Help is Available in the Farrier World

Dave modifying shoe

Dave Farley modifies a Kerckhaert shoe to create a "Rocker Toe". This is one of a number of enhanced breakover options.

We recently received this email asking for shoeing advice from Laurie Skutley in Washington state. Dave Farley, APF CF, offered his suggestion- let us know if you have any ideas.

My gelding is 7 but only this last year has he had a lot of freedom to play around on a uneven ground, with rocks etc., along with hills.   Almost every time between shoeing he has pulled a front shoe, usually the right one.  It can be days after being shod up to days before the next shoeing we go between 6 and 8 weeks only.  My farrier has tried many things and so have I.  He’s mostly had Natural Balance shoes on the front with regular clips shoes in the back.   He does not have good feet, he grows out and flat with under run heels and thin soles. My farrier has tried putting the shoes on backwards, he did not pull them, but got sore toes from no front support. He currently put on Equilibrium on the front and stayed with regular clips on the back. A week later off came the right front again while loping up a slight hill in his pasture.  My farrier has decided it would be better to trim the ends off the shoes, which will give very little support then have him continue to pull the fronts off, He does not pull shoes while under saddle and we ride Mt. trails.   I tried leaving bell boots on but he ended up with a sore below his fetlock so I took them off.

We live in WA State so it’s a wet but not muddy environment and he currently tested sore frogs and heels on all four feet, he will do anything to not walk on hard surfaces like packed gravel roads., He’s not an easy horse,  not a good multi tasker,, he will step where ever on a trail, top of a rock, limb etc., so he does not pay a lot of attention to placement of his feet, he hardly trips. The front feet are addressed for the issue but not the back, Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, this has gone on for a year now.

Happy Trails, Laurie

Reply from Dave Farley

My name is Dave Farley, a farrier from Ohio.  We too have some wet weather and hills on our pastures, but I doubt anything like the beautiful area you live.  Some horses with hoof conformation similar to yours struggle to keep shoes on.  I have several suggestions.  While the natural balance shoe seemed to work as well as the reverse shoe, I suggest you have your farrier apply a steep rocker toe.  This allows the foot to break over much faster than a square toe.

It sounds like both you and your farrier have tried every trick in the book.  The best way to find out if this can be corrected would be to find a friend who has a turnout that is more level.  Would it be possible to do this for one shoeing to see if this corrects the problem?  I questioned a few farriers in this area as to how they handle horses with this problem and they all say a change in environment corrected it.  They all say, and I agree, hoof conformation like your horse is the hardest to keep shoes on no matter where they live.

I am very proud that you seem to have a very good relationship with your farrier and you are willing to allow him to try different shoe modifications.  I am sure your farrier would love to remedy this issue as much as you do.  Please let us know if the rocker works or if your horse does better in a different pasture.

Dave Farley APF CF

Check out Dave’s Natural Angle article on the Rolled & Rocker Toe modifications.

Comfort Steel horseshoe

The Kerckhaet Steel and Aluminum Comfort provide ready made enhanced breakover and can be further modified to create a rocker toe if desired.

Note from FPD: In addressing challenges like the one described above, consider using one of the following Kerckhaert shoes, all designed to enhance breakover.  Used in combination with Liberty nails, you have precision and greater results.

Classic Roller (with E-4 or LX55 nails)  –  SX-Roller (used with 5 City or 5 Slim nails)  –  Steel Comfort (used with E-4 Slim or 5 Combo nails)

Click here to view the entire Kerckhaert and Liberty line of products

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