Article written and published in the NZ Harness Racing Weekly
From the time I first started shoeing, gait problems and knee knocking has always been something I have been interested in.
I remember asking an old farrier the correct method to fixing a knee knocker. I questioned whether to lower the outside or the inside. He replied with a smile and then said lower the outside son, that’s the answer to fixing it, then quickly mentioned if that doesn’t work lower the inside and then laughed, I could easily see this was going to be no easy fix.
I always stress the need to achieve the ‘correct T-squared’ (level heels) when trimming any hoof and to achieve a balanced foot at all times.
With this in mind that is why I now shoe with the Hoof Line tool. This incredibly simple and useful tool can take the guesswork out of assessing and measuring the horse’s hoof to prepare for a barefoot trim or for shoeing… 90% of lameness in horses is hoof related, and this is unnecessary. Most gait problems and back strain problems stem from incorrect trimming and incorrect shoeing that should have been corrected simply by correctly balancing the hoof.
I still smile to myself as I start my farrier run every Monday, I shoe many horses every week and for most of the leading trainers, but the funniest thing is that in nearly every barn I am made to shoe differently – lower the outsides, lower the insides, cut them right back, make the hoof shorter, less round etc.
I can’t help think that if they just let me shoe these horses in a correct balance we would all win more in the end. I am not saying lowering the hoof doesn’t work, it just must only be used as a band aid. I have shod many great horses this way but I think it is flawed to expect a horse to continually land with uneven heels.
We know there are four phases of a stride basically. These are known as the:
Phase 1… the phase of impact (landing),
Phase 2… skid (soft tissue damage),
Phase 3…. maximum peak strength (midstance),
Phase 4…. tendon rebound (roll over),
Basically, as farriers, the roll over/break over is one of the most important phases as it is one of the few phases we try to control. But the first phase being the phase with the most concussion, it is a sick sight to watch a horse land slow motion when it has an uneven heel buttress. I am working on developing a programme to film the horses I shoe and be able to break the stride down to show trainers the damage and impact this is causing. A higher heel will hit the ground first, resulting in a massive change of load onto the other heel then loading the toe adding four additional phases to the whole stride instead of landing with even heel buttress which results in a clear unharmed stride.
My Hoof Line used in conjunction with my trimming methods help eliminate lameness by correcting long toes/low heel problems or high heel/short toe problems. It eliminates flares which are a major cause of hoof distorting. It helps correct contracted heels which result in minimal frog contact and also eliminates the need for remedial shoes which often exacerbate the problems.
It even saves further time by allowing the farrier to take the measurements to the anvil and shape the shoe according to the measurements of the finished hoof.
The major advantage is that this method takes the guesswork out of hoof preparation.
Hoof-Line is the first accurate tool in the world for achieving hoof balance while under the horse without the need for x-rays (unless a rotated pedal bone is suspected) or gauges .
Adam White farrier