Getting the Sharper Edge

By Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

The following is a method for knife sharpening that I have been using for some years. You may be able to use this method to improve your knife’s cutting ability.

It is important that you maintain a thin blade. The thicker the blade, the larger the bevel at the cutting edge. If the blade is thick, you have to use too much pressure to pull the blade through the cut; the thinner the better. A fine bevel is easier to maintain and offers less resistance, allowing the knife to cut easily. Pay attention to the size of the bevel on a brand new knife and try to maintain that size throughout the life of the knife. As you sharpen and use your knife, the width will decrease and as it decreases the edge will thicken. The blade will need to be thinned.

In the photo to the right, I am thinning the blade. I have taken a belt and cut it about 1/2″ in width. You can do this with any belt. Cut the back with a razor blade about 4″ and carefully

tear the rest. With the edge pointing up, so you can see the bevel and not get too thin, grind the knife to the desired thickness. Don’t let the blade get hot. If you see any color you have gone too far, too hot. Keep the blade cool by dipping in water after every couple passes. Use a new belt if possible, 100 or 120 grit. A new belt will cut quickly and the dipping of the knife in water will not allow the blade to heat up.

If your blade’s width gets down to 1/4″ throw it away. When the blade gets that thin it can break easily and that’s when you find it in your leg or wrist.

Now that I’ve thinned down the blade I need to establish the bevel. Photo (2) shows different makes of diamond hones. You want one that fits the hook size of your knife. Work the bevel into the hook (photo 3) and then the blade (photo 4). Some knives are made of a soft enough material that a small rat tail or triangle file can be used. Using files is good for serious roughing in but it produces a serrated edge, which is not desirable. If you start with a diamond hone you may never need a file.

Now that the bevel is established I go to the Scotchbrite wheel. This is a medium grit Scotchbrite. I have found this to be best for cutting quality. In photo (5) I am cutting a groove in the edge of the wheel. I have braced a rat tail file to cut the groove. The groove will allow me to thin and sharpen the hook. Using the Scotchbrite wheel, I can polish the whole blade and the bevel. You want to maintain the angle of the bevel through all the stages so pay particular attention to how you hold the blade to the wheel. Make sure the edge is down, otherwise your knife may become a permanent fixture in your forehead. Start with the hook (photo 6) and sweep through the blade (photo 7), always maintaining the angle of the bevel.

Now for the final polish. I use a medium felt wheel (photo 8) with the same groove cut in its edge as I put in the Scotchbrite. Apply green rouge to the groove edge and face of the wheel (photo 9). Use the same method as on the Scotchbrite so you can maintain the bevel angle and make as many passes as necessary to polish the edge (photos 10, 11).

Once you have achieved sharpness with the felt wheel the edge should last a long time, assuming you are using your knife carefully and cleaning the hoof. When your knife becomes the least bit dull, touch it up on the felt wheel. You should not have to go through all these steps again until the bevel gets too large. When it does just repeat these steps.

Many of the suppliers carry the various wheels, tools and materials you need for sharpening knives. If your supplier doesn’t carry them have them contact Bloom Forge or FPD for info on where to get them.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 5, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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12 Points of Reference: The Knee

By Dave Farley, CF APF-I and Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

The 12 Points of Reference article previously printed in the Natural Angle Volume 12, Issue 1, combined with the 12 points DVD “is a winning combination.” We both use these steps on every horse we trim. Each of the 12 points can be linked to each other. We have all heard the statement, “Every action has a reaction.” This is a very important statement when compared to the bones and joints in the lower limb of every animal we trim. Each digit of the lower limb could be normal for that particular equine. Likewise, there are several abnormal conformation faults possible for each digit in the lower limb of any horse. The more normal the conformation the easier to trim and shoe, if we pay attention and keep the limb balanced for that animal. The more deviation or abnormal the conformation of each bone and joint in the limb, the more important it is to properly trim and maintain that limb for the longevity of that animal.

PHOTO (RIGHT): Knees are turned out, however the foot is trying to be straight. This has resulted in a twist of the pastern and places the entire leg inside of center.

As you learn each of the 12 points, you will think of a particular animal you work on and start to wonder if you have done the best trim that you can. Proper trimming will improve the health of the limb as well as the health of the horse. If you improve the trim you will also improve the ability of that animal. If you improve the ability you will have a happy horse and a happy owner. Remember, every action has a reaction!

