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Shoeing Our Foxtrotters

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Shoeing Our Foxtrotters

Joe Andrews

    I have heard trainers say you needed to trim Foxtrotters' hooves to a specific angle to get them to gait. It never made sense to me that all horses should be shod to the same angle when their conformation varied. Until recently, however, I did not know how to tell what was right for each individual horse.

    I had the privilege of meeting Bergy Bergeleen, the author of "HoofTalk, The Hairline Tells It All." According to Bergy, it is easy to tell if the hoof is balanced properly. If the hairline is straight the hoof is balanced, if the hairline has bumps it is not. If we are not trimming the horses' feet in proper balance the horse has to compensate, resulting in a degradation of his gait.

    Bergy starts by trimming the heels to move the support further back under the heel bulbs. Because of the angle the hoof grows, lowering the heal a quarter of an inch can move the support back three quarters of an inch, greatly reducing the leverage trying to bend the hoof back when it lands. The heels are not trimmed to the same length; they are trimmed so a line drawn between the heels would be parallel with a line drawn between the heel bulbs.

    Next Bergy finds the point of maximum force on the hoof. This corresponds to where the center of the bone column would exit the hoof if it were extended downward. It can be found by measuring from the heel bulb line, a line from the back of the heel bulbs perpendicular to the bottom of the hoof, to the apex of the frog. Divide the measurement by three. Measure that one third distance back from the apex of the frog. This is the point about which the base of support needs to be balanced. Since this point is two of the one-third distances in front of the heel bulb line, the same two one-third distances are measured forward to determine how far back to trim the toe. This balances the base of support about the point of maximum force.

    The bottom of the foot is then made to be perpendicular to the horseís direction of travel. This is checked by moving the hoof through its range of motion, if it is done statically the joints may be side-loaded which will cause problems in the horse.

    Lastly Bergy files the hoof wall to form a symmetrical conical shape. This is the shape of the coffin bone inside the foot. By forming the foot to this shape forces are transferred uniformly through the hoof wall resulting in better growth.

    The shoes Bergy uses are unique too. He cuts a notch out of the toe to allow the shoe to flex with the hoof. He found the traditional way of fixing a shoe to the front half of the hoof and allowing the rear half of the hoof to slide on the shoe often resulted in the heels collapsing in, not the hoof flexing out as it should. By having the shoe flex with the hoof the proper dynamic maintained, resulting in a much healthier hoof wall.

    Since meeting Bergy I have had all of my Foxtrotters trimmed this way. Without exception every one of their gaits improved. They have more reach, better collection, and a smoother ride. It is amazing what our horses can do if we donít get in their way. When they donít have to protect themselves from what we have done, they are free to do their best.

    To learn more about Bergyís method of shoeing you can contact:

HoofTalk, Inc.

P.O. Box 1685
Mead, WA 99021

(800) 826-2651 or (509) 467-3455

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Last modified: 25 OCT 2010