Vettec Improvements

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by Larkin Greene

Twenty-two years ago, Vettec introduced advanced urethane adhesives to the equine market, aimed at restoring compromised hoof structure, as well as protecting and supporting the foot.

With the development of pour-in pads and rapid setting repair materials, most would agree Vettec created a revolution not seen since the introduction of the keg shoe. Farriers no longer had to cobble together adhesives from construction, automotive and marine applications, though it did make for some interesting stories. With materials specifically designed for equine applications, farriers could do two things that were previously all but impossible: quickly and reliably put foot back on a horse, and protect soles and frogs without the need for a physical pad.

Polyurethanes are well suited to equine applications because they are very durable, can withstand both stress and strain as well as impact, and are exceptional at lessening vibration. Unlike methacrylates, urethanes are non-­flammable, produce almost no vapor, and do not chemically attack the substrate (hoof wall) in order to achieve a high strength bond. Add in the 30 to 60 set time, and it opens up a world of possibilities.

The new 210cc Vettec cartridge features a leak-free design, holds 30% more material and is easier to open and dispense.

Pour-in pads became popular for four reasons: Protection, support, vibration dampening, and quick, easy application. As a durable, yet flexible protective layer, a horse in challenging terrain can step on the sharpest rock without even knowing it, promoting more confidence, and curbing hesitant behaviors. The ability to vary fill levels, and create enhancements like frog support and stepped pours, gives practitioners more options for successfully treating therapeutic situations like caudal heel pain, laminitis, founder and navicular syndrome. Full fills provide horses more physical surface area to stand on, and more surface area for distributing weight, helping to ease the load on the perimeter hoof wall. Partial and combo pours provide options for supporting specific areas with firm materials while cushioning more sensitive structures with softer formulations. More recently, pour-in pad materials have been used to customize hoof boots to improve internal fit and eliminate the shifting so often associated with lost boots. Boots can also be modified externally with wedging and extensions, making them a good option as a removable therapeutic device.

Materials like Adhere and Super Fast offer many ways to augment a shoeing package, or restore the foot itself with less complicated methods. Aside from repairs that are capable of holding nails and clinches, these materials are great for gluing on steel, aluminum and synthetic shoes, or building a custom shoe directly on the foot in a matter of a few minutes. Heel angle corrections and elevations are a breeze with the simple application of a bead from the heel buttress tapered into the toe quarter; with the stroke of a rasp, the desired pastern alignment can be easily achieved. The superior bond and speed of Super Fast means that foal extensions can be customized, layered, and altered throughout the treatment phase rather than simply gluing on a pre-made cuff. And, if something on the rig breaks, chances are pretty solid that it can be fixed without the need for baling wire and duct tape.

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

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Keeping Up in Tough Times

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By Dan Burke

There’s no doubt the system and some good equipment helps us get the job done well.

We had inquiries in recent weeks about how FPD will handle the challenges of servicing our customers and the farrier industry with the complications of the Covid19 Pandemic. Of course we start by asking that everyone, everywhere do everything possible to stay healthy and safe, and help keep your families, customers and others the same.

We and most of the FPD Dealers have been allowed to continue controlled operations as a result of our roles in the agricultural and animal health industries. Our staff is using common sense and abiding by health directives from our Governor in order to be able to continue. We feel fortunate, but at the same time cautious as we know this can change.

FPD has always worked with a common sense approach to inventory control, using sophisticated software to assist; as do our vendors here and abroad. We don’t work with “just in time” as a goal- though we do work to maximize turnover as any business should. Our approach has proven for 30 years that you can be the best (ask any FPD dealer who their most reliable vendor is), simply by using common sense and good planning. We expect to be able to continue to supply the market with Kerckhaert shoes from Holland and their other production facilities, Liberty nails and many other lines like the Bellota rasps and hand tools. Have a look at some images from our warehouse and you’ll get a sense of what over 2 million horseshoes, 26 million horseshoe nails and tens of thousands of rasps look like. Containers and truck shipments are coming and going from our warehouse and the factories are operating at levels necessary to keep us stocked.

