,904 trims and/or shoeing work on 267 horses for 148 clients.
The typical horse is trimmed and/or shod 7 times during the year (every 6-8 weeks) . 

Frank Lessiter said in the American Farriers Journal in November 2000 that of the 122 million equines found in the world no more than 10% are clinically sound. Another 10% are clinically, completely and unusably lame. The remaining 80% are somewhat lame but still usable. 
What does this mean to you?

This means you will be working with the clinically sound and clinically lame but usable horses and you need the proper training, tools and supplies.

Injuries, White Line Disease & Hoof Wall Repair

Ginger C.

A review of what we have received



Photo 1 is a case where an injury and unnoticed abscesses eventually decayed this hoof wall almost to the coronary band, or hairline.  






Photo 2 shows where we rebuilt the hoof wall with a bonding material provided by Hoof-it Technologies of Nevada.  This horse and owner are back riding as normal but must have regular re-shoeing until the hoof wall grows out which can normally take up to eight months or more





Photo 3 is of a mare with white line disease, which has rotted away the hoof wall
at the toe region.  

This caused her to walk on the sole, or bottom, of the hoof casing abscesses and excruciating pain. She could not and would not take a step on her own.



Photo 4 is the same mare after three treatments over a 6-day period to eliminate the white line disease. Afterwards we carefully applied a material provided by Level-it of to walk normal and off the sole. It isn’t very pretty at this point but she was comfortable but easily walked to her trailer to go home. Her owner agreed to feed a supplement of Right Balance provided by Mustad, Inc. to aid in hoof growth.  After six weeks she returned for re-shoeing with much improvement and will continue the supplement for another six weeks.  The owner has been extremely happy and the horse is pain free.

In photo 5, another product we have had a success with is Equithane provided by Vettec in California.  Here we are building a hoof wall and heels, actually a size 6 custom shoe, for this Clydesdale who will remain barefoot. It is also used to extend the toe and build heels when shoes are applied, help extend the toe of club footed horses and colts and general hoof repair.




Photo 6 Cleaning and repairing the smallest hairline crack gets our utmost attention at the FNRC as these   farriers work together as seen on Horseshoe’n Time.  The smallest of cracks or crevices unattended can cause painful injuries to the white line and sensitive areas of the hoof anatomy. 

 Always let your farrier take the special care and time to eliminate future problems.  

Repairs, maintenance, identifying and solving hoof problems all play a role in the business of shoeing horses by professional farriers. We always recommend that owners seek out the services of a professional who is on top of the latest technology available to them. The FNRC is working hard to provide an invaluable part of hoof care education to the horse owning public. We welcome your calls, questions, emails and visits. All of the information provided in our articles is derived directly from the work performed here and in much more detail.  This facility has been made available to you through the hard work of caring horse owners and farriers working together for the betterment of the industry and welfare of all horses.

Hoof Abscesses and Balance

Ginger C.

“ My horse has broken his leg!”…WRONG ….he has an abscess.  This is a typical summer time call here at the Farriers’ National Research Center and School.  The horse owner will see their horse out to pasture, unable to bear weight on a limb, which instills panic.  Why are we receiving a vast amount of calls on abscesses this time of year?  To start with, horse owners have more time and better weather to be out enjoying their equine companions.  With this nice summer weather, also come ideal conditions for abscesses to form.  Too much of a good thing is not always that good.  If the hoof becomes too dry it will crack allowing bacteria to travel up into the hoof wall and sole. Too much moisture can cause the same thing if your horse stands around in muddy damp areas. With summer humidity, the morning dew is enough to cause a horse’s hoof to become too soft and sponge like.  This condition is prime for dirt, bacteria and fungi to be worked through the sole and hoof walls.  Once worked in, there is no way out.  And, most of the time it will occur in the front hooves.  The grime becomes locked in and begins to fester.  The fester begins brewing, creating pus and heat from the rotting flesh locked within, causing great pressure against the hoof wall.  This is similar to a bruised finger or toenail on you.   Anyone having experience with this can testify as to how unpleasant this is. But climate is hardly the only culprit.  

Riding a horse over rough, rocky terrain is a leading cause of abscesses.  This is enhanced if the horse is not properly shod.  Remember, “the main reason for shoeing a horse is to keep the bony column in alignment, so when the foot strikes the ground, the entire bony column including the spine, equally absorbs the concussion.”

If the horse is out of balance the weight will not be distributed equally all around the hoof.  This will cause a single area of the hoof to bear excessive weight. If the hoof happens to land on a hard and or sharp object you can bet it will bruise or puncture the sole.  Often times the bruising or punctures will abscess.  If you are riding your horse barefoot the chances of abscesses greatly increase.   Just like most people, most horses’ feet do not strike the ground evenly due to their conformation.  This in turn will create uneven wear, which causes the horse to become unbalanced. Riding your horse barefoot will create chipped and cracked hooves, which is another easy way for abscesses to form. If you are in the market for a new farrier it is important to check their certification card and expiration to ensure they are continuing their education in farrier science.   An untrained farrier may nail quick, pare out excessive amounts of sole or cut too deeply into live sole creating an environment for abscesses to form.Often the abscess can go misdiagnosed and untreated. A trauma to the coronet band and hoof area such as; rapping a fence while jumping, fly stomping, twisting a shoe, excessive pawing and forging are all capable of creating an abscess.    

