This year I would like to take the time to respond to some of the questions submitted to me weekly by the owner’s of Foxtrotting Horses worldwide. I have been shoeing Foxtrotters for thirty years. For many years, there have been Foxtrotters going out of Missouri. The Foxtrot is a broken gait, meaning the horse should walk with an extended front end and trot with its back legs. When they arrive at their destination, the question is often raised to the farrier,

"Why did our horse lose its foxtrot?"

There are several reasons that this occurs. One of which is the angle of the foot. Sometimes when a farrier reshoes a horse, they will take all of the heel off and leave all of the toe on. When they do that, it will tend to make a horse pace or run-walk. The angle of the foot is very important. For example, by changing the angle from 53 to 48 degrees, you can change the trot to a running walk very easily. Although you can go from a 4 inch toe to a 3 3/4 inch toe, never differentiate more than five degrees from the original angle of the foot.

Are the shoes appropriate to the needs of the Foxtrotting horse?

Ideally, they should be neither too heavy nor too light for the particular horse. According to the rule book, the maximum weight for the front end is twenty-one ounces, a number three toe-weight. (This has been recently changed.) If the horse paces or run-walks, you can use a number three toe weight. You must heat the shoe and put a heel calk on it. This will cause the horse’s front end to break and extended in the proper place.

Both the front and back shoes should fit well and full. They should never be too small to support the hoof, especially in the quarters and the heels. In addition, they should allow as much room for expansion as possible, in order to provide support for the varied movements of the hoof in the heel area.

Heel support is one of the most critical areas of good horseshoeing, and often one of the most negleted. If the shoe is too small and doesn’t provide the proper heel support, the Foxtrotting horse cannot break in the proper place. Remember that most weight-bearing functions take place in the heel or the Foxtrottirig horse. If the heels are too low or too high, it can cause the wrong breakover period and interfere with the Foxtrot.

It is the very basic, perhaps boring fundamentals of shoeing that make the difference between a good Foxtrotting horse and a mediocre one. It is just as important to know when the fundamentals should be purposefully neglected in order to accomplish a specific goal. High levels of expertise in anatomy or physiology and fancy shoeing are nice and worth their weight in gold when used in the appropriate situation, but they aren’t worth much to anyone if sound, basic principles of horseshoeing aren’t practiced on every foot, Foxtrotter or not.

Contributed By: Keith Mizer