Top farrier John Favicchia answers your questions about shoeing, the horse’s hoof, and anything else! John has been a farrier in the New York/Connecticut area for more than 30 years. His father is a noted farrier and sculptor, and John started working with him when he graduated from farrier school. He then struck out on his own four years later, and has built a thriving practice concentrating on hunter/jumper and dressage horses.
He’s traveled with U.S.E.F. team horses to Europe and Australia. Some of the more well-known horses John has shod are the dressage star Flim Flam, and show jumper Jeffery Welles’ horses, currently competing on the Samsung Super League tour. John works in close consultations with many vets on solving lameness problems, corrective shoeing, and therapeutic shoeing.
Melanie, Amissville, Va.
I have a 7-year-old, 18-hand Clydesdale. When I got him more than a year and a half ago, he had terrible feet, white line disease and horrible thrush. He also had frequent abscesses in one front hoof.
The thrush is gone; he hasn’t abscessed in a long time and he now has a stronger, better hoof, but the white line is proving to be more difficult. I scrub, soak and treat it with various white line treatments (to include equine relief, Durasole and Sav-A-Hoof liquid, gel and soak), but it never goes away.
We finally have shoes on the front, and after the first cycle his feet looked great. But now the white line disease is invading the nail holes, and the farrier has had to cut out big sections. We also have problems with the back feet that aren’t shod—where the crevices along the white line become deep and wide between trims.
Are shoes a help or a hindrance with this stuff? What is the best course of treatment to make more progress and eliminate it once and for all? Or will he always have this problem?
As you keep trying new products that claim they will end white line disease forever, the disease is migrating throughout the hoof wall, and you could potentially end up with a very seriously lame horse. So timing is crucial!
The organisms that are involved in creating white line disease thrive on anaerobic conditions and migrate in the stratum medium (where the horny laminae interlocks with the sensitive laminae) of the wall. It’s imperative that your farrier and veterinarian do a total debridement of the undermined infected wall and expose it to air! When you get to solid attachment of horn and there are no visible small chalky, powdery areas that the organism leaves behind, then you’ve probably gone far enough, at least for the first month. Only then can you use your super-duper end-all-white line disease products, although I just use betadine or iodine.
Each month your farrier and/or vet should resect just a little bit of wall to make sure there is no evidence of the disease. You could be taking a step backward if you don’t follow through with this part of the treatment.
Iodine is great to help dry out the foot initially, but if it gets too dry then betadine will suffice. I’ll have my clients saturate cotton with betadine and tape it on the affected area overnight three times a week for the first month. After that, apply the medication once a day. It’s also important to keep your horse in a clean and dry environment until the foot grows out.
Horses don’t usually show pain unless it’s an extreme case where there might be displacement of the coffin bone because it lost its supporting structure. On these feet a full support shoe must be applied. I like to use a heartbar shoe or a bar shoe with a full pour. Sometimes I use a heartbar shoe and a full pour together, depending on the case. Your farrier and vet will know if and when they need to apply these shoes. I’ve had a lot of experience with white line disease over the past years and have had great success treating it in this manner. I’d say the prognosis is very good for your horse if you follow the same treatment.
I love those gentle giants—good luck!
Greg, Yorktown Heights, NY
1) As our horses have increased in size over the years (warmbloods), has shoeing had to change with the size of these animals? How so?
2) Often, when our horses come over from Europe, they have a single toe clip in the front versus our two on the sides. The Europeans claim that this allows the horse’s hoof to expand when landing from a big jump. In your opinion, is there any truth to this?
3) My horse(s) have had a “pour” done, instead of pads…what are the benefits and drawbacks of this?
1) The only thing that has changed for me in the past 30 years is that in the late 80’s I started backing up toes by setting the shoes back, making up for the difference in toe growth and creating a consistent comfort level throughout the duration of the shoeing cycle. Other than that, fundamentally speaking, shoeing has not changed—trim to the proper balance, select the lightest shoe that will support the horse’s foot and body weight and will help minimize any adverse effects during the workloads they endure. I use the same principles whether it’s a pony or up to a draft horse.
