The metallic ringing sound that can be heard when a shod horse strikes the underside of a front hoof with a hind toe at a walk or a trot is called forging. It occurs when the front foot is too slow in leaving the ground to stay out of the way of the hind foot. A more-serious form of forging in overreaching, when a horse strikes the heel bulb of the front foot before it leaves the ground. This can pull a shoe or lacerate the heels.
There are multiple factors that can cause a horse to forge; these include improper riding, lack of fitness, fatigue, age, faulty conformation or overgrown hooves. One factor that is often overlooked, however, is front-end lameness. A horse that is uncomfortable may have a short stride that causes him to forge. A call to a vet may be in order to help rule out lameness.
If all physical factors have been ruled out, adjusting how the horse is shod will many times fix forging issues. The farrier will watch the horse move and determine the extent of the abnormality. He will then work to speed up the breakover of the front feet, slow down the hind feet or both.
A horse's front feet can be encouraged to leave the ground more rapidly in a few ways: the toes can be trimmed back or the shoes can be modified to produce a quicker breakover by squaring, rolling or rockering. If the horse is shod, some farriers will put aluminum shoes on up front instead of steel to speed up hoof movement.
Slowing down the hind feet can be done by trimming them so they cover as much ground as possible. Shoes can also be fitted so that the ends trail behind the buttress of the foot, which will keep the foot on the ground longer.
Read more at EQUUS.
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