Category Archives: Hoof Physiology


This is a study of the movement that I have observed which occurs during preparation of the hoof for either shod or unshod purposes. Many farriers or hoof carers get the blame for having got the levels wrong when trimming the hoof, which then caused the horse to either paddle or dish. The possibility could be that he trimmed the hoof correctly but just put the shoes on too soon. Now if that sounds like a fairytale, then let me explain. The desired aim in any preparation is to achieve a balanced symmetrical hoof and even heels. Viewed from the rear of the pastern there must be a T-square across the heels and a level plane to the toe. After trimming, and especially in cases where the hoof wall has been greatly distorted, the horse must be allowed a few minutes to weight bear on the hoof to allow it to settle into its new plane. Assuming you have already achieved the T-square in the back of the hoof, when it is re-examined you may see it is no longer level or the ground bearing surface has moved. This is not … Continue Reading ››


To quote Dr Doug Butler in his book The Principles of Horseshoeing, ‘The hardest thing a farrier has to deal with is making his hands do exactly what his mind and eyes are telling them to do.’ And indeed it seems that as soon as some farriers pick up the sole knife or the nippers or the rasp, from there on the hoof takes on a completely different shape from that which was first intended.

IF we use the rasp too heavily when dressing the front of the hoof and IF, instead of just correcting the thickness at the toe, we allow the rasp to continue the stroke to go past the toe section and along the side walls, the hoof will have a correct toe but narrow sides and the wrong shape hoof.

When rasping the toe it is important to do just that, and not allow the rasp to travel around the side of the hoof. It may help to mark the outer limits of the toe with a … Continue Reading ››


It is often difficult to see what is ‘normal’ in the bottom of the hoof. There are three main problems to consider when we address hoof care issues; they are:
  • The presence of long toes/low heels
  • The presence of high heels/short toes
  • The presence of uncontrolled flares anywhere in the hoof wall.
To begin to understand all this we must first know what is normal when we lift the leg and look at the bottom of the hoof. There should be a symmetrical balance in it- the fronts should be round or slightly oval shape, the hinds should be an even and slightly v- shaped and the hoof wall should be an even thickness outside the white line all around. (Pic 1) The centre of the hoof is a point exactly 19mm behind the clean tip of the frog and after achieving the correct balance there should be an equal measurement from that point to the toe and from that point to a straight line across the buttress of the heels, plus correct height must be 6mm above the widest part of the frog. (Pic 2) Also from that same centre point there should be an equal measurement sideways (laterally) to … Continue Reading ››