2) Ahhhh—the infamous toe clip versus side clips. This has been a thorn in our side for the past five or so years, and I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this to come along! Thanks for the question, Greg.
The foot can’t expand at the base because there are nails there, and they’re placed further back in the foot than the side clips we use. Unless they’re talking about the hoof expanding further up the wall and the shanks of the nails flexing with it—although the Europeans do use a thicker shank nail in most horses than we do—I just can’t see it. Even if there were concrete proof that the hoof does expand in that region, it wouldn’t be enough to make me change the way I shoe horses because of the success I’ve been having.
Toe clips, side clips, quarter clips, heel quarter clips, no clips are all useful when applied correctly. Clips help take stress off the nails, keep shoes from shifting and contain weak feet. If you have a horse that has a strong foot, good hoof angle and doesn’t grow too much toe to maintain a decent angle during the shoeing cycle, then toe clips are fine. But, we all know most horses we shoe don’t have feet like that.
The side clips that you refer to and most people are used to seeing are on the quarters of the hoof wall, placed between the second and third nail holes of the shoe. I use them for a couple of reasons. The main reason is because I set my shoes back off the toe, sometimes as far back as the white line or further if warranted (low crushed heels, excessively long distorted toe, good sole depth). You can see that there’s no way that you can use a toe clip in this situation, although I have seen where some Europeans have tried and have caused bruising and soreness at the toe.
I think the best clip placement is in the toe quarters (between the first and second nail holes). I use a lot of these shoes on normal to narrow-footed horses. Even though the clips are placed further forward, I’m still able to set my shoes back to where I want them.
Some horses with poor quality feet might need three, four or even five clips just to hold their feet together. I have one show hunter and two grand prix jumpers with four clips on both front shoes. Two of the three horses were lame before and now are showing sound because I’m able to contain their weak, shelly feet with the proper clips. The bottom line is—give the foot what it needs!
In my travels, I’ve been able to talk to a bunch of European farriers about this specific subject. Some have said it’s strictly economics. Rather than getting paid for their skill and expertise, they’re treated like laborers, thus having to shoe more horses in a day than a skilled American farrier would just to make a decent living. The toe clip shoe is the easiest and fastest shoe to apply. Just notch out the toe with a knife or a nipper to accept the clip, slap the shoe on and move on to the next horse. A lot of European farriers don’t even use a forge to shape and fit their shoes properly because it’s an added expense and takes too much time.
I’ve met European farriers that have come to the United States so they can learn our way of shoeing because they felt their way was a bit antiquated. Funny thing, there are a couple of American trainers that employ European farriers, and now that they have been here a while you can’t tell if an American farrier shod the horses or a European farrier—they’re using more side clips!
3) Your question about your horse having a “pour” done instead of pads and what are the benefits and drawbacks would probably best be answered by your farrier. He knows your horse’s feet and why he used a pour. You didn’t provide me with any details on your horse’s issues with its feet, so I really can’t comment. However, if you read my answer to Julie’s question, it might help you.
Caroline, Lovettsville, Va.
How can you tell if a farrier is doing a good job? I’ve just moved to a new area and don’t exactly know how to evaluate the two farriers I’ve had work on my horses.
Unfortunately, you probably have a better chance trying to tell if a carpenter is doing a good job. This may sound sarcastic, but it’s true for most horse people. You’re not alone!
The lack of knowledge of farrier science for horse owners and professionals has been a huge problem for farriers. I’ve seen many great, competent farriers get fired and replaced by an inadequate one.
I didn’t really know how to answer this question without having to write a book, and then I thought, what a great idea—a book! So here’s your opportunity to become a little more educated in this field.
Get yourself a book called The Principles of Horseshoeing II, written by Dr. Doug Butler. It may have been revised since, but this one will do. This is a great reference book and will give some insight on what to look for in a good farrier. You’ll be amazed at what a farrier needs to know and what their thought process might be before, during and after he shoes your horse (believe it or not, we don’t just nail steel on the bottom of horses feet!).
