Category Archives: Balancing the Hoof


david at cincinaWhat does it mean to ‘Balance the Hoof’? Ask any farrier if he balances the hoof and he will say ‘Yes’. Ask him to describe how he does it and he will generally describe very convoluted ways of doing so without having any specific reference points for others to copy. Is balancing a hoof a matter of trimming and shoeing so that it looks right? Is there a simple, prescribed method to balance the hoof? Can it be found in textbooks? What is the method of teaching apprentice farriers to balance the hoof? Do farrier schools have a standard method to balance the hoof? The answer is an emphatic NO. Surely we need to make it simpler for young farriers to learn the simple basics if … Continue Reading ››


When I was a young jackeroo, the boss made the comment ‘If you want to find a shortcut way to do a job, give it to a lazy man – he will always take the shortcut, and finish the job with a minimum of energy output. The outcome is usually that it is done wrong or that it does not last and has to be redone.’

This philosophy is especially true when it comes to the shoeing of horses. I don’t like to be the bearer of bad tidings, but it seems apparent that things are getting worse. I have always stressed the importance of trimming the hoof to achieve a symmetrical shape. This can be and must be done no matter what the size of the hoof. By doing this you will help the horse move in a natural, even and uninhibited way. If the hoof is out of balance in any way, the flight of the leg will be crooked and uneven. Probably the most common error in hoof preparation is simply not trimming out the sole enough. This leads to what we know as the low heel/long … Continue Reading ››


I have been shoeing horses for 50 years this year, and in the 1990’s I spent eight years as Head Farrier for Lindsay Park Stud (then one of Australia’s most successful racing stables). Nowadays I specialise in hoof reconstruction and shoeing for performance, and I travel Australia teaching trimming and shoeing to the ringers on outback cattle stations, as well as running courses for horse owners to learn to trim their own horses’ hooves. After 50 years of shoeing I tell people attending my hoof care courses that I am still learning – and I really do mean it. Why is it that so much has been written on farriery, over hundreds of years, yet none of them really answer the question ‘How do we correctly balance a hoof.’ While an enormous amount of literature has been published by highly qualified people on horse shoeing technique, horse shoeing beliefs, preferences and trends,Continue Reading ››


When balancing the hoof, it is imperative to check for a correct T-square down the back of the pastern. A T-square is actually a ruler used by a draftsman – it has a long ruler attached to a short, sometimes sliding, perpendicular crosspiece at one end, used for establishing and drawing parallel lines, perpendicular lines and right angles. (Pic 1) My dear old Mum had a dressmaker’s square for measuring the distance of hems from the floor on my sisters’ dresses. A carpenter uses a carpenters square to cut perfect right angled ends on his pieces of timber. He also uses a spirit level to make sure his timbers are parallel and that the cross pieces are at perfect right angles to the uprights before he nails them. I use the word T-square; you might like to think of it as right angled, perpendicular, or 90 degrees. It all means the same thing. I was never any good at geometry, and could never make any sense out of my protractor and my set square if I could find them at all. The angles of my triangles always added up … Continue Reading ››


To even begin to understand HOW and WHY a crooked hoof regrows crooked, we need to look closely at the conformation of the horse. NOTE: This article is in reference to the front of the horse only. A future article will deal with the hind leg movement. Viewed from in front (FIG 1) the correct straight legged horse’s leg bones are in line from the forearm to the pedal bone, which is positioned correctly inside the hoof capsule. As a result, the hoof does not distort or develop flares and the flight of the hoof is in a straight line. The leg bones of the splay footed horse (FIG 2) are out of alignment; the shoulders are narrow, so the forearms slope inwards causing a knock kneed appearance. Lower down in the hoof the pedal bone positions itself under the centre of the knee to maintain the horse’s balance; this creates an imbalance in the hoof capsule, resulting in an outside flare and a dishing gait as the leg moves forwards. The leg bones of the pigeon toed horse (FIG 3) are … Continue Reading ››


My statement that there is no such thing as a naturally cow-hocked horse often raises a few eyebrows, so I feel it is necessary to explain in detail the reasons for that opinion. When viewed from in front or behind, the cow-hocked horse stands with the hind legs bowed in at the hocks and with the toes of the hoof pointed out. (Pic 1)

The cause of this is flaring. The hoof capsule is flared to the outside heel and the inside hoof wall is upright and the inside heel is low or possibly even under run. The effects are disastrous for the horse. The horse has a less than happy attitude to work because he is sore in the back just forwards of the hips, he is probably developing hock soreness as well and if he is a race horse he will be speedy cutting and or brushing inside his fetlock joints. If he is a camp drafter he will … Continue Reading ››


  • The hoof/pastern angle must be parallel.
  • The front of the pedal bone must be parallel with the front of the hoof wall.
  • The soles must be concave and the bars dressed to be non weight bearing.
  • The active tip/sole junction of the frog must be clearly identified.
  • In the normal hoof, the tip of P3 can be identified and marked at 25mm forward of the active tip of the frog.
  • The frog must be cleaned along its sides in a straight line back to its widest points and junction with the heel of the hoof. My reference is called the Critical Junction of the Heel.
  • The cleaned sole should be concave in profile from the bottom of the sides of the frog, radiating outwards to meet the inside wall of the hoof.
  • This clean sole/hoof wall junction is called the Road Map of the Hoof.
  • This road map in the bottom of the hoof is the mirror image of the pedal bone within the hoof capsule and also the same profile as the normal coronary band.
  • Continue Reading ››