To see a horse with a full-blown abscess is quit dramatic.  Often he will not bear weight on the affected limb.  Usually the hoof will be warm to the touch with a rapid pulse.  A certified farrier can diagnose the abscess by paring out the hoof and using a pair of hoof testers.  Often times the farrier will bore out the abscess to relieve the pressure.  Treatment may include warm water and Epsom salt soaks making sure to soak up to the coronet band, ichthamol packed and wrapped both on the sole as well as on the outside of the hoof wall including the coronet band to draw the abscess out.  The abscess is just as likely to “blow-out” at the coronet band as it will through the sole. The abscess pus will have a hideous odor; once you have experienced this odor you will recognize it from any other hoof related ailment. A word of caution, do not get the pus on you or your clothing, it is very hard to wash this pungent odor off.  

Once the abscess has been drained you should see immediately relief. At this time you must continue soaking the hoof with Epsom salt for several days.  This will keep the wound flushed out and draining which will help prevent further infection.   Your horse may remain sore and out of commission for several weeks.  Often the area around the abscess is tender and it takes time to toughen up and heal.  

What can I do to prevent this from happening?  Use your certified farrier regularly for he or she is the caretaker of the lower limb.  To keep the hoof from becoming too dry or too damp use a quality hoof dressing.  If you are unsure about what product is right for your horse, ask your farrier their recommendation.  Don’t be a cheapskate, if you are riding your horse regularly, put shoes on him!!  

Photo 1
We are pointing to a blown out abscess on a dry, cracked and unbalanced hoof. Note the overall poor condition of the hoof; this horse was being ridden barefoot.

Photo 2
Casey is seen here on Horseshoe’n Time, explaining the process
of boring out the debris from an old abscess

Photo 3
One of our case studies at the FNRC is this Morgan with severe and unattended hoof cracks that caused abscesses in both front feet. Without corrective shoeing this 21 year old cannot walk and is very tender.  With shoes he can run,s play and be ridden lightly.

Photo 4
Here we are explaining the importance of balance related to the natural angle, pastern and conformation of the horse with guest farrier Clint Sides of Alabama.

Our school helps owners and the public learn more about every day hoof care and more shoeing topics than you could ever imagine!  With the assistance of certified farriers from the BWFA we can also bring all of this information to the Annual Convention.

High Heels and Out of Balance

Ginger C.

Opposite of the “Low Heel, No Heel” article previously written, here we want to show you a case of “High Heels.”  Certainly, not every horse is shod the same and there is a difference in shoeing a quarter horse and shoeing a gaited or walking horse. Most people know that the shoes are different, but what about the hoof itself? While most horses have problems growing heels , in this case we have too much heel !

This well maintained and award winning, show- stopping stallion has all the good looks to win, and does!  But to the owners surprise he was beginning to buck a little and be downright irritable during training.  So, after seeing our Horseshoe’n Time  television show and learning about the FNRC, they decided to drive to Georgia for a free evaluation and any assistance we could offer.

With a video camera in hand, the owner arrives with her show trainer, all eager and open minded to help “fix” their horse’ problem.

This is how we started…first of all we had 13 farriers attending the FNRC that day and all of them stopped what they were doing to also learn how to Properly Evaluate this Horse.  We made our own documentations by taking photos and a video of the horse from all angles and in motion; with our conversations, the horse’s history, present problems and suggestions made. Most were obvious to the owner and she appreciated the chance to converse with us in detail to learn the reasons her horse was very uncomfortable.Upon completion we prepared a detailed written evaluation, located a certified farrier in her area through the office of the BWFA (Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association), which provides a National Farrier Referral Program.  This farrier will continue the work and documentation and report the progress back to us. We do ask that the farrier, horse and owners return to the FNRC in the future, many times to be part of  our horse owner clinic and the continuing education programs designed for farriers to receive their Farrier Science Degrees.

By following our evaluation “The 6 Steps to Balancing the Hoof and Horse for Sound Shoeing” this horse was clearly “out of Balance.”  This being a gaited horse, the heels are higher than we would set a quarter horse at, but no matter what breed or event horse it is, the heels should match!  

Photo 1:  a rear view of the front feet, clearly shows the left heel is higher than the right.

Photo 2:  a rear view of the hind feet, clearly shows the left heel is lower than the right. This alone was causing the horse to almost buckle under when we touched his withers area. With the legs not being the same length, he was feeling pain as people do around the neck and shoulder areas.

Photo 3:  On the left front foot, first noted was severe thrush with a “cheesy” frog, a straight hoof wall on the medial (inside) side with a slight flair on the lateral (outside) resembling a mule foot. 

Photo 4:  The Contracted Heels was the culprit causing the ideal place for the thrush to set in and deteriorate the frog. To show this we placed a pencil between the heel bulbs that should not be able to stay in place on its own.

Photo 5: (below) The right front foot: A lot of the diseased frog was trimmed away, removing the bars and dirt traps from the sole and treated for thrush, which made a big difference! Notice the old nail holes and bruises in and around the white line.  

6: The same was done to the left front foot..  Notice the contracted heels and how the left heel is rolled under more, causing the foot not to be symmetrical. 