A competent farrier should be open-minded and willing to answer any questions you may have concerns about. Good luck!
Rob, The Plains, Va.
1) When would you prefer aluminum over steel?
2) Are you brand loyal to any one shoe manufacturer? If so, is it because of design? Or price?
3) Are you familiar with the new German designed “Quik Klik” stud inserts that allow instant insert/removal of studs via a “snap on” tool like ball bearing design? If so, what do you think of them?
1) Aluminum shoes can minimize unwanted deviations in a horse’s gait that can be caused by weight and/or fatigue that a heavier steel shoe might otherwise create. I use a lot of aluminum shoes on most of my show hunters because the trainers claim the horses move better, and it’s true, most of them do. But, in certain cases where the horses may have weak, poor quality feet, aluminum shoes can be the worst choice. They wear out quickly and flex too much to provide good support and can actually destroy a foot. A horse with this type of foot can benefit from a steel shoe and actually move better because they are more comfortable with the support steel can provide.
Depending on the case, when making therapeutic shoes (i.e. bar shoes, heartbar shoes, rail shoes), I might use aluminum just to cut down on the weight.
2) I use mostly Kerckhaert shoes. I feel the steel they use is superior and the nail hole placement is excellent. You also have a wide range of shoes to choose from to suit your needs.
If I had to hand-make shoes, they would be pretty close to the Kerckhaert design (except mine would have an “F” on it not a “K”)
Price doesn’t really come into play if I’m able to get a good product.
3) I had first-hand experience with “Quick Klik” stud inserts when I was working in Florida this winter. Although, it was called “Klick and Ride”.
I always thought if someone invented a stud that snapped in and out of a shoe easily and quickly, they would be a millionaire because the screw-in studs would become obsolete. Then these guys came along.
Upon further inspections and testing, I wasn’t too impressed. First of all you have to drill a half-inch hole in the shoe and thread it so you can screw in the adapter that accepts the stud. If you are familiar with show jumpers at all, most of them use a third stud in the hind shoes, usually placed between the first and second or second and third nail hole on the lateral branch. Not only will the half-inch hole you have to drill weaken the shoe, if you have a smaller footed horse there’s no way to get the adapter in without interfering with your nails.
It wasn’t always easy to get the studs in and out with the fastening gun, and if you lose the gun, it would be very hard to get the studs out. To drill, thread and screw in the adapter took too long. It wasn’t very farrier-friendly. I would imagine farriers would have to charge a lot more for the application, not to mention the price of the studs themselves. They ranged from $7.50 to about $9 per stud. I also think the ball bearings in the stud could fail over time due to wear and tear and corrosion.
I feel that if it’s not applicable to every shoe then it’s useless because then you still have to have the screw-in studs for certain horses.
The concept is there, it just needs to be refined.
Ann, Danielsville, Pa.
I have an off-the-track Thoroughbred with very low heels. Over the winter I pulled his hind shoes, which wore his heels down even more. Now, basically, he has no heel. My farrier put wedges on him behind with a bar shoe, but I’ve been told that will further inhibit growth. How can I get him to grow out a heel?
Your farrier will know right away if the wedges and bar shoes he put on are detrimental to your horse’s heels as soon as he pulls the shoes to re-shoe him again. Sometimes wedges can crush heels depending on the conformation of the foot and application of the shoes.
I’ve had good success with shoeing these types of feet with heartbar shoes. The frog will share some of the load in the palmar region of the foot and reduce weight and stress placed directly on the heels that can otherwise inhibit growth. You should see a difference within the first shoeing cycle.
Leslie, Christiana, Pa.
I have two horses that I have the farrier shoe very short in the toe behind, leaving the foot as upright as possible. The first horse has excellent angulation in his hocks, but when he was barefoot, his toes got long and he hooked his stifle quite badly twice.
