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Farriery: The Whole Horse Concept

The enigmas of hoof balance made clear, by David W Gill; Nottingham University Press. Hardcover, 142pp. RRP £40. ISBN 10: 1-904761-55-0.

December 13, 2007

These days theories on how horses' hooves should be managed abound. Many systems have a catchy name, and offer courses of study for practitioners, and along the way often cast doubt on the work of the traditional farrier.

The background to this book laments the failure of farriery to develop at the same pace as other crafts: "It has been the lack of understanding between those who practice the craft, those who pay for the work, and those who sit in judgement". David Gill believes that with a different relationship between the parties, advances in farriery would have been continuous, with technical refinements and a greater understanding of biomechanics and scientific research over the years.

Gill says we must redefine what is understood as natural, and what is within the parameters of acceptable.

The author has taken a patchwork of veterinary and scientific studies on equine structure, from various world authorities, dissected them and woven together the results to show how virtually everything impacts on the movement and balance of the horse, and thus the balance of its hooves. "Understanding not only how the hoof is structurally formed but also how that structure can be deformed is a phenomenon of which we all as guardians of the horse should have some perception," he says.

There is no shortage of detailed colour illustrations and colour photographs accompanying the text.

If you are a student of hoof care or a horse owner who wants to know more about what is going on with your horse's feet, you'll find a wealth of information on everything related to the topic. As well as the chapters on anatomy and overall hoof balance, there are also in-depth chapters on
From chapter 4 - Anterioposterior Balance:

Low/weak heels are exacerbated by shoes that are too short. The caudal aspect of the hoof can become so excessively loaded that the pedal bone will assume a more acute angle.

The chapter on odd feet is interesting. One study suggests that more than half of all horses have mismatched feet - challenging what is considered "normal" in the horse and the management (corrective trimming) of such hooves.

Adult horses spend about two-thirds of their day eating, and how the grazing stance affects its hooves is a subject that has been given little attention to date.

As is handedness: some studies have shown that 50 percent of horses tend to be "right-sided", 40 percent showed a bias to the left, and 10 percent were either indeterminable or ambidextrous.

Whether or not you do your own hoof work, or intend to have your horse shod, this book will enable you to learn more about the art of hoof care and the mechanics involved.

This is an excellent volume which is bound to become a standard, not only for horse owners, but for farriers and veterinarians as well. It will certainly benefit the horse.



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