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Q: I have a 10 year old Appendix gelding who nicks his left inside fetlock with the nails of his right shoe. I have had two different farriers use different methods of correction. The first one rolled the toe of the shoe, the second one filed the hoof, but didn't roll the shoe. I am impressed with your answers to other questions and would appreciate knowing how you would handle this situation. What is the correct method that should be used?
Thank you for your time.

A: First of all, let us protect that inside fetlock with brushing boots until we have solved the problem.

There are a lot of reasons horses will brush themselves. These usually have to do with conformation, condition of the horse, shoeing, fatigue, and sometimes the discipline the horse is used for.

I generally approach this situation by first observing the horse in movement to determine why he is brushing. This may not always be obvious. Walking and trotting the horse on firm ground and attempting to watch the flight pattern of the hoof that is dong the damage will help in deciding what course of action to take.

Some of the things that I would do to prevent injury to the fetlock, assuming that we are talking about the front feet of the horse, would be the following:

Rock the toe of the offending foot.

Attempt to widen the flight pattern by lowering the inside walls on both front feet.

Set the shoe on the offending foot so it is flush with the medial wall and does not protrude out from the wall. Make sure that the shoe is well rounded, having no sharp edges to cut the horse.

Do not exit the medial nails for clinching. Shoes are held in place by the hoof wall gripping the shank of the nail blade, and not by the clinch, so clinches are not necessary. Clinches are normally brought out so that the horse owner will see that the nail is not into the sensitive area of the horse's foot. I used to shoe racehorses without clinches. It is done by tapping the nails gently until they are seated firmly in the crease of the shoe, never using the forceful blows that exit the nail, as is commonly done by shoers. The bevel of the point of the nail is placed and designed to turn the nail so that it will exit with forceful blows. Eliminating those forceful blows will cause the nail to drive straight and not exit the wall.

If we are talking about the hind feet of the horse, we would square the toe rather than rocking it. Everything else would remain the same.

I have had tremendous temporary success in widening a horse that was narrow behind by rubbing Vick's Vapo Rub between the horse's hind legs where the fatty muscle rubs, where you would normally see white sweat from behind. This does not burn or irritate. It simply has a cooling, tingling sensation foreign to the horse's normal senses and causes him to temporarily move in a widening fashion, similar to a person that just arose after sitting on a wet and cold bench.

Bear in mind that even the best farrier may have to experiment to find what works best for a particular horse.

I hope some of my suggestions are helpful. If you care to take the time, get back to me and tell me how you resolve this problem. I really would like to know.


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.