Welcome to the Natural Balance Hoof Care Corner. This segment of the website is a series of short articles we have put together on the topic of hoof care, both from a lameness prevention and lameness treatment view point. To give you a little background, I have been shoeing horses for over 50 years. I started shoeing when I was 13 and had a part-time to full-time farrier business by the time I was 16. I am now 62. I attended a shoeing school several years after I had been shoeing, and later taught a farrier course for 17 years in Montana. I spent most of the first 25 years of my career being regarded as one of the best farriers in my area, yet I found myself struggling with certain types of feet and various lameness issues that I didn’t have the tools or knowledge required to effectively deal with. The information I was taught wasn’t working and in many cases made the situation worse. Out of frustration, I began looking elsewhere to find answers to these lameness issues. Part of my quest led me to studying the hoof wear patterns of wild horses in 1986 and 1987. I later presented that research to the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Since that time, many of the findings from that small bit of research has lead many scientific researchers into the investigations of the foot and how it functions. From the various research projects and the knowledge and experience from thousands of veterinarians and farriers across the country and abroad, we have helped developed a specific set of hoof evaluation guidelines and the hoof maintenance protocol commonly known as “Natural Balance Hoof Care”. Although many farriers, vets and horseman are familiar with the “Natural Balance® Horseshoes”, the real benefit from both a performance and treatment standpoint stems from the specific hoof trimming guidelines that compliment the use of many products on the market today. So when we start talking about “Natural Balance Hoof Care”, the things we are really talking about are…
- Becoming more aware of the horse’s foot by way of scientific research and the observations of the naturally prepared foot.
- Understanding what is healthy & normal, and what is distorted & abnormal, and how performance & soundness is affected by an unhealthy or distorted foot.
- Understanding good foot function and how to achieve equilibrium around the DIP Joint (the DIP or Coffin Joint = coffin bone, Navicular bone & short pastern bone, plus all connective soft tissue).
Over the next several issues, we will be discussing ways in which the horse novice and professional can minimize or prevent the occurrences of lameness in their equine friends. We will help you determine how to recognize subtle lameness issues that can alert you to a problem and know how to get ahead of the curve to prevent further damage, or how to treat horse’s already suffering from lameness issues. And most importantly, we will try to help find way to not just prevent issues, but also ways to improve the performance of your horses and keep them competing and the highest level possible.
One of the first things we would like for you to do is to take some time and watch how your horse is traveling. The primary focus at this time is to see if you can recognize if they are landing Toe-First, Flat or Heel-First. See you in the next issue.
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