So as a home school kid, I take crappy notes. I will admit to that. So this last week at the Robert Dover clinic I resorted to the modern alternative; video! I got home and after settling in I started watching over and over the videos that I took (and mom on the last days when my phone and Ipad got full).I've always had some shoeing questions so I wanted to start with Don Later's talk.First, I have to say that the thing that sticks with me the most is when he told us all to take off our shoes and exchange with the person next to us. Then when we had on someone else's shoes that didn’t fit, he asked how it might affect our movement? This was a bit of an “AHA” moment for me. Anyway, I came out of the hour more aware of the total dependence we have as dressage riders on the quality and strategy of our farriers.So here are some of the things that really stood out to me during the live and video version. Me. Kater said that “roll toed shoes let a horse break over what are called stress points.” He said to look down at our own feet. We mostly had on tennis shoes. In the front of our shoes we have the rubber sole up higher and rolled at the end of the shoe. This is so that when we walk forward as the foot rolls up it gives more support in motion. This is like a roll tied horse show. This isn’t on our casual walking shoes much but on our sport shoes. Why? The motion change makes the roll necessary for more support. He said that if a horse was left barefoot and subject to wear and tear they would get worn on the roll of the front feet and their back feet would get very square. That is the natural wear of their feet in the wild. But he reminded us that we change the habits of our horses. Their natural state in the wild is to graze about 20 hours a day. This is just walking small distances with occasional speed over natural terrain. We move our horses inside, often limit grazing, and put them on different surfaces. All of these factors changes the use and wear of their feet.
We discussed other types of shoes like egg bar shoes which look a bit like an egg and actually go all the way around the foot. He said these were in vogue about 10-20 years ago. They are still used for horses with injuries that need extra heel support but over all they are not used much. They add much weight on performance horses' feet.
Mr. Later explained that every time your horse’s foot hits the ground the motion creates the frog to expand and contract. He had us put our hands up to our chests and our elbows out like we were about to do the chicken dance. He then had us expand and contract our “frog like” arms to demonstrate the motion that occurs in our horses' feet. Then we moved our elbows into our stomachs and tried to do the same thing with restricted motion. It was hard and we didn’t get the same motion. He didn’t talk about it but I assume that would also restrict blood flow too. The point was that shoes that restrict the movement of the frog were not optimal. So egg bar shoes he said restricted the motion of the frog.Someone asked about thrush. He noted this is the most over treated and under treated foot problem. When it isn’t present it gets treated and often when it is; it doesn’t! The easiest way to tell if your horse has thrush he said was to take your finger and rub it around the frog; then sniff your finger. If it stinks your horse likely has thrush.Another question led him to say that owner’s and riders need to understand the best thing a farrier can do is keep your horse sound and moving healthfully. A properly shoed horse is done the same way regardless of breed or discipline. Like our experiment with changing shoes, they need to fit and be made for the activity. In the end they need to fit well. Farriers can’t make a five mover a ten mover. Then can keep a ten mover a ten mover. They can also make a ten mover a five if shoes are done improperly! When he said that is when I started getting nervous.He prefers to hot shoe and builds his own shoes in order to have a better shape. Also he said that no matter how hard you try to make the foot flat, and the shoe flat when you put them together there are pressure points, dips etc. So when you hot shoe it molds those areas. He did warn that it should be done gently. If the whole barn aisle is full of smoke and the smell of burning flesh fills the air; it is too much.Someone asked about types of materials used for shoes. He said steel is by far the most common and most often the best. Aluminum is often used on race horses as they are lighter. Because a race horse is running all out and putting so much stress on his legs, the less weight the better as it puts less stress on his feet. Aluminum shoes would not be good on dressage horses because their stress patterns are different, they need more weight to protect the feet. Titanium is an expensive light alternative but they can’t be reshaped as it cracks. There are lots of new plastic products coming out. He said he was taking a wait and see attitude about those.Another warning, do not have your farrier go digging around deep for an abscess in the frog. His advice was to let it come out. This takes only a few days. Digging deep often can set a horse off for a week or longer.He said always research your farriers, always be there if you can to watch what is being done. Both the farrier and client need to respect each other, be on time and have a good working environment for the job to get safely done. If your appoint is for ten, don’t give him a bath at 9:50and then he is wet when the farrier comes! His final advice, “if your horse is sound, he is happy, his shoes stay on, he is moving well then DON’T CHANGE anything.”