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.