measurements and what good are they?
The most common hoof measurements are toe
lengths and the hoof angles. If your farrier is not able to
give you hoof lengths and angle measurements, then it will
be up to you to gather this information.
So, the farrier comes out and trims your
horse but for whatever reason, is unable to give you lengths
or angles . I wouldn't worry about it if the horse is sound
after the trim. There are any number of methods being used
to trim horses and all that really matters is that your
horse is sound and traveling right. However, what happens if
this farrier moves, is injured, retires or if you move or
decide to use another farrier. How do you tell a new farrier
how to trim your horse? If you changed farriers because you
were not satisfied with the old farrier, wouldn't it be
helpful to the new farrier if he knew how your horse was
being set up so he or she could avoid making the same
If your horse was sound but the farrier
wasn't, then being able to tell the new farrier exactly how
to set up your horse so it remains sound will make the job
easier on you, the farrier and most of all, your horse.
You will want to take your measurements
as soon after the horse has been trimmed as possible because
this information will let you know if your horse has been
trimmed too short, too long or out of balance.
Lengths are easily measured with a small
retractable tape measure that can be purchased at most
hardware and department stores.
Hoof angles are commonly determined using
a Hoof Gauge. Don't worry if
you don't have one of these. The primary function of a Hoof
Gauge is to provide the farrier with an easy way to trim
matching pairs of hooves (Fronts & Hinds) to identical
You are not trying to do this. All you
want to have is a way of telling if the hooves of your horse
match, are being trimmed the same way each and every time,
in addition to having a way to show a new farrier exactly
how you want your horse set up. It is also nice to have a
record of what changes may have been tried on your way to
getting your horse set up correctly.
Back to the measurements. In order to
take hoof measurements, you will have to get very close to
your horse's feet. This can be extremely
hazardous to your health. Only proceed if you are
comfortable handling your horse's feet and if the horse is
comfortable in allowing you to do so. Never
stand directly in front of or behind a horse's foot. Always
stand off to the side ... out of the way.
The toe length is measured at the center
of the front of the hoof from the bottom of the hoof up to
the coronary band ... coronet ... or simply to the point
where the hoof wall ends and goes from hard to soft. The
important thing here is to pick a spot at the top of the
hoof that you can find on each foot. Consistency is more
important than anything else.
There is no magic length that works for
every horse, but as a general rule, fronts should match and
hinds should match. There are always exceptions and if you
find a discrepancy, ask your farrier to explain it to you.
If you have a hoof gauge, then once
again, both fronts should match as should the hinds.
Accuracy with a hoof gauge depends upon the user holding the
gauge and applying the same amount of pressure while taking
the readings in order to provide consistently accurate
No hoof gauge ... not to worry. Instead
of recording hoof angles you can take a few simple
measurements at the heel of the hoof that will serve your
purpose. Once again you have to pick a spot on the heels of
the hoof (inside and outside) that you can locate
consistently. Then measure from your spot at the top of the
heel straight down to the ground.
Now you have a set of measurements that
will let you know exactly how the horse's hooves are
trimmed. Taken immediately after a trim, it quickly becomes
obvious if something is out of order.
Most farriers are overjoyed when a horse
owner shows an interest in expanding their knowledge of
their horse's hoof care program. These few simple
measurements go a long way in helping you provide quality
hoof care for your horse.