When we look at long hoof walls, we have to look at the opposite foot as well (left to right – fronts or hinds) or all four feet. What I mean is that the long hoof walls could exist only on the left or right foot…as is the case with a club foot.
Or the horse could have “Steep Foot/Shallow Foot” which means (in the pic below) the right front is high (Steep) and the left front is low (Shallow) or vice versa.
Here is a picture to demonstrate it:
Why is this important to be aware of – especially before you begin your trim?
Well, let’s say both the two fronts or both the two hinds (or all four) are equally too long (let’s make it crazy so you understand, and say 2″ for the sake of a big example, so 2″ extra hoof wall standing out from the sole). Then, by taking the 2 inches off the fronts or backs or all four feet, we are effectively only dropping the whole horse 2 inches closer to the ground.
We did not change the angles of the hoof to the pastern or how the horse stands or walks…we just made it 2 inches easier for you to reach the stirrup!
However, staying with the picture above, if let’s say the right front is 2 inches long, but the left front is right at sole level, can you now see that if we remove the 2 inches form the right front, we will change the whole way the horse’s body will react to that change?
Well, I hear you say, isn’t that good? Do we not want the walls on all the feet the same length below the sole ?
The answer is yes, BUT!… sometimes the horse has had an injury (as an example) and has to hold his one shoulder higher, so the hoof has grown out long like that to accommodate the injury and thereby keeping the horse comfortable.
If you really, really feel you need to change that one foot that’s longer than the opposite (because you can’t stand the look of it or the Chiro says it’ll be better for your horse), please do so very little at a time over a long period of time to allow the horse’s body to adjust to this new way of carrying himself, else you will cause the horse major discomfort or pain….let alone change how he’s going, etc.
Ok, here’s the above picture of the same Steep Foot/Shallow Foot (right/left) horse without the mark up….do you see it now?
Now that I have pointed out what you need to be looking for and aware of, it stands to reason if both fronts or both hinds or all four feet are as long as in the picture below, then you can take equal amounts from both fronts or both hinds or all four (you cannot take on both rights or both lefts!!!)
Underneath is an example of a hoof that is too long vertically:
It is worth noting that I exaggerated for this example (using 2″) but that often all four can be a 1/2″ long which one can remove in one go.
I would typically look for the foot with the shortest hoof wall, bring it to the height I want (taking note of how much I take off) and then take off similar amounts from the other foot/feet. If the difference isn’t much, I could just correct all four or both fronts or both hinds, but each horse is different and often even two feet are different as you now know.
Ok, for the sake of this site and your learning, I’ll assume we have brought the long hoof walls to just off the sole level on all four feet and we are ready to go check for flaring!