ASSESSING HOOF BALANCE.
A hoof that is not correctly balanced is at risk of injury and lameness. The following are some simple ways to make a rough assessment of hoof balance. One of the advantages of natural hoof care is that the horse is able to wear his hoof into the balance that is perfect for his conformation. This can result in hooves that don't fit the normal idea of perfect hoof balance. But in these instances bear in mind that putting a straight hoof onto a bent limb is just as harmful as putting a crooked hoof on a straight limb.
Dorsal means the front of the hoof and palmar the back of the hoof. So dorsal-palmar balance means the balance between the front and back of the hoof. The distance from the toe to the apex of the frog should be 1/3, and from the apex of the frog to the back of the heels should be 2/3 of the total length of the hoof. The hoof on the left illustrates this 1/3 to 2/3 balance. The hoof in the middle has closer to a ½ and ½ balance. The very over grown hoof on the right has more hoof infront of the apex of the frog than behind it. In this situation breakover is delayed putting extra strain on the tendons and ligaments of the leg.
Viewing the leg from the side (with the horse standing square) a line dropped from the centre of rotation of the fetlock joint should touch the back of the heels. This can be seen in the photo below left. The long toe/under run heels on the leg on the right results in inadequate support to the fetlock and excess strain on tendons and ligaments.
Medial means the inside half of the hoof, and lateral the outside half. So medial-lateral means side to side balance. A line bisecting the hoof along the central cleft of the frog should divide the hoof in two with reasonable symmetry.
The hairline should be level viewed from the front and back.