So let’s not worry about availability of our products, just use every caution in whatever you are doing to avoid getting or spreading the virus- and always take care of your people. If you ever come through our area- please call and plan a visit (after all the current pandemic conditions are over). As always, thanks for your support.

Inventory planning – it is a never-ending process, but it is how the FPD purchasing staff keeps us out of stock level problems.

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Winter Traction Tips

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by Bob Schantz

Winter can create traction problems for horses, and therefore for farriers charged with their care. Care should be used when deciding how much traction is needed. Excessive traction can create torque to the limbs, too little allows the horse to slip or fall. In addition to forged caulks, there are four primary traction devices that you can apply to horseshoes:

  • Borium Head Nails
  • Drive-in Studs and Pins
  • Screw-in Caulks
  • Borium or Drill Tek

Each type of traction device requires special skills and knowledge for proper application.

Techniques for Applying Drive-in Studs

  1. Be sure to use the exact size drill bit the manufacturer dictates. If the hole is too small, damage will occur to the stud when driven. If it is too large, the stud will quickly loosen and dislodge.
  2. Do not drive the stud to the bottom of the shoe. The shaft of the stud is tapered and will tighten as the hoof bears the weight of the animal. If you drive it to the bottom of the shoe the stud will loosen and dislodge. Leaving about 1/8” will help ensure the studs remain where you put them.
  3. As with the nails described above, do NOT use your good hammer to drive the studs into the shoe. Either keep an old hammer for this purpose or place a piece of flat steel on top of the stud and hammer on the steel.

    Watch Mike Wildenstein, CJF, FWCF (hons) present a how-to video for the application of Tungsten Carbide pins and studs on FPD’s YouTube Channel.

Techniques for Using Borium Headed Nails

  1. These nails will give some traction for the horse that will only occasionally be on frozen asphalt roadways. They are the easiest traction to apply. During the nailing process, you may choose to use between 4 and 8 nails per shoe. The more nails, the greater the traction.
  2. Because of the hardness of the Borium, damage will occur to your hammer. Therefore you should NOT use your good hammer. Use an old driving hammer in place of the good one.


This article is from Tips from the Pros in FPD’s Field Guide for Farriers. Find more farrier education articles, videos and tips at

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Establishing Customer Policies

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It is unlikely that you set customer policies and firm scheduling criteria when you began shoeing. Any work was welcome and uncomfortable conditions did not cause you great concern. However, as you established yourself and developed your skills you probably began to notice (and become more irritated with) less than ideal working conditions and customers. We have a few ideas for those of you in the early stages of your career and perhaps some of you who have “been around.”

Working Conditions
Dave Farley has talked about 5 factors in working conditions and their importance to doing the best work possible. He explains to his customers that if any of the conditions are less than desirable it will make his final job more uncertain. He has found that customers will try to improve conditions if you present it to them in this way.

  1. Clean work area
  2. Dry work area
  3. Flat work area
  4. Well lit work area
  5. Well behaved horse

Attach 20% value to each requirement and let your customer know you can work up to 100% of your ability if all are met. If any are lacking, your final job may not be 100%. Be especially firm with the well-behaved horse category. It is a tough, risky job with a good horse. The dangers to your physical and financial well being are magnified greatly by an
unruly horse.

Cash flow is important in all businesses. You need to establish firm policies on payment. Our recommendation is payment on completion of work if this is possible. If you choose to bill, develop a habit of invoicing at least weekly, if not daily, and request payment in 10 days, 30 maximum. The shorter you can keep the payment period the stronger your cash flow will be. If you wait to do monthly statements your cash flow is strained, even if your clients pay promptly after receiving the statement.

If you choose to do work on account be firm with your terms, regardless what they are. Don’t let your customers get in the habit of paying late. After all, you are running a
business. You need to remember this in dealing with your suppliers. They have an even tighter margin and depend on your payments to keep inventory and service levels up.

If you can develop scheduling policies you will find you have much better control of your business and profitability. Stress the importance of regular hoof care. You might find a six week rotation to be ideal but be flexible with your customers that are not professionals. If you can get them to agree to 7-8 weeks or less you will find this to be important. Efficient management of time is your benefit and the good condition of the hoof is your customer’s.

