The Art & Science of Farriery
The Natural Angle
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Volume 2 Iss 1: Fitting Shoes for Balance

Fitting Shoes for Balance

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By Dave Farley 

Goals for fitting shoes for balance

  1. Establish good hoof/pastern alignment.
  2. Trim foot flat
  3. Use flat shoe
  4. Have foot land as flat as possible.

Begin your work by looking carefully at the hoof. Look from all angles, including from above and from behind. Mitch Taylor’s article about basic hoof preparation in Vol. 1 issue 4 of The Natural Angle discusses the importance of your close examination of the whole picture.

Starting with the front foot I try to establish balance by using the following techniques.

1. Working on a foot stand, I remove all flares that I see.
I may do this over a couple shoeings to avoid weakening the wall. Be careful with your nail placement where you have removed a flare. Be safe if you are in doubt. Leave a nail out or replace it with a clip. Remember that a properly drawn and placed clip can be as strong as two nails.

2. Fit the shoe so that the frog is centered in the shoe.
In other words, measuring from the center of the frog you should have an equal distance to the outside of each branch. This is one of the critical factors in establishing balance. It may even require some punching or repunching of nail holes to get good nailing. Try marking the frog and measuring the distance until you feel comfortable with your visual check. I no longer mark the frog but use my hammer for a visual aid to determine if everything is centered.

3. Fit the heels of the shoe parallel with the bulbs of the foot.
You can use your rasp as a visual guide for checking the heels.

4. I always try to shape the shoe to match the shape of the coronary band.
This may require boxing the branch if the heels are too narrow. Again, the punching of the shoe may need adjusted when you first begin the process of fitting to the coronary band. In time the foot will grow to the shape of the coronary band and nailing will be much simpler.

5. Be sure to check your fit from this perspective.
Look down the leg from behind when it is in a loaded position (have someone pick up the opposite foot). The foot should be in the center of the limb.

roping 2



Frog marked in center, 3/8" back from point. Note the greater distance to Point B.

Shoe is set wider than foot at Point A. Frog is now in center of shoe (equal distance from frog to Point A & B).




roping 3

roping 3

Using hammer as visual aid for checking center. Arrow indicates flare that would normally be taken off before nailing shoe.


Using rasps to check that heels of shoe are fit parallel to bulbs.

Shoe fit to coronary, branch boxed.

roping 3

roping 3


Shoe fit to coronary band.

Looking from rear at line in center of cannon bone. Foot loaded, it is in center of leg.


These are some of the most basic principles of fitting shoes for balance. Putting your horses on a regular shoeing schedule makes this work even better. If you apply the good basic trimming advice and follow with these fitting ideas you should see your horses moving better and staying sound longer. The net result is you will have a happier customer base and less problems to deal with.





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