Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hoof Balance Perspective: Duckett and Caldwell Speakers at Oakencroft’s October Podiatry Conference in New York

Do you know the difference between Duckett's Dot and The Bridge? For years, the Dot stuck in people's memories but the Bridge was probably where most people thought the Dot was. This is a useful illustration technique used in Dr Lisa Lancaster's book, The Sound Hoof, for her explanation of Duckett's system.

Who: Farriers and veterinarians
What: 5th Annual Farrier/Podiatry Symposium
When: October 15-16, 2010
Where: South Bethlehem/Selkirk, New York (near Albany)
Presented by The Clinic at Oakencroft and Greene County Horseshoe Supply

A Hoofcare + Lameness Recommended Event

Sometimes I sit in the dark watching speaker’s slides at conferences and think like an Irish country matchmaker. I’d like to see her talk on the same program with him, or get this German together with this Australian, or whatever, and see what they come up with when a horse walks in to be evaluated.

When I heard British educator Mark Caldwell roll through the results of his research that had compared different hoof balance methods over a shoeing period, I wondered if Dave Duckett knew that someone had put his “Dot” (and Bridge and all the rest of his landmarks) to the test not just of measurement, but of time.

As it turned out, he didn’t know, but the news got his attention. Now it’s time for the two to present their versions of what hoof balance was, is or will be, side by side on the same program. It's a speaker-match made in hoofcare heaven.

Two years later, the man with all the hoof balance testing tools and the man with all the ideas in his head instead of on paper will present their views on hoof shape and balance together, and perhaps re-define or update their studies, or influence each other. Consider this: is the best trimming method for a foot the method that leaves the foot looking balanced when the farrier drives away, or is it the one that prepares the hoof to grow out evenly and maintain a balanced base and flat landing over the four or six or eight week shoeing period?

 A foot map to where, exactly? This exercise included mapping out the foot as it existed at the time of trimming. Caldwell sketched in the wider base of frog that is one of his goals for this foot to show his students where the foot would be going, if it was trimmed not for the moment but for the continuum until the next farrier visit. If you're trying to help the horse develop the frog, would you trim differently than someone who thought this foot was acceptable as is? Should you map the foot the horse has or the foot the horse is capable of having?

David Duckett FWCF: The well-known and highly honored British farrier and farrier competitor now lives in Pennsylvania. By my math, this year should be roughly the 25th anniversary of his first major hoof balance lectures. Based on observation and a lot of dissections and anatomy studies, Duckett’s idea was to get farriers interested in hoof anatomy by giving clever names to landmarks. His hoof balance system strives to inspire farriers to focus on the points on the horse’s foot least likely to change rather than to dwell on shapes that can and do migrate or grow unevenly. In spite of his system’s simplicity, or perhaps because of it, it is very often misunderstood and the points are transposed.

Mark Caldwell FWCF instructs the farriery courses at Myerscough College in England. He trained as a farrier in the British Army and then became a specialist in shoeing horses for lameness problems at a veterinary hospital before turning to teaching. His research studies use gait analysis and weight-scanning mats; his quest is to define what he calls “evidence-based farriery”.

Mark is currently involved in a post-graduate PhD program studying "limb loading and the effects on hoof capsule morphometrics" at the University of Liverpool Department of Veterinary Clinical Science in Liverpool, England.

Together, these two speakers can explain where the ideas come from (Duckett) and what happens when you put the idea to a test that filters out the subjective tricks we play on ourselves when we evaluate horses’ feet (Caldwell). This clinic is a chance to hear “from the horses’ mouths” where in the world “Duckett’s Dot” came from…and perhaps where it is going in the future.

In other words: this will not be a shoemaking clinic. This clinic most likely will be about looking at feet and identifying/evaluating the matrix that dictates a foot’s shape and growth pattern.

The Clinic at Oakencroft’s Podiatry Conference is a casual and friendly event in a beautiful location in rural New York near the Massachusetts and Connecticut borders, just south of Albany. The Clinic hosts monthly meetings with local farriers and they feel at home there—you will, too.

The format of the conference is presentations, discussions, and lots of great food. There are hotels nearby.

Full conference, hotel and registration information can be downloaded at this link:

The clinic fee is $300 for both days, $200 for Friday only or $150 for Saturday only. Registration should be complete by October 1st. Late registration will be at the discretion of the Clinic, as space allows.

Registration can be done online, by mail, or by phone. If you have specific questions or wish to contact the clinic, you may call 518 767 2906 or send a fax to 518 767 3505.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to
Follow the Hoof Blog on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
Join the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Hoof mapping!! to what end?? Maybe a journey to far for any practical purpose.

To a competent craftsman, HOOF SYMMETRY and FOOT BALANCE, are determined by and resultant of defaults set elsewhere within the horse, and these are set by NATURE!!

For an operative to make a conscious effort to adjust these defaults by hoof manipulation, in a mature horse, will wreck it!!