Corrective Shoeing

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Q: How do I instruct or offer suggestions in shoeing my 5 year old Appendix mare with a right knee that is not perfectly straight? I realize that it may be conformation related, but surely we can improve the paddling. I hate to suggest anything because of ego. My mare has never taken a wrong step, nor has she ever been off. My farrier follows a schedule of every 6 weeks in the summer and every 8 weeks in the winter. This is strictly cold shoeing. I live in Central Texas where cowboy and egos take a whole new meaning! Don't get me wrong, he does a good job and is very concerned with how the mare is going. By the way, I ride Dressage and we're schooling 1st Level.

Thanks for any advice you can give me!
Texas Dressage Rider

A: Yours is an easy question to answer because you praise your farrier for his scheduling and you also give him credit, which is admirable, by saying that your mare has never taken a wrong step nor has she ever been off. Congratulations for giving credit where it is due. You also make this question easy to answer because you state that this is strictly cold shoeing and as such we are limited in the amount of corrections that can be attempted.

So lets get to it!

You are correct in that paddling is conformation-related and if mother nature will help out a little, we can lessen the paddling.

Lower the inside of the toe and remove all inside flares which this conformational posture will create. Be sure not to lower the lateral balance any more than 1/4" at any one time because ligaments and tendons need time to adjust to these changes.

The shoe should be fit full on the lateral (outside) toe and rolled on the inside toe. A shoer with a 3 pound hammer can certainly roll a toe cold.

Since you mare is a 5 year old she should be able to accept this correction without any negative results. However, be watchful for any heat or any swelling in that knee. I, personally do not think that paddling is all that bad. The horse is definitely not hitting itself. I would not normally attempt severe corrections for paddling on adult horses unless the paddling was so dramatic as to cause stresses on the upper leg and shoulder, which is rarely the case.

To satisfy curiosity which may be building in your mind about what kind of hot shoeing corrections could be attempted, a few are: square toes, lateral toe extensions and toe caulks placed on the shoe to force the break over medially. It is possible to crank the foot around, but to the detriment of the horse.

How do you instruct your farrier or offer suggestions in shoeing your mare? You could start out by saying how pleased you are that the work he has done for you thus far has kept your mare going as well as she does and how much you value and appreciate him as your shoer. You could then mention that dressage judges have written in the collective marks on your tests that your mare is a lovely horse but could possibly do better if she paddled less. You could also suggest that you were communicating with a master farrier on the internet and he suggested that perhaps you might try this formula. If it works so much the better. If it doesn't, then we have lost nothing.

Good luck with your first level Dressage! I would be very interested in hearing how you resolve this dilemma.

Geronimo Bayard
The American Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon

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This entire web site is copyright protected.  1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard,  2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
All rights reserved. Contact Mary for reproduction information & permission.