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What Kind of View Do You Have
Natural Angle, Volume 9 Issue 1 · by Dave Farley, CF APF

One of the steps to getting a good trim is often overlooked. If you don’t have a good view of the balance of the bottom of the foot it is difficult to get the best trim. How you hold the leg affects the view of the foot, sometimes dramatically changing the perception you end up with.

Many farriers have found that holding the leg in its most natural position is the best way to get a true picture of the balance. This applies to front or hind. Take a look at the pictures. Try holding the leg in the various positions. You may be surprised at the differences in what you might have done with the foot trim based on how you see the hoof in these positions.

If you hold the front foot similar to photos 1 and 2 you are very likely getting a distorted view. Your hand, especially the thumb pressure, will push the hoof capsule in one direction or another. Holding the leg out from the body, as in photos 3, 4, and 5 will also create a distorted view.

Try holding the leg by the cannon bone and staying in line with the body. The hoof may be under the horse and you will have to crouch to get the view but it gives you the most accurate view of how the hoof aligns with the cannon bone and gives you a much better starting point for your trim. See photos 6, 7 and 8.

The hind view is similarly affected by not allowing the limb to hang as freely and near its natural position as possible. Pushing the leg out of position with your inside knee will make it difficult to see the true alignment of the hoof capsule to the leg. This is evident in photo 9.

Hold the leg under the hock joint and keep the cannon bone perpendicular to the ground as it is shown in photos 10 & 11. If the cannon bone is pulled forward or pushed back as it is in photos 12 & 13 it will distort your view - particularly of the toe and heel length.

Your trim should always be done with the alignment of the hoof capsule to the leg in mind. Hopefully these tips will help you to improve the view and the trim.