Written by Mark and Summer Jakopak in 2011, reposted in new format
Mark is often known to say: “There is no such thing as Corrective Shoeing – only Correct Shoeing.” Corrective shoeing is defined by Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary as – “shoes custom made to correct some defect in the horse’s gait or confirmation”. There is only a small window of time in a foals’ life when any actual limb deformity correction can be made – at all other times in a horse’s life, there is no changing of conformational defaults. So, unless one is working on a colt 9 months or younger in conjunction with a veterinarian, you are just doing good correct shoeing (well let’s hope it’s good.) The farriers job is to shoe every horse correctly – creating balance between the horse’s conformation, training, strength, current discipline, and rider ability to achieve the horse’s highest performance and truest gait for its breed and discipline. Thus, correct shoeing encompasses every facet of horseshoeing and requires the farrier to shoe the horse appropriately, keeping the horse’s physics, biomechanics, breeding, and discipline in mind as well as the horse’s training and the rider’s ability.
When riding a horse, true impulsion and true collection come from the hind quarters. If a rider only rides the forehand they may achieve a pretty picture but will lack true impulsion and collection. The same is true with a horses hoof. If you concern yourself with the toe, you will never have the heel, but if you work the heel correctly you will be able to do whatever you want with the toe. Our belief is that every time a horse is trimmed or shod, it must be done correctly within the parameters of what can be done at the time to advance the horse toward correct balance and movement. This is achieved by keeping a few key ideas in mind when trimming and shoeing the individual horse.
Specifically the distal interphalangial joint is a fulcrum that is bound to torque, tension, and power. When a hoof intersects the ground the effective angle creates the tension and the length of foot relates to the torque required to create power in the foot. Both of these are easily manipulated and measured with nippers, hoof gauges and calipers; however, manipulating the length and angle of the heel are the only independent variables that can affect the systemic change in a horse’s balance. The bones below the fetlock are aligned when there is an inverse proportion of torque on both sides of the distal interphalangial joint.
Boiled down, there is a basic one third, two thirds proportion of hoof volume in front of and behind, respectively, the apex of the frog. Deviation from this proportion changes the stress placed on the tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles of the horse.
There are different methods of shoeing a horse to increase or decrease the three basic elements of stride: length, height, and rhythm. These methods can be employed only when the basic conformation of the horse and structure of the hoof will maintain their integrity and the methods will not cause long term damage to the horse, thus decreasing its ability to remain in its chosen discipline.
We are dedicated to shoeing and trimming horses within the boundaries of acceptable shoeing practices in order to increase the horse’s balance and ability to perform at its highest level without compromising the integrity and soundness of the animal.