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My Zimbio

Rings on the Hoof / Founder Rings? What Kind of Rings ?
Thursday 1st of April 2010 03:01 AM


     Well hello there and how are you ?    What a winter it's been right ?  Here in the Bay Area Ca. we're coming out of a very wet winter and actually starting to do some riding again. We've had weeks and weeks of rain , and that's not to overlook those of you that have been having weeks and weeks of snow , i know it's been tough. So today i want to look at the rings , the rings on the hoof and what could be the meaning of these rings and how it can help you understand your horse's feet.

     19 years ago when i started shoeing horses i quickly discovered there are some misconceptions in the shoeing industry. The one in particular that really threw me for a loop i coined the "Original Sin" when it comes to what is being taught about foot conformation. What nearly everyone tells you about horses feet is " Perfect conformation is feet pointing straight ahead " and if you believe in that statement i'm sorry to say you're whole understanding regarding shoeing , balance and your horse's feet is incorrect . You will have built your foundation of understanding on a error and will forever be in conflict and confusion when it comes to your horses feet and legs. Here's why . follow along as best you can and pay close attention to the photo below .

     #1 and a key point is , in the thousands of horses i've worked on i don't think i've ever seen ONE horse with perfect conformation as the textbooks and artist conceptions paint it out to be. Look closely at your horse and any horse , forget about the feet for a minute , the first thing i want you to look at and notice is "Where are your horse's knees pointing" !!!  This is soooo important. Because where your horse's knees point is also where the feet should point.  Look Closer !  You'll find as i mentioned briefly above almost EVERY horse i've ever seen has knees that point outward !!  What that means is if the feet should line up with the knee then basically according to the textbooks your horse would be toed out - you following me ? Almost EVERY horse has knees that point outward .  It's just the fact.

     #2 Where the knee points DICTATES where the foot will break over.  Do you understand breakover ? It's the precise point where the foot finally has the heels leave the ground and the pressure on the foot is on the toe area until the foot finally comes off the ground.  Breakover is HUGE , it's another KEY in your understanding of feet. If your horse has been wearing shoes for any length of time and you look at the shoe you'll see a wear pattern on the metal shoe - the metal shoe will be worn down at the toe area in the precise spot that the knee points to. If your horse was one in ten thousand and has ONE KNEE that points straight ahead then the foot will break over straight ahead. But since all horses knees point outward ( and you've looked yourself to see for yourself ) then the foot will breakover slightly to the outside as well and the shoe on your horse will prove it.

     I realize this is somewhat a long lead in to the discussion of the rings on your horse's hoof but those rings are tied into just about every change that happens to your horse - the way the shoe is placed for one - changing the shape of the foot - changing where flares on the foot are - diet - weather - founder all have an effect on the hoof wall and creat the rings you'll see so frequently .

     In the photo below , particularly the right foot you'll see some very distinct rings reflecting some significant changes happening to the foot. In this case it's an IMPORTANT change.  You see since most people have been fed the LIE that perfect conformation is feet pointing straight ahead many many farriers try to grow feet that point straight ahead when doing so is to ignore where the knee points thereby throwing the balance and load on the foot all out of wack so to speak.

     Look at that upper inch and a half or so of that right front foot. Do you see how different it is from the rest of the foot - there's a reason for that and if i can get you to understand this you'll make a quantum leap in understanding proper balance in your horse and also take a huge step in the right direction when it comes to lameness prevention - you don't want your horse to come up lame right ? ( stupid question i know ) OF COURSE you don't - lameness is the very LAST thing you EVER want to happen to your horse. So back to looking at this foot below.

     The reason that upper part of the foot is growing so differently than the lower part is due to shoe placement. You see the lower part of the foot has been growing straight ahead or forward which does NOT line up with the knee that points outward ?   you getting this ?   That upper part of the foot is now being stimulated to grow in the direction (outward ) where the knee points on 99-9/10ths of all horses. You want the foot to line up with the knee remember ?  just think about your own feet - if your knee points outward alittle bit would you want your foot pointing toward your other foot ( pigeon toed ) ??  of course not. So in the case below , that RING around the foot is showing you where and when and how a CHANGE has been made to the shoeing and how the hairline or coronary band is making adjustments to grow new foot in accordance to the change of shoeing ....  KINDA AMAZING isn't it ?

     This horse below had extremely long toes as well so even moving the shoe to the rear of the foot and rasping that extra toe off would cause a ring to appear on the hoof at the time the change was made.  OK ?

