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Tuesday December 7, 2021

If The Shoe Fits #11

Written by Randy Sublett
Category: Essays For Horse Owners
Hits: 5401

Well, let's lighten up a bit here. Up to now, I have been discussing a lot of anatomy and some diseases or injuries of the lower leg. So let's get into some lighter material. The most common type of "corrective shoeing" that a farrier does is in the form of correcting gait faults. Gait faults are just that: a fault in the way the horse travels. However, the terminology for these faults varies widely in different areas of the country or even areas of states. So I am here to set the record straight and give you the definitions of the most commonly encountered gait faults. As I have stated in previous columns, correct terminology is important.

The most common gait fault is forging. Many call this hitting or clicking; however, the correct term is forging. Forging occurs when the toes of the hind feet strike the bottoms of the front feet in flight. Forging usually occurs laterally (on the same side), but can sometimes occur diagonally. Forging rarely happens in barefoot horses.

Over reaching. Over reaching occurs when the toes of the hind feet overtake and strike the rear of the front feet or legs in flight. This is different from forging because the hind toes are not hitting the bottom of the front feet.

Stumbling. Stumbling occurs when the horse fails to complete what is called the anterior phase of the stride. This is the portion of the stride in which the leg and foot is traveling forward. The toe of the foot strikes the ground when the knee is still bent and collapses as the weight of the animal passes over the supporting foot.

Brushing. Brushing is usually confined to the front limbs and is defined as when the hoof of one foot barely touches the inside of the opposite limb, usually around the pastern area.

Interfering. Interfering is a more serious form of brushing - the foot actually hits the opposite leg.

Scalping. Scalping is when the toe of the front foot hits the hind foot at or near the top of the hoof wall. Severe scalping is also called speedy cutting; however, the strike zone, so to speak, is higher up on the leg or on the inside of the hind hoof wall. Speedy cutting is also a term used for over reaching when the strike zone is up around the fetlock.

Cross firing. Cross firing is when the hind limb strikes the opposite fore limb, usually low on the hoof wall.

Knee hitting. This gait fault is usually limited to the fore limbs and occurs when one foot hits the opposite leg at the knee joint.

Last but not least is elbow hitting. This can only happen in the front limbs and occurs when the bottom of the foot strikes the elbow of the same leg. This one is difficult for the animal to do, but I've seen it done.

Gait faults are just a little hitch in your horse's "get along," and are, for the most part, not disastrous. They can usually be corrected by a competent farrier with relative ease; however, beware of the untrained "I'm an expert farrier." I have seen these people try to nail on everything, including the anvil, to a horse's foot, and still not correct the problem. In the next few articles, I will discuss each gait fault and how it can be corrected.


(Randy, a practicing farrier, writes articles oriented to horse owners.)

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