The horse’s asymmetry shapes a horse’s hooves, and imbalanced hooves affect a horse’s body, so Straightness Training and Hoof Care are directly connected. It is fascinating to be studying both in so much detail in every day life.
Through trimming my mare Kim, but also balancing her body with Straightness Training, I have found that her feet have become more and move symmetrical over time. Something that I know proper trimming alone could not have accomplished.
Because Kim is left bended and right front heavy with a pushy left hind leg, she had the tendency to wear her right front foot unevenly, from the medial heel (toward her centerline) to lateral toe (toward the outside) quarter. This means that her medial toe quarter used to end up longer and somewhat flared out, and the lateral heel would wear less and become flared out as well. Such a minor hoof asymmetry can easily be balanced out with a good trim, but it keeps reoccuring unless the horse’s body asymmetry is addressed.
It’s interesting to see the diagonal wear pattern of her front hooves in the picture below, outlined by the green lines to make it better visible. It shows that she moved from left hind towards right front. These pictures were taken just before I trimmed her for the first time, so some of the imbalance may be due to how she was trimmed before as well as her asymmetry.
Her hind feet show a different aspect of her asymmetry as unlike in her front feet, their wear patterns are a mirror image of each other. It shows that she moved with base-wide hind feet, which wore her medial walls more than the lateral ones. This shows a lack of stepping under and pronounced pushing of her hind legs.
Needless to say, Kim’s feet wear more evenly these days, not just side-to-side, but also front-to-back. Here are some comparison pictures from before and now.
When I encounter new hoof care clients I pay close attention to whether each foot is in balance (medially-laterally as well as dorsal-palmar). If a foot is out of balance it can be caused either by the asymmetry of the horse or by the way the horse has previously been trimmed, or both. By observing the horse’s anatomy and watching it walk we get more of an idea, but we generally know for sure after having done a few trims. If the imbalance disappears it was caused by the trim (this can take a while depending on how bad the imbalance is), but if it keeps reoccuring with balanced trims, it is caused by the horse’s conformation and muscular asymmetry.
I would love to document some case studies of before and after with horses worked with Straightness Training in order to show the impact that ST has on hoof symmetry, but it is difficult to eliminate all other possible changes, like the trim itself, and circumstances like diet, terrain, and amount of movement.