  • Set realistic schedules and allow enough time for the unexpected.
  • Stick to your schedule and communicate with your customers if conflicts come up. Don’t make a habit of changing your schedule. If you have customers that are willing to get on a schedule you owe it to them to do everything possible to be there – on time.
  • Make sure your customers understand your requirements if they can’t meet a scheduled appointment. Set a requirement for advance notice of any deviation from schedule.

The information you collect in a database will be useful in setting up schedules and implementing policies. It is also invaluable to your communications efforts.

These policies enhance your service to your customers and increase your efficiency- the key to improving your profits.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 4, Issue 2. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Managing White Line Disease

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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).

Fig. 4 & 5 – The preferred packing of the EPS at VMCVM is a mixture of oakum,
venice turpentine and copper sulfate.

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).

Fig. 6 – Affected portions of hoof wall should be removed to prevent mechanical prying on the affected area.

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.

Fig. 8, 9, 10 – A sequence of debridement prior to topical treatment.

Fig. 11 – It is important to note that affected areas should not be covered with adhesive.

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

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Avoid Unnecessary Damage to Your Nail Puller

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A significant number of crease nail pullers are returned to suppliers each year because of damage that can be avoided – not as a result of defective material or workmanship.

It is possible for heat treatment or defective metal to be a problem but be sure you used your tool correctly before returning it. Be sure that you cut or rasp the clinches off before trying to pull the nails. Start the tool opened as wide as possible to allow the points to penetrate any dirt or debris in the crease and get under the nail head. The nail puller has to get under the head of the nail to work properly. If you only have contact with the tips of the tool and then squeeze and try to pull the nail without first lifting it you are asking for trouble. (Photo 6 shows damaged tip of nail puller, likely a result of trying to pull the nail before getting the puller tips completely under the nail head. Notice the other puller has no damage and has been used much longer, but more correctly.)

Photo 1 – Start with wide opening.

Once you are under the head, a steady squeezing pressure should pop the nail loose. You can often hear the nail break loose from the crease. You will see that the nail head is fit snugly into the cavity of the pullers if you have used the tool correctly. When the head is in this cavity, the pressure of the rolling motion you use to pull the nail will not cause damage to the tool.

Photo 2 – Puller tips are not under nail head; this method causes damage to tool.

From time to time you may want to touch up the nail puller tips so they can penetrate the debris in the crease and get under the nail head. You should also be sure the tool is not too thick to fit into the crease. If it appears to be too thick you can use a belt sander to dress them to a thickness that works. Be careful not to grind too aggressively or for too long. You don’t want heat to build up and destroy the heat treat. If you can’t hold the tool because of the heat or it develops a blue color– it’s too hot. Quench it occasionally as you go through this grinding process.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 10, Issue 2 . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Power Up: Power Cord Tips

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If your tools and electric motors are getting hot and you are connecting them with an extension cord, it is a possible sign that you have the wrong gauge extension cord. Not only will the use of the wrong extension cord reduce the performance and life of your equipment, it can also become a fire hazard.

Before using any extension cord to help power your tools or equipment, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will I use the cord indoors or outdoors?
  • What is the total wattage rating of the equipment I’ll use with the cord?
  • How far is the nearest outlet from where I’ll be working?

The first step in determining which extension cord you will need is to decide whether you will be using the equipment indoors or outdoors. Extension cords that can be used outdoors will be clearly marked “Suitable for Use with Outdoor Appliances.” Never use an indoor extension cord outdoors; it could result in an electric shock or fire hazard. Most barns have conditions that would also indicate outdoor use cords would be safer.

Extension cords are labeled with valuable information as to the use, size and wattage rating of the cord. Cords are offered in many lengths and are marked with a size or “gauge.” The gauge is based on the American Wire Gauge (AWG) System, in which the larger the wire, the smaller the AWG number. For example, a 12-gauge wire would be larger, and can power larger wattage equipment than a 14-gauge wire.