Now, this is obviously not all we did for this horse. Every step was carefully taken and at best, the horse will be more comfortable, but we can only remove and reshape the hoof as much as nature will allow. It will be up to the owners and future shoeings to get this horse just where he should be, balanced!! You will have to catch a Horseshoe’n Time show to see the final results or better yet, visit the FNRC for all the details related to this case and more.

"Forging" Referred to as Clicking

Ginger C.

This is a common problem encountered by farriers and horseowners. Forging is defined as interference between the bottom of the front shoe and the toe of the hind shoe on the same side of the horse, as in photo 1. It is easily identified by a clicking sound. I probably receive as many horses with this problem than any other. This is one common problem that can be easily solved by a competent farrier.

The basic principle behind many of the techniques used by farriers is to speed up the front and slow down the back. To explain this there are quite a few techniques used such as:

Slowing down the hind can be accomplished by decreasing the angle of the hoof by using a shoe with extended heels, possibly leaving a quarter of an inch of the toe of the shoe longer than the toe of the hoof. The breakover of the front feet can be easily speeded up by increasing the angle of the toe and possibly using an extra light rocker toed shoe. However, speeding up the front and slowing down the hind doesn’t always work. Another procedure is to decrease the forward extension of the hind feet. This can be done by applying heel calks and a rocker toe to the hind foot. Sometimes by increasing the elevation and forward extension of the front feet using a heavier shoe with rolled or rocker toed shoes will also help.

Conformation  is a common  cause of forging. Horses that have short backs and long legs or that “stand-under”, or horses that have long hind legs and short front legs are very good candidates for forging.  INFREQUENT SHOEING will sometimes allow the hoof to become too long causing the horse to forge.

Sometimes just removing the “clicking” noise can stop some horses from forging. Squaring the toe of the hind shoe and fitting it back under the toe can easily do this. Believe it or not, a horse can get psychologically hung up on the sound.

This may be hard to believe, but many horses forge due to poor horsemanship. The rider may be out of balance, the saddle incorrectly positioned, the horse possibly being overworked or fatigued or from the rider being just a passenger instead of a true rider. The rider becoming better educated in his riding techniques can easily overcome these problems. We probably spend as much time educating some of the horse owners as we do teaching horseshoeing at the school and in clinics. Often time’s horse owners get the idea that corrective shoeing can solve problems in just one visit. Many times, an extensive evaluation is needed by the farrier, which takes time and patience. Anytime corrective shoeing is needed, it should be done gradually as apposed to drastic alterations.  Each horse is an individual as in people and must be treated as such. The object of corrective shoeing is to eliminate problems without injury to the horses limbs and body. 

The goal at the Farriers’ National Research Center is to provide education on “Preventive Maintenance” to avoid further damage to the horses we love. And we can’t stress enough the importance of seeking out services from certified farriers.  When you find someone, stay on a shoeing schedule every six to eight weeks and no longer. Your horse will appreciate it and as we say here, 

“A Happy Horse Makes
 a Happy Owner”!

Beware of Purchasing a Horse Without a Full Evaluation!

Ginger C.

When purchasing a horse whether from an auction house, individual or even over the internet, check those feet!  Yes, along with the color, beauty and bloodline papers, the absolutely most important evaluation should be actually picking up the horse’s feet and evaluate them yourself ! This is where horse owners will lose a lot of money.

So many times we receive calls, letters and visitors with questions about hoof problems that were not noticed until after the purchase of their new horse. Here is a letter and photo we just received.

Mr. Casey, 
I have seen several of your ads in different books and papers about club-footed horses. I have a two year old that I bought at an auction and could not see the foot because of the deep saw dust.  I picked the horse up the next day and when I pulled her out of the stall I was shocked to see her foot. The auction people said to take it up with the seller.  Well, he was from Tennessee and I live in Florida.  I tried several times to find out how her foot got that way and all I ever got was an answering machine.  So what I want to know is, do you think she can be fixed or is her foot to severe.  She is such a sweet horse.  If I cans fix the foot, I’ll have to give her away. I can’t afford to keep her and not get any use out of her.   As you suggested, I am sending photos.  Can you help me?


photo 1: (severe clubbed foot)

 Photo 1

Photo 1

Sadly enough in this case, the owner did not look “down” when this black and white paint horse came into the auction barn.  Unfortunately, this happens often.  Many owners are intimidated by picking up an unknown horses feet and if they did, are not quite sure what they are looking for.  In this case, the seller simply did not offer any more information about the horse than was asked.  


In photo 2:  

 Photo 2

Photo 2

This horse was brought to us for an evaluation after the owners had purchased it from an auction. They said there was so much mud and manure on the feet, that they did not notice the hoof deformity.  The horse did not show signs of limping and when the seller was asked if the horse was sound, his answer was yes.  The new owner went for a ride the next day and the horse came up lame.  By looking at the rings and deformity on the outside hoof wall, there are clear signs of founder and an old abscess that busted out in the middle. The hoof had been maintained and shod but, the seller was not totally honest with the buyer.

