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Posts Tagged ‘hooves’

In caring for your horse’s feet, you not only want to see how the left and right halves of the foot are balanced, you also want to evaluate the hoof’s front-to-back balance. We call this dorsopalmar balance when we’re talking about the front feet, and dorsoplantar balance when we’re talking about the hind. You may also see the term anterior/posterior balance, which is the same for both front and hind feet. Farriers and veterinarians may refer to this in shorthand as “DP balance” or “AP balance.”

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The foot on the left has poor dorsopalmer balance (DP), with much
more mass ahead of the widest part of the foot (blue line) than behind it
(green line). The foot on the right has nearly perfect DP balance.

What you ideally want to see is a foot with approximately 2/3 of its mass in the back of the foot, behind the true apex of the frog (usually located about 1/2 inch behind the front point of the frog), and 1/3 ahead of the apex. This also equates to a foot that has about 50% of its mass both ahead and behind the axis of rotation of the coffin bone, a point which corresponds to the widest part of the foot. A foot with these general proportions accomplishes two very important things. First, the foot will have a strong base of support, with the hoof set up well under the bony column of the leg, maximizing the hoof’s ability to bear weight and dissipate impact forces. Second, good DP balance allows for a point of breakover that puts minimal strain to the joints and soft tissues.

When the front part of the foot is longer than the back part, this is called dorsopalmar or dorsoplantar imbalance. An alarming number of domestic horses have this kind of imbalance, which most frequently takes the form of long-toe/low-heel syndrome. When a foot has this conformation, breakover will be delayed, which can cause a variety of problems for the horse.

 

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Your horse needs you to care about his feet.

Hands-On Exercise

To check out your horse’s feet for front-to-back balance, find the widest point of the foot, then draw a line across it with a marker. Next, measure from that line to the very back point of the heels that touch the ground and jot that measurement down. Lastly, measure from the line forward to the point of breakover (POB), which is the most forward point where the hoof would contact the ground if standing on a flat surface. If there is any bevel in the shoe or toe, the POB is the spot where the bevel starts.

Now compare your measurements. If you find that your horse has more mass in the front part of the foot, talk to your hoof-care provider about it. If he or she is not concerned, it might be advisable to get a second opinion from another provider or your veterinarian. Repeat this exercise on all four feet. You can also use your measurements to compare the left front to the right front, and the left hind to the right hind. Note any disparities and discuss them with your hoof-care provider as well.

THE ESSENTIAL HOOF BOOK by Susan Kauffmann and Christina Cline is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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HoofCarebyKS

It’s okay to admit it…we often get by on the bare minimum of knowledge when it comes to hoof care. We all learn the basics of how to tend to the hoof—keep its environment clean, pick debris from it—at our first riding lesson, and depending on our later equestrian pursuits, we might accrue a bit more understanding…or that might just do it. After all, that’s what trimmers, farriers, and veterinarians are for, right?

The thing is, we don’t HAVE to blindly allow those who have made hoof care their life’s work make all the decisions when it comes to OUR horses. With a little extra study time, we can engage in conversations with our hoof care professionals that may actually lead to better health, comfort, and performance from our horses, while ensuring their soundness and happiness over time.

THE ESSENTIAL HOOF BOOK by Susan Kauffmann and Christina Cline (check out the excerpt in the February issue of Horse Illustrated) provides the most complete equine hoof care education you can get, all with hundreds of color photographs and simple language that is easy to understand. And you don’t have to take our word on this…just check out some of the reviews we’ve been getting from horse owners:

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So what kinds of things will you learn from Kauffmann and Cline? Well, did you know that:

  • The heels, aided by the frog, are designed to bear the brunt of the impact forces generated when the hoof makes contact with the ground.
  • A horse that gets plenty of correct, heel-first landings on varied terrain is likely to grow hoof wall at a faster rate than a horse that is standing around in a stall, and its horn is also likely to be of better quality.
  • Horses can have any number of variances that will make one foot a little different than the other, but the most commonly encountered is that one front foot will be slightly more upright than the other. This difference is often due to the fact that horses, like people, tend to have a dominant side.

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THE ESSENTIAL HOOF BOOK is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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