To determine what size — or gauge — cord you will need, you will also have to determine how long you need the cord to be. A cord, based on its gauge, can power equipment of certain wattage only at specific distances. As the cord gets longer, the current carrying capacity of the cord gets lower. For example, a 16-gauge extension cord less than 50 feet in length can power up to 1625 watts (W). A 16-gauge cord that is longer than 50 feet in length can only power equipment up to 1250W.

All equipment should indicate how much wattage is consumed when operated; that rating can be found on the equipment itself or within the use and care booklet that accompanies the product. Other equipment will indicate power usage in amps, rather than watts. Quick tip: if your equipment indicates that it uses 5 amps at 125 volts, then its wattage rating is 625W (5×125). If you are going to use the extension cord with two or more pieces of equipment, you must add together the wattage rating for all equipment used on the cord. The total of those wattage ratings will help you determine which gauge size you will need.

If you are working in a barn, the outlet that you may be using may have low voltage, because it may be at the end of the line. If this is the case you will need a larger gauge extension cord to prevent additional drop in voltage.

Always try to connect to the plug nearest to the breaker box in the barn. It has the least drop in voltage!

Follow these additional safety tips when using extension cords with any electrical appliance.

  • Look for the UL Mark on extension cords you purchase.  The UL Mark means that representative samples of the cord have been tested for foreseeable safety hazards.
  • Store all cords indoors when not in use. Outdoor conditions can deteriorate a cord over time.
  • Never keep an extension cord plugged in when not in use. The cord will still conduct electricity until it is unplugged from the outlet.
  • Most newer, indoor cords with more than one outlet have covers for the unused openings – use them. Children and pets face serious injury if they chew on unused outlets or stick sharp metal objects into the openings.
  • Do not use extension cords that are cut or damaged. Touching even a single exposed strand of wire can give you an electric shock or burn.
  • Never file or cut the plug blades or grounding pin of an extension cord or equipment to plug it into an old outlet.
  • As a safety feature, extension cords and most equipment have polarized plugs (one blade wider than the other). These special plugs are designed to prevent electric shock by properly aligning circuit conductors. If a plug does not fit, have a qualified electrician install a new outlet.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 9, Issue 3 . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Getting the Sharper Edge

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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 photo (1) 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.

Photo 1

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.

Photo 4

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.

Photo 5

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 – written by Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

PhotoELF Edits: 2013:10:30 --- Saved as: 24-Bit JPEG (EXIF) Format 98 % --- batch crop --- cropRoy Bloom has been shoeing horses since 1973. He has been a member of the American Farrier’s Team on two different occasions and for many years served as the manager of the team. Roy has always been willing to share the extensive knowledge he’s gained over the years with members of the farrier industry. In addition to his farrier background, he developed a strong interest in blacksmithing and tool making and for many years has been manufacturing a broad range of farrier and blacksmith tools. He also has a fully equipped shop and the ability to do a wide variety of ornamental and artistic work. Roy’s work as a clinician has earned him the Educator of the Year Award from the AFA and a position in the Horseshoer’s Hall of Fame.

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Basic Shoeing: Shoeing The Roping Horse

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by Mike Chance, CJF

There are as many ways to shoe roping horses as there are horses. Each one is unique, with its own strengths and weaknesses.

A sound horse with good conformation, in a desirable environment, would do well barefoot. Yet this scenario is rare. Their riders each have their own set of priorities, skill levels, and schedules to factor in. Because of all these variables, each horse should be assessed as a unique individual. Communication and observation skills are essential in determining how best to shoe each horse in order that he may perform at his peak within his environment. For instance, you would not put sliders on a calf horse that chased cur dogs and wild cows during the week. You wouldn’t square a toe and dub his hind foot if he were weak in his stop. These are all factors you must learn through communication with rider/trainer and or using your observation skills. You should have a good understanding of the horse’s job description.

The average age of the rope horses you see at the top end of the game is 15-18 years old. Many of these horses reach the peak of their career with existing maladies and management of soundness is the key factor of these horses. These horses will work temporarily, regardless of what we do to them, as seen in Photo 2.

