Early Detection Can Prevent Many Costly Hoof Problems

A friend and client that I shod for several years ago moved to the other side of Austin from Where I live in Liberty Hill. Due to the distance, she started using a farrier closer to her. She contacted me a couple of years ago and said her horse had foundered and wanted me to work with her veterinarian to help the horse. The vet took x-rays and it was determined there was mild rotation of the coffin bone and less than 5mm. sole depth. After a year of therapeutic shoeing. The horse is back to work and my son is now doing the maintenance hoof care.

After eleven years of studying x-rays on every therapeutic case I work on, it is quite apparent that many farriers and especially the ” bare foot trimmers ” have no concept of SOLE DEPTH. This is the distance between the solar perimeter ( bottom edge ) of the coffin bone and the ground. Just below the bone, sandwiched between the bone and the ground is the corium of the hoof. The corium contains the blood vessels, and nerve endings of the sole. A healthy corium requires a minimum of 5mm. space beneath the bone to produce sole mass, and a minimum of 10mm. to support and protect the corium. This is a MINIMUM sole depth of 15mm.

Farriers are taught to be able to determine this depth from external indicators of the sole and frog junction. We are also taught to estimate the position of the coffin bone externally. Years of looking at medial/lateral balance of the hoof wall, level or straightness of the coronary band solidifies the way each individual farrier interprets these indicators. What might be straight or level to me may not be straight or level to another farrier or the veterinarian. I have found that confirming the external indicators by comparison to the x-ray will catch many misinterpreted assumptions and helps to develop a more accurate eye.

Sole depth ( hoof mass ), joint alignment and bone alignment . are critical to a healthy hoof ( barefoot or shod ). Periodic x-rays ( every couple of years ) can be a great tool to help your farrier stay on track and catch minor problems before they become big problems. Periodic x-rays of my friends horse would have shown the  decreasing sole depth and emphasized the long toe and improper load bearing of the hoof  before it became a lengthy and expensive correction process.

The terms used , weight distribution, basic anatomy, and the physics that explain the function of a healthy hoof are subjects covered in the basic podiatry clinics being held this fall. Clinic dates will be posted as they are confirmed.


2 Responses to “Early Detection Can Prevent Many Costly Hoof Problems”

  1. Cher Brock Says:

    You brought tears to my eyes after reading this. Montana and I can’t Thank You enough for all your education, dedication and hard work to get her back on her feet! You are truly an amazing man!

    • Cher, non of the work we do as farrier or veterinarian is successful without the owners part in the podiatry team. Your diligence and owner compliance with our instructions complete the recovery process. Your understanding of the maintenance process will allow Montana to be a usefull horse for years to come.

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