You should now have a good basic understanding of the anatomy of the hoof and how the hoof capsule grows from the internal structures from reading the previous blogs in this series. We will use this knowledge of the internal structures and how the hoof capsule grows from them to provide the blueprint of our ideal hoof capsule. We will break this blueprint down piece by piece just as we did with the anatomy section of the series.
The first aspect we will cover of our hoof capsule blueprint is heel-to-toe balance. You will need to learn a couple new terms to be able to evaluate heel-to-toe balance. The first term is “baseline.” The baseline is the first point of contact upon heel first landing and is located at the widest point of the back of the frog. The baseline should be the location of of the point of the heels (the rear point of the heel purchase).
Based on the internal structures, the length from baseline to toe should be 2/3 frog and 1/3 sole; this is the basic ratio used to determine heel-to-toe balance. This heel-to-toe balance permits the coffin joint, pastern joint, and fetlock joint to work in unison. The frog can sometimes become stretched due to hoof pathologies which we will talk about in blogs to come, so while this simple ratio is very useful it is not always enough to determine if your horse’s hooves have ideal heel-to-balance. This leads us to the second term we need to learn in order to analyze heel-to-toe balance—the fulcrum. Click images below to enlarge:
The fulcrum is the widest point of the bottom of the hoof when measured from the lateral side of the hoof to the medial side of the hoof (side-to-side). Since it is the widest part of the hoof from side-to-side it is also the location where the shape of the hoof changes from going outward to going inward.
The fulcrum and baseline are never distorted by hoof pathologies, so they are always reliable in in analyzing heel-to-toe balance. Based on the internal structures, the width of the fulcrum (side-to-side) should equal the length from the baseline to the toe (heel-to-toe) in our ideal hoof capsule.
You will notice that when we connect the ends of the lines used to measure our fulcrum and baseline-to-toe a perfect circle is created—this observation will provide a useful tool to use when evaluating heel-to-balance in your own horse's hooves which will be the subject of our next blog!