The most common concern of cowboys is shoe pulling. Rarely does a horse of sound mind and body pull a shoe, if the foot is properly balanced and supported. Photo 3 (same horse as Photo 2 after shoeing) In fact, it is less likely under normal circumstances. I choose not to cheat any horse of the advantages of proper shoeing because of occasional lost shoes.

Chronic shoe pulling is most often caused by bad management, such as turning them out in hazardous environments, such as deep mud, fencing on the ground and so on. This is not your fault, unless you don’t point it out and show customers their roles and responsibilities. The management of the equine athlete is a team effort.

Lameness is a common cause of gait faults. Veterinarians play a key role and can make life less stressful, provided you’re fortunate enough to have a good relationship with the good doctors in your area. It’s amazing how a chronic shoe puller is miraculously cured by a simple hock lubrication. Calf horses, like reiners are notoriously hard on their hocks. It comes with the job.

Over the years of practice and study, I’ve developed a picture in my mind of a balanced and functional foot. Good basic hoof prep with a little extra attention to details will solve most problems and keep a horse sound under normal circumstances. (Photo 4) This is my approach to what some refer to as corrective shoeing. In general, I simply trim away the parts that do not fit the balanced picture. I take away all the excess hoof, but avoid excessive trimming and rasping. Your goal should be to preserve as much hoof mass as possible. Trim heels to the tallest, widest aspect of the trimmed frog. The frog should be somewhat parallel to the ground. While dressing the outside of the hoof, keep your goals in mind.

Fit a shoe that compliments what is trimmed. I often choose a shoe based on the hoof’s condition, allowing me to use a smaller nail, for example. I prefer a shoe that is punched coarse. This allows me to nail in the white line, yet still fits the outside perimeter. Hoof walls will become thicker and of better quality if we allow them to. Rasping on the outside of the foot serves no practical function. Your shoe fit and its placement is what does the work (Photo 5).

A horse is a horse. It makes no difference what his job is: dressage, walker, or ropers, they need the same trimming principles. The center of the foot is the same respectively. The posterior portion of the foot must balance the anterior regardless of the length of toe and/or hoof conformation (Photo 6). Enhanced break over is very important, yet it’s only part of AP balance. Posterior support is the other half of the equation and must be addressed to achieve AP balance. Think about the posterior portion of the foot, the portion that bears the weight and does the work (Photo 7).

Proper hoof prep and shoeing of the hind feet is just as important as the front. If not, a sore or dysfunctional hind can dump extra work to the front and set you up to fail. In order for a horse to stop properly, the hind foot must slide. If the foot is excessively dubbed or pushed back, it won’t function properly. On the other hand, excessive toe length isn’t   necessary and can cause undo stress on the limbs. Somewhere in the middle is where I find works well (Photo 8). One quarter inch to 3/8” longer than the fronts is a good place to start. There should be enough toe and or shoe in front of the center of the foot to allow it to stay on top of the ground going in. The heels of the hind shoe must be of sufficient length to slide on once it’s under the horse. It is sometimes necessary to sweeten or taper the branches of a hind shoe to enable the heel of the foot to fall while the toe stays on top of the ground. The opposite drives the toe straight in, therefore you don’t get the slide you want. Anything you do to facilitate the sliding stop makes it easier on the horse as well as the ropers ability to step off (Photo 9).

A hind shoe of adequate length also helps keep them off the front shoes. The extra length causes the hind to plant a little sooner. A horse that spreads excessively in the stop can’t stay in it. Check medial/lateral hoof balance and make sure your shoe is pointed straight with the frog (Photo 10). It’s sometimes necessary to lower the medial heel and build a shoe with a little extra length in the medial branch (Photo 11, 12).


The more educated we are the more confidence we have. We are more able to communicate with confidence, what we do and why we do it. Education and experience is the key to success but also helps you to know your limitations. Nothing is more frustrating than giving your all to a customer with unrealistic expectations. If you learn to listen well and observe, you can pick out the things on which you can have an impact and alleviate complications and disappointment. Education gives you the confidence and skill to handle this aspect of your job well and to your advantage.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 7, Issue 1 – written by Mike Chance, CJF. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

Mike Chance, CJF

Mike is living in Tioga, TX and has been shoeing full time since 1985. He has always been active in participating and promoting educational opportunities. He has served as President of the Oklahoma Farriers Association as well as serving on the Board of the AFA. He continues to work with the AFA certification program to help farriers working to improve their skills.

