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Equine Postural Balance

What modern-day farriering should be all about

Biology Never Lies – It is Us that Misread or Gets It Wrong.

Comprehend the biology and science of the equine's biological movement and use your findings to guide you through the trimming and shoeing strategies you want to apply in the clinical environment; this is what modern-day farrering should be all about.

As we learn more from the scienced-based studies on the different biological systems of the equine and our skills as farriers, veterinarians, and horse owners grow with this newfound knowledge, we still, however, have to be able to appreciate the functions and mechanisms at work in the living equine. Our aim should always be to return dysfunctional structures to functional structures and improve the animal's quality of life. By understanding the biology of the individual animal and being aware of the principles of the pathological markers throughout the horse, we can then comprehend and appreciate what we see in the animal presented to us for treatment.

Traditional research into the functionality of equine trimming or shoeing has primarily been undertaken in isolation from the interrelationship between the horse's upper body and the equine foot micro-pathology and the dysfunctional loading on the distal structures as tendons, ligaments, blood and nerve supplies to and from the foot and including a dysfunctional loading of the distal skeletal joints. Here lies the strength in understanding orthopaedic balance and biomechanical medicine that truly leads us to understand their equine body's biological engineering status.

Orthopaedic balance, or should we be considering loading the animal's entire body onto its distal joints and hoof capsule? Optimal loading of the animal's distal limbs enables the body's different biological systems to remain flexible and, in turn, facilitates the mobility of other joints. Correct mobility of the joints equates with stability of the entire animal. Optimal locomotion equates to flexibility – mobility – and stability of the whole living animal.

My ongoing questioning of equine foot balance and so-called break-over has taken me on an advanced journey of studying the biomechanical medicine of farriering in the 21st century. My awareness and interest in exploring the neurological relationship between the distal limb anatomy, morphology and pathology have allowed me to comprehend the complex orthopaedic stance and biological engineering aspects of the horse and its influence on the horse's ability to have a quality of life.

I have published two books to date, and a third is planned for the end of 2025, to hopefully help the equine community understand the modern philosophy of trimming or shoeing the equine foot and being aware of the animal's behavioural traits experiencing pain and dysfunctional biological loading of their bodies. These three books will help you first acknowledge the complexities of the different biological systems you work with while carrying out farriering on the horses. We must also interpret and include the unique individual responses we observe and learn to appreciate our interaction's consequences on the entire animal and its quality of life.

The twenty-first-century farrier must fully comprehend these biological and pathological markers and include them in their clinical working environment, as when they are called to an animal with hoof issues. If we understand loading the distal limb on the palmar aspect of the hoof will change the external hoof capsule you are working with, then you can comprehend the orthopaedic loading of that animal. Therefore, as farriers and veterinarians, we need to acknowledge the biological and biomechanical loading forces on the distal interphalangeal joint, which carries most of the animal's weight; as a result, its articulation and alignment are extremely important to the functional integrity of the equine foot and their upper bodies.

Therefore, over the next few of my blogs, let's explore the articulation of the distal limb and hoof while hypothesising on maintaining the equine distal limb's natural pastern axis and break-over and see if we can advance our knowledge and skill to improve the orthopaedic balance of the equine in our clinical environment.

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