Now, back to that pre-purchase evaluation. Picking up the feet can be very intimidating at first and safety measures should always be taken each time.  A horse at any age, young or old, that willingly allows you to pick up his feet for handling and cleaning is well worth taking a second look at.  Here we are going to go through a few safety steps: 

Never tie the horse securely so that he cannot get away while working on the front limbs. Have someone hold the horse or if you are alone, drop the lead line on the ground. Choose an area away from other horses like a  round pen, a stall, a washing area or just anywhere you can be alone with the horse.  If the horse accidentally spooks, he should be able to get away without hurting you or itself.  A tight restraint will frighten him even more and you are asking for a blow up!  Even a child can learn while helping if the horse is handled daily as in these photos. Ideally, if you feed on a regular basis, then clean the feet on a regular basis.

In photos three and four, in picking up the front limb, you should always practice safety.  By laying your arm across the horse and bending your legs, not only will you save your back, but you will keep you head higher and away.  In case the horse swats a fly with the hind foot, he will not strike your head or face.

In photos five, six & seven, by laying your arm across the back of the horse you will also save your back, by bending your legs and keeping your head higher and laying for face on the animal.  This keeps your face also out of range.  With your arm across the horse, you can get a better feel of the animal’s movement.  It also helps support some of the weight.  By putting the hoof in your crotch and twisting your buttocks in a direction under the horse you will have control.  If the horse does try to kick, remember he must cock his leg before he kicks.  If you are locked in securely when he cocks the hind foot, he will pull back to your original position saving you from being kicked.  This technique is one that must be practiced over and over, the more the better for both of you.  

We go over and over these procedures here at the research center with students, owners and visitors who are willing and eager to learn. Even when you do learn to pick up and clean out the hooves, most hoof problems are not obvious to the untrained eye, and only a few may be noticed by a novice horseman.  By handling the feet and legs daily, you will begin to notice any other injuries, swelling, embedded rocks, thrush, bruises, abscesses and loose nails or shoes, just to name a few. 

Here at the Research Center we offer a “How to Purchase and Evaluate a Horse from Head to Toe,” clinic once a month. We encourage all ages of beginners, novice AND professional riders, breeders and horse traders to take advantage of this opportunity.  This is the same class that we offer beginner farrier students, veterinarians and college vet students who are interested in specializing in equine care.  We cover everything that affects the feet which are conformation, nutrition, handling, horsemanship, aging, founder, abnormalities, trimming, shoeing, our Grammar School of Trimming and Shoeing Horses DVD.  Even professionals are usually shocked to learn at what we can demonstrate in just a few minutes that can save them thousands of dollars or even a horses’ life.  

P.S. Just as we were finishing this article, we received a call from a man wanting to know what to look for when purchasing a horse, what the farrier fees will be and how often is shoeing required.

Are You and Your Horse Correctly Fitted for Shoes?

Ginger C.

Have you ever thought about how much time we as humans take in picking out just the right shoe for ourselves and our children? Sometimes we try to cram our feet into a shoe that is too small, so as to make our feet look smaller. Sometimes when buying for our children we buy them 2 or 3 sizes larger, that eliminates having to buy shoes too often. Poor kids slipping and sliding inside the shoes. At times we will wait until we are long overdue for shoes, because, the old ones we are wearing are comfortable or maybe we think we can’t quite afford a pair at the moment. 

So much for we as humans, now to our horses. How much time do we spend selecting the correct shoes for horses. We need to think like a horse because he can’t tell us what he needs. Why do we normally buy a new pair of shoes? Is it because we are cow-hocked and wear the outside of our heels to one side? Have we bore weight so when walking, our shoes run over sideways? Have you been in a public place and watched people as they pass by? They wear all sorts of shoes... running shoes, high heels, low heels, no heels, turned over heels, and occasionally barefooted if their feet are hurting. When we buy a pair of shoes do we take them to the shoe shop and have the heels ground off or have them stretched out of shape as before?

Do we send our children to a total stranger and have them re-shod? No, we have input, because we know how a shoe should fit. What about our buddy, our horse? Can he think for himself? We keep him wormed, fed, in a shelter, and if he sneezes we call the Vet. But, when it comes to the horses feet what do we do? We tie him up, let some farrier come by and put shoes on our horse. We watch with awe about how fast he can slap those shoes on, not questioning if the job is correctly completed. Why? Because we aren’t educated on horse’s feet, only on our feet and our children’s. How much time do we spend on our finger nails and toe nails? If they wear off or grow crooked we nip, file, bite, and polish them until they look good. How about our buddy the horse? The hoof is just one big finger nail, but he has to stand on his. If he is barefooted he probably has chipped out places, maybe his hoof walls are worn down until his soles, frogs, and bulbs are tender and in general his feet are just plain sore. One side of his quarters may be worn off and lower than the other side of his hoof. Bet your ankles would be sore if you were walking with one side of your foot elevated about one half inch. Possibly his toes are too long. Have you ever tried to walk in a pair of shoes that is about three sizes too big? Our buddy the horse is going to have a hard time breaking over each step he takes if his toes are too long.

Do we as horse owners know exactly what needs to be done to our buddy’s finger nails or hooves before shoes can be nailed on or glued on? If we don’t, we need to educate ourselves on how the hoof should be correctly balanced, before shoeing. To help us understand all of this, a Master Farrier and Educator, has devised six simple steps to correctly balance the horse’s hoof, so, when the horses hoof strikes the ground, the bony column, including the spine, will absorb equal concussion throughout the bony column, including the spine. You wouldn’t knowingly incorrectly fit your child with the wrong type of shoes causing his legs and back to ache, would you? So why would you allow anyone to unbalance your buddy the horse?

