Category Archives: Left & Right Handed Horses



Horses don’t have hands of course but that doesn't mean they don’t have a dominant side. And this left or right-handedness is an important concern for farriers, trainers and riders.

If a horse is right handed, when you look at the off fore hoof closely you will notice it is bigger than the near fore hoof. And conversely, if it is left handed, the near fore hoof will be bigger than the off fore hoof.

The reason for this is that from day one of the horse’s life, its brain dictates that it will use its naturally stronger foot, and so it develops bigger. Sometimes the difference is so small that the only way you can tell is to feel the width of the coronet band (ie the hairline at the top of the hoof) and then compare this with the opposite foot in the same manner. Your fingers will notice the difference.

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Very few farriers, trainers or horse riders think seriously about the left and right handed tendencies of the horses in their care. It is a very interesting study, and when understood it has a huge influence on us and the way we may work better with the horse, to achieve far better results. From the age of one month it becomes obvious in their hoof development, that in left handed foals the near fore will be slightly larger than the off fore; it can often be seen visually or it can be felt with your fingertips at the widest part of the coronary band. (Practise this and you will find that the fingertips can pick up even a slight difference and give you a great advantage in fine tuning your hoof care.) Obviously the right handed foal will have the opposite tendencies while the ambidextrous foal will be even on both hooves. This same difference is also applicable to the hinds and will be diagonally opposite to the fronts. So that we can understand the working tendencies, it is important to know … Continue Reading ››