Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Horse Shoes

My farrier Pat came out today to shoe Louie.  He had 3 degree plastic wedge pads that he used with a plain steel shoe. We measured Louie's feet before trimming, after trimming, and after shoeing.  We also talked quite a bit on shoeing techniques (complete with illustrations) and why it is actually better to cut the heels off of a low foot with under-run heels (to widen the base of support and place the support further back under the heel rather than keeping high pressure over the heels, which don't allow them to grow as easily). 

We did find a discrepancy between Pat's hoof angle measuring tool and the computer generated angles from Dr Turner's office.  Of course you have to take into account the human error and the shape of the outside hoof wall (ie a dish) which affects the angle.  Dr. Turner's numbers put the left front at 48 degrees and the right at 55.  Pat's measurements found the left front to be 48 degrees and the right to be only 52.  We took a lot of heel off of the right front and a little bit of length off of the left front as well, so that after trimming, the left front was 47 degrees and the right front was about 46 degrees.  After adding the 3 degree wedge pad and shoe (remember, the shoe can affect the angle depending on where you place it- further back will make a steeper mechanical angle by shortening the breakover distance), both feet measured 54 degrees. 

As for toe lengths, before trimming, the left front was 3-7/8" and the right front was 3-3/4".  After trimming, both toes were 3-3/4".  The heels before trimming were 1-3/8" on the left front and 1-3/4" on the right.  After trimming, both heels were equal at 1-3/8".  Of course Pat also lowered the outside hoof wall of the right front by about 1/8". 

So, without further ado, here is the finished product. 

This is a view of the left front foot from the right.  You can see the under-run heels, but the angle is much better now.  You can also see how Pat set the shoe back just a bit to not only support the heels more, but also to make for a higher mechanical angle and an easier breakover.

Happy horse with new feet (and bell boots)

And I think this could be my favorite, showing off his new kicks and looking rather aloof- pretty pleased with himself.
I think the best news of all, is that after that, not only did the shoes cost me less than what I had expected (I thought the price was going to be comparable to that of a Saddlebred show shoe and cost me $200, but Pat only charged me $30 for the pads, so that made me really happy), but I lunged Louie afterward and he was moving much better than he has moved in 6+ months.  I was thrilled to see how comfortably he was moving.  Still just a tad shorter on the right front than the left, but the head nod is gone, he's moving much more freely through the shoulders, and I think with time he'll start moving nicer because he won't be expecting it to hurt like he probably is now. 

Our plan now is to reset him again in 6 weeks, and eventually, the goal is to actually set him with his right front at a lower angle than the left, so that during most of the middle of the shoeing period he will have equal angles, and he'll only be slightly higher on the right by the time he needs to be reset.  We also looked at the wedge shoes that Pat has available and talked about the pros and cons of these.  Basically, these will be used as needed to give him the lift and still be able to show him, but the pads are ideal because they protect the foot a bit more and allow the weight to be spread out over a greater area.  Seeing Louie move today was one of the happiest days we've had in the past several months.  I'm very excited to get back to working him again.  Now he just needs to keep them on in the mud! 


  1. We had a horse whose front legs were actually different lengths by a quarter inch. Fun isn't it?

  2. not at all fun. . . His knees look more even now, but before the shoes were on his right knee was about a half inch higher than the left- imagine how that feels to the shoulders and back compensating for that. . .