The second horse has quite a straight hind leg, and when the toe is allowed to grow long, she stumbles repeatedly behind. The short toe, upright hind foot angle helps both of these horses very much. But I do not understand quite the mechanics of “Why” this works. And I would like to be able to explain it to this farrier so that we both understand what I am asking him to do!
Both horses like shorter toes because it enables them to break over quicker and easier. The horse that trips behind might travel close to the ground (and might be a little lazy) and with the extra length and mass to the long-toed feet she catches the ground and stumbles. There’s probably not enough clearance for her to bring her foot forward and land flat. Instead, she catches a toe first.
There’s nothing good about long toes. It puts more stress on tendons, ligaments and joints, which can cause injuries or exacerbate other maladies such as your other horse’s stifle issue.
Annie, Atlanta, Ga.
My new hunter is a Thoroughbred. His feet are kind of flat, but otherwise pretty good, I think. He has a huge trot step, but a little bit of knee action. Would aluminum shoes and a longer toe help him move better?
I really couldn’t tell if it would make a difference or not. We have to treat each horse as an individual. What works well on one horse might not work well on another. It’s something you and your farrier will have to play with.
The most important thing is to try and keep your horse comfortable throughout the shoeing cycle, and most of them will perform at their best. Some horses are not comfortable in aluminum shoes because it doesn’t give them enough support, especially on a bad-footed horse.
As far as leaving a longer toe, just remember your horse still has to grow foot, and a couple of weeks down the road he will have an excessive amount of toe, which can cause him to move worse. Not to mention, the caudal heel pain and other issues it might cause.
Talk to your farrier. He’ll know what’s best for your horse.
Sally, Redlands, Fla.
What do you suggest for getting babies and young horses used to have their feet worked on? I’m not talking about the ideal situation, but what can a middle-aged woman do without daily help?
I’m not quite sure this is the answer you’re looking for, but I can give you a brief training method some people might use. However, there are more details involved than I can write here. But, it should help.
Let’s get one important thing straight right off the bat—NO TREATS! Do not give your young horse a treat every time you see it because you think it’s cute. Young horses become spoiled very fast, and they grow into very big spoiled horses, and someone’s going to get hurt. You should only use treats as a reward for doing the proper things you ask them to do in their training.
It’s important to have someone there with you when you go to pick up your horse’s feet for the first time. They will try to get away from you any way they can and they need to know that they’re not going anywhere. Start them in their own stall where they’ll be comfortable, and, more importantly, confined. Groom them, spending a lot of time on their lower legs—first training session over. Pat them, tell them how good they were, reward them at that time with a treat or if it’s around feeding time, give them grain and leave the stall. A couple more sessions like that and when you feel comfortable that the horse is ready, you can now pick up the first foot.
In this session, we will start with the right front foot. The natural reaction when picking up a front foot is to go back. So in the stall, while someone is holding the horse’s head, back them into a corner with their left side up against the wall. Groom them as you did in the first couple of sessions. As you run your hand down the right front leg, try and pick up the foot without the horse realizing what you’re doing. If you can get the hoof off the ground just a half inch for a split second without the horse slamming it back down on his own, then the session is over. Reward him and leave the stall. Each subsequent session pick up the foot a little higher and don’t reward him until YOU put the foot down—not him. Repetition, persistence and patience will pay off in the end. Try this method with every leg, bearing in mind that each leg is a whole new learning experience. When you’re picking up the hind legs the natural reaction is to run forward, so keep their head in the corner.
Before you try this training method, it’s a good idea to consult with your farrier and ask him to show you what your body position should be when picking up the foot and how you should hold them. The visual is much better than I can explain. Ask him for different ideas or maybe he has better training methods.
This is an important time of horses’ lives. Don’t cheat them. Spend the time it takes to train them correctly or hire someone to do it for you.
Vickey, Appleton, Wis.
1. What is your view on horses going barefoot year round? Do you believe that horses possess the natural ability to grow a correct
foot, provided they are given the proper environment and trimming?
