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.
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
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.