Hello, my name is Don Dressel and welcome to EquineAir. Beginning as a 4 year old with grandmom as my guide to the equine racing world, I learned early on to be a keen observer of horses. I started working as a farrier in 1976 and collaborated with farriers, veterinarians, trainers, horse owners and professionals involved in horses. All of these collaborations impact my shoeing and influence my direction every day.
As in most trades, there seems to be a need for a quick fix guide to shoe every horse. There are no simple guides for every horse. Situations that I talk about here have an obvious direction and a shoeing solution that works for this particular horse' problem(s). Each horse is an individual and every hoof is unique, and they should be shod and trimmed as individuals. From these two points I build an approach to the ever-changing shoeing demands to keep horses sound. It seems to be human nature to break things down to a simplified, step by step set of instructions to easily shoe for a problem. Definitely not surprising that when the simplified view/fix comes into play, the end product for the most part, is overly mechanical and less than functional for the longevity of the horse. For example, raise the hoof angle by 3 degrees on a diagnosed navicular problem. Very simple and easy but the reality shows this one correction rarely takes care of the navicular issue that was diagnosed.
Most people who pursue farriery and shoeing as a trade notice that most horses will go pretty well with less than optimal shoeing. However there are so many horses that are in need of optimal or better shoeing practices. Horses are very tolerant of us and our whims no matter how well intentioned we are. I think a fix can be simple, but, recognizing the problem is not. What tends to drive overly simplistic approaches to complex, organic structures such as a hoof, is the desire to satisfy a problem quickly and easily. Quickly and easily itself is not the problem. Who doesn't want it (problem) to straighten up fast? When I watch a talented shoer/artist attempt to teach someone a technique to correct an issue that is second nature to the artist, the person trying the procedure invariably gets the major points but the inperceptable nuances are missed. Making the process seem simple, there is an inherent loss of depth in the final product/solution. The demonstrator makes the case seem easy and anybody watching can do it. That is the mechanical part. Vision is the missing component. Usually, having a view of the final goal is what is missing in order to reach success. Determine the direction you want the hoof to ultimately end up and you can establish the path for getting there. The benefit of the simplistic approach is that it is easy and immediate for almost anyone to follow. The final prescription may turn out to be very simple, but the assesment process leading to the end prescription is time consuming and sometimes difficult. Getting somebody to follow the prescription can be difficult as well. In the majority of lameness and gait cases, a methodical explanation and succinct directions are necessary to get the project finished. There might even be an obvious change to be made, say medial/lateral adjustments, to affect a favorable goal. So just doing the job as prescribed works well for the major portion of problems presented. That is the starting point. Add vision for the next shoeing and the ultimate goal of how the hoof will look and how will it perform.
We can benefit by looking at an array of approaches or techniques that solve the problems we encounter every day. Establishing where you want the hoof to end up is very beneficial and you may have to acquire a totally new perspective to acheive a sound horse. There is artwork in working with horse and hoof. Remember different tacts may be helpful in themselves but the problems are multi-faceted and need to be solved with the assumption that it may well be more than one issue to address. Draw from a assortment of views to solve your problem. This way you can step up the quality of your work and maybe slow down your volume.
I prefer, and recommend finding a balance between the amount of time working on each horse and the volume of horses one can do in a day, week or month for that matter. Horses can endure whatever we serve up and also how rapidly we make changes. That doesn't mean we should aspire to that. When you look closely at your work, the mistakes on every hoof become a little more glaring. Self and colleague criticism will carry you and I to the new levels. You can always contact another professional who will give an opinion or view of any fix for the issue you are working on to solve.
The material' shown or disscussed here are being presented for a specific hoof and will not readily translate to your horse. Just one more vantage point may give the view needed to solve the problem you have before you. A process can be passed on and that is beneficial. It is more important to realize that the depth of the problem requires the same depth thought and vision when attempting to fix that problem(s). The sixty three years I have been watching horses and over forty five years of shoeing is a base for learning experiences that I have everyday from interactions with the horse and others involved in the equine world. I know that if you are shoeing, you're having a great time. I never thought that shoeing would turn into a lifetime endeavor. Enjoy working with your horses and please don't hesitate to email or call me.
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