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Horseshoeing Part 2A

A Text-Book of


Part 2A

by A. Lungwitz and John W. Adams Copyright 1897

This is the second part in what will be a complete reprint of Lungwitz & Adams’ important ‘Textbook of Horse-Shoeing’ originally written in the 1880’s and containing some remarkably modern information. This volume goes into the greatest detail on the subject and with an intelligent clarity that belies how old it is. Coming as it did at the end of the first horse era, and well before anyone might have reasonably predicted the advent of the automobile and tractor, it is apparent how important the equine was to the whole of society. The authors, of Germany and Pennsylvania, compiled what was, at the time, to be the ultimate word on the subject. As with all of the reprints we have offered over forty years time, we trust that readers will be triggered by these words to complete their education with diligence and introspection. Just because something is old doesn’t always make it right, and of course just because something is new doesn’t make it the true culmination either. LRM



As there are well-formed and badly formed bodies, so there are well-formed and badly formed limbs and hoofs. The form of the hoof depends upon the position of the limb. A straight limb of normal direction possesses, as a rule, a regular hoof, while an oblique or crooked limb is accompanied by an irregular or oblique hoof. Hence, it is necessary, before discussing the various forms of the hoof, to consider briefly the various positions that may be assumed by the limbs. In this discussion we shall deal with the living horse.

A. Standing Positions of the Limbs

The position of a limb depends upon the varying lengths of its component bones and the angles at which they meet one another. To judge the standing position of a fore-limb one must stand in front of the horse; to judge a hind limb, stand behind the horse; the backward or forward deviations of both front and hind limbs are judged by standing at the side. But a horse does not always move as his standing position would lead one to suspect; standing and moving are different. Therefore, in order to arrive at a proper judgement, one must observe the limbs both at rest and in motion.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

(a) The position of a limb viewed from in front is normal or straight (Fig. 44) when it stands vertical or perpendicular. A plum-line dropped from the point of the shoulder (middle of the scapulo-humeral articulation) should pass down the middle line of the limb, dividing it into inner and outer halves of equal width, and meeting the ground at the middle of the toe.

In the base-wide standing position (Fig. 45) the plumbline falls to the inner side of the limb; the limb extends obliquely downward and outward. To this class belong also the knee-narrow (knock-kneed) position, in which the knees are too close together, while the feet stand wide apart, and the toe-wide position (splay-footed, Fig. 46) in which the toes point obliquely forward and outward. In base-wide positions either the entire limb extends downward and outward or the foot alone is turned outward.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

The base narrow position is frequently observed in horses with very wide breasts. The limbs run downward and inward, a plumb-line dropped from the point of the shoulder falling to the outer side of the leg and foot. A special form of the base narrow position is the toe-narrow or pigeon-toed position (Fig. 47). In some instances the legs are straight and perpendicular down to the fetlock, while from there to the ground the phalanges incline obliquely inward. Another form is the knee-wide or bandy-legged position, in which the knees are placed too far apart, while the cannons and phalanges incline downward and inward.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

The position of a fore-limb viewed in profile is regular or normal (Fig. 48) when a perpendicular line dropped from the tuberosity of the acromian spine (point of union of the upper and middle thirds of the scapula or shoulder blade) divides the leg from the elbow to the fetlock into anterior and posterior halves of equal width, and touches the ground immediately back of the bulbs of the heel. A perpendicular line dropped from the point of union of the middle and lower thirds of the scapula (shoulder blade) will cut the humerus into halves, and meet the ground between the toe and the heel.*

*In station of rest, the normal position of a fore-leg, as seen from the side, is somewhat different. The station of rest is the position that is maintained with the least possible muscular effort. With gradual muscular relaxation the head and neck sink to a point somewhat below the line of the back, the top of the shoulder blade sinks a little, and the shoulder and elbow joints move forward till the centre of the elbow joint is directly above the ground-surface of the hoof. Therefore, when a horse at rest stands firmly on all four feet, the fore-leg viewed from the side, has a normal (regular) direction, when a perpendicular line dropped from the tuberosity of the aromian spine passes through the middle of the elbow joint and meets the ground near the middle of the hoof.

The foot-axis (line of direction of the three phalanges) and the wall at the toe form an angle of from forty-five to fifty degrees with the horizontal ground-surface.

