As a horse passed by our house, I turned to my two-year-old daughter and said: “Look a horse.” Nothing particularly unusual about that you might think, expect all the while I was checking out its feet.

I’m sure any normal horse enthusiast would be looking at the head, its conformation and generally appraising the animal as a whole. Well, I’m fairly certain I didn’t look higher than the knee…

Perhaps that’s how it will be for me now? I’m no longer just a horse lover — I’m a horse critique, but only from the limb downwards. Am I now beginning to get what being a farrier is all about? Will I only be able to view horses with my professional hat on in future?

I am finding that, as the months roll by and my training progresses, I see more when I look at a hoof. The difference between the trained eye and the untrained eye is remarkable. I would say that I currently have a partially trained eye; quite good at noticing some of the finer detail, but a bit unreliable at times and definitely a bit wayward when studying more complicated feet.

Among the questions that spring to mind: Which way is the foot looking to deviate? How can the hoof pastern axis be improved? What foot conditions are present and what can be done about them? Which bits of the foot to trim and which to leave untrimmed?

These are all things that a trained eye would see in seconds. My eyes sometimes see them and other times not. Kris, my training farrier will often shake his head in disbelief that I missed what is to him something so blindingly obvious. It would be similar to coming home and not spotting the double decker bus parked in your drive.

To me, there are still deep subtleties and nuances about horses’ hooves that go under my inexperienced radar. However, I am beginning to “get it” and there are moments when my semi-professional eye can see exactly what needs doing. When that happens I feel quite excited, but also a bit surprised, which probably means that my eyes are a long way off from being fully trained.

Until next week

Roland

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