Article written and published in the NZ Harness Racing Weekly

A wise old trainer once said to me you never stop learning. Isn’t that the truth, and after two NZ Cups, half a dozen Jewels, and Breeders’ Crown winners and 20 odd Group 1 winners I must admit I thought I was well on the right track, but my latest farrier course in Oakbank, South Australia, opened my eyes to many things that need attention in NZ.

New Zealand has always been an interesting place to shoe with inherited gait problems and conformation issues. We, as farriers, always need to upskill – that goes without saying and I don’t claim to know everything but I have a lot more confidence in repairing an issue now.

David Farmilo is an accredited master farrier with a list of acknowledgements as long as your arm not to mention over 50 years of farriery. He is a marvel of information. The trip to Adelaide was a long one with five hours stop in Sydney giving me time to get a heads up on what was involved in the 5-day course. On arrival at Oakbank in the Adelaide hills I was surprised to see a farrier and blacksmith workshop in what looked a suburban area.

The course was a one on one with certificate of achievement attached. I’m still not sure if it was presented for lasting the 12-13 hour days or for the ability to process all that I learnt .

The most important thing I took out of the five days was the importance of sole preparation and cutting out the bars. The bars should never be weight bearing which is why we have so many problems with bruising of the corn/bar area. But by correct sole preparation we can find the three critical junctions of the hoof. We can maintain sole concave profile on every hoof every time. Also, the importance of a t-squared hind level (heels level and 6mm above the heel junction), but most important was to eliminate flares – flares are our enemy.

One of the most interesting things I learnt was an easy way to achieve this total balanced hoof with level heels and a pastern angle every time with the use of the David Farmilo hoof line.

This easy tool calibrates the centre balance of the hoof which marks the absolute centre of a balanced hoof which is 19mm back from the active tip of the frog. The measurement from the point of the toe and to a line across the trimmed buttresses of the heels should be equal when the hoof is trimmed in accordance with my new prescribed trimming method.

The finished heel buttresses must never be lower than 6mm above the critical frog and heel junction.

Basically, when this balanced measurement is achieved in the bottom of the hoof, the front of the hoof wall is parallel with the pastern angle; the hoof shape is a mirror image of the idea/normal coronary band.

There are no flares in the hoof wall and the hoof is now stress free which will result in no hoof problems, bruises, abscesses. A balanced hoof will stop forging back and weather pain .

I learnt that 90% of all horse soreness is hoof related, but by having a balanced hoof we can make the horse more comfortable and as a result more results on the track.

We covered the symptoms and treatment of all hoof related lameness and had a long and successful day straigthening up foals legs at a young age.

The course was more than I expected and the knowledge I took away will enable my clients to have correctly balanced feet every time. I shoe and the results will speak for themselves .

I enjoy talking about hooves and horseshoeing so if anyone has any problems drop me a line or e-mail me a picture. Between David and myself, we will sort your problems.

Adam White farrier