This blog is sponsored by the PRO FEET range of hoof care products from NAF

I’m back on another steep learning curve as my training farrier Kris Parsons asks me to assess the wear of shoes I have taken off and explain what conformation issues might be present.

A horse with text book conformation will tend to wear its shoes evenly, as long as it has been shod well. However, not many horses have ideal conformation. The wear pattern on the shoe provides excellent insight into what can be done to improve a horse’s action.

Much of our day-to-day shoeing work addresses these conformation idiosyncrasies. We make subtle changes to the way we shoe to help improve the way the horse moves and goes forward. Typical conformation issues we deal with are sloping heels, upright or boxy feet, broken back or broken forward hoof pastern access and sheared heels, as shown in the picture.

There are also a number of horses we shoe that have more severe conformation abnormalities such as side bone, bone spavin and, of course, laminitis. These require a higher level of remedial work and can mean Kris will either make a pair of specific shoes or significantly alter standard shoes using techniques such as adding an extension or setting the toe etc.

I don’t mind admitting that I regularly miss what are probably glaringly obvious conformation abnormalities. However, as Kris pushes me to assess and pass judgement over the shoes I have taken off, I am sure I’ll start to see what he sees and begin to recognise the conformation differences and how they manifest themselves in a worn shoe.

One thing I didn’t miss this week was a nest of maggots that had taken up residence in the cleft of a cob’s frog. The poor owners were both horrified and mortified. While it takes a lot to surprise a farrier who sees this and much worse over the course of their career, it doesn’t take much to surprise an apprentice farrier. Next time I come across a maggoty foot, I’ll try not to swear loudly then shout for Kris to come and dispatch them. I might just be man enough to deal with them myself!

Until next week

Roland

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