While Mike’s work is now divided between Cutting, Western Pleasure and halter horses, over the years he has worked in many other disciplines, as well. His presentation focuses on a common sense approach to everyday work and maintaining soundness in performance horses.

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Tool Corner: Hoof Tester

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by Dave Farley, CF APF-I

Most seasoned farriers will agree that a good hoof tester is a must in your shoeing tool collection. When used properly you can determine an area where a hoof has pain. The key thing here is to know how to use them correctly. Assuming that we have chosen the foot that is affected, the first thing to do is clean up the feet. I almost always start with the sound foot first. This allows me to get the feel of a normal squeeze for that horse. Before picking up the foot take a good look at the outside. Make sure the wall is free of mud, manure or hard dirt that will hinder the hoof tester from working properly. Is there any sign of hoof wall cracks or an inflamed coronary band? If not pick up the foot and clean the bottom.

It is very important to have a routine when using hoof testers. If you have never used a hoof tester before I think you should practice first on a small ball. Tennis balls are great for this. A tennis ball will give a little just like a hoof. Squeeze the ball until you have the ability to apply the same pressure each time your hands close the handles. I still do this occasionally just so my hands are familiar with that feel.

I start on the outside of the foot just behind the bar and squeeze. Move from that area forward about an inch squeezing with the same amount of pressure. Continue around the foot ending up just behind the bar on the inside of the foot. If you find an area that the horse reacts to don’t stay in that area and continue to squeeze. Continue around the foot then start over to see if you get the same response in the same area. If you are sure this is the spot you have to determine if it is your job or the vet’s to continue. If I feel it is a hot nail I pull the nail and let the caretaker of that horse know what to do. Even if I am sure what is causing the sensitivity, I suggest that the vet be called and informed of the problem. I do not start digging on the bottom of a hoof. This could be a very negative thing to do. If I do not get a reaction on the sole then I squeeze each side of the frog and across both heels. One point I would like for every one to remember is that the side of the hoof tester you don’t see is also working and applying pressure to the outside of the foot with every squeeze. For this reason I like to keep that side no higher than about one-third the height of the foot or where our nails should be. If you get higher than that (especially on a thin walled horse) the horse may show pain in the outside and you may mistake it for sole pain.

As with every horse I feel if we observe the horse while being led from the stall, working and or just standing before we start to work on it we may be able to determine where the problem is. Look close, pay attention, and develop your eyes and ears. Practice using your hoof testers on a tennis ball before using them on a horse and you will be more successful finding the sore spot on a hoof.


This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 6, Issue 2 – written by Dave Farley, CF APF-I. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

Dave Farley, CF APF-I

Dave-Farley-4Dave Farley, CF APF of Coshocton, Ohio has been shoeing horses for over 40 years. He has shod for a broad range of disciplines, including Western horses, Reining, Dressage, Hunters and Jumpers. His business today is focused on Hunters and Jumpers on the “A” circuit.

Throughout his shoeing career he has participated in educational functions. For a number of years he has been doing shoeing clinics in the US and Canada, many sponsored by FPD but also as a guest speaker and clinician at events like the AFA Convention and the International Hoof Care Summit. In 2000 he received the Clinician of the Year Award from the AFA, in recognition of his contributions to the industry. In 2008 he was inducted into the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame.

Dave is known for his willingness to share his knowledge and experience with farriers throughout the industry. His dedication is obvious to those who have heard him speak in the past. Dave is a founding member and Immediate Past President of the American Association of Professional Farriers. This is a national farriers association focused on continuing education for the trade.

He also partnered with Roy Bloom to form a video company called Hot Iron Productions. The goal of the company is to produce top quality video footage to help explain shoeing and forging concepts, including their latest issues, 12 Points of Reference – Balancing the Equine Hoof and Shoeing the Jumper.

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