The first point of reference is the knee. We mentioned that the knee dictates the direction of breakover of that limb. As with each of the 12 points, we believe it is important to observe the horse at the walk as well as standing. Watch the limb as the horse walks toward you. Notice the action of the front limbs. Where is the knee in relation to the rest of the limb? Is the knee in the center of the limb (normal); as the horse moves, the knee breaks straight without the limb swinging in or out? Is it base narrow; toed out, as the knee breaks, the limb moves inward toward the center of the body, and the hoof swings toward the opposite leg? Is it base wide; toed in and as the limb breaks over it rotates out and the hoof wings outwards? After the horse is standing, we like to walk around the animal. Is the knee flat (normal) or is it angled out (base narrow) or angled in (base wide)? While this may seem a little confusing at first, a really cool thing will start to happen! After you watch a few horses move, and focus on the knee you will be able to predict the conformation of the rest of the limb before the animal gets closer to you. You will also be able to predict the wear on the hoof or shoe before you pick up a leg!

PHOTOS (ABOVE): Knees are turned out, feet follow knees and are turned out, leg is centered under knee and above foot.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 12, Issue 1. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Building Efficiency With Equipment Adds Profit

No matter what business you are in, building efficiency into your operation is a key to making more profit in less time. A shoeing business is no different from a manufacturing or distribution business. You need to look for equipment that helps minimize your labor and time spent in getting to the final product, the finished shoeing job.

There are a number of power tools and other pieces of equipment that can be worked into your rig setup that will help with everyday steps in shoeing. A propane forge is the most obvious. The ability to heat your shoes will make the shaping and modification steps much easier. Everyone runs into feet that are in such bad shape that simply punching additional nail holes will make an otherwise difficult situation easier to handle. This doesn’t require a large forge but can be done with some of the single burner units. Mounting the forge on a swing out arm or slide out will help get the heat away from the rig and more accessible for your forging steps.

A lot of horseshoers are finding a belt sander/grinder combo to be an extremely useful piece of equipment. The belt sander is more versatile than a grinding wheel as you can select coarse grit belts (24 or 36 grit) for heavy grinding and finishing of steel and aluminum shoes. A quick change to finer grits like 80 or 120 and you will have the ideal setup for maintenance of your tools. You can even cut fine belts to a narrow width and use them for sharpening knives. If you have room for a buffer you can mount various buffing wheels, like sisal, felt or Scotch-Brite® to use for final honing of your knives or cleanup of nippers, punches and other hand tools.

If you already have a grinder but it doesn’t have the belt sander you can buy an attachment like the FootPro attachment arm and mount it. They are available in a 2”x36″ or 2”x48” belt option. They are compact and have a 8” rubber drive/contact wheel that creates great belt speed and makes working shoes and tools very easy. These attachments work well on 1/2 hp or larger grinders. Expander wheels are another good option if you are primarily grinding shoes.

Don’t look merely at price when you buy equipment like grinders. You are making an investment and want to maximize your return. Buy brands like Baldor, Jet or Kalamazoo in order to get the most life from the unit. One of the easiest ways to compare quality is to check the weight of the units. A 1/2 horsepower unit that weighs 20 lbs. will not have the “guts” of one that weighs 35-40 lbs and will not perform as well or last as long.

If you are doing a lot of work with hunters and jumpers you will have to drill and tap for studs. For pleasure horses the drive in studs are excellent traction devices but require holes to be drilled. Setting up a small drill press will make these jobs much easier, with less broken drill bits and less effort. A drill press will also make the job of riveting pads an easy task.

Remember the key phrase – time is money. If you consider the time spent using inefficient tools or methods to get your work done you will see that the investment in a few key pieces of equipment will add significant profit to your bottom line.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 8, Issue 1. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Equipment Usage for Daily Applications

Articles in past issues of the Natural Angle have focused on techniques, tools and other methods of bringing more efficiency into the daily routine of shoeing horses. We’ve assembled some images of the more common daily applications for various abrasives equipment. You have to decide what kind of equipment works best in your rig and your practice. But don’t undervalue the time savings that can be realized.

Hoof Buffer
For years, everyone has used a second rasp, finishing file and/or sanding blocks to put the final finish on the outer wall. Now there is a hoof buffer that can help you get a perfect “10” on your wall finish. This hoof buffer attaches to a cordless drill; we’ve heard that an 18v or higher unit perform well. The buffer has an inflatable bladder that holds the sanding sleeve in place and allows you to follow the contours of the wall. Sanding sleeves are available in 60, 80 and 100 grit. You will need a small air pump when changing sleeves. As you can see from the images, the finish you get is excellent, all the way to the coronary band – and with far less effort than files or sanding blocks require.