     These kind of rings are the type i'm most concerned with when it comes to shoeing for balance and lameness prevention. Because the rings tell you what's going on .  In the photo below when that new foot finally grows out after about a full year that whole new foot will be pointing in the direction of the knee which will mean the foot will break over dead center like it should and the loads and balances to the foot will be much improved all of which reduces risk of lameness. All that foot growing in the wrong direction that you see will eventually be removed and the leverages and stresses put on the coffin bone joint and pastern joints will be much improved - that's VERY important to achieve.

     So the kind of rings you're seeing in the photo are the kind that tell me that changes being made to achieve balance are actually happening - that's encouraging - enlightening , ah and oh so good for your horse - believe me the horses FEEL and KNOW the difference when balance is being restored . Of course i've brought horse's from the brink of going lame and obviously in pain to happy and willing confident partners.


     Now of course there are other causes of rings , they will look very similar to what you're looking at above. For example , and i hope you never have to experience "Founder Rings".  Also rings that show up simply from a change in feeding habbits or actual change in feed.  All of a sudden feeding your horse more grain regularly can cause a distinct ring in the foot to show. Perhaps your horse became somewhat sick or was on a type of medication for a few weeks similarly would produce a ring in the foot. The weather changes can and will cause rings. Bringing your horse to a new barn ( changing his/her home ) will cause stress perhaps again resulting in a ring in the foot. So all the rings reflect something and have a meaning.

     For the most part the little changes and different rings in the foot are nothing to be alarmed about . Really not a big deal. Keep in mind though and notice those changes above are pretty severe ( but in a good way ) as they show really how much effect shoeing can have on your horses feet and how much shoeing in general can have such impact.  You see though , in this case above , to my eye i see and recognize GOOD changes - i understand this as PROGRESS but it also EXPOSES to me how INCORRECTLY this horse has been being shod in the past and it's that incorrect shoeing/trimming that scares the hell out of me because as i always say " IT ONLY TAKES ONE TIME TO HAVE A PERMANENTLY LAME HORSE " - if i can help you understand this i've made a difference and that's a good thing...

     Thank you very much for being a part of this blog.  If you have any questions or would like me to analyze your horse for you please feel free to email me personally at  The consultation is F.R.E.E !!!

     You may also want to visit my personal blog at Http:// as there's a wealth of info there with many photos as well.

     Once again , thank you so much , happy and safe riding and always remember to

  John "TheFootDoctor" Silveira 


The Basic PROCESS - Horseshoeing 101
Thursday 7th of May 2009 11:41 PM

Hello again , it's been a while , been focusing on transcribing the book "Inside Horseshoeing Secrets of Lameness Prevention" into a new format to make available to you as well as Amazon. Had a setback or two along the way but it's coming along , coming soon. Please put yourself on the Priority Notice list to recieve the book (Free of Charge ) by just simply leaving your name and email address with me at , you'll be first to be notified when available. Thank you and thanks for showing up .

          I want to just jump right in today with showing you the basic shoeing process from start to finish. It's the very basic concept - it's "Correct" but will cover some of the hangups and misconceptions/fears prominent still in the industry in general. I think you'll like this , it should prove enlightening to an extent , but remember this is just the very basic , the bigger enlightening moments will come to you when you put yourself on the priority list for recieving the book.

          So this following bit is on a horse that i had last shod 6 months ago. I can't tell you why the owner lets this horse go that long between shoeings , just that she does. So here's the first look. 

                               6 months

          As you can see this horse is extremely long in the toe , is actually getting hoof wall stretch as a result and a bit of sheered heels too. You couldn't pay me to ride this horse in this shape. This condition will rotate coffin bones, put undue stress on the navicular bone and also encourage bowed tendons. I've seen this type of thing cause permanent stretch on the deep flexor tendon to the point the fetlock joint was nearly horizontal.  Yes i know it's hard to even think about so let's move forward on what to do about this.  Sorry but here's the view from the other side of horse. You really need to see to help your eyes know the difference between what's right and what's not.

                               uncared for feet

          First thing when i deal with a horse like this is i know i'm going to have to peel out a lot of this horses sole. This is one of those areas that some people throw up their arms screaming "oh you can't take sole out - the horse will get sore", I'm sorry but you just can't work on a horses feet and get things corrected without usually taking some sole out. Look at this photo below , the sole is shedding off , it's a natural process , i barely tugged on one side of the sole and huge chunks of sole just came falling out ! If this horse were to be running at speed most of that sole would come flying out of there on it's own anyway. Here's the photo.

                                adressing the sole

          I don't know how else to explain this to you except to say the only way you are going to know where to cut this hoof wall to the correct length is to remove that sole. What you are already seeing here is almost 1" of sole that has been popped out of that foot. That white area is just the begining of more fresh sole - i removed almost another 1" after getting to this point. The end result which you will see in the next photo was i actually cut off about 2 full inches of hoof. There's only one way to do this correctly , really !   (-:    I've been doing this for almost 20 years now. 

          There's some groups out there talking about how horses are supposto stand with 80% of the horse's weight being beared on the sole , and how it's necessary to pump blood through the foot , i am sorry but i don't buy that for one minute. Not the least. If horses were supposto be standing on their soles they'd all be flat footed but most horses feet are shaped in a concave manner meaning the sole is farther away from the ground " FOR A REASON " i'd say. I won't go into all the logistics about tender feet and toughening barefoot horse's feet here it would take a whole volume in itself. Horses pump blood through their feet through other means , aside from the frog the whole bone column entering the foot from above drives downard from the horse's immense weight and presses downard then upward causing blood pumping in it's own right. Anyway like i said i could go on and on just about this aspect - but lets move forward again - i want to keep this brief and easy to grasp.

         This following photo shows you the very typical amount of sole removal necessary to get your horse's foot to the correct length - again - if i didn't remove this sole the foot would still be unnecessarily long when finished putting shoes on , and that's just not what you want when it comes to lameness prevention.  Here you go - check it out.

                                half way to full trim

          The photo is pretty self explanatory but as you can see i've just gotten to what is called "Live Sole" . This horse happens to have very thick and tough sole. I don't want to keep anything from you so i'll mention right here there are limits to how far you can trim sole out of the foot , just like dogs in a way you can only go so far before you'll hit the quick and you can reach blood vessels and OUCH you'll likely have a tender foot.  I'm certainly NOT recommending a complete novice go digging into a foot with wild abandon. Ok lets move on again. We're just about ready for shoe placement.

                                first look at your good work

          The above is the result of getting all that sole out of there and cutting the hoof wall to the correct length prepped for shoeing. Angles are already looking pretty good. To my eye the toe still looks just a bit too far forward , ease of breakover is ( how easy the foot is able to leave the ground ) is important - we're still talking lameness "Prevention".   And moving forward - Shoe Placement.

                                shoe placement

          Ok - what you're seeing here is that i've moved the shoe to the rear of the foot because of that bit of long toe talked about earlier. Doing so also allows for some extra shoe at the rear of the foot which aids support in the heels - all of this again is all important to Lameness Prevention !  trust me.  That long toe is what gives Race Horses speed but it's also responsible for blown and bowed tendons - that's NOT Lameness Prevention OK ?   With me ??  (-:    I could right here go into debates about how putting shoes on horses feet stops expansion of the foot and stops the frog from ground contact all hindering blood circulation , i've already written articles on this and disproved these things so won't complicate things here with all that - so moving on .........

                                The simple result

          There is your result ! The toe is back where it belongs easing breakover and easing all the stress on the joints, the angles are looking pretty spot on and there's decent heel support for the back of the foot , This is good!   To be honest this came out much better than i expected it to considering what i started with.  That bit of hoof wall rasping at the toe ? ( DO NOT BE ALARMED ) i've done it this way for almost 20 years now with NEVER a problem , and that's not to say it's just blind luck and the disaster just hasn't happened yet - a disaster is not going to happen - it just isn't - 18 years experience at this trade and knowledge gives me every confidence - GOOD LORD the anxiety out there surrounding horse's feet is incredible !!!  

          There's much more to shoeing , this has been just first basic. The more you understand feet the better horse person you'll be. There really is so much going on and so much to know about and there's so much different information out there to weed through and that's the reason i wrote the book - cut through the BS and cut to the chase and just get down to the core of things. There's a correct way to do this and once you get it you'll know you got it.  Sign up for the book " Inside Horseshoeing Secrets of Lameness Prevention" it's free - Just leave your name and email address with me , again - it's   

          Oh and here's the happy horse standing on his new feet - believe me this horse is really feeling the difference - i walked him out of his stall with his head hanging and walking as though he was feeling something was going to break !  poor guy . 

                               Happy Horse with new feet

                      You know "Correct" shoeing really does make a difference. The horse's feel it and appreciate it. Take this seriously , your horse is depending on you.

                 I always say " It only takes Once to have a permanently lame horse".       

                 Get this figured out for yourself - you don't have to depend on your farrier , i don't like saying it but they're wrong too many times.

There you go !   It's been my pleasure to be here. Hope to hear from you and sign up for the book - it's easy and it's free -

    As usual happy and safe riding and always remember to

 John "TheFootDoctor" Silveira  





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