Hoof balance question

Kite_Rider

Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
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Curiosity question if I may for those who are far more knowledgeable about hooves than me.
Since Belle has been shoe less for about 10 weeks now I have noticed that her hooves are not technically 'balanced' anymore, but, what I've also noticed is that she is as sound as she ever was in shoes, her hooves wear more on the outside edges than the inside but she appears to be better like this?
When she was shoe less before she always had soundness issues on and off and almost always following a trim, the trimmer I had then always trimmed her feet level as I guess you should, but now I'm thinking surely if she is sound on her feet how they are naturally growing is this such a bad thing? Just curious really as I can't find much on the internet other than 'hooves should always be balanced, it's critical to the way the leg functions' I thought I'd ask here.
The other thing I've been pondering is, why level when the ground she walks on rarely is? I mean the paddocks she grazes in are certainly not level, nor are the tracks and roads we hack on, so if the hoof is level it is by default not going to be when she's walking around?
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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I have one barefoot on the back, the other barefoot all round.
My barefoot on the back grows lots of hoof. He has to have a trim on the backs and the farrier often takes more off one side of the hoof than the other. I cant remember whether it's the inside or the outside. Hes always been like this.
My other has never been touched in three years. His feet seem to be pretty level all round. I find this strange considering he is a very unbalanced youngster. Although at one point they were wearing more on the outsides. However I think he has become more balanced over the time I've had him and his feet have naturally levelled.
Although like you I have steep grazing I think if you had the time and watched you would probably find they graze as much facing in different direction on the banks so hooves grow even. The exception would be if an animal has confirmation issues or injury in which case they will graze more in a favoured way.
 

Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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Interesting - I don't know much other than since her injury (which is a long term one and won't ever go away) STorm's feet are not (least I don't think so) techincally balanced. However, my excellent farrier does a great job with what she has to work with - and trims her sympathetically to the nature of her way of moving. They don't look like they used to - but then again, they're not going to due to the strange walk she has. (I know that sounds odd!!! but she's developed a way of moving that is caused by the injury and her arthritis - it isn't as bad as it sounds really).
I was once bothered a long time ago when our then farrier at the old house trimmed her in the field - which wasn't very level - rather than the concrete yard. I was puzzled as to how he could get them correctly balanced?? But she didn't come to any harm for it and I don't honestly think it made any difference.
 

newforest

You learn as much from failure, as you do success
Mar 15, 2008
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A field
Mine wears usually one side more than the other, but it's minimul. Shod hooves probably do the same, I think friends wear the toe out in her shoes.

Just had a trim, first since October. He nipped off the excess and did two quick rasps, job done. He doesn't do anything else and leaves her to grow her own feet as she's standing on them all day.
That makes sense to me because I have flat feet and I wear my shoes as I do. I start of with balanced trainers, but I don't want gel inserts to lift me into a shape, that causes me pain!
The farrier balances the hoof based on the hoof in front of them. They shouldn't be altering that hoof to make it look like the other one. But mine is old school his words and she's got rock crunching feet.

The only thing she has access to that's actually flat flat is the school. Everything else is a hill or a very very slight incline one way or the other. The camber of the road leans our horses to the left.

Mine grazes in all directions, and her short neck still reaches the ground. :)
 

Mary Poppins

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Oct 10, 2004
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This is the concept of self trimming. The hoof grows in the best way possible to support the horse. Look up Rockley Farm, they are huge advocates of this approach. My vet follows it too and Ben has not had his feet touched for 10 months. His feet have completely changed, they are all different shapes and not ‘pretty’ in the sense that they don’t look symmetrical. But they are really strong and his front end lameness has completely disappeared. I keep a close eye on his feet but have no plans to have them trimmed at all.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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What are you judging balance based on? are you asking about medio-lateral (side to side balance) or palmar-dorsal (back to front)? The only real way to assess balance of the foot to the boney column is with Xray, farriers and HCPs use various markers to best estimate the balance of the foot, like live sole plane, collateral groove depth, growth patterns etc. Coronet distance from the ground is unreliable as it is a soft structure and can migrate, wall length can also be misleading as flare would cause it to appear longer when it hasn't physically effected the balance (ground plane).

It's less about a level foot for level ground than about the foot being 'level' to the bones, so that the joints are in 'neutral' when at rest and can then manage to flex all ways to accommodate the unlevel ground. If they started out unbalanced/unlevel, then the unlevel ground is more likely to max out the joint flex, increasing the chance of injury. I have Xrays of both good and not so good I could share if you are interested @Kite_Rider ?
 

OwnedbyChanter

With out my boys life would be bland
Apr 16, 2009
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I never thought they levelled to the ground but to the remaining hoof.

I love chatting to my farrier he loves to keep up to date and has years of experience.

Little one is unshod but still needed a trim after four months with me. I was looking at them and thought they were ok but when I watch him trim the were quite long really.

Ginger is shod all round and has one box foot after an injury when he was three. The farrier has over the years changed the shape most would not spot it now.