No hoof, no horse. There is lots of truth to that statement and even more conflicting and compelling information available. A Modern Look at ... THE HOOF: Morphology ~ Measurement ~ Trimming ~ Shoeing by Monique Craig was published in December 2014 and is packed with all her incredible research and experience. Ms. Craig founded the Epona-Institute where she has conducted lots of scientific research dedicated to equine biomechanics and hoof health. Through her Epona-Institute she has developed a composite horseshoe product line and shoeing method called the Epona Shoe. It's a healthy alternative to traditional metal shoes. After all, metal horseshoes are a technology that is over a thousand years old and amazingly their basic concept hasn't changed much even though our understanding of hoof anatomy and equine biology has drastically increased. Read more about the side effects of metal shoes here in this great article by Inside-Out Hoofcare.
Ms. Craig's book is the perfect place to start your hoof education, or even (like we did) use it to further research on lameness issues. While heavy in medical lexicon for the average equestrian -- mostly because Ms. Craig covers correct bone morphology and biomechanics -- it is still very understandable. Besides, shouldn't we be referring to bones and anatomy correctly? We will give fair warning that if you're squeamish about cadaver pictures, beware, there are a fair amount of exposed hooves in this book, but not gruesome!
Ms. Craig explains that often when you experience a horse that's off, or a gait that is off, it tends to be caused more often by physical weakness and asymmetry which should be taken care of by proper training and not shoeing gimmicks. Which is why she doesn't necessarily recommend trimming and shoeing based on the horse's way of going but more on the horse's own hoof structure and how they're put together. "The 'good' footed horse is an ideal which is nice to strive toward but not something to be forced. In reality, very few horses have perfect hooves, perfect limbs, and perfect confirmation." Ms. Craig believes it is more a matter of maintaining "optimal health and function as each horse and situation is so unique." Her book breaks it all down so that you can see why paying attention to how your horse is trimmed and/or shod is so vitally important to their overall soundness.
So if you have a lameness issue that you (or even your vet) just aren't sure about, or want to find a healthier shoeing alternative, this book is a worth while read that provides a fresh new perspective backed by well done research. Educate yourself further on lameness issues that can arise and possible avenues for a sound resolution as Ms. Craig provides case studies and lots of examples of measurements and how to adapt shoeing methods. A must have book for any equestrian library!
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