Wednesday, 28 September 2011

More than one sort of table

I was working on a presentation yesterday and was trying to find interesting ways to describe correct medio-lateral balance when I remembered this quote, which I first heard at a presentation for farriers in 2007:

"A horse's leg is like a table

The speaker was a professor of veterinary medicine and he was describing at great length how to set medio-lateral hoof balance by using a T-square, like this.
What he meant was that (in his view) a horse's leg should be balanced - like a table leg  - with a base of support at 90 degrees to the leg and the way to check whether it was balanced was to use a T square.

It seemed over-simplistic to me at the time, for several reasons - not least because setting foot balance this way doesn't factor in what happens when the horse moves and takes no account of how the foot is landing.

But the biggest problem  - as you can see the minute you pick up a T-square and try placing it on several different horses - is that it only works if you have a horse with a completely straight leg.

If you use a T-square to check balance on a horse with a leg that is not perfectly straight you end up with a T square which is also angled.  According to the T square (and the professor) you then need to do some pretty invasive shoeing or trimming to ensure that you get back to 90 degrees which - of course - will make the horse sore and impair its movement.  Its another example of the problems of imposing our ideas of symmetry instead of listening to the horse.

However, if there is one thing I've learnt its that there is no use trying to argue people out of their deeply held beliefs.  So nowadays if someone tells me a horse's leg is like a table I just smile and concur with the veterinary professor - simply adding the caveat that there is more than one sort of table...

10 comments:

Lea said...

Exactly. I agree! Lateral thinking often proves that traditional long held beliefs are not always the only answer. The eye looks for symmetry, yet that may not be what the body supplies or needs!

Zuzan said...

Is this the same as Pete Ramey's the Toe / Heel length article..

" .. Therefore, we're right back to the same spot when trying to sort through heel balance issues: Use the callused sole plane and collateral groove depths to ensure you have the same amount of sole on each side and do nothing more than monitor the hairline height off the ground at the heels. The hairline/ground height will equalize over time if the horse is allowed to wear the heel balance that agrees with its movement and the position of the lateral cartilages. [This can/should be accelerated by putting a more aggressive (steeper) mustang roll/bevel on the side that has the high coronet]... "

Love your table...

Nic Barker said...

Zuzan, to be honest I've gone away from trying to micro-mange horses' feet by trimming, in the way that Pete is describing, because I've not found its very productive, but each to their own :-)

Lea - thank you :-)

jenj said...

That table bears a distinct resemblance to an octopus!

I definitely agree that the medio-lateral balance needs to match the horse. Saga's front feet toe in a bit, but his legs are straight enough. If he were in shoes I'd worry that he might hit himself (and hey, when he wore shoes he used to do just that!) but shockingly enough, now that he's evened himself out to where he needs to be, he hasn't done that once.

Barbara said...

Good post. I think the table explanation is one reason that bad farriers trim feet so that they make the foot and the leg look straight - regardless of how it grows.

Lea said...

Thinking about it.... Taz used to forge & overreach especially when he was in lazy mode and wore o/r boots 24/7.But since he's been at Rockley I've not noticed it at all..?Nic??

Nic Barker said...

Jen - I think its actually called an octopus leg table :-) I found it on Google!

Barbara - I think your explanation is right - its still widely taught even now and I think quite dangerous.

Lea - thats the magic of barefoot ;-) Its why I no longer need to use brushing and overreach boots!

Cristina said...

Actually think that some of the farriers I've met really do think of a horse as a table i.e. Something that stands there rather than something that is dynamic. They spend more time looking adnmiring the hoof standing still than watching it move.

Ps I really like that octopus table.

Val said...

Great table!

I cannot imagine using a T-square to measure anything on a living being. Even the angle measurements used by some barefoot trimmers are lost on me. My goal is to take off the what the horse is trying to take off if he had a variety of surfaces on which to move. If I ever have the resources to design my own paddock system, I would want one that fostered the self-trim.

Nic Barker said...

I'm glad its not just me that prefers the octopus table!