Belt Sanders
A belt sander is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in today’s farrier rig. It can be used to bevel toes, heels or make other modifications to a shoe. If you are shaping cold this is a lifesaver. Working hot you might begin your bevels with the hammer as you shape the shoe but the belt sander puts a nice blend and final appearance on it. If you are using shoes that are wider in the heels to give more support, a belt sander can be very helpful to get the bevels you need to blend the fit and safe the shoe. There are a number of belt options for shoes: The 3M Cubitron is probably the best quality and life. Ceramic belts are also durable with a very hard crystal. Zirconia belts would be the low end for grinding shoes. Aluminum Oxide (brown) belts are even less expensive but don’t last as long. However, they work very well in the finer grits for dressing tools. Depending on how aggressive you want to be, a 24, 36 or 40 grit belt will usually work very well for shoes. If you want a smoother finish you can go to 60 or 80 grit.

The expander wheels have proven to be a great choice for a shoe grinding attachment. They don’t take up as much space as an arm and the belt speed is phenomenal on the 10” and even the 6”. Belt sander attachments like the FootPro 2”x36” or 2”x48” are popular because of the quick belt change feature and the 8” contact/drive wheel also creates excellent belt speed. You get at least twice the belt speed of the average belt sander with a 3-1/2” drive wheel. Be sure to use a grinder unit that can handle the work. A 1/2hp motor or larger will perform well unless it is one of the very light economy models sold at the mass merchandisers. Baldor has a number of options including the new 1/2hp two-speed unit. It can operate at 3600 or 1800 rpms so it can work well for your heavy grinding or your knife sharpening.

FootPro™ Double Sided Bench Grinder Disc

Sole Relief and Heel Checks
Many shoers are putting some sole relief into their shoes and adjusting the heel check to be sure of good cleanout. It can be a little difficult getting to the inside edges with a belt sander but a 4-1/2” flap disc on an angle grinder is one option. Perhaps a better option if you have a bench grinder is the new FootPro™ Double Sided Bench Grinder Disc. It should only be used on a bench grinder because of it’s design but it works like a charm. The recommended grits and types of crystal are the same as for the attachment arms and expander wheels.

Tool Maintenance
A belt sander is useful for maintenance and repair of tools. For tools you should use different belts from those used on the shoes. Most of the time your work on tools is not aggressive, unless you have let them go for too long. Zirconia belts work best when the grind is very aggressive, like the grind on shoes, which is constantly breaking the crystals. With tools you are not going to get good results with Zirconia. It will be difficult to break the crystals and you will end up with a glazed surface on the belt. The Aluminum Oxide belts are a better choice. You can also get an orange belt made by 3M that has a coolant already added. These belts are more expensive but they will last and help minimize the heat build up. The grit choices are many, but an 80 grit belt is a good starting point for the rough in, then you can go to 100 or 120 for a smoother finish. There are belts much finer than this if you are looking for an even smoother finish. The pictures indicate a few tool situations that fit into the belt sander scope. All of your struck tools should be dressed on the struck end to avoid chipping or pieces breaking away after severe mushrooming. Fine tuning your pritchels and punches and even clinch cutters is a very simple chore with the belt sander.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 8, Issue 2 . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Sheared Heels or Heel Shear?

By Dave Farley, CF APF-I

In this article, I will show you how I shoe a horse with a mild heel shear. In future articles, we will deal with the two severe stages that I call sheared heels. I will not attempt to diagnose the cause of this condition, which is explained in several great textbooks. Instead, I will shoe the horse just as I do in my everyday practice.

Most textbooks describe this condition as one heel being higher than the other, when viewed from the back of the foot. If you are a farrier, you see this condition often and each of us have our own way of dealing with sheared heals. In my business, I try to deal with the heel shear before it becomes a sheared heel. I personally believe that there are three stages of this condition. I approach each stage of this foot fault a little differently.

This case is what I call a mild heel shear. Notice that the inside heel is higher than the outside (see photo above). I consider this mild because the frog is still attached. If you hold the foot with both hands the heels will not separate and move independently. Also, notice that the bulb has little deformity when the foot is bearing weight and viewed from the rear. Most feet with this mild condition will not show any lameness or gait fault. I believe that feet should be as close as possible to the center of the limb above it. Notice that the wall of the high heel is straighter and does not have a normal angle. I take this into consideration when I fit the shoe.

