My farrier (ie, horseshoeing professional) hates it when I say Horsie Manicure.
I guess I don’t blame him. The description doesn’t really reflect the physical and exacting nature of the job. I was a farrier assistant once upon a time, in gaited horse country. So much more fascinating and complex than you might imagine.
Duncan, however, is a pretty straightforward boy to work with. One of the benefits of the Lipizzan breed: good footies. Duncan goes barefoot, which is better for any horse who can maintain that way. We do have to take care when it comes to riding the road and the gravel, but generally we’re good to go.
What makes a good foot? Good shape. Good balance/angles. Strong hoof walls and good thick soles. Any horse needs some help with these things–and thus the farrier, with his nippers and hoof knife–but the less…the better.
This is Duncan’s foot before his recent trim. He’s nearly 8 weeks since the past trim, which is much longer than I normally go, but he was keeping a ton of sole and looked good, so…I was going with it.
The front hooves carry two-thirds of a horse’s weight; they’re round and symmetrical. Or they should be. Duncan’s feet are in fact unusually round, and this makes him really hard to fit for a horse boot–most horses have front hooves that are, in the end, a bit more oval than round.
And here’s his back foot. Nope, it’s not the same shape as his front. The back hoof is more oval, and you can see the spread near the heels. You can also see that Duncan doesn’t wear his back feet as evenly as his front; he tends to walk toward centerline due to his bionic stifle. You can also see the remnants of the slight roll we added to his back foot in this past year–a nod to his age, so the hoof “breaks over” a little more readily in the stride. Half of what you see is the roll, and the other half is the way he wears his back feet.
Look! Clean shiny new front foot! The about-to-shed sole is gone, the outer edges are slightly rounded, and the whole foot is evenly balanced. You can see here how thick his hoof walls are, and that they’re decently even. I won’t point out the slight flare–maybe you can see it.
Clean shiny new back foot, with toe roll!
And guess what! Now we’re going for a ride, to put those bright clean footies to use. Because I’ll bet that was more than you ever wanted to know about horse feet…