Shoeing

I hope that all the shoeing I do is for a reason & not just for the sake of a human perception that the horse needs it regardless. Like many other farriers I continually question if the particular shoe I apply on the day is actually serving the horse to its best advantage. The horses hoof is dynamic, its function its health and its durability linked as an individual to its own unique owner: the horse. Dr Robert Bowker calls shoes 'peripheral loading devices' basically transferring the entire weight of the horses body onto one compressive narrow band of horn allowing the centre of the hoof to push through the shoes middle.
Certainly during my apprenticeship, horses which hunted regularly through the season would have their shoes pulled off for the summer while they had a rest period.  I have never been evangelical about 'Bare Foot' nor made any sudden decisions about a career in this direction.  Rather, it was a steady dawning on me that actually, many of the horse's feet which were not shod quite simply looked healthier.
This hoof on the right with its growth rings, its outer wall breakdown and its coronary band distortion does not need shoeing, it needs its owner to re-gain its health. Which in turn will allow the hoof to recover.
Metal shoes have been around literally for centuries, not that  long after humans took the horse from its own environment, it  became apparent that our demands were often beyond that of  the horse in terms of life style and the wear and tear placed  upon it. Our challenge as farriers is to come up with something which  will allow the horse to function on a daily basis, to preserve its  movement and perceived soundness at an every day end price. Its my opinion that it cannot be done! Steel shoes are widely used, myself included because they are  cheap and tick enough boxes to make them too useful to  discard.
All shoeing is a compromise, it is hopefully used to enable movement in circumstances where an un-shod hoof is not robust enough to cope. Which in turn enables that oh so crucial movement to take place, contributing to health. And just as some humans rely on some form of painkiller so many horses rely on shoes in the same way. There can be little doubt that this modern trend for horses to be shod in steel shoes 365 days per year without a break is a disaster. Right I really do sound anti-shoes now! (But I'm not.  HONEST!) :-)
The Pedal bone is at the base of the skeleton along with  the Navicular bone and short pastern.  Whatever shoe is  applied it needs to have some relationship as to shape  and position on the outer hoof. Photo Courtesy of Paige Poss (www.IronFreeHoof.com)
The black arrow in this X-ray shows where the “ball of the foot” is for this hoof. This is where the horse will roll or begin its break-over during lift off. If the shoe is applied too far forward of this area it can begin to create a leverage effect which in turn causes a counter leaver throughout the rest of the horses body. Working within the boundaries of every day life, I attempt to make what I have, work as well as I can (no different from any farrier I personally know).
I am not a certified Natural Balance farrier but the two pictures above are a fair representation of the way I was shoeing a non complicated application up until recently. Unless the horse due to pain in the back of its foot, needs to use its toe for landing rather than the back third of its foot as in a healthy horse. Bringing the break over of the shoe as close as possible to where the horse would naturally wear it to me seems an obvious thing to do.
The shoe in the picture above shows more my current thinking. It is still placed back under the foot allowing for smooth forward motion, but is shaped more traditionally. The toe is rounded off then as the hoof grows through the shoeing cycle, the horse is able to maintain its own breakover more efficiently as in the picture below:

Shoeing

I hope that all the shoeing I do is for a reason & not just for the sake of a human perception that the horse needs it regardless. Like many other farriers I continually question if the particular shoe I apply on the day is actually serving the horse to its best advantage. The horses hoof is dynamic, its function its health and its durability linked as an individual to its own unique owner: the horse. Dr Robert Bowker calls shoes 'peripheral loading devices' basically transferring the entire weight of the horses body onto one compressive narrow band of horn allowing the centre of the hoof to push through the shoes middle.
Certainly during my apprenticeship, horses which hunted regularly through the season would have their shoes pulled off for the summer while they had a rest period.  I have never been evangelical about 'Bare Foot' nor made any sudden decisions about a career in this direction.  Rather, it was a steady dawning on me that actually, many of the horse's feet which were not shod quite simply looked healthier.
This hoof above with its growth rings, its outer wall breakdown and its coronary band distortion does not need shoeing, it needs its owner to re-gain its health. Which in turn will allow the hoof to recover.
Metal shoes have been around literally for centuries, not that  long after humans took the horse from its own environment, it  became apparent that our demands were often beyond that of  the horse in terms of life style and the wear and tear placed  upon it. Our challenge as farriers is to come up with something which  will allow the horse to function on a daily basis, to preserve its  movement and perceived soundness at an every day end price. Its my opinion that it cannot be done! Steel shoes are widely used, myself included because they are  cheap and tick enough boxes to make them too useful to  discard.
All shoeing is a compromise, it is hopefully used to enable movement in circumstances where an un- shod hoof is not robust enough to cope. Which in turn enables that oh so crucial movement to take place, contributing to health. And just as some humans rely on some form of painkiller so many horses rely on shoes in the same way. There can be little doubt that this modern trend for horses to be shod in steel shoes 365 days per year without a break is a disaster. Right I really do sound anti-shoes now! (But I'm not.  HONEST!) :-)
The Pedal bone is at the base of the skeleton along with  the Navicular bone and short pastern.  Whatever shoe is  applied it needs to have some relationship as to shape  and position on the outer hoof. Photo Courtesy of Paige Poss (www.IronFreeHoof.com)
The black arrow in this X-ray shows where the “ball of the foot” is for this hoof. This is where the horse will roll or begin its break-over during lift off. If the shoe is applied too far forward of this area it can begin to create a leverage effect which in turn causes a counter leaver throughout the rest of the horses body. Working within the boundaries of every day life, I attempt to make what I have, work as well as I can (no different from any farrier I personally know).
I am not a certified Natural Balance farrier but the two pictures above are a fair representation of the way I was shoeing a non complicated application up until recently. Unless the horse due to pain in the back of its foot, needs to use its toe for landing rather than the back third of its foot as in a healthy horse. Bringing the break over of the shoe as close as possible to where the horse would naturally wear it to me seems an obvious thing to do.
The shoe in the picture above shows more my current thinking. It is still placed back under the foot allowing for smooth forward motion, but is shaped more traditionally. The toe is rounded off then as the hoof grows through the shoeing cycle, the horse is able to maintain its own breakover more efficiently as in the picture below:
MARK JOHNSON FARRIER
MARK JOHNSON FARRIER