I titled my blog “Hoof Love Not War” because I hope to embrace all aspects of horse and hoof care here. In my own hoof care practice, I believe it is critical that we maintain an open dialog, even if all we do is agree to disagree. I have learned never to say ‘never” when it comes to my horses and their care no matter how foreign the idea may seem. We are constantly learning and growing, and in order to do that we have to be receptive to new ideas. Even if sometimes all you learn is what you don’t like!  

Recently I had a fellow hoof care practitioner tell me that she was afraid to do certain things to a horse’s foot because she didn’t want to experiment on the horse. My question is, aren’t we always experimenting to some degree? How do we make value decisions for our horses since what we’re doing to the foot is based primarily on anecdotal evidence? How can so many people be wrong about an idea and yet so many people be right with the same idea? At the end of the day, the horse tells us what they like and don’t like, and yet they tolerate so much. How do we decide?  

The only way I feel I have any confidence in my hoof care protocol is to study everything. I take nothing for granted and document everything I do. That way I can evaluate the impact of the decisions I make for the horses I work on over time. I am completely accountable for the results of the choices I make for the animals I work on.  

In my opinion, there are no rules when it comes to hoof care, more like guidelines. And when it comes to the actual work on the horse’s foot, I have only 2 guidelines:

  1. a 3-8 degree Palmar P3 Angle  (bottom of the coffin bone angle in relation to the ground which allows for healthy soft tissue in the back of the horse’s foot)
  2. a 50/50 base of support from toe to heel around the center of rotation of the hoof (which allows for neutral input from the proprioceptive nerves of the foot to the body of the horse)

Here is an example of a healthy sound foot on a horse in our practice that demonstrates these basic principles:

How you achieve those two guidelines is open for discussion. Ideally you would achieve the guidelines in the trim on the foot, however sometimes you need a prosthetic support to get there, like a hoof boot and hoof pad, a glue on horse shoe, metal horse shoe etc.