Farrier Terminology

There is a rich glossary of terminology used throughout the farrier world.  Having a firm grasp of these terms can allow the enthusiast to better understand the trade.  Listed below are some of the more common terms found in articles, at professional events, and within the conversations of trainers, farriers, vets, and horse owners.  This list provides just an overview of the vocabulary used to describe the hoof of a horse, and is by no means comprehensive.


Action:  The way in which a horse moves during various gaits. 


Bar:  The section found on the bottom of the hoof and on the sides of the frog where the hoof turns inward.


Boxy Hooves:  Slender, vertical hooves with a narrow frog and a heel that is closed.  Also known as a clubbed foot.


Brushing Boots:  An instrument used to guard a horse’s leg from injuries related to brushing.


Brushing:  A situation where the horse’s hoof or shoe collides with the inner part of its opposite leg, typically near the fetlock joint.  This is often caused by poor conformation or action


Bulbs:  The two circular bulges at the rear of the hoof. 


Cast:  A term referring to a horse loosing a shoe, usually by accident;  for example, “the horse cast a shoe last week.”


Cannon Bone:  A bone found above a horse’s fetlock, in both the fore and hind legs.  Also known as the shank bone.


Club Foot:  An alternative term for Boxy Hooves.


Coffin Bone:  The bone of the horse closest to the ground.  It is surrounded by the hoof capsule.


Conformation: The correctness of a horse’s physical structure, including bone and muscular structure, as well as body proportions. 


Coronet:  The section of the hoof immediately above the hornlike growth;  the part where hoof growth takes place. 


Cracked Heel:  A condition where the hoof is inflamed, with cracked skin and pus discharge.


Deep Going:  Ground that is soft and wet, causing the hooves to sink in. 


Dropped Sole:  The downward movement of the front of the coffin bone within the hoof as a result of laminitis


Farrier:  A craftsman specializing in the care of horse hooves, including trimming an shoeing.


Fetlock:  A joint on the leg of a horse found between the canon bone and pastern. 


Flat-Footed:  A characteristic of a hoof where the angle is significantly less than 45 degrees. 


Founder:  A condition where the laminae is inflamed; also known as laminitis.


Frog:  The fleshy area in the center of the bottom of the hoof. 


Heel:  The rear portion of the bottom of the hoof.


Hoof Capsule:  The outer portion of the hoof. 


Hoof Pick:  A tool used to remove dirt and other debris from the hoof.


Hoof:  The foot of a horse. 


Horn:  The outer covering of the hoof, which is tough and insensitive.


Hoof Wall:  The visible outer portion of the hoof, which is composed of horny material, and grows continuously.


Laminae:  The interior lining of the hoof. 


Laminitis:  A condition where the laminae is inflamed; also known as founder.


Lateral Cartilages:  The strips of cartilage attached to the coffin bone inside of the foot.


Navicular Bone:  A bone inside of the hoof, small in size, which is found between the short pastern and coffin bone.


Navicular Disease:  A disease affecting the navicular bone, where the bone degenerates, causing the animal pain and potentially causing lameness. 


Nerve Block:  A veterinarian tool used to diagnose the location of a horse’s lameness.  The tool accomplishes this task by blocking the nerves of the foot and leg in a progressive manner until the problem are is located.


Neurectomy:  A medical procedure where nerves are severed which provided sensation to the foot.  This procedure is used to treat navicular disease, and is also known as de-nerving.


Pastern:  The section of a horse’s leg above the top of the hoof and below the fetlock.


Pathological:  A condition that is disease-based. 


Rasp:  An instrument used for shaping wood or other materials.  A farrier’s rasp is used to remove excess portions of the hoof wall from the bottom of a hoof. 


Seedy Toe:  A condition where the laminae is separated from the hoof wall, often as a result of neglecting foot care. 


Shoe, To:  The process of attaching metal shoes to the hooves of a horse.  This work is typically done by a farrier.


Sidebone:  Hardening of the cartilage on the sides of the coffin bone. 


Sole:  The area of the bottom of the hoof from the front portion of the white line to the frog.


Thrush:  A condition where the frog degenerates; this is usually accompanied by infection and blackening of the afflicted area;  this condition often stems from horses being kept in unsanitary housing. 


White Line:  A structure on the bottom of the hoof that separates the sensitive areas of the hoof from the insensitive areas.