2. Can you give your opinions and views on the High Performance Trim Method (HPT), as developed and advocated by the International Institute of Equine Podiatry (K.C. La Pierre)?
3. Do you feel that it is ever appropriate to administer “opening cuts” to a contracted foot?
4. Do you try to maintain a distal/palmar plane ground parallel coffin bone? If not, why?
1. I do think some horses can go barefoot year round providing they have decent conformation, good quality feet and are ridden on well-groomed terrain. But how many horses do you know have that luxury?
Good hoof and limb conformation has been bred out of the horse over the past 20 years or so. As farriers we must be pro-active and recognize these deviations that may cause hoof distortion and lameness over time and shoe accordingly to aid in the longevity of the horse’s career.
There can be no such thing as the “NATURAL” ability for a horse to grow a correct hoof if there’s intervention by a farrier to give the proper trimming.
2. There seems to be an influx of these self-proclaimed expert hoof trimmers, each having their own spin and variables on how to trim a foot, and all of them claim they have excellent results! They even have their own name for their particular trim!
Some have people believing their trim is the only way, and, if done properly, horses never need shoes. It’s not that I don’t advocate horses going barefoot whenever possible, but it won’t work for the majority of horses that are in hard work and serious competition!
I feel it’s all a marketing ploy. A couple of practitioners of these so-called special trimmers (including K.C. La Pierre) try to encourage people to take their course and become certified, buy their books, videos and hoofcare products.
I’ve been trimming horses’ feet for 30 years with great success. I just wasn’t smart enough to market it the way they do.
Any experienced, competent farrier uses variations of all these trims when shoeing a horse for that particular case.
GIVE THE HORSE WHAT IT NEEDS!
So, if you have a high-performance horse, you should have a high-performance farrier, to perform his own version of a high-performance trim and a high-performance shoeing job.
3. When fitting a shoe on a contracted foot, you certainly want to cover the heels and give the foot a good base support at the same time. Sometimes the heels of the shoes impinge on the commissures and the frog because the heels are so tight.
After I trim the foot, and before I make a shoe, I will open the heels with my rasp. Starting deep in the commissure, as I’m rasping, I tip the rasp toward the outside of the hoof creating a more normal looking foot and an opposing force hopefully keeping the heels from coming in further. Now I am able to fit a shoe that is wider at the heels with good base support and good cleanout.
It seems like “opening cuts” is now the new name for opening heels but “opening cuts” sound a little radical to me so I’m sticking with opening heels.
4. You need to shoe every horse with radiographs in order to maintain a distal/palmar plane ground parallel coffin bone, and that’s just not going to happen. I only have the hoof capsule angle to work with when I trim horses.
There have been a few lameness cases where a horse required radiographs, and the vet discovered it has a slight negative palmar angle (sometimes it was so slight, you couldn’t see it—it needed to be measured) due to low heels. We will address it then. This doesn’t mean the horse was lame due to the negative palmar angle.
On a severely high-heeled, contracted foot you will never achieve a parallel coffin bone. You can’t take enough heel off without hurting the horse, and the more heel you take off the quicker they grow back. And, believe it or not, there are a lot of horses out there that have feet like that and they’re sound and showing.
Julie, Petaluma, Calif.
How would you shoe a horse with sensitive soles? What shoe would you use, and would you use pads—why or why not?
A lot depends on the conformation of the feet. If the horse has a long toe and low heels and the shoes are fit to the perimeter of the toe, that leaves a lot of sole exposed. In this case, it might be as simple as setting the shoes back off the toes and having more steel cover the sole for better protection. And, believe me, a foot like that can benefit so much from that type of shoeing anyway!
If the horse is chronically sole sensitive, then it probably has no sole depth. In this case, I might use a leather pad or a soft pour. A leather pad conforms to the sole and frog, and some horses really like that support.
