Balance within the horse is one of the most important and least understood aspects of foot care in the horse. It was always a teaching factor in farrier education in this country until it started to be overlooked and considered an unimportant factor in the entire equation of balance and motion. Why did this happen? I am unsure and perplexed at the same time. It is something that controls the comfort factor of the ride, the ability of the horse to properly perform its job, and allows for the highest level of comfort for the horse when they move.
Balance to be properly understood needs to start at the ground, progress up each and every limb, follow through into the body, and finally encase the entire body of the horse; allowing for what is known as collection. If you do not have balance you will never have collection. Balance comes from the understanding of the conformation of the horse and specifically the horse that you are presently dealing with. Balance is an individual thing; there is no one fix-all answer for allowing a horse to be balanced. This is the responsibility of the horseshoer to understand and properly execute the necessary techniques to allow each and every horse that they come into contact with to make sure that they are balanced when they complete their work.
Why does this become a major overlooked and consistent problem? It is quite simple, lack of knowledge, and in some cases a lack of caring. It takes time away from and limits the number of horses that can be worked upon in a single day. Cutting corners, we have all heard the expression and when it comes to the well-being of a living breathing creature it is unacceptable. The majority of farriers that are servicing hoof care in the equine industry today lack the knowledge and have never had it put to them to make sure that it is understood.
Balance is not just accomplished in the way that the foot itself is trimmed and the shoe placed upon it. It is much more than that, it has to be understood that how that foot is trimmed and the shoe is placed on that foot affects every other aspect of that horse’s movement and overall momentum. It affects comfort and it affects the way a horse performs, no matter what their routine. Give it some thought.
Until next time…”Ride for the Brand” -- Bob Burdekin