The EasyCare Durango customer service staff recently had the pleasure of a visit from the one and only Daisy Bicking. Daisy was here with cadaver hooves to help us gain a deeper understanding of the hoof and its internal angles. She showed us her method for hoof mapping - a simple process to reliably show where the center of rotation within the hoof actually is. Hoof mapping can show you how to visualize what the internal structures of the hoof look like by observing the outside of the hoof-handy since access to x-rays isn't always an option.
One of the fun things about Daisy is her ability to make all things hoof feel accessible and simple. Her knack for breaking technical concepts into manageable parts is second to none. I sheepishly admit that-as long as my horses were sound-in a lifetime of riding I haven’t given much thought to my horse’s feet beyond picking them out for rides, keeping regular appointments with the farrier, and making sure there was a fresh coat of shiny oil on them when it was show ring time. Needless to say, as I dive enthusiastically into the EasyCare Inc. universe, learning the ins and outs of the hoof care world has been like exploring a new world-negative or steep palmar P3 angles?, distal rotation of the coffin bone?, huh? Isn’t it one of the great beauties of the horse that they are always teaching us as long as we are willing to be students! I digress. Back to the hoof mapping!
By the time we finished Daisy’s short clinic the above language and concepts were demystified and I was fired up to get out and apply my new knowledge to my own horse, Rosie.
Daisy’s method of hoof mapping starts with keen observation. First thing is to look at the hoof as it stands on the ground noting the shape and angle of the hoof wall, any flaring, dishing, bulging, or other distortion. Then pick the hoof up and check out the bottom, again noting any irregularities or lack thereof.
In Rosie’s case, like the rings on a tree, there is a clear line about 2/3 down from the coronet band where the angle changes. This marks her transition to barefoot. Since pulling her shoes 6 months ago, the flare that is growing out has been chipping away-her way of relieving pressure. I expect that with continued trims every four weeks she will have an entirely new hoof within another 2 to 3 months.
After observing the big picture, pick up the hoof and use a Sharpie marker to trace the white line all the way around.
Next find the heel support base - this is where the collateral grooves end, the frog turns up from ground surface to heel surface, and you will find the dimple at the back of the central sulcus. Mark it clearly.
Then find the bar swells by running your thumbs up and down the collateral grooves. You will feel smooth raised bumps located near the white line of the bar. Circle them with your Sharpie and draw a line across the hoof through the circles. They should be about an inch back from the apex of the frog (this is also the projection of the center of mass of the coffin bone). Your line through the bar swells should run across the widest part of the hoof.
Rosie’s bars are folded over and spreading across the sole. The collateral grooves are shallow, indicating a thin sole and a coffin bone fairly close to the surface. I hope as her new barefoot hoof grows in the rest of the way that we can address the bars as the quarter flares grow out with the old hoof.
Last you will use your ruler to measure from the heel support base (remember the dimple?) to the line you drew across the hoof. Project that measurement forward and mark it on the toe. This should you a 50/50 ratio of toe to heel support around the center of rotation. Pretty neat,huh?
I can gather from this mapping exercise that she has a “normal” palmar angle-meaning that the angle of the bottom of her coffin bone is within approximately 3-8 degrees to the ground. Rosie’s round hoof is balanced from front to back-the distal phalangeal joint is centered within the hoof. The frog has good proportion-about twice as long as wide and her heel is at the widest point of her frog. The hoof-pastern axis is straight on the ¾ of the hoof that has grown in since removing shoes. Rosie likely has equal pressure on toe and heel and that circulation is not compressed in either region. While not perfect, she is balanced. The white line is mostly tight and expected to get tighter as it continues to fully transition to barefoot.
Customer Service Representative
A lifetime of riding and showing sport horses has given me a deep appreciation for the importance of soundness and comfort on performance. Let me help elevate your equine experience by finding the right boot for your horse and unique situation.