I was taking a good look at my horse's hoof conformation today and something seems off about it. I'm not sure if I'm over thinking it, or seeing problems where there are none, but they just seem off. Possibly low heels and a bit of mediolateral hoof imbalance? The farrier was out a few weeks ago and said she's starting to get a bit of white line disease. He's been her farrier for years without problems, but my friend who uses him recently had a pretty serious problem with him and he really damaged her horses hoof by shoeing her wrong for a few months. Thus I'm now being extra vigilant and paying extra attention to her feet. I don't want to point fingers unnecessarily because he's been good to her and is a nice guy, however I also want to ensure my horse has the best feet possible. Before I go get a second opinion, I'm hoping that I can get some general opinions to determine if I'm just being worried and seeing problems where there are none.
She's a 6 year old, 16.3 Swedish Warmblood. I have 4 pictures, 2 views of each front foot. The quality isn't awesome but its all I have for now. I can get more over the weekend. Photo Album - Imgur
Thanks for any input and opinions. I appreciate it!
Ok so this is what I see (i am by NO MEANS a professional!):
The shoe seems like it's not long enough to give ample coverage and stability (i'm having a hard time thinking of the right word I want here) to the heel. It's also keeping the heel from growing down more instead of under.
Flares flares flares. See how the newest hoof growth is grown straight down and then about a third of the way down from the coronary band the hooves start "swooping" out - it shouldn't look like that imo.
And just out of curiosity, is there a reason why your horse needs toe (front) and quarter (back) clips on his/her shoes? Also - how "old" is this shoe job? The nails don't appear to be seated as nicely as I would hope although their placement seems good. Are they aluminum shoes?
Thanks for the reply. Those are basically my thoughts, though I didnt notice the lack of shoe under the heel, so its good to know that I'm not just making things up. As for the toe clips, we're in Scotland and they're standard here
The horse appears to need some corrective shoeing/ trimming.
It wouldn't hurt to get another ferrier's opinion, either.
From what I can guess, she should have her toes trimmed shorter than her heels to help prop her up and give her the right support. This should be done gradually however so as not to stress her tendons.
I don't particularly like the look of those cracks along the top nor how the nails seem to be damaging the hoof wall.
Your farrier has some skill. That said, it's not clear those skills are being applied as best they could.
Let's look at the photos.
The good stuff? He can drive a nail and appears to be able to trim/fit a shoe.
Now the not so good.
The yellow line represents the "Center of Articulation" of the distal interphalangeal joint (the coffin joint). Ideally, the farrier want to center the "base of support" around this line. The red line is the base of support. Does that look like a 50/50 balance to you?
So, why is the farrier short-shoeing your horse? My best guess is that it isn't a lack of skill. My guess is that he is very concerned (extremely) that this horse is going to pull a shoe. Is there a history of that?
If there is, suggest to your farrier that you'd like to see more caudal support (bigger shoe) on your horse. Explain you understand that doing so increases the risk of a pulled shoe. Further explain that you understand that pulled shoes are a risk with any shod horse and that you are willing to employ bell boots to avoid that risk. Farriers are VERY sensitive to pulled shoes because many horse owners place more value on how long the shoes stay on than how well the horse is actually shod.
His nail line is nice and straight but there's a lot of wall damage below those nails. Cause is continual insertion of tightly placed nails at the same location. Most horseshoes provide more nail holes than are needed to secure a shoe. The reason is to give the farrier nailing options and to allow us to stagger nails between shoeing cycles if needed. The effect reduces long term damage to the wall and avoids problems like that shown in your photo.
Let's move on to the second photo.
First... the obvious. Either the shoe is racked or the farrier didn't pull his clip in the center of the toe. It's a really nice clip, excellent source bubble, beautiful shape/size and very well fit, but... it's not centered. Makes me think the shoe may be racked to get the heels where he wanted him. That suggests possible poor fit but can't say without a solar view.
By the way... fitting a clip off center is one way a farrier will "fool the eye" with a toed-in or toed-out horse going to sale. Not saying your horse has such a defect... just tossing a fun-fact out there for others.
General support/fit. The shoe is fit really tight... maybe. A few possibilities.
This horse hasn't been reset in quite awhile and the foot is over-growing the shoe. Unlikely, but possible.
The farrier shod this horse really tight because he is concerned it will pull a shoe and doesn't want to get fired. Quite possible.
Let's talk about option 3 in more detail, along with those raised nail clinches.
First.. not saying this is happening to your horse BUT.. it's a concern worth discussing.
Let's presume that when the farrier nailed, clinched and finished the foot, the nails were reasonably well set in the foot. Flat, flush and tight. Big presumption, but I'll bet it's true.
Later (weeks?), the nails appear to be rising, the clinches are unfolding and the shoe begins to loosen. What could be going on?
The farrier did a good job of dressing the walls but.. there's still some distortion (flares). Makes me wonder if this is a really thin-walled foot and the farrier is having trouble managing those flares.
Remember.. I'm just speculating here.
If the wall is overly-thin and the farrier gets aggressive about managing flares, he further thins (compromises) the structural integrity of the wall.
Warmbloods are typically big, heavy horses. Lot of mass/load to support.
Over-thin the walls via dressing and things begin to collapse. The wall "sinks" and distortion increases under the horses load. As the foot collapses, the sole prolapses (gets flat then drops) and the walls begin creeping beyond the perimeter of the shoe.
The distance between the nail head and the nail clinch is fixed. It can't change. But... the hoof wall angle between the nail head and the clinch CAN change as the foot weakens and sinks. When that angular distance changes (gets smaller), the nail rises.
When the nail rises above the hoof wall, the shoe loosens and flexes against the bottom of the foot when the horse moves. That movement causes the clinches to unfold and rise!
So why does it appear to happen more on the medial (inside) side of the hoof than the lateral (outside) side?
Because most horses load the inside of the foot first on landing. The leg doesn't come out of the center of the horse. It's off to the side, hence the medial wall is generally under more load. That's why the medial wall is generally more upright than the lateral side. It's also why most horses flare more on the lateral side. Compression forces are in the lateral direction with respect to the center of the horse. A horses feet are naturally asymmetric, being bolder (more arc) on the outside of the hoof.
I listed three possibilities above why the shoes appear so tightly fit. The second reason is most likely, but this long winded explanation of possibility three is worth considering. It explains the fit and the raised clinches. It's likely that possibility two and three are happening at the same time.
Your horse doesn't have bad feet and I see no problems that are warrant serious concern in the short term.
Farrier should simply fit the shoes with better support; box that support to reduce risk of a shoe being pulled; scatter his nail placement more to avoid wall damage; center his clips better, presuming the horse really needs clips at all (is the horse in work?) and assure he isn't getting too aggressive when dressing the walls and creating problems where none would otherwise exist.
The man knows how to shoe a horse. He can trim well, hot fit, pull really nice clips and drive an exceptionally nice nail line. You just need to reassure him that you'll take responsibility if the horse pulls a shoe (not fire the farrier over it) and have a candid discussion about fit/support and nail placement. The clip placement matters, but more from an aesthetics perspective than functional. I wouldn't get too excited about that topic.