Make your own free website on

An introduction to the effects and consequences of unbalanced hooves

Do All Horses Need Rebalancing?
Many farriers and vets argue against this rebalancing on the grounds that we shouldn’t interfere with what nature has given the horse, that changing a mature horse’s hoof angles will cause lameness. Certainly, you don't want to make "corrective" changes to an older horse, but restoring to the horse the hoof balance he was born with, but that at some point, and for whatever reason, he lost, is not only okay but highly desirable. This kind of therapeutic shoeing actually reduces stress to joints, and while it can’t reverse damage to joints, it can help prevent further damage.

Many people will say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Good advice ? Well, it's a little like saying you don't need to change the oil in your car until the engine acts up. What about preventive measures? What about those horses who are unbalanced but who have higher tolerance levels? Many of them appear sound but are labelled—to varying degrees—resistant, stiff, aggressive, stubborn, or as having some attitude problem. These horses also need help. Some horses that do not appear to be negatively affected at all may well be compensating in a way that will affect them later in their training. It would be tempting to say that there's nothing wrong with these horses, but what about the behavioural aspects, or the long term effects?

That is not to say that all horses have unbalanced hooves. Many of them don’t, and many others have conformational defects that cannot be changed. For example, a horse with the cannon offset to the outside below the knee, will never swing that leg in a straight line.

And not all horses need the degree of change in their hoof balance that Cimarron did, but many horses can benefit from a little extra help. Another article outlines how to measure your horse’s feet so you can begin to recognize for yourself whether or not your horse’s feet are balanced adequately. It is not possible to outline everything your horse might need in the space of these newsletters, but it will put you on the road to understanding your horse's feet better.

Did rebalancing Cimarron's feet at his age harm him? Absolutely not. Since his feet were restored to more correct balance he has experienced fewer soundness problems than at any time I’ve owned him. His posture and carriage improved, and the muscle soreness that plagued him in the past became a distant memory. My riding sessions with him were pure enjoyment, and we reached a level of harmony that most horseowners truly only dream about.

Many farriers warned me that I would cripple Cimarron if I messed with his hoof balance when he was already past his mid-teens, but on the contrary, it was the best, kindest thing I could have done for him.

Cimarron is now retired following loss of vision in one eye, followed by a severe, traumatic accident, and now suffers from early Cushings symptoms but he continues to be active and amazingly healthy otherwise.

Return to previous sectionGo to Hoof Measurement article

Email :

| Home | Lusitanos | Equine Biomechanics & Riding Theory |
Holistic Animal Health | Equine Portraits & Custom Graphics |

Last updated October 17, 2003

All rights reserved