As a matter of fact most of us probably spend more per shoeing on our children than we do on our horses. Have you ever said to yourself, I would rather spend a few more bucks on a brand name item because it will do the job better. The same principle applies to having a horse trimmed or shod. If we as horse owners will take the time to educate ourselves on how a horse should be correctly shod, I am sure we will feel better about the way our horse is being shod. You don’t need to know how to shoe your horse, you only need to know how it should look when correctly shod. 

Would we go down the road with a high heel shoe on one foot and a combat boot on the other? Would we wear a flip flop on one foot and a wool bootie on the other? Of course we wouldn’t  and neither should your horse have to do this. A smart horse owner is one that knows his horse has the correct toe and leg length, whether his feet turns to the outside or inside, whether or not his shoe has been fit to the horse’s foot or just nailed on and his foot shaped to fit his shoe. 

Keep in mind a horse weighs considerably more than we do and by the time he is loaded up with a 20 to 50 lb saddle, then we, weighing in from 50 to 400 lbs crawl up in the saddle, our Buddy’s poor little feet have to carry all of this through soft dirt, mud, gravel, and pavement, plus climb up and go down hills. 

The Farriers’ National Research Center and School  in LaFayette, GA has, as one of it’s goals, a program to educate the horse owner about how his or her horse should be properly shod. Their goal is to help the horse owner and other farriers understand how to prevent problems before they happen, but on an every day basis, we are correcting problems and damage that has already been done. This new facility can provide valuable information from the research and documentation gathered that will help improve the overall health of the horse.

Have you hugged your child today and by the way, have you had your horse correctly shod? 

Phil Roberson, Otto, North Carolina, FNRC Member

Tips for Horse Owners: How to Check Your Farriers' Work

Ginger C.

We often receive letters and emails from horse lovers wanting some simple tips on checking for lameness and shoes coming off too frequent. Well, here are just a few.

It is very difficult for anyone not familiar with shoeing to really know what he or she is looking at when they are evaluating their farriers’ work.  First let me emphasize that shoeing is a science and very difficult for most people and vets to comprehend because shoeing can appear to be a simple process.  So let me say this in the very beginning…most professionals in the horse industry agree that 80% of all problems related to the horse will occur to the lower limb and hoof area, falling directly under the care of the farrier. The farriers’ role should be regarded as the most important role in the equine industry. A farrier with a farrier science background, one who is certified by their peers and continues their education is probably, or should be, your horses’ best friend!

I would say this to any horse owner who cares about their horse, and that is to find out about learning more about farrier science before they try to become an expert at critiquing their farrier.  Here at the Farriers’ National Research Center and School, we have a free program where owners can learn about shoeing and we encourage all owners to do so.  It is financed and offered by the Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association.  

Here is a simple tip that can determine whether the shoe has been properly set or if it will fall off before the next shoeing, which should be every six weeks.  After your farrier has completed their work, you can take a simple business card and do some checking.  Now, remember this, it won’t tell you everything about the shoeing job.       

 Photo 1

Photo 1

In photo 1, you can see a business card placed between the shoe and hoof wall at the heel of a freshly shod hoof. The shoe will extend past the heel just about a quarter of an inch as indicated in the photo. You should not be able to slide the card between the hoof wall and the shoe.  If this card slides in freely  between the hoof wall at the heel and the shoe, this means there is too much space and the shoe will come off in about 2 to 3 weeks.  The reason being is that when the horse is in motion, while walking or running, the foot does not strike flat. He lands on one heel or the other first.  
Therefore the weight of the horse presses the shoe to the foot and because of the space, it creates movement of the shoe and causes the nails to loosen prematurely.

Here is a simple tip to determine lameness or sole pressure.  Lameness in horses is always a big problem whether it is in the upper or lower body areas.  Often times I get myself in a snare by writing articles in trying to help the owner spot problems before they occur.  There are many things to look for when evaluating shoeing.  And one of my first checkpoints is the horses’ spine.  Yes, a horse can become lame in the upper body from improper shoeing.  Of course a more common problem I often see is sole pressure.

 Photo 2

Photo 2

Let’s say the farrier comes out and shoes your horse and the next day it is showing signs of lameness, meaning soreness or tenderness when walking, holding the hoof off the ground, etc.  Chances are, nine out of ten times, when the owner calls the vet they automatically assume that the horse has been nail quicked.  Nail quicking is a problem, but 90% of the cases that I have evaluated immediately after shoeing were actually created by sole pressure. 
By calling your farrier immediately the problem can be solved.
Better yet, horse owners can easily protect themselves from sole pressure lameness or as the farrier refers to as “pressure shod” by using a simple business card as in photo 2.  

Immediately after the horse is shod and still has a clean foot, take a business card and slide it between the shoe and sole all the way till it touches the nails.  Do this all the way around the inside edge of the shoe. This space will ensure you that there are NO pressure points on the sole. The inside edge of the shoe should not be touching the sole.  What carries the weight of the horse is the hoof wall, which is the outer portion that the farrier will remove with nippers and a rasp.  The sole is the underside of the hoof that should only be slightly pared out with a hoof knife being careful not to remove too much sole that could again cause lameness. This is the same area that should be cleaned out frequently by the owner.