I believe that the more mass to the horse’s foot, the more shock absorbing it becomes—here’s where the soft pour comes into play. The pour actually adheres to the sole and becomes part of the foot. You’ve now added more sole depth and mass, which will absorb more shock and give added protection.
If the horse has poor quality hoof walls, you might want to consider using a pour instead of a pad because you can get stronger nailing and the shoe is more secure on the foot. Some farriers like to pour a sole flush with the bottom of the shoe. Be cautioned, some horses don’t like that because it binds the foot and there’s no flex in the sole. The foot has to go somewhere with all that weight on it. Try a pour that is half the thickness of the shoe or less. Play around with it and see what the horse likes best. The other nice thing about the pour is that some of those flat-footed horses will actually start developing concavity and thickness to their soles.
Where I’m from, up here in the Northeast, the terrain is very rocky. Most field hunters and serious trail riders may have to go in pads just as a preventative against bruising.
Cora, Ottawa, Ont., Canada
Let’s say I have some doubts about how my farrier is shoeing my horse. How do I start a constructive dialogue with him about my concerns without offending him? And how do I encourage an open exchange of ideas between my farrier and vet?
First off, you may also benefit from my answer to Caroline’s question. Second, start by asking questions about issues you’re concerned with. A competent farrier should be able to answer your questions without getting offended. But, if it gets to a point where he is offended and/or you don’t agree with his answers and he’s not agreeing with you, it’s obvious that it’s time for both of you to move on.
As far as encouraging an open exchange of ideas between your farrier and your vet, I think that it would be up to your vet. If your vet thinks there is a problem with your horse’s shoeing, then he/she should call your farrier and address the problem, which would initiate the exchange of ideas.
Sarah, Pickering, Ont., Canada
I’ve got a 7-year-old APHA mare who was diagnosed last year with ‘palmar foot pain’ after a nuclear scint, nerve blocking and X-rays. The vet said he wouldn’t call it navicular, but there is degeneration of the bone in that area.
I’ve had her on Navicon since June and just recently put egg bar shoes on her. She looks good going to the left and if on soft ground and on a big circle she looks good going to the right. But if the ground is hard, even at the walk she takes bad steps when turning to the right. I’d really just like her to be comfortable in the paddock, and if possible for light to moderate riding. Do you think eggbars are the right direction? I just don’t know what to do anymore!
Unfortunately, your horse can’t sit on a recliner chair, eat potato chips and watch TV while resting its foot. She needs to stand on all four feet, which can dramatically slow down the healing process.
These are tough ones, Sarah. Yes, I do think eggbars are a good start. However, I think it would be wise to try and minimize the torque on her feet while turning. You can accomplish this with a couple of different types of shoes—a full roller motion shoe and a rail shoe. Ask your farrier about them and see what he suggests.
A roller motion shoe works OK on harder surfaces, but a rail shoe works well on most surfaces. I’ve had unbelievably great success with the rail shoe application on mysterious hoof-related lamenesses.
The rail shoe is usually made out of aluminum to reduce weight. There are two rails usually about a half-inch in height that are applied to the shoe. One starts at the medial toe, inside the first nail hole, and runs back to the medial heel. The other rail starts at the lateral toe, inside the first nail hole, and runs back to the lateral heel. You can also make wedged rails to raise the angle of the foot if necessary on low-heeled horses. So, if you can visualize this, you now have created a very narrow base that each foot stands on, which creates a quicker medial-lateral breakover with less torque to the hoof structures.
Try a little experiment. Tape a board on your horse’s shoes that simulates the height (about ½ to ¾-inch thick) and width of the platform that the rails would create, remembering to keep it back off the toe for better breakover in that area also.
There are several brands and different styles of manufactured rail shoes you can purchase. They don’t always have to be handmade. Ask your farrier about them.
Susan, Washington Crossing, Pa.
My horse has thin hoof walls and has had a recurrence of quarter cracks three years apart. The cracks appeared both times in late March and early April. This is a dressage horse who has eggbars and poured soles, which he has worn since the first cracks appeared. They were in both front feet on the outside.
