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Horse Shoeing Essentials.

Shoeing Essentials
One of the most important things Dr. Cleveland notices in evaluations for horses is their shoeing. If your horse has been showing signs of shoeing issues, it may be time to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Cleveland at Equine Chiropractic Care. Dr. Cleveland offers several chiropractic treatment options for horses. After his equine chiropractic evaluation, if your horse is a candidate for chiropractic care, he will provide recommendations for a successful treatment.

How will you know if your horse’s shoes fit? A top farrier explains what to look for to be sure.

By Rodney King, CJF, AWCF, with Elaine Pascoe

Your farrier has come and gone, leaving your horse with a new set of shoes. His feet look great, but you can’t help wondering: Was the job done right?

That’s an important question, because good shoeing is essential for every horse. Whether yours is an Advanced eventer, a Grand Prix dressage star, or an occasional trail mount, he needs to be sound to do his job. The basics of trimming and shoeing are the same regardless of how your horse is used, and if they’re not done right he’ll break down sooner or later. That’s why a good farrier is as invaluable for a backyard horse as for a top competitor.

Because every horse is different, there is no one “right” way to shoe a horse--shoeing should accommodate the individual horse’s conformation and use. But some basic principles apply to all, and one of the most important is balance.

A foot is balanced when it lands flat (or slightly heel first) with the lateral (outside) and medial (inside) portions of the hoof wall meeting the ground at the same time. A small degree of imbalance can be hard to detect when your horse is moving, but over time imbalance produces visible changes in the hoof. You can spot them if you stand your horse square; with his weight evenly distributed on his four legs, and look at his feet from the front, sides and back. Then pick up each foot and examine it from beneath.

At breakover, your horse’s weight has passed over the foot and the foot begins to lift. The breakover point is the last point of the hoof or shoe to come off the ground, and as a rule it’s at or near the toe. Long toes delay breakover. This doesn’t lengthen the stride, as some people believe; it does put extra stress on the deep digital flexor tendon and ligaments at the back of the foot and on the navicular bone, as the tendon and ligaments press and pull on it. A horse with a normal foot may be shod with a little rocker at the toe to facilitate breakover.

"A back-sore horse after the feet have been balanced would be a good reason for a chiropractic check-up!"
-Dr. Lance Cleveland


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