As farriers, we have let the horses and the horse world down. With information technology on tap, we are still not getting it right. The over abundance of horses with long toes – low heels, flares, contracted heels and Seedy Toe are ample evidence that things are not right, and that farriers are not correcting these simple problems. And I am not just talking about Australia, as these problems are world-wide.
The reason the farriers are not correcting these problems is they don’t know how to, and the reason they don’t know how to is that they have not been taught correctly. The farriers working for the Sultan of Brunei, or for the Hong Kong Turf Club no doubt do an excellent job, as do the top few percent of any trade. But these farriers are an elite group and do not travel around shoeing kids’ ponies and enthusiasts’ pleasure horses.
This leaves the stable door open for newcomers to arrive waving their Magic Fixit Flags. So firstly in came the barefoot trimmers, with a ‘new’ invention, the barefoot horse. And the horse owners listened because their horses were lame and had so many problems. And if your horse is dead lame, anything is going to be an improvement.
Hot on their heels has followed an influx of Magic Fixit Horseshoes. There are clip on shoes, so you don’t even need to bother with tedious work such as trimming. There are plastic shoes, so thick that the frog has no chance of ever touching the ground and doing what it should.
There are also Magic Fixit horseshoes with a vastly shortened toe, so that the horse can go 10-12 weeks between shoeing. If the horse was meant to have a square toe, surely it would have a square coronary band, but it doesn’t. When square toed shoes have been on the hoof for that length of time, the actual profile of the hoof has grown out past the shoe and become round again, defying the efforts of the square toed shoe fitter to keep it blunt, supposedly to assist in breakover movement.
However, the initial application of square toed shoes to a horse suffering long toe/low heel syndrome is to give it immediate relief in the short term, giving the owner satisfaction that they have done the right thing. Again, if the farriers had been correctly balancing the hooves, the need for change would never have been necessary.
However, any method which alters the natural balance of the hoof will also alter the gait of the horse, and is merely a temporary bandaid which will have a long term cost to the soundness of the horse.
A caller asked me to see a lame pony recently. The pony had size 00 hooves and had been shod in these Magic Fixit shoes, which weighed 310 grams per shoe, compared to 130 grams per shoe for a regular shoe – 720gm more than the weight of four standard shoes. The pony had stress foundered a few days later.
I will gladly accept a challenge from anyone promoting any of these crazy Magic Fixit shoes and who are suggesting that they can remedy lameness. My experience is that 99% of hoof lameness problems can be corrected simply by correctly balancing the hoof and if necessary applying standard shoes, and I will gladly debate or demonstrate this against any Magic Fixit shoe.
But most importantly, ALL people who are working with horses hooves need to be correctly educated in the simple basic principles of hoof balance, and that includes teachers of farriers, farriers, barefoot trimmers and horseshoe promoters. The astute horse rider recognises instantly the difference between a well shod horse and a horse shod with bandaids. Surely we should listen to them and be accountable.