He also is on a highly recommended hoof supplement. The most recent crack affects one hoof and is not in exactly the same place as the first. He is being treated by floating the hoof under the crack, and there’s an acrylic patch on the crack. The crack is now seven weeks old and has grown about 1/3 inch. This horse is being hand grazed and ridden at the walk for 15 to 20 minutes. Up until last week, he was not ridden at all. Any advice concerning treatment and prevention would be greatly appreciated.
I know this probably isn’t going to be what you want to hear, but from my experience, it sounds like this could be a chronic issue with your horse and he may always need to live with a patch.
There are many different reasons why a hoof may develop quarter cracks (i.e. conformation, weak feet, trauma). But, once they do, it can cause scarring that is weaker than the wall was prior to the crack. This is why a lot of these feet will continually crack in the same area.
There are numerous so-called “quarter crack repair specialists” around now, and if you are willing to pay them a lot of money, they will repair your horse’s quarter crack, and that is exactly what it is—a repair. They haven’t fixed anything.
A client of mine bought a horse with a medial quarter crack. She decided to hire one of the pioneers of stitching and repairing cracks to continue working on her horse as he did prior to the purchase. I asked him how he would like me to shoe the horse after the repair and should I float the heel? His answer verbatim was, “Do what you want. It doesn’t matter, it’s going to crack again anyway.” I was a little shocked to say the least. I normally would like to help these horses out a little more than just a repair.
Anyway, from the information you gave me, it seems like your farrier is doing a good job. The only thing that I might suggest, if it’s not being done already, is that the acrylic patch should be at least a half inch thick to keep the hoof wall from flexing and shearing. It has to be a very rigid patch.
I have worked on some cases where the crack has grown down about 1/3 of the hoof wall and I’ll go ahead and patch that area again, close to the coronary band, before it has a chance to re-open. In cases like this, the horses don’t lose work and are able to continue showing.
Daphne, Columbia, Md.
I have a question regarding shoeing a mature horse. I’ve always been told that a horse should be shod to its leg, rather than trying to make the leg “fit” a foot. Recently, this became a discussion with my own farrier and one of my horses.
The horse is a 7-year-old, Thoroughbred gelding that is cow hocked and has an old, healed injury on one hock from his life before I rescued him. He will not show, but I do ride him and keep him shod. He has been sound and seemingly comfortable for the three years I’ve had him, and I was never told that the hind feet required special shoeing.
I recently moved, and my new farrier has been trying to “correct” my horse’s hind feet, to the point where one shoe rotates on the foot a few weeks after being shod. He said that it is necessary to balance the foot (particularly the heels—one is lower on the leg with the hock injury) through corrective shoeing. He mentioned that the horse will be sore a few days after shoeing and that the shoe will twist for the rest of the horse’s shod life. My farrier believes that he needs to fix the foot and the leg can be corrected until the horse’s hocks fuse.
The horse had increased interference on his hind ankles and has been crankier under saddle with the corrective shoeing. I requested that my farrier instead continue on with the “leg to foot” shoeing the horse had before (which he graciously did), but we did have a long discussion about which way is right. I told him that I am uncomfortable with his plan for the horse’s future shoeing, and said I would research the theory behind his plan before his next trip to my place. My worry is causing more harm to the hock or other parts of the leg / back; his is that the foot will have problems if not balanced out.
You mentioned in your questions several things that really concerned me—your horse will be sore a few days after shoeing, the shoe will twist for the rest of your horse’s shod life, your horse has increased interference and has been crankier under saddle with the “corrective shoeing”. Is there really anything corrective about this shoeing? Where does corrective shoeing remotely come into play here!
Since I don’t know the extent of any distortions and deviations of the feet relative to the legs, I can’t comment on how I would shoe this particular horse. But, I would highly recommend you consult with the last farrier that was keeping your horse comfortable for the last three years. Sounds like he was on the right track and knows your horse better than I do.