A novice horseshoer may cause this sole pressure by incorrect or unbalanced shoeing or simply not knowing that you cannot just take a shoe out of a box and nail it on the foot. Preparations to the shoe must be made as in this case, beveling the sharp edge on the inside of the shoe that could cause sole pressure.  Remember, what I said earlier, shoeing may look simple, and many owners may try it out to save money, but there are many, many steps and techniques involved in shoeing. All horses are not equal, they should receive services catered to their specific needs according to their conformation.In order to take all of this into prospective I personally invite you to learn more and an easy way is with our Grammar School of Trimming and Shoeing Horses DVD. More about these six steps can be obtained in articles, during clinics, by attending school and by bringing your horses to the school. 

Photo 3 Identifying the problem is the farriers’ most valuable asset. Mr. Casey on left, with Jarvis Bowen of Chatsworth, Georgia, seen on Horseshoe’n Time.

A Straight Hoof Wall: Causes and Corrections

Ginger C.

I often receive letters from individuals who will send in drawings with their questions.  This person from Wyoming was asking me, “ Why do my horses hooves look like this?” 
I will try to explain by first referring to the conformation of the human anatomy.  A bow legged person bears his weight differently than a toed out or toed in person.  So does a horse.  What I will be referring to in this article is the “weight bearing surface.” This means that his conformation dictates how his foot will strike the ground, but also dictates which “side” of the foot will bear the majority of his weight.  If the horse bears more weight to the inside, he will develop flares on the outside as in Drawing #1 and the inside will become, a Straight Hoof Wall.  If he bears his weight more on the outside, the flare will be on the inside.

A Straight Hoof Wall Photo 1.JPG


Now, on the average, most horses flare to the outside.   It is the farrier’s job to keep the shoe in the center of the bony structure of the leg as in the chart describing our 6 Steps to Balancing the Hoof and Horse for Sound Shoeing as in Drawing #2.


The farrier should be constantly moving the shoe to the center by carefully removing the outside flare at each shoeing as in Drawing #3.


This will encourage the hoof to grow back to its normal position.  The shoe will stick out on the Straight Hoof Wall to allow the hoof wall to grow out towards the edge of the shoe. Yes, that will happen.  The farrier will grind the shoe at an angle so he will not step on the edge of the shoe with his other foot and prematurely pull it off as in
 photo #1.

The farrier may choose to apply a hoof bonding material to the Straight Wall to cover up the missing hoof. Both ways are correct and up to the farrier to choose if the owner chooses to pay for these additional services.

I always highly recommend certified farriers who are updating their continuing education and those who understand the meaning of balancing the hoof and whole horse.  It is up to the horse owner to ask to see the farriers’ certification card and please, check the expiration date! With over 2,000 styles, makes and manufacturers available today, changes and updates are made as often as new phone services you see on t.v. 

What can cause the Straight Hoof Wall on the inside (medial):

#1 Infrequent trimming or shoeing. Our suggestion is every 8-12 weeks for trims and every 6 weeks for shoeing.

#2  By the farrier incorrectly rasping off more of the inside (medial) wall than the outside at each visit that will eventually cause a hoof to flare out. The farrier who follows all 6 Steps to accomplish Balance in trimming and shoeing can be assured that this will not occur. If he is a trained certified farrier, he or she would not make this mistake to begin with!

“Correcting Flares for a Symmetrical Hoof” as seen on Horseshoe’n Time.

The farrier should not ever “Fit the shoe to the foot” but instead, “Fit the shoe where the foot is supposed to be” taking the conformation into consideration every time.  I have said this time and time again and I emphasize it a great detail at clinics. What a farrier does to a horses’ foot should compliment or help the horse move better and grow correctly.  More often times, flares begin at a young age when left unattended for several years by the fault of the horse owner.  Older horses or just pasture ornaments, left unattended until that once a year ride, are very often sore in the back, flared out, walking on their soles, have cracks, splits, etc.  I can’t stress enough how important the hoof is to the overall health of the horse.  I wrote a book once that stirred up the horse industry and farriers alike, the title being “An Improperly Shod Horse Can Endanger the Life of the Horse and the Rider!” This is why I am so passionate on educating the horse owner public and providing continuing education for farriers.

The Grammar School of Trimming & Shoeing Horses

Ginger C.

6 Steps Defined & Diagrams

What is the Primary Reason for Shoeing a Horse?

To keep the bony column of the leg in alignment, wherein when the foot strikes the ground, the entire bony column, including the spine, equally absorbs the concussion.
In order to achieve this, we must balance the horse.. 
Balance is defined as equal weight distributed all around the shoe.

There are SIX STEPS to Balancing the Hoof and Horse for Sound Shoeing
© 1992

To simplify these 6 steps, the farrier is trying to keep your horse just like it was when it was born. All the 6 steps will be the same: the leg length, the toe length, the lateral and medial balance, the symmetrical, the natural angle and to keep the line in the center of the shoe.

