What are my priorities when it comes to trimming? I want to help create and maintain a healthy hoof capsule that will help the horse be as comfortable as possible. I want to leave the horse with a structure that is able to support their body weight and remain healthy under the rigors of athletic activity and the stress caused by less than ideal conformation. A horse should never be sore after a trim. Knowledge of physics and anatomy allows me to consider the effects of leverage and support on the hoof capsule, which is a complex and amazing structure. Years of ongoing study shape the way I trim, but the goal of a sound hoof and horse never changes. I keep things simple. I do not take away wall and sole that the horse needs, yet I trim to that horse’s ideal length and create a strong hoof shape through intentional trimming. This is not guess work. External landmarks such as the hairline, frog, white line shape and heels of the hoof let me know if my trim is balanced to the horse’s anatomy. Radiographs are another way to assess a horse’s balance, and see what’s going on internally. I reevaluate what I am doing every time I see the horse, and adapt the trim to what the horse needs each time. I pay attention to what I am doing!
There are a plethora of machine made shoes available to horseshoers. I stock a variety of shoes that meet the needs of the diverse clientele I work for. I also have the skills to make and apply custom shoes. I believe it’s worth developing these skills which allow me to provide each horse with the proper shoe type and fit they need to be comfortable and perform well. Shoes can increase or decrease traction, reduce or increase leverage and support, can accommodate many types of conformation and provide protection to the hoof. In the winter we can add pads to prevent snow from balling up in the hoof which causes instability that may lead to strain and injury. Pads will also reduce bruising caused by hard, frozen, uneven ground. Adding studs to prevent slipping on ice can help prevent injuries, and give the horse confidence to move in a more normal way across uneven and slippery footing. Each horse has different needs based on their conformation and the tasks they are asked to perform. A horse usually needs to drive off their hindquarters for athletic performance. Fads in shoeing style sometimes fall short of what a horse really needs to perform well and remain sound. I make decisions based on results. Whatever shoes keep a horse comfortable and performing well are what I will select, shape and apply for that horse. I am happy to help provide therapeutic shoeing and work with your veterinarian and trainer so your horse has a good hoof care team.
Proper shoe fit is essential to a healthy hoof. If a shoe is fit well, it will be easy to nail on in the proper position. There is a very small margin of error when it comes to safely nailing, and aside from the risk of nailing into sensitive tissue and creating abscesses and infection, there are other problems caused by poor shoe fit. Lost shoes and damaged hoof wall are often the result of poor shoe fit. Shoes that are too small for a foot create increased pressure on a smaller weight bearing surface, which causes stress and damage to the hoof capsule, and can contribute to lameness. Shoes may be fit long and wide if they have nail holes that are punched in the proper position for safe and healthy nailing, and are fit with pads or ground to prevent the horse hitting their body or stepping on the shoes. This may be done to provide support and comfort to a horse with poor conformation, discomfort and lameness, and may be done to assist in enhancing the horse’s movement. Do I hot fit? I certainly shape my shoes hot most of the time because it’s the best way to get a good shape that fits and benefits the hoof. I prefer to fit clipped shoes hot because they’re designed to lay into the hoof like a puzzle piece to function properly. Clips help reduce shearing forces on nails, which helps shoes stay secured through the shoeing cycle. If a horse cannot handle the sound or smell of hot fitting, I skip it. I can fit shoes cold when needed, and if I'm using aluminum shoes I almost always shape cold. I have many tools and a bit of experience and I use what’s best in each different situation. After a good shoe is chosen, modified and fit properly, it has to be applied in a skillful manner. Selecting the right nails to fit the shoe is important as well. There are many, many factors that are considered by a professional farrier, at every horse.
I start with an assessment of a horse’s conformation, condition, and the goals of the owner. What does this horse need to be comfortable, sound, healthy, and perform well? A good trim is foundational. An unbalanced and poorly trimmed hoof will not be helped by nailing shoes onto that poor trim. I strive for good static and dynamic balance. A horse is usually just holding their own weight most of the day. When they are athletes, they need to be trimmed and shod so they’re comfortable living their daily lives, and while they’re working hard. Conditions are usually changing, and even a retired horse has to deal with changes in season and weather. I do not believe in doing the same thing over and over again without reevaluating a horse’s changing needs. Balance in always in flux; this is true of our own lives and horses experience this dynamic living as well.