|Trimming Draft Horse Hooves|
by Vicki Schmidt
At the Shoeing Shop we are often asked the difference between
trimming a draf horse and a light horse. In our experience, the trimming
techniques are the same. The only differences are individual to the particular
horse and, to some extent, the work it does or discipline of performance. No
matter what the horse or its use, a few standard rules govern our approach for
- The angle of the hoof depends on, and should match, the angle of the
horse's shoulder and pastern.
- Toes should be kept as short as possible.
- The toe or quarters should have no flares.
- The frog should always touch the ground.
- The toe and edges may be rolled if necessary to prevent chipping.
The rate at which a hoof grows and wears depends on several things,
including climate, terrain, genetics, nutrition, and daily use, to name a few.
Your vet and farrier should be able to tell you how healthy your horse's hoof
quality is. A healthy hoof has a characteristic odor. Once you learn that smell
you know immediately if an unhealthy hoof is being trimmed.
the hoof quality is good, don't worry too much about the growth rate. Most
research shows that some horses need trimming every six weeks, while others are
fine with up to 12 weeks, depending on the individual horse and the work and
performance the owner expects from the horse. Humans, too, can get an extra
month out of a favorite pair of worn-out work boots, but that last month might
not be good for our feet, and the boots might not help under adverse conditions.
We see lots of horses coming through our shop with long toes that are
stressing tendons and ankle joints, due to farriers who are rarely aggressive
enough to knock the toe back, along with owners who don't know the importance of
regular trims. No part of the hoof, especially at the toe, should have a
ski-slope look. Regular trims are particularly important for young and hard
working horses. Improper angles cause stress on growing joints and negatively
affect a working joint's ability to remove toxins and lubricate itself. These
situations often set the stage for the early onset of ringbone and other
arthritic conditions in pre-teen horses.
Many times a toe is too
long to set back properly with just one trim. If a toe is excessively long we
trim it back every few weeks. The shorter interval between trims helps the white
line migrate back to its proper position. Long toes also contribute to under-run
heels. Keeping the toe short helps build a strong heel and, in turn, gives much
better tendon support.
If your horse requires regular trims that
are hard for your farrier's schedule to accommodate, learn to rasp off the
edges. Rasping takes a bit of strength and finesse, but many owners can learn to
do it. Also ask your vet and farrier about the hoof's health. A simple change in
diet or other environmental factor may help keep the chipping under control.
Vicki Schmidt of Troika Drafts and
The Shoeing Shop.
(featuring the farrier services of Frank Walker) in Hebron, Maine.
This article appeared in the