4. It is vitally important that the farrier have a good knowledge of the lower limb conformation. This plays an important role in the way the horse will be shod. The toed-in horse wings out, figure 5, while in motion. The toed-out horse will wing in while in motion, figure 6. Figure 7 shows the ideal conformation,

TOED-IN              TOED-OUT               IDEAL
                             Motion pattern      Motion pattern
                                wings out               wings in
   Figure 5                Figure 6               Figure 7

We invite you to own a copy of the DVD

The Grammar School of Trimming and Shoeing Horses

By calling our school office at  (706)397-8909

The cost is only $9.95 which includes postage.

Thank you for your interest and if we can be of assistance in providing further information or interest in our educational programs,
please call, go to our websites or email us.

Link Casey
Ginger Casey

Video clips are available at our YouTube account by visiting the website:

Case Studies and all about the Farriers' National Research Center and School, please visit the website:

If you have a need to donate or find a new home for a horse with hoof problems, please go to the website: National Equine & Hoof
Research Foundation

For information about Farrier Certification please visit the website for The Brotherhood of Working Farriers Association



Back to the Basics of Sound Shoeing

Ginger C.

Shoeing a big horse like a Clydesdale is not much different than shoeing a smaller foot. They are just BIGGER!

In Photo 1, we have drawn a line down the center of the bony column of the right hind foot of this quarter horse to show you how the” bone is not in the center of the foot.” You can see how the hoof on the right side is flared out. If you look closer, you can see how the shoe has been worn down on the left side, meaning that this horse was putting more weight and stress on the inside (medial) probably causing soreness in his legs and back .


In Photo 2, on this Clydesdale, the farrier has removed a flare placing the shoe back in the “center of the bony column.”  If the farrier is trained properly he understands the importance of preparing the foot and removing flares to achieve a symmetrical hoof. (Symmetrical, meaning the same all the way around the perimeter or edges of the hoof.)

In Photo 3, on the right side, we are pointing to the white line on this same Clydesdale. What we refer to as the “white line” is really a tan color and more noticeable on this big foot.  The white line here is very healthy and about a half inch wide. It is twice the size of the white line in a quarter horse hoof, which is normally a quarter of an inch wide.  On the left we are pointing to a small dark spot, which is the nail hole to show that there is too much space between the nail hole and the white line.

This means the toe is excessively long.  We want to put this horse at its’ natural angle and in order to get the toe lengths the same, whatever we do to the one foot, we must do exactly the same to other foot.  For example: If the nail holes at the toe are a quarter of an inch from the white line like they should be, then the opposite must be a quarter of an inch as well.  The hoof wall is the same thickness from the ground surface all the way to the hairline, so if the farrier follows this rule, then he (or she) will achieve the proper toe lengths, which is the first step to balance.

Horse owner’s wonder why their horses can’t perform correct, they loose in contests by one or even a half of a second.  Their performance is completely off.  The whole purpose of shoeing the horse is to eliminate these problems because remember, “The purpose of shoeing a horse is eep the bony column in alignment, so when the foot strikes the ground, the entire bony column, including the spine, equally absorbs the concussion.”

In order to accomplish this, there are procedures that must be performed on a foot and we describe them here as “ The 6 Steps to Balancing the Hoof and Horse for Sound Shoeing.” And those are; Leg Length, Toe Length, Natural Angle, Symmetrical, Lateral & Medial Balance and Bone in the Center of the Foot.  But…to go three steps farther, the shoe must be shaped correct to enhance those 6 steps.  So the next time you wonder why your horse is not listening to you, throwing his head while riding, sore to the touch in his back, then you will take the advice from the experts.  If the hoof is carrying the entire weight of the horse, then guaranteed, that 80% of all problems occurring to a horse is related to the lower limb and hoof.  And who is better trained to give you expert advice, than your certified farrier. Granted there is a lot more to shoeing than just slapping that shoe on as fast as you can and how long the shoe stays on. 

If farriers and horse owners alike, would get Back to the Basics of Sound Shoeing and concentrate on maintenance and keeping the horse’s foot the same as it was when it was born, then most of the hoof problems today could be eliminated.

How Often Does Your Horse Need Trimming and Re-shoeing?

Ginger C.

This is a question often asked by new owners and not always followed by long time horse owners. The answer is normally every 6 weeks. On occasion shoeing is needed sooner when the farrier is using corrective shoeing over a period of time to what we call, “getting the foot back to where it is supposed to be, as when it was born.”  The horse was not born with heels too low, the hoof out of balance inside and outside, a different degree of angles on each foot, crumbly, dry, splits, cracks and chunks of hoof torn out and so on.  But these are the problems we see on adult horses and here we can safely say that 8 out of 10 horses, or better, will need some type of corrective shoeing.  

Let’s take this young paint horse, Doodle Bug at age 3, as an example. Doodle spends her days in a grassy pasture but is very active running around on her own. She goes on an occasional ride and works out in a sandy round pen. With this limited amount of activity, her shoes always start looking bad about every 6 weeks, but the shoes are still on. If we wait much longer the shoe will come off with chunks of hoof attached, which is not what we want. Here Doodle is overdue at eight weeks time. 

Photo 1 shows healthy hoof wall growing out past the shoe on the outside (lateral side) as we are pointing to. Clearly she needed new shoes at 6 weeks to avoid this.

 Photo 1

Photo 1

In photo 3, Casey on the right is explaining our evaluation process; “6 Steps to Balancing the Hoof & Horse for Sound Shoeing”  procedures with assistance from Ken Moody, of South Carolina on our Television. show “Horseshoe’n Time.