From this normal or regular standing position, there are deviations forward as well as backward.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

Forward Deviations. — “Standing in front” or “camped in front” (Fig. 50) is that position in which the entire leg from the body to the ground is placed too far forward. Sheep-kneed (Fig. 51) is that position in which the forward deviation is from the knee downward, the knee being placed too far under the body. “Weak-jointed,” “low-jointed,” or “acute-angled” (Fig. 52) is that position in which the limbs are perpendicular and straight down as far as the fetlock-joint, but the feet are placed too far in front.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

Backward Deviations. — Standing under in front (Fig. 53) is that deviation in which the entire leg from the elbow down is placed back of the perpendicular line and, therefore, too far under the body. When this deviation affects only the cannon bone, the horse stands bent forward at the knees, – a condition known as “goat-kneed,” “buck-kneed,” “over in the knees,” or, more commonly, “knee sprung” (Fig. 54). When the backward deviation is only from the fetlock down, the animal is said to stand upright or “straight in the fetlock.”

Horseshoeing Part 2A

(b) A hind leg viewed from behind is said to be regular or straight (Fig. 55) when a perpendicular line dropped from the tuberosity of the ischium (see Fig. 1, 9” in Horseshoeing Part 1A) divides the entire limb into inner and outer halves of equal width and touches the ground opposite the median lacuna of the frog. Seen from the side, this line just touches the point of the hock and, passing down at some distance from the flexor tendons, meets the ground considerably back of the heels. A perpendicular line dropped from the hip joint should pass through the foot, meeting the ground half-way between the point of the toe and the heel (Fig. 49). There are base-wide, base-narrow, toe-width, and toe-narrow deviations in the hind limbs as in the fore-limbs.

The hind limbs are base-wide when they, either as a whole, or in part, deviate outward from the normal. The “cow-hocked” position (Fig. 56) is an example of the base-wide; in this case the points of the hocks are too close and turn towards each other, while the feet are widely separated and the toes turned outward. Base-narrow is that position of the hind legs in which either the entire leg deviates to the inner side of the perpendicular (Fig. 57), or the leg is about perpendicular down as far as the hock, but below this joint runs downward and inward (Fig. 58). In this latter case the hocks may be too far apart, the leg is bend outward at the hock and the animal is termed “bandy-legged,” “bow-legged.”

Horseshoeing Part 2A

Viewing a hind limb from the side, it may be observed to deviate either forward or backward from the normal. Among forward deviations is the so-called “sabre-leg” or “sickle-hock” (Fig. 59), in which the hock-joint is too much flexed, the foot placed too far forward under the body, and the fetlock too slanting. In the position known as “camped behind” (Fig. 60) the leg is behind the body and the pastern is too upright, too nearly vertical.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

It is possible for each limb of the same horse to assume a different direction. It more often happens that if the forelimbs are base-wide the hind limbs are base-narrow, or vice versa. While there are some other deviations that differ somewhat from those already described, they are of less importance to the horseshoer.

B. Forms of Feet, Viewed from in Front, from Behind, and in Profile.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

In all the various positions of the limbs we find the feet in one of the following three forms, or very closely approaching one of them. By means of a proper knowledge of these three forms, the judging of the form, flight of the foot in traveling, and preparation of the hoof for the shoe, as well as the choice of the length of the shoe, are regulated, facilitated, and simplified.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

Whether a horse’s feet be observed from in front or from behind their form corresponds to, or at least resembles, either that of the regular position (Figs. 61 and 62), the base-wide or toe-wide position (Figs. 63 and 64), or the base-narrow or toe-narrow position (Figs. 65 and 66).

Horseshoeing Part 2A

By the direction of the foot-axis — that is, an imaginary line passing through the long axis of the three phalangeal bones (Figs. 61, 65, 67, 68, and 69) — we determine whether or not the hoof and pastern stand in proper mutual relation.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

In regular standing position (Figs. 61 and 62) the foot-axis runs straight downward and forward, in the base-wide position (Figs. 63 and 64) it runs obliquely downward and outward, and in the base-narrow position (Figs. 65 and 66) it runs obliquely downward and inward.

Viewing the foot from the side, we distinguish the regular (normal) position (Fig. 68), and designate all forward deviations as acute-angled (long toe and low heel, Fig. 67), and all deviations backward from the regular position as upright (short toe and high heel, Fig. 69), steep-toed, or stumpy.

When the body-weight is uniformly distributed over all four limbs, the foot-axis should be straight (Figs. 67 and 69), not “broken” (bent); the long pastern, wall at the toe, and foot-axis should have the same slant.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

A peculiar form of foot is the so-called bear-foot (Fig. 70), in which the foot-axis, viewed from the side, is broken strongly forward at the coronet. The wall at the toe stands much steeper than the long pastern and is more or less convex; in other words, a low-jointed, sloping pastern is attached to an upright hoof. Such a foot is sometimes improperly called a “club-foot”.

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