What is Good Horse Shoeing?
How much should be trimmed off your horse's hooves?
Often the comment about not enough being trimmed off the foot is made without complete knowledge of the foot in question.
First consideration is the concavity of your horse's feet. This varies greatly from horse to horse and usually determines the amount of hoof to be removed. In the event of cracks, splits or old nail holes, the amount of hoof to be removed will vary, taking into consideration a strong solid wall to be left bare foot or to nail to. The owner will not be pleased to have chips appearing, or shoes off in only a couple of weeks. If the horse is usually left longer than the normal shoeing periods, the concavity of the foot often decreases. This lowers the bloodline and therefore the foot must be trimmed with this in mind. There are several other reasons that cause the hoof to lose its concavity, and unfortunately these causes can restrict your horses usefulness. Also normal hooves vary in concavity, but this does not necessarily have any adverse effect. Your farrier will most likely be able to analyze your horses hooves as to whether they are poor, good or excellent and suggest proper care to improve or maintain their health.
If the horse is way overdue and the growth has not been worn off, then it is wise to trim the hoof back to normal in two stages -- a month apart. This is to protect the tendons allowing them to settle back to normal gradually, rather than risking lameness through an abrupt change. Most overdue hooves can be pared back in one appointment, as long as the owner will allow 4-5 days of adjustment before riding them. (this doesn't mean to go for a twenty-five mile ride, as soon as riding resumes)Common sense and in two weeks everything should be safe and normal for all.
If you feel that the hoof should be shorter, ask your blacksmith and he'll be glad to point out the reason for the particular length he has left your horse's hooves. The time to question the length is at the time of shoeing. Often I will point out to the owner, their horses shallow or deep hooves if they are out of the ordinary in depth. This instills confidence between client and farrier, that you are closely watching while working on their horses hooves even though you are probably chatting about many different topics.Written by: John Emsley