I trim to the highest, widest part of the frog. I use a #2 Kerckhaert Grand Prix shoe. This shoe has a wide outside branch that helps horses with stiff and/or rotating hocks that need more lateral support. Using this shoe, I hammer and/or grind the inside branch. This takes away more medial ground surface of the shoe allowing the affected heel to sink more than the outside or lateral heel.

Notice the inside (medial) fit of the shoe. If you have a horse with this mild condition, and your approach is similar, this heel shear probably will never become a sheared heel. This horse is sound, happy and a ten mover.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 11, Issue 3 . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Fullering Technique: Crossover or Inline?

Roy Bloom talked with us about fullering or creasing styles in forging or modifying shoes. This conversation was precipitated by some steel handled tools that were damaged and returned for inspection. It has also been a topic in Roy’s clinics for many years and it is certainly debatable as to which of the two common fullering techniques may work better for you.



We’re going to use the terms “Crossover” and “Inline” to describe the two most common styles Roy discussed. We termed Crossover to mean the fullering tool is positioned on he branch of the shoe that is furthest from the hammer hand; in effect, crossing over one branch of the shoe to fuller the other. Inline fullering would be the opposite; positioning the fullering tool on the branch nearest the hammer hand. The decision on style used will dictate what fuller you buy – regardless of the marking of left or right on the tools. Keep that in mind when you shop for a fuller – especially steel handled.


We asked a number of top competitors why they worked predominantly with one style or the other. It wasn’t too surprising to hear that it all depended on how they were taught; whether it was in shoeing school or in following mentors or clinicians like so many things we do in work and life in general.

It is also clear, with a lot of practice and development of hand-eye coordination either style can work very well.

We have attended a lot of forging competitions and know that many of the top competitors use a Crossover style rather than the Inline.They have spent thousands of hours working on their skills and hand-eye coordination to reach the top levels and if they had any difficulty in the beginning, hard work and experience obviously got them past it.

Four tools all used in Crossover style. Two tools used by right hander, two by left hander.

If you look carefully you can see all were struck off center.

Left hander used this in Crossover style. Note damage to fuller end.

Roy talked about two key disadvantages of using the Crossover style for someone just starting in forging. The steel handled tools pictured in this article were all used by novice level farriers working in the Crossover style. This style requires an extremely skilled level of hammer control to be certain you are striking the center of the tool. The tendency is to lean the tool away from you and that forces the hammer swing to come from a less balanced position, with the elbow further away from the body. Your swing has to take the hammer in an arc that is not easy to gauge when starting out. Not to say that you won’t learn to compensate as you develop your hand-eye coordination, but in the early stages, this is a complicating factor and the reason why you see the damage to these steel handle tools. They have been struck on one side of the tool, not in the center. And it is always the side of the tool nearest your body. The more serious damage is what then happens to the working end of the tool as you can see with the deformation of the end of the fullers.

ABOVE: Left and Right Hand Crossover Style. Look closely at the position of the elbows in relation to the body.

The reduced control of the hammer swing is probably the primary drawback for using the Crossover style in your early stages of forging. Second to that is the reduction of power or force that occurs when the struck tool is further away from your body and your hammer arm is also not centered with the blow. Note the position of both elbows in the various pictures of the two styles. As a rule, the Inline style keeping the elbows closer to your center will maximize the control and power behind the hammer blow. This is just food for thought. If you are experiencing any difficulties keeping your struck tools in good shape, you may want to consider these ideas.

BELOW: Left and Right Hand Inline Style. Look closely at the position of the elbows in relation to the body.

Check out Roy’s videos on YouTube for more ideas on tool use and maintenance:

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 17, Issue 1 . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Therapeutic Case Provides Valuable Lessons for Students at Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School

by Larkin Greene

Recently, I spent time at Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School.  Students in their third week of instruction were able to observe and participate in valuable lessons regarding work with therapeutic cases.  I was privileged to help provide training and guidance for the treatment of the horse presented in the following photos.

Upon first glance at the foot shown below, it would be easy to look at the length and believe a proper course of action would be an aggressive trim, to find the better foot within.  However, this horse was older and had very limited mobility, underrun heels and an atrophied frog.  In addition, there was a significant white line resection and treatment done two months ago that was showing improvement.  The students performed a conservative trim to align the pastern and dorsal wall and shod the foot for protection.

