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12 Points of Reference for Evaluating Limb Balance

12 Points of Reference for Evaluating Limb Balance

By Dave Farley CF and Roy Bloom CJF
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We have developed a list of reference points that have helped us in evaluating limb balance and developing a plan for trimming the hoof to maintain or enhance the balance. We are putting together a series of DVD’s that will go into the details of these reference points and how we see them affecting balance. The following list and images give a good overview of those points and will hopefully give you food for thought in your daily work.

1. The knee. While standing to the side of the horse notice the plane of the knee. This is important as the direction of the plane of the knee affects break over. Also, from the same position, look at the cannon bone and its relationship to the knee. Is it normal, or is it offset medial or lateral to the knee?
2. While in front of the limb, draw a perpendicular line down through the center of the cannon bone through the pastern and exiting the center of the hoof.
3. Look at the coronary band (frontal view) and its relationship to the ground. Compare the medial and lateral lengths of hoof wall from this view.
4. Now check the hoof edge or shape in relationship to the coronary shape.
5. From the side (lateral view) of the horse, draw a perpendicular line down through the cannon bone to the highest, widest part of the frog. Position the heels to that point.
6. From same viewpoint, compare the hoof and pastern alignment. Toe length, heel height and length of pastern should be used to determine normal alignment.
7. From behind the limb (posterior) draw a perpendicular line down the center of the cannon bone through the pastern and through the center of the frog.
8. Also from the posterior view, compare heel heights and both medial and lateral wall heights.
9. In the farrier’s position (FP) of holding the foot, look at heel positioning in relationship to highest, widest part of frog.
10. From the same farrier’s position (FP) find the medial/lateral center of the frog (approximately 3/8” back from the point of the frog). Measure from that point to the widest part of the quarters, both medial and lateral and compare measurements.

11. From the farrier’s position (FP) sight the foot to measure heel length and the level of bottom of foot.

12. With hoof on the foot stand, sight over the coronary band to compare the shape of the hoof edge to the coronary band’s shape. A contour gauge can be very helpful in comparing coronary band shape to the toe.

The challenge you face in establishing good hoof and limb balance is lessened when you develop your overall perspective of the limb. These reference points are a good guide to help with that effort. It’s nearly impossible to accomplish your goal of achieving good balance when looking only at the hoof when in working position. We’ve found these points of reference to be invaluable in our everyday work. We look forward to going into more detail on the variations we see in these reference points in the video series and future articles.

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