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Mission Farrier School  Horseshoeing School     
mission farrier school

this photograph was taken in May 2002, 10 months after Steve came to live with us.





Steve McQueen  - 13 year old American Saddlebred gelding.

Stevie came to live with us in September of 2001. He was very well loved by his owner who knew he needed more in the way of hoof care, than what was being offered to him. He presented a AAEP level 2 lameness at the walk, and level 4 at the trot and canter. Steve had a history of moderate to acute lamenesses for the previous 6 years. He had been on stall rest for much of that time. He had a history of atrophied and bleeding frogs with on and off acute abscessing. 


Steve came to us wearing egg bars. His frogs were non functional, with severely contracted heels. His hoof length was 6.25 inches, and when we removed his shoes, his feet measured a 33 degree hoof angle.

�Steve had a severely broken back hoof pastern access and his hoof wall grew forward almost horizontally out of the coronary band.�

The frog had zero contact with the egg bar shoe. His heels were run forward to what should have been the widest part of his foot. He was well shod in a traditional sense, the previous farriers recognizing that the foot needed to be shorter, but limited by the lack of sole depth. 









We began with a Natural Balance trim to his sole plane, and that brought the heels back to the frog buttress. Steve was initially shod with a 3 degree wedge pad and Aluminum Natural Balance shoes, set back to achieve appropriate breakover. Then we nippered off the excessive dead toe, undercut the rest with a rasp and top dressed the foot back.



This shoe is set around the parameters of the coffin bone, not the severely distorted hoof capsule. This is an extreme case where bars, sole and frog were all being affected by distortion.




We had to continue to bring the heels back to the frog buttress, and diligently set our shoe back to achieve optimum break over, and removed even more excess, distorted toe. 




This is not an attractive foot by most people�s standards, however once the 3 inch lever was removed off the front of the toe, it began to function in a more normal manner.  Horses don�t get this degree of distortion overnight.  Likewise, heeling is a process that takes time.  Steve�s heeling began once we dealt with the severe distortion at the toe. This picture is far from the final outcome, but you cannot even get on the path to healing until you deal with the distortion.

As you can see from this radiograph, Steve has a negative palmar angle coffin bone and a severely broken back hoof pastern access and was walking on his navicular bone.  Despite those challenges, he started to improve once we delt with the distortion, and eliminated the lever from out in front of the coffin bone.

Further gains were made by grooving the dorsal wall below the coronary band and adding a wedged shoe, to improve hoof-pastern axis, still following Natural Balance parameters.  These pictures were taken in the Summer of 2003.

The use of wedges on horses that have poor hoof pastern alignment, isn�t always the right approach.  How  much wedge a horse can tolerate can only be decided by watching the horse move and see how he accepts the amount of wedging that you are offering.  Once again, every horse is different.

Our daughter Laura, took Steve back into the Pacific Northwest Saddlebred �A� circuit Show Ring.  Laura and Steve ended the year with 2 championships in Western Pleasure in the Snohomish County 4H division, and also the Jr. Exhibitor Highpoint in Western Pleasure on the Saddlebred A Circuit

Steve needed all the right ingredients each and every time he was shod in order to stay sound. Today's modern farrier science, focused on the center of articulation of the coffin joint provided those ingredients. We should point out that it is not about a "look". We don't care that a domestic foot "looks" or "doesn't look" like a wild-horse foot. Our attempt is to get a domestic foot to "Function" more like a wild-horse foot, i.e. wide healthy heel bulbs, thick healthy frog and digital cushion, leading to optimum blood flow, leading to a healthy back of the foot (navicular region), maximum sole density underneath the coffin bone, happy deep digital flexor tendon, getting the leverage off of the front of the limb providing equilibrium around the coffin joint (center of articulation), minimal distortion, etc. Natural Balance farrier science is simply looking to mother nature to determine what's different in our domestic horses.. 


Gene Ovnicek�s wild horse studies have taught us that Natural Balance is not just a way of shoeing, it�s about understanding healthy foot function, and providing the appropriate support package that helps each horse achieve this, for every shoeing. Sometimes that�s an EDSS system, sometimes a NBS shoe, sometimes a Reverse shoe, or Double Nail Pad system, or a squared toe Eventer. I look forward to the day, that what we currently label as �Natural Balance� is someday just simply referred to as good horseshoeing. Labels create division, and unfortunately that division comes at the horse�s expense. 

17028 Trombley Rd.,
Snohomish, WA  98290
Phone: 425 890-3043
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