What is Balance?

by Articles, Equine Hoof Care

Have you ever heard of someone’s horse being trimmed or shod wrong? Maybe you’ve picked up one of your own horses feet and thought that it might not be level…

Knowing how many things that can, and will, go wrong with a horse. Hoof balance is so very important because if you don’t have the right foundation, everything above the hoof is going to eventually be compromised. Hence the age old saying, No Hoof, No Horse…

Trimming and shoeing horses can be hard. You have to make sure you’re taking enough hoof off, while not over trimming him and make him sore! What one horse needs to stay sound, may cripple another horse. You can lose a shoe every once in a while but don’t make it a habit or you’ll be the village idiot. Do not, I repeat do not, ever drive a hot nail!

I believe that the majority of horses only need a basic trim or shoeing with an open heeled shoe, making sure that it is flat, level, and balanced. This is why people will say things like, “shoeing is simple, pull the shoe off and trim it flat, and nail it back on!” You’re over thinking it, just take all the toe, leave the heel, and that’s all you need to do! “Those darn farriers always over complicate things, it’s not rocket science…”

I think that the main miscommunication is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Such as I have never floated a horses teeth before but I’ve seen it many, many times so I’m sure I can walk you though how to do it. “First you open their mouth, grind off the high spots, leave the low spots, bevel the edge, put in some bit seats, then make sure the front teeth are level. Bam, pay me!” I’m certain that an Equine Dentist would need a book to describe how to do their job properly. That is the way it goes with everything. The details are where all the secrets are! That’s why some farriers can keep a horse sound when others can’t, and there isn’t a huge difference between how both shoeings look.

My mentor Grant Moon told us one time that if you’re not “floating”(meaning trimming lower in a certain area) with 80% of your horses somewhere, you’re missing something. That is just one example out of a long list of things that can be done while still doing a “basic” shoeing job.

I live everyday of my life by Grant’s other saying “If you think anything is perfect, you’re not looking hard enough!” Just like how all we need in a basic shoe job, is flat, level, and balanced. The problem with that is you will never be able to do that perfectly. The horse is too dynamic, a lot of things effect how the hoof is going to grow. As soon as you put the hoof down after working on it, it has started to grow out of balance. By the time the horse is due to be shod, whatever the farrier was trying to do, isn’t helping anymore.

I have spent most of my adult life trying to perfect my “basic shoeing”, flat, level, and balanced is all I’m trying to do… Perfect may not be achievable but if we can stay out of the horses way as much as possible within our 5 week shoeing cycle, I consider that a win.

God Bless America!

This article first appeared in the Dally Times- The Magazine for Team Ropers.

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