Lee Olsen was recently featured in the Superlooper and Dally Times
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If You Think Hiring a Good Farrier Is Expensive, Try Hiring a Bad One!
Have you ever heard that a farrier didn’t stand a horse up enough? Or maybe that he cut all of the heel off and ruined a horse’s foot, perhaps creating a navicular because of it?
Chances are that you have heard of this problem at one time or another. Many horse owners want their horse stood up to please their eye, when actually it is structurally wrong for the horse. All farriers will deal with this dilemma at some time or another.
So where does the confusion lie? It is a very common misconception that leaving excess heel on your horse will help stand them up. This couldn’t be any further from the truth, and the consequences will take on a downward spiral of events.
As the heels grow longer, they will grow forward and at a greater angle than the toe. When excess heel length is left it will become leveraged and result in crushing the heels, forcing the heels and the foot itself to run forward.
A common fix for this is to fit the shoe excessively full. The problem without fixing the trim is that it will only cause more leverage (because length is leverage), resulting in the heels crushing even more. When this happens, the load and force is transferred to places it wasn’t intended to be. As a result, the psychics of the whole limb are negatively affected.
The first indicator will be a negative Palmer Angle, meaning the foot is becoming broken back and is starting to run forward. When that happens, you know that the digital cushion and heel tubules are in trouble. The foot has run forward, crushing the heels and bars. Possible effects include quarter cracks, contracted heels, bruised heels, corns, heel pain, soft tissue injuries, sore suspensory injuries, etc.
Once such complications exist, corrective shoeing will need to be done by a knowledgeable foot care professional. The saying “If you think a good farrier is expensive, try hiring a bad one” applies very well here. From vet bills for diagnosing why your horse is lame, to down time from competing and corrective shoeing bills, the cost is high. And unfortunately, there is no guarantee your horse will make a complete recovery.
As with everything, there is an exception to the rule. Some horses will be shod with stacked, run-forward heels and never take a lame step or pull a shoe. Also, there will be the horse that is too far gone and the corrective shoeing will not help, usually because of a serious soft tissue injury that can only be found by doing a MRI.
My goal is to have 50% in front and 50% behind the widest part of the foot. If that can’t be done with the trim alone, then it will have to be done through the mechanics of a shoe. The key is making sure the horse is standing in the middle of his foot and the under the leg as much as possible. This is best achieved by avoiding trimming too short and leaving adequate sole depth for protection.
God Bless America.
Western Performance Horse Specialist
AFA Certified Farrier, Weatherford, Texas