 Photo 3

Photo 3

In photo 5, he notes that the cleft of the frog can be a dirt trap acceptable to pack in unwanted manure and moisture that causes thrush. To help eliminate this, he recommends the farrier “half -moon” this area using a hoof knife.

 Photo 7

Photo 7

In photo 7 the hind foot is perfectly shaped, the frog trimmed and ready to finish the nails.

 Photo 7

Photo 7

In photo 9, only the foot on the left has been re-shod. If you look real close and compare the angle with the foot on the right, you will see there is just a slight difference.  This slightest difference will determine whether your horse is balanced or not. A balanced hoof will ensure a balanced horse from head to toe and a safer and happier horse.

 Photo 9

Photo 9

In photo 2, the nails of this front hoof are becoming loose causing the shoe to shift, which is a danger to the horse and rider. 

 Photo 2

Photo 2

In photo 4, Casey points out that the inside heel of this hind foot is beginning to turn in which can be corrected in several shoeings.

 Photo 4

Photo 4

In photo 6, after the hind shoe was shaped and the foot was trimmed, the shoe was heated in the gas propane forge so the hot shoe could be placed directly on the hoof wall. This will indicate if the foot has been properly trimmed for the shoe and helps to seal the rasped hoof from bacteria and kill any bacteria present.  In this case, a little more hoof from the toe region will be trimmed away.  Note: Hot shoeing is only applied to the hoof wall, not to the sole and should only be performed by a trained farrier with experience.

 Photo 6

Photo 6

In photo 8 the front foot is perfectly shaped and re-shod. Note this hoof also an indention on the left, no doubt from the mischief she gets into. With healthy hoof growth it will eventually be trimmed away in several more shoeings

 Photo 8

Photo 8

Photo 10, here Doodle gets a finished job by guest farriers and brothers Mark and Philip Horney of Carthage, North Carolina as the Horseshoe’n Time camera and co-host Angela Vaught watches carefully.

 Photo 10

Photo 10

This information is being provided as part of the Horse Owner Education program we have at the research center. Owners are always welcome to visit, ask questions and bring their horses for a free evaluation in hopes that they learn more about the care and maintenance of the most important part of the horse – the lower limb and hoof! 

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Why Do I Really Need to Shoe My Horse?

Ginger C.

A few common remarks I often hear from horse owners are; “The country I ride my horse in is not rough or rocky”,  “ I saw on the internet that we should keep our horses natural and without shoes” and “ I only ride in the summer, so why shoe year round?” or the best one in the far south is, "We only ride in the sand.”

The trouble with these comments and articles being written about not shoeing the horse is simple; they truly don’t understand why a horse needs to be shod for the activities that horses go through on a daily basis.  So, why do horses need to be shod? My answer is “The main reason for shoeing a horse is to keep the bony column in alignment, so when the foot strikes the ground, the entire bony column including the spine, equally absorbs the concussion.” If this plan of action were taken every time a horse is shod or trimmed, then every horse would stay natural from birth. Keeping your horse trimmed and shod properly will keep your horse natural like he was when he was born.  By the end of 5-6 weeks he becomes unnatural due to excessive wear and stress on the hoof due to his conformation.

In Photo 1, It is obvious to see that one heel is lower than the other and the angles are completely different.


In photo 2, if you draw a straight line across each foot at the hairline or coronary band, we see that one toe is longer than the other.



What causes all of this you might ask? Let’s take a look at ourselves.  Our conformation dictates how our feet land on the ground.  If we are toed out, we will break over on the inside toe, wear the inside toe down more and land on our outside heel, wearing it down more as well. Stand up and try this yourself to get a better understanding.  This would be considered a natural walk for a toed out person and there is no way to change it.  If we leave ourselves natural, or barefoot, we would only wear it down more.  A horse is similar with the exception, that when the farrier places a new pair of shoes on, he has the knowledge to shape the hoof back like it was when the horse was born.  The horse was not born with one low heel, one high heel, one toe longer than the other and the foot not symmetrical, and one leg longer and so on.  A toed out horse is not much different in that there is no way to change the way it normally walks, but the farrier can help with corrective shoeing on a routine basis, IF the horse owner will allow the farrier to take the extra time in doing so, which will normally cost a little more. 

So as you look at photo 3 from the front, you can see how we corrected and re-balanced both feet and re-shod the horse wherein his bones will now be in alignment, therefore equally absorbing the concussion when his foot strikes the ground. There is only so much corrective work and hoof removal we can do at one shoeing, and it will take the whole summer and into the fall to get him back to what is normal for him.  In this case, the foundered foot grows more rapidly so there is plenty of hoof growth but not in the correct direction. Alas, this is where the farrier, who is the caretaker of the lower limb and hoof, comes in!!

It behooves me why people cannot understand why their horse can’t win, why he gets sore in the spine, and overall why he cannot perform at his best.  When all we have to do is look at ourselves.  If we were running a track meet, we sure could not expect to win if our heels and toes were uneven.  So now when I do my clinics, I help people not only understand the horse, but themselves as well. 

If we can help answer any of your questions, please feel free to contact us or bring your horse in for a free evaluation.  Our goal at the FNRC is EDUCATION for Everyone!!