The question of whether or not to repair was discussed.  There are many factors to be considered in this decision: (1) how much wall has been removed, and will it destabilize the capsule and P3?; (2) is there still wall separation, and/or pathology present?; (3) will the shoe stay on if it’s left open?; (4) is the horse’s environment going to contribute to further intrusion by bacteria and fungus?

The decision was made to do a partial repair to stabilize the hoof and protect it from a dirty environment. Because there was a soft spot in the upper portion of the defect that got a negative reaction to applied pressure, the conservative approach dictated leaving it open to allow monitoring and further treatment if needed.

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Best Practices and Results for Application of Vettec Adhesives

by Larkin Greene

The increased moisture and lower temperatures associated with Winter and Spring present significant challenges to successful adhesive applications.  Adhesives prefer warm and dry, along with clean. Anyone who regularly picks up a horse’s foot knows that none of those characteristics happen without effort.

Larkin Greene demonstrates application of SuperFast to create a shoe for hoof wall protection.

The Effects of Cold
Vettec products perform optimally when used between 60 and 80F, in other words, room temperature.  When temperatures fall below that optimum range, adhesives become more viscous, harder to dispense, and take longer to set.  Both methacrylates and urethanes produce an exothermic cycle that is critical to their final set.  Colder temperatures inhibit that heat cycle; if the adhesive cannot generate that heat, the set will be softer, and the bond less reliable.  While many users are familiar with the need to warm up the adhesive, it’s also important to warm any surface it touches, including mix tips, any glued-on device, and especially, the surface of the foot itself.  If you forget to warm a surface, applying heat after the adhesive is on the foot can help, but does not guarantee success because the exothermic cycle is a chemical reaction formulated into the adhesive.  For temperatures below freezing, a heated workspace is essential to achieving predictable results.

Vettec SuperFast

Keeping materials warm is easy enough; most keep them in the cab of the truck, in an insulated container, or home-made hot box that contains a light bulb or warming pads.  The worst thing one can do is store them in the rig in cold weather, then try to warm them up prior to using them.  It takes time to warm up cold material, and it is best done slowly.  It’s easy to heat up the plastic cartridge, but it takes a while for warmth to penetrate throughout the material inside the cartridge.  Best practices would dictate not letting the material get cold in the first place; however, if quick warming is necessary, putting cartridges on the dashboard with the defroster running works well, or perhaps on the floorboards with the heater on.  Some have even reported success putting them in the engine compartment for a while after arriving at the barn.

Within the preferred temperature range, SuperFast sets in 30 seconds for non-weight bearing applications, and requires a minimum of 2.5 minutes before bearing weight on bottom applications.  Adhere sets in 45-60 seconds for non-weight bearing applications, and needs 3.5 minutes minimum before bearing weight in direct glue-on applications, five minutes would be better.

Any time adhesive products are used, it’s strongly recommended to make sure the hoof is as dry as possible. This handy moisture meter gives you a very accurate check of the moisture level. (shoot for less than 10%).

The Effects of Excess Moisture
Excessive moisture is the most common cause of adhesive failure in equine applications.  The inability to get the foot dry enough remains a challenge for many hoof care practitioners.  Fortunately, there are tools and techniques that allow us to conquer this problem.  Some methods work better than others. For example, a hair dryer is louder and less effective at drying a surface than a heat gun.  A heat gun is much quieter and more effective, held a few inches away, and kept in motion.  Another tool equal to or superior to a heat gun, is a hand-held propane torch with a soft flame.  The torch has the advantage of not requiring power, is also quiet, and produces great results if the same technique is applied: inches away and in constant motion.

Adding a moisture meter to your adhesive tool box is the best way to know that surfaces are actually dry enough for bonding.  Typically, the moisture meter must read below 10% for successful bonding, though single digits is desirable, and very attainable.  Once the foot surface is dry enough, the adhesive should be introduced in as short a time as possible for best results.

Effects of Excess Moisture After Bonding
If all protocols for proper bonding are followed at the time of application, excess moisture afterward is less detrimental, but can still lead to failure.  We know that horse’s feet swell when the ground is wet, and shrink when it dries out.  If that change happens during the weeks when an adhesive is in place, you can expect it to be a contributing factor in the failure of that application.  Frequent sessions at the wash rack, standing in an irrigated pasture, muddy paddock, or any other saturation conditions can contribute to shorter longevity, or early failure.  No bond can withstand immersion for any length of time beyond passing through a creek.

