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My Zimbio

Clodhopper feet.
clodhopper feet , do you need em?
Friday 30th of April 2010 11:08 PM

Hello .

Wow are we finally getting some weather or what ? supposto be almost 80* in Woodside California Sunday 2nd of May.

Clodhopper feet right ? Pretty self explanatory, very large heavy feet on your horse. Is that what you'd want for your horse , the pros and cons. The following is my opinion after 19 years shoeing horses.

For the most part i don't want my horse's having big heavy feet , if the shoeing is done correctly and your horse's feet are balanced there's really no need for the big feet. Ask yourself if you'd like to run a marathon in Army combat boots - i know i don't want to even run a marathon in the first place ( haha ). Think of this for a minute , your horse's leg is quite long from shoulder to foot , if you imagine standing with a broom stick in your hand with your arm outstretched holding the stick parallel to the ground and someone were to add just a few ounces at the end of the stick the weight would be quite noticable. That little bit of weight at the end adds up quickly. Imagine adding that extra weight to your horse's foot and then asking those feet to move very quickly as your horse is running and extra weight could be a hassle.

Maybe big feet is ok if you had a Clydesdale right , but for most other horses i'm not in favor of clodhoppers. When you look at shoeing Saddlebreds or National Show horses , Fox Trotters , Morgan's for showing adding weight to their feet is done to deliberately gain and accentuate a certain type of gait . Weight typically will cause the feet to travel farther forward for those type of gaits in those show circuits. If that's what you're doing with your horse then the extra weight is required . For that type of shoeing lead weights are actually screwed into the pads on the feet getting just the desired amount of extra weight so the horse's legs fly just as wanted. You would even add the weight after having a custom shoe made that can be 3 maybe 4 times as heavy as a normal shoe.

Then looking at race horses you find they're all shod for the race with aluminum shoes which are the lightest shoe mostly available and there's a reason for going light - "It's performance enhancing". Your horse's legs are simply going to have less trouble overcoming extra weight on it's feet and that translates into more freedom of movement for your horse. And if you actually have a horse that can go barefoot congratulations . So i think you can see how big heavy feet ( clodhopper ) feet might be a drag on your animal. Not cleaning out the sole of your horse's feet will add weight - letting the feet get longer and longer adds weight - getting the long toe syndrome (bozo the clown feet) adds weight - and having way too much flares to the hoofwall and it all adds up and before you know it your horse is laboring unnecessarily.

On the other hand there is one benefit to a big foot . Not to get too technical here but if your horse is out of balance a big foot can compensate for poor shoeing .. So quickly here's the jist of it - if you've been following this blog you've already read that nearly 100% of horse's knees point outward. Forget about what the textbooks or artist drawings conceptions look like on "Perfect Conformation feet point straight ahead" , you'll just not achieve that . Since 100% of the horse's i've seen have knees point outward you're going to want your horse's feet to point where the knees do. The reason for this is wherever the knees point is where the foot is going to break over. So if the knee points outward as 99-9/10ths of horse's do to achieve basic balance the feet should point the same direction so the foot breaks over dead center in a balanced way.

When looking at the above facts ( knees point outward ) you'll notice most horse's feet just don't point outward to match the knee. By the way - there's always a wear pattern on your horse's feet which is dictated by where the knee points - you'll find a wear pattern on the shoe where the metal will be worn down and it will line up exactly with where the knee points - and the same holds true for barefoot horses - the hoof wall will wear exactly where the knee points. What this means is most host horse's are inherently Pigeon toed , which means the horse is breaking over the outside of it's foot and balance is lost and risk of lameness is present along with traveling problems associated with pigeon toed horses. I almost forgot , add to this the fact that most farriers are using "Old School" methods to correct the issues above which puts more stress on joints and ligaments and you're asking for problems.  I won't go into all the nuances of proper shoeing at this point as it's a much too lengthy discussion - the reason i've written a book on the subject " Inside Horseshoeing Secrets of Lameness Prevention". You can take a quick look at www.Care4Horses.com or visit my personal blog as well at the following address. http://Farrieritis.Care4Horses.com .

So to back up one more time here and put this all together , basically most farriers will put the shoes on the horse's they're working on directly in line with the frog of the foot , which also points pigeon toed , so most shoers are going to be encouraging the foot to be more pigeon toed. Again , there's ways to do things differently that encourage balance , but here's the point on wide feet here - the one benefit as i see it. If your farrier falls into the catagory of one of those who doesn't quite get this whole balance / pigeon toed / level foot thing yet then having a big wide foot is a good thing. It's good from the standpoint that since pigeon toed horse's break over the outside of their foot ( that side of the foot is usually too small - as most horse's are and have pigeon toed flares running toward the inside of the foot - the medial side )......   Having that wide foot , that BIG WIDE FOOT is going to give your horse some support to that outside of it's foot , the support means less twisting of the joints and less stress on the ligaments and muscle tissue. You'll sacrafice a little performance with those big clodhopper feet but at least you're reducing risk of lameness. If your farrier doesn't quite know what he's doing then at least big feet is a plus. 

I end up trodding on touchy ground when i talk about these things with regard to "Other Shoers". I try to tread this ground lightly , but the facts are there's a huge percentage of farriers that just "DON'T GET IT", balance is still a mystery to them. They don't trim feet level so the joint is being stressed , medial flare is being allowed to grow pulling the foot out of balance because they're putting the shoe on inline with the frog ( a NO NO ) , they're letting toes get way too far forward which pulls the heels into a sheared state ( Navicular risk ) , and it's just not good. Horse's are coming up lame all the time. If you're one of the lucky ones that have not experienced lameness good for you. I always say "It only takes ONCE to have a permanently lame horse".

So without beating up the farriers here that's about all of what i wanted to say this time. If you have any questions please feel free to email me personally at John@Care4Horses.com i'm happy to respond. And while you're at it you'll be put on my priority list to be notified as soon as my book comes out "The Horseshoeing Secrets" as it's first in a series of two and guess what , it's FREE , so just leave me your email address requesting it and you'll be good to go.

Thank you. Have fun out there . Great riding's on it's way.

John  "TheFootDoctor" Silveira

as usual , happy and safe riding and always remember to www.Care4Horses.com


Rings on the Hoof / Founder Rings? What Kind of Rings ?
Balance,Balance,Balance
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.

                         founder

     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 John@Care4Horses.com.  The consultation is F.R.E.E !!!

     You may also want to visit my personal blog at Http://Farrieritis.Care4Horses.com 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 www.Care4Horses.com

  John "TheFootDoctor" Silveira 

 


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