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Holistic Horse Issue 112

There is normal variation in the shape of horses’ feet, with some being very round and some naturally less round. While this can make learning to spot contraction a bit tricky, it is still a skill worth acquiring. We’ve talked about a few different ways to look for contraction, but here is another one that we call “thinking outside the box:”

STEP 1: Have someone hold up each of your horse’s four feet, and take a picture of the solar view of each foot. It may be helpful to use a marker and write “LF” on the sole of the left front, “RF” on the right front, and so on, to help keep your pictures straight.

STEP 2: Print out your pictures.

STEP 3: Draw a box that goes from the inside edge of the back of the heels, then straight down to the toe.

STEP 4: Draw a line from the edge of the box to the widest part of the foot on the left side of the box (blue lines in figure 6.27). Repeat on the right (green lines).

STEP 5: Using a ruler, measure the lines you have just drawn outside the box, and draw lines of those lengths inside the box, giving them space to overlap.

STEP 6: What you want to see is that the width of the box is equal to or wider than the parts outside the box put together. That means that if your lines overlap, you are likely dealing with some contraction.

The Essential Hoof Book is available from Trafalgar Square Books.

The yellow box in each photo is drawn from the inside edge of the back of the heels to the toe. On a healthy foot, the width of this box is greater than the widths of the parts to the left and right of the box (blue and green lines) added together. The top left foot has no contraction, but the other three all do.

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