UKHSU - The United Kingdom Horse Shoers Union

Medial-Lateral Balance

Talk by Haydn Price to the UKHSU AGM on the 23rd of April 2003 at the Bear Hotel, Hungerford 


Haydn Price introduced himself as a practising farrier who shoes normal horses 5 days a week, has been doing so for 25 years, and still loves the job. His guiding principle is KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.

Understanding locomotion - Haydn has worked with Alan Wilson on gait analysis at Bristol University and has recently been involved in video analysis.

In the UK not enough attention has been paid to Medial-Lateral imbalance - there has been too much obsession with Anterior-Posterior balance. ML imbalance more than AP imbalance can turn a sound horse into a lame horse.

Level footfall is the ideal but very few horses have the perfect conformation. The most important aspect is not the point of contact, it is limb loading during weight bearing. It is acceptable to have horses that never land level but can keep sound by loading evenly during weight bearing.

Force plate analysis has proved that horses that land unevenly actually bear weight centrally, loading is perfectly OK.

Compression and contraction are not the same thing. You only need to look at the hoof to see the loading on the foot. Medial loading/lateral loading occurs during weight bearing. Coronary border displacement is a good indicator of imbalance.

Odd feet - the upright foot always rotates medially, the medial wall being more upright - limb length differential. We are always told to expand the upright foot by lowereing the heel, but Haydn finds that it is better to leave the heels long to compensate for the shorter limb.

More weight goes anteriorly in an upright foot. There is increasing awareness of problems in front caused by hind limb imbalances.

The T-square. If it works for you, fine, if not, leave it alone.

Especially with performance horses, ML balance requires a lot of examination. Lateral extensions can be very successful in keeping the hock from twisting during weight bearing.

Haydn is not into following the foot shape all of the time - if the foot is unbalanced then the shape is wrong.

Cause and effect - shoeing the coronary border. Release pressure on the coronary band by fitting the shoe wider if the hoof is narrower distally making a wedge shape.

It can take a month or so for a horse to adapt to a change in ML balance.

Haydn showed an example of a horse belonging to his wife which he “corrected” by wedging the inside heel to make the hoof land level - this made the weight bearing uneven. Better to fit the shoe wide medially.

Haydn expressed confidence that we will soon be able to utilise technology to make adjustments to our shoeing, and that we will in the near future have more power to change things for the better.

Report by Martin Humphrey                         talk about it on the horses mouth