Following these guidelines for storage and handling of adhesives can dramatically improve success rates, and reduce the level of frustration users often experience when weather turns cold and wet.

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Managing White Line Disease

By Travis D. Burns, CJF, TE, EE, FWCF and Lauren Trager, DVM

White line disease (WLD) is a pathology that has long frustrated farriers, veterinarians, owners, and other members of the equine profession.

Fig. 1 – Cases of WLD are often first noticed by farriers during routine trimming/shoeing visits. An area of separation in the hoof wall that is filled with dirt/debris is noted.

WLD is described as a progressive hoof wall separation originating at the solar surface of the hoof and migrating proximally. It is thought to be the result of opportunistic keratinopathogenic organisms invading the non-pigmented stratum medium. The separation does not affect the stratum internum or dermal tissues.

Historically, WLD has been referred to by many other terms, including seedy toe, hollow hoof, hoof rot, onychomycosis, etc. Even though “white line disease” has become the commonly utilized term for this disease, it is a misnomer as the disease process does not actually affect the white line of the horse’s hoof capsule. Therefore it is this author’s opinion that the equine community should begin to use the term “white zone disease” or another term that describes the anatomy affected (non-pigmented stratum medium/white zone).

The cause of WLD has long been debated. Although several theories have been described, none have been proven. The current theory of WLD etiology as described by O’Grady, Moyer and others is that opportunistic, keratinopathogenic microorganisms invade the non-pigmented stratum medium of the hoof wall following an initial separation caused by a mechanical stress or weakness, trauma, abnormal or excessive moisture exposure, or some combination. 1,2 These organisms degrade the keratin in the hoof wall exacerbating the separation. Furthermore, dirt and debris typically fill the separation, acting as a mechanical wedge forcing the wall apart.

Although WLD has been reported all over the world in many different environments, the highest incidence of WLD appears to be in areas with exposure to high moisture/humidity. It affects horses of all ages, breeds, sex, and type. Many factors appear to predispose horses to WLD that include but are not limited to: poor environment, repetitive cycling of the hoof from wet to dry conditions, various hoof wall distortions, flexural limb deformities, chronic laminitis and weak/brittle hoof walls resulting from genetic or nutritional abnormalities.

Cases of WLD are often first noticed by farriers during routine trimming/shoeing visits. An area of separation in the hoof wall that is filled with dirt/debris is noted (Fig. 1). When removing the dirt/debris with a hoof knife or curette, an area of undermined hoof of varying degree is revealed. After the dirt/debris is removed, portions of white/grey powder like hoof wall are typically seen before reaching a healthy margin. There can be rather large areas of separation filled with dirt/debris despite maintaining a healthy appearance of the outer hoof wall (Fig. 2).

Lameness is usually only noted when extensive separation has occurred, resulting in an instability of the distal phalanx within the hoof capsule (Fig 3). Many cases of WLD are treated/managed by farriers during routine visits. Farriers should be encouraged to debride small areas of separation to a healthy margin whenever possible. If areas of separation are to be covered by a horse shoe they should first be packed with an antiseptic packing. The preferred packing of the Equine Podiatry Service (EPS) at the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) is a mixture of oakum, venice turpentine and copper sulfate (Figs 4 & 5).

For barefoot horses with small separations, affected portions of hoof wall should be removed to prevent mechanical prying on the affected area as well as to prevent further packing of dirt/debris while allowing the owner to clean and treat the area (Fig 6).

Areas of separation that are extensive, expand, or do not resolve should be managed by a team consisting of a veterinarian and a farrier.

Radiographs, specifically 0° lateromedial and 0° dorsopalmar, should be used to identify the extent of the separation and to guide trimming/shoeing. The principles of treatment are to resect the affected hoof wall and debride to as healthy of a margin as possible (exposes the area to UV light and air), stabilize the hoof capsule, recruit the sole and frog for load sharing, and remove predisposing factors (environment, excess leverage, etc.).

To resect the hoof wall a combination of half round nippers, hoof knives, loop knives, and motorized rotary tools (Dremelb) are used. Carbide cross cut burrsc are useful to prevent dust and heat buildup (Fig 7).

