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Wild Kaimanawa horse photos courtesy of Heike Erhlenbach

Website Design HOOFNZ © 2006

Hoofcare Organisation Of  New Zealand Inc.

A printable version can be found here

Photographing hooves
by Jenny Lomas
 

While photos can never fully replace seeing something with your own eyes, they can be an invaluable aid in tracking the progress of your horse while it is transitioning from unhealthy to healthy feet.
For Natural Hoof Care Providers a series of hoof photos is a very useful assessment progress tool.

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Progress photos of a foundered horse

 

The angle the photo is taken on needs to be consistent, or the photos can be misleading, making short heels appear long, long heels appear short etc.

The quality of the photo is equally important. Blurry photos are a waste of time, as are photos that are taken too far away.

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2 poor quality photos, the one on the left is in too dark, the one on the right is partly in shadow and with sun glare on the front of the hoof. Both photos also have grass blocking the view of the hoof

A photo of a hoof that is muddy or standing in long grass or deep sand is fairly pointless.
To get the best out of your hoof pics you need to get photos that are
A; cle
ar
B; as close as you can possibly get to the hoof without the picture becoming blurry
C; consistently take subsequent photos at the same angle-always.

D; never put yourself at risk when taking photos. Young or nervous horses can take fright at the small noises some cameras make. Do a few test runs first to make sure the horse is okay about being in the limelight before you get up close and personal!

The following sequence is a good basis for a series of hoof photos and will provide information while minimising distortion.
This sequence works well for both the horse owner and for Natural Hoof Care Practitioners who need to keep photographic records for case studies.

Side, front and sole photos should all have the hoof filling up the camera frame.

Most digital cameras have a close up photo setting or 2.
Set your camera to all the close up settings you have, and then move the camera as close to the hoof as you can to get a good close up shot.
Don’t use the zoom for close up’s.
You should get a better quality photo by moving the camera towards the hoof.

Side on photos should be taken at right angles to the hoof with the camera lens aiming at the middle of the hoof.
The horse should be standing on level ground, preferably a smooth surface that doesn’t have any grass, or debris between the camera and the hoof.
For practitioners, a small square of plywood carried in the car is handy to place the hoof on if a concrete surface is not available.

Examples of side on photos                     

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   Good

            Bad         

            Ugly

Front on photos should be taken with the camera aiming at the middle of the hoof, again, with the camera as close as you can get it to the hoof without the picture becoming blurry.
Try to keep the camera angle and height from the ground consistent here or you will sometimes get a reasonably ‘normal’ looking hoof capsule, then the next time something that is horribly flared looking.

Examples of front on photos

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 Good

 Bad  

Ugly

Solar view photos are also best taken as close as possible.
The camera lens should be pointing at the middle of the hoof (depending on the hoof distortion pattern this could be the middle of the frog or the tip of frog)
The hoof should be picked out, clean and with the sole either in full sun or full shade-never half and half.

Examples of sole view photos

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Good

Bad 

Ugly

Photographing the limbs

Taking photos of the limbs can also be of benefit and could give vital clues to the origin of the hoof distortion patterns.
These photos are taken from the front, behind and both sides - from the chest to the ground and the hindquarter to ground.
Good limb and whole horse photos are dependant on the photographer’s ability to contort!
For tall people and small ponies this can be interesting to watch. Likewise, for small photographers and big horses….

The front limbs, be