Correct Shoeing for Vets & Owners
Quite often an owner, trainer or farrier will fall heir to a
horse that is completely awry as far as training or shoeing
is concerned. Evaluating the problem requires the
establishment of a K.D.P., or known datum point as it is
known to surveyors.
The K.D.P. is actually a compilation of all that you know
about the horse at this specific point in time. The more
information you can formulate, the more accurate your
training and/or shoeing program will be. The K.D.P. is
the basis for the need to keep records of shoeing and
training. Recording the K.D.P. of a fresh shoeing job
entails certain key points.
Aside from the usual observations of way of standing and
going, several things need to be carefully noted. The
balance of the foot preparation, the length of the toes
and the angle of each foot need to be recorded.
Style and weight of the new shoes as well as any accessories
added to the shoe should be noted as well. Prior to a fresh
shoeing job, observing the wear of the old shoes can add
a great deal of information to your K.D.P. Uneven side
wearing and position of the wear of breakover are useful
aides in establishing an accurate set of records.
Some horses have been so jammed around in their shoes
that it is difficult to tell if the shoeing is helping or
hindering the animal. Should a horse come within your stewardship
carrying an unusual amount of excess baggage in the form
of unnatural balance and/or exotic horseshoes, the farrier
and trainer will have some decision making to do.
Unless the horse had come with a manual of shoeing and
training and instruction, the K.D.P. must be evaluated
from what you see.
If the trainer or owner is totally satisfied with the way the
horse performs, it will be important to critically emulate
the previous work. If there is room for improvement,
get back to good, sound basic shoeing and design a
sensible program from that point. These same principles
will apply when first placing young horses into a shoeing
and training program. The following is an evaluation of
The frog: Trimming of the frog should be done to sufficiently
restore shape to the horny structure. (Horny frog should
resemble sensitive frog. ) All diseased portions of the frog
should be removed. As much healthy tissue as possible
should be retained. On rare occasions the frog may be
oversized and need to be reduced in size.
The bars: The bars are extensions of the hoof wall and
should be shaped to allow some weight bearing. Desirable
shape is level with the ground surface at the outer
perimeter of the heels, tapering to be the level of the
sole at the apex or anterior ends.
Bars should not be trimmed below the level of the sole.
Protruding bars can cause compression of the internal
laminae leaves which form them. This can result in internal
bruising which may predispose the foot to corns.
The sole: The amount of surplus sole which should be
removed is relevant to the amount of excess growth and
sometimes the activity of the horse. Normally, sole is removed
in the toe hemisphere of the foot until it becomes shiny or
glossy in appearance.
Dead sole is usually flaky and contains many fissures. Once
enough sole has been removed, the cracks or fissures will
be less apparent. The sole to the rear of the toe should
blend smoothly to sole of the toe wall. The sole should
be concaved below the boarder of the hoof wall.
Remember: the wall is the primary weight bearing structure.
The wall: The hoof wall should be trimmed to just above
sole level at the toe. The amount of wall trimmed at the
heel should be proportional to the amount off of the toe.
The proportion is considered correct when both feet are
weight bearing and are neither broken forward nor broken
In most cases, the hoof wall should contact the ground
with the medial and lateral sides making even contact.
The proximal or upper 2 inches or the hoof wall dictates
its natural slope.
All dishes or flares should be removed until they become
part of this natural slope. Remodeling of abnormally flared
or shaped feet is a commendable practice. There is a lot
of strong prejudice against this procedure because it
involves vigorous rasping of the outer hoof wall. This
old-fashioned way of thinking is outdated and should be
discouraged. All sharp edges at the distal border of the
wall should be removed and slightly rounded.
Shoes should be selected to suit the activity of the horse.
Normally, shoes are for the purpose of protection of the
feet and support of the limbs.
The most common error made by inexperienced or careless
horseshoers is the use of shoes which are too small. The
shoe should be as light as practical, but wide enough to
offer sufficient protection to the bottom of the foot. The
fit should be exactly to the perimeter of the foot at the
toe and quarters.
The shoe should fit slightly wider than the foot near the heels.
(Approximately 1-1/2" of the heel of the shoe.) This is called
expansion and the amount of expansion ranges from 1/16" - 3/16".
On front feet, the shoe should at least be large enough to
cover the buttress of the heels. On horses with run under
heels, the shoe may need to extend past the buttress of the
heels as much as 1/2". This provides additional support to
the flexor tendons and suspensory ligament.
On most hind feet, the fit will be the same as front feet
except that it is desirable for the heels of the shoes to
extend beyond the buttress of the heels 1/8" - 1/4". This
provides support and protection to the bulbs of the heels
while the horse is stopping or turning.
If a horse has a deformed or broken off edge on the hoof wall,
it is proper to fit the shoe full in this area where the foot
Nailing:For most activities, six nails should be sufficient to
attach the shoe to the foot. Eight nails may be used on
horses to be used in rough terrain or are troublesome
about keeping shoes on.
Height of the nails should be no lower than 3/4" above
the shoes and no higher than 1". High nailing is preferred
by most professional farriers. On some feet nails driven
above 1" may be desirable for secure nailing.
Clinching and Finishing: Clinches should be square in shape,
embedded in the wall and smooth to the touch. The outer
hoof wall should be smooth to the touch and free from
coarse rasp marks. The periople at the hairline should