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Mission Farrier School  Horseshoeing School     
mission farrier school

Fall 2000

Fall 2000



Tonka  -  17 year old Paint Gelding.  We first met Tonka in the fall of 2000.  Tonka was presented with a convex sole (coffin bones sinking through the bottom of his feet), and his hoof wall growing nearly horizontally from the coronary band, with excessive length of toe as can be seen in this radiograph. He had no depth to the back of his foot and his heel bulbs were flat on the ground.  He was a grade 5 lameness, reluctant to move and lame at the walk. The tack shown in this radiograph is used to mark the frog apex.



Fall 2006


Due to it�s low angel of growth, Tonka�s toe distorts easily.  However, unlike other horses that suffer from distortion of the toe, Tonka suffers even more from the distortion of his heel region, due to a deficient digital cushion.  These kinds of feet are the result of poor genetic management that has reached epidemic proportions in Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosa�s. 


For Tonka, every effort was made to artificially reinforce the back of the foot, while minimizing distortion of the toe, and minimizing tension on the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon. 


During the past 3 years, we have shod him in reverse shoes and bar wedges, to take the pull completely off the toe, and while that worked well for a year, he began to sink through the bar wedge. The red in this picture is hoof packing called Magic Cushion. It is not blood.

We then supported him in a multi-purpose plate and a steel Natural Balance Shoe with steel rails welded on the ground surface to ease tendon tension.  Steel cuffs are welded on the shoe that then allows us to glue this package on to keep the damage to the hoof wall minimal. 

Currently he is wearing a Natural Balance shoe with a #4 wedge pad, and it is the best his feet have ever been.  We should note however, that once again it was the use of the reverse shoe that stabelized the heel region by eliminating the ground force pull at the toe. 

We have worked on Tonka for 5 years and have arrived at this combination of accessories through much trial and error and have accepted the fact that he will be dependent upon a therapeutic support system for the rest of his life.  Tonka�s feet will never �heal�, but they can be managed with consistant care and the right shoeing package each time he is shod.

 Tonka has lived with us for the last 4 years and our daughter Laura Liberty, has shown him successfully in Snohomish County 4H, consistently placing in the top ribbons in both Huntseat and Stockseat.  Laura has passed Tonka on to 9 year old Lizbeth Vasquez as she begins her 4H journey. 


Tonka is very sound as long as he is shod appropriately, but he is very lame if he pulls a shoe.  Tonka needs all the right ingredients every time he is shod, and Natural Balance farrier science provides those ingredients.  It�s not about a shoe, it is about understanding healthy foot function and proper hoof preparation, then choosing the appropriate shoe or support package to meet the particular needs of that foot.  Natural Balance shoes and EDSS systems are a great tool, just like the right pair of nippers or clinchers, that allow us to get the best job done for the horse. 

Tonka was euthanized in 2010 after a long and successful show career, with careful and deliberate management of his genetically poor quality feet.



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