Following resection many topical products can be applied to further disinfect and dry the hoof. The preferred topical treatment at the VMCVM is 7% tincture of iodine. It is important to note that all topical treatments are of little to no value when there is insufficient debridement. Figures 8, 9, & 10 show a sequence of debridement prior to topical treatment.

If there is enough healthy hoof wall remaining a shoe should be applied.

For areas of small resections a normal shoe can be applied. For larger more extensive resections, utilizing a shoe/setup to spread load away from the wall onto the sole and frog and to support the distal phalanx within the hoof capsule should be used. Such shoe/setups include but are not limited to heart bars, heel plates with impression material, Equi-Pakd, and frog pads. When there is not enough hoof wall to safely and securely attach a shoe with nails, a glue on shoe can be applied. It is important to note that affected areas should not be covered with adhesive (Fig. 11). Ultimately, if there is not enough healthy wall to attach a shoe the foot should be bandaged or placed into boots until there is sufficient wall to nail or glue to.

In conclusion, horses being treated for WLD should be kept in a clean and dry environment with minimal variations in moisture level. The hooves should be cleaned out and treated at least once daily. They should be rechecked by the vet/farrier team at 4 week intervals for continued debridement and to monitor the hooves for appropriate growth.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 16, Issue 4 . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Clipping Shoes Using the Edge of the Anvil

by Roy Bloom, CJF

Let’s start with a few basic ideas on clips.

  1. In order for a clip to be effective it must have a stout base and taper to the tip.
  2. A rule of thumb; the clip should be proportionate to the stock. The width and height of the clip should be approximately the same as the width of the stock. This is not always true or necessary but it is a good target.
  3. The indentation made when producing the material for the clip should not go past the foot surface edge of the shoe.

The first step in drawing any clip is the production of the material for the clip, or making the bubble. There are a lot of different tools and methods to make the bubble, all a matter of personal preference. Ball peins, cross peins, custom ball peins or bobpunches are the most common. I’ve chosen a custom ball pein (clipping hammer) to use for this article.

The area chosen for the clip should be held over the edge of the anvil. There should be a small radius on the edge you choose, 1/8” or less, but be sure it is not a sharp edge. Hold the shoe at an angle over this edge with about 3/16” hanging over. If you hang less, you will not get enough material to draw the clip. If you hang more you will be getting too far into the branch and a lot of distortion to the branch or nail holes will result.

These photos were taken during a demonstration using a lead shoe. The lead is a good teaching device and acts very similar to hot steel.

Aim your hammer at the edge of the anvil and strike the shoe. Don’t glance the blow down the side of the anvil. This pulls the indentation too far down. Try to continue striking into the edge. Hammer control is necessary to achieve a clean indentation. If you hammer like lightning and never strike the same place twice, your shoe and indentation will look like some sort of storm took place. Continue the blows until the desired bubble is created. Your practice will indicate to you how much bubble you need for the clip you’re trying to draw.

Once you have your bubble, place the shoe on the anvil with the foot surface up and put the clip towards you. Hammer around the bubble to flatten the shoe. Having the bubble towards you allows you more control because you are using the area of the hammer face nearest you.

You are now ready to draw the clip, using the edge of the anvil. Position yourself at the heel of the anvil looking towards the horn. Position the shoe parallel with the edge and flat against the side of the anvil. The bubble area should be struck once or twice with the hammer parallel with the anvil face to set the clip. Then hold your hammer at a 45 degree angle so that the face is aiming at the edge. As the clip area is struck, the shoe is rotated away. This method leaves the face of the clip smooth and eliminates time cleaning up the outside surface of the clip.

Place the shoe on the anvil face and flatten. Flip the shoe and place the clip in the hardy hole. Pull the clip into the corner of the hardy hole and strike the shoe flat. Push the clip across to the opposite corner and strike a flat blow again. This sets your clip base.

Moving to the horn for your next step, place the shoe so that the area under the clip is solid against the horn and work the edge of the shoe. Make sure that the area you are working is always solid against the horn so that you don’t change the shape of the shoe. The final step would be to set the clip at the approximate angle of the hoof wall. This will make fitting much easier. You can dress the clip with a file or belt sander if you feel it necessary but your practice and hammer control will eventually minimize the need for any extra dressing of the clip.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 3, Issue 1. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

“Drawing Clips Using a Bloom Cross Pein Hammer” with Roy Bloom, CJF

For more videos:
One More Method of Clipping Shoes
Clipping a Draft Shoe
Moving Clip Direction on Anvil

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