Hello again. John "TheFootDoctor" here.
A little late on this post. Very busy lately. The May Custom Horse Head Hoof Pick winner is Bridget McGraw of Antioch Ca. Congratulations , i know you'll like your pick.
Bridget is actually a client of mine. She has a horse named Zeus that had a chronic quarter crack she asked me to fix. Zeus is doing well now. Bridget will be moving to Switzerland in August for school , hoping she is able to keep Zeus till she gets back , it's questionable.
Ok , lets talk feet again. It's one of the most important areas to understand about your horse, without correct feet your horse could just flat out come up lame, if your horse is truly in your care it's really your responsibility to make sure proper care is being used.
One of the most important aspects of a correct foot is what is called "Level", this is also one of the least understood and if it's not correct your horse could quickly be destroyed. Ask yourself " do you know what a level foot really is "? If you're not sure you really should find out , at least this way you can check your farriers work yourself instead of just hoping everything is right with your horse you can rest assured.
To jump in i'm going to just ask you to look at the photo below and i'll simply ask you what is wrong with this picture ? I've simply drawn some lines to give you some clues.
What was it that came to your mind ? Does that foot look level ? Does one side of that foot look longer than the other ? Well the truth here is i gave somewhat of a trick question to you. The answer is "Yes - this foot is level". I had just finished trimming and filing this foot and this foot is now ready for the shoe. So are you confused yet ? That's exactly my point ! And it's a critical point ! Critical to your horse.
Alot of farriers ( way too many ) will look at this foot and say "well obviously one side of this foot is longer and needs to be shortened" ( probably what you were thinking ) and the farrier would then shorten the long side and shoe the horse that way which would be "Dead Wrong"!!! I've mentioned to you before i'll be brutally honest here - the key word just mentioned was "DEAD" and you should know if your farrier or you don't understand what you're looking at when caring for the horses foot your horse could very well end up that way ( being put down due to chronic lameness from incorrect shoeing ).
So lets take another look at things from a different perspective and make more sense about what and how to look at feet. ( If your horse is not standing level then it's standing on twisted joints - simple as that ).
The photo below is another perspective of ( and a good example ) of a level joint. But isn't the real question " Well how do we establish the true level foot when all that hoof wall is covering up the bones "? Obviously if we were to cover the photo below with hoof wall we're not able to see the bones to be sure they're level or not. Am i telling you it's necessary to take Xrays for every shoeing to make sure the horse is level ? Answer: NO. It's not necessary. There is a Great way to check for level and all it takes is training your eyes to notice. But first the picture.
This photo shows a pretty level foot. This would be acceptable, if your horse could get this level you and your horse would be in good shape. Even if you had a barefoot horse if it's joints were this level "GREAT"!
Now how does this photo and the photo above it relate to each other - how can the first photo be correct when it looks so crooked ? The answer is as in a previous post - the hoof wall can be looked somewhat like an egg or a shell surrounding the bones and just as with an egg what is more important - the chicken or the egg shell ? I don't know how i manage to talk chicken eggs and horses feet in the same topic but just roll with me here ok ?
The point is , the hoofwall is not to be used to guage a level foot - the hairline of the hoof is not the guage , those things just mentioned are Moveable and can and do move around the joints of the foot. So what Must be accomplished irregardless of what the hoof wall looks like is those bones must remain level - "Follow me" ? That's exactly why the first photo above looks so crooked , because what's important is that when that foot is on the ground irregardless of what the hoof wall Looks Like from the outside the bones i guarantee you are Level because i trimmed that foot specifically that way so those bones in the horses foot will absolutely be level, I'm sorry , but there is no way to accomplish a level foot other than it to be level.
I'm not going to change the outward look of the hoof wall just for looks and disregard what the bones inside the foot are doing - "You getting this"? If not please let me know and leave a comment to this post ok ?
You should be starting to understand this by now , you may have gotten this the first time but i need to make sure because i still haven't mentioned how to make sure the foot is level - haven't discussed the method , all i've done is show you some visual clues that can fool the eyes and fools farriers eyes too. If your paradigm or your farriers comprehension of this is not true and the correct method to establish true level is not understood then basically you're just shooting in the dark and good luck cause your horse is going to be seriously at risk.
OK , so the next level to this is to actually show you the visual method to use that truly establishes a level foot, and as the first photo above shows you , even if that foot looks crooked you're know without a shadow of a doubt that your horse is level and safe. You know i've had farriers email me because i give free consultation asking me and discussing level and i can tell by their comments the horses they're working on are definately not level - when i explain to them and direct them to a video i have of how to extablish level their comments are " Well - wow - i never looked at it like that - i just didn't know - thanks alot man ". Of course that makes me happy that i send a farrier off now knowing how to help keep horses from going lame. This just goes to show you though , even the so called "Educated" farriers don't understand this stuff.
Ok , so next time well take things to the next level , Thank you for coming. If you would like more personal one on one information i'm available for consultation - the kicker is my consultation is still absolutely "FREE". I don't know for how much longer i can maintain that so don't hesitate , just contact me personally at John@Care4Horses.com and i'll be happy to share.
As usual happy and safe riding and always remember to www.Care4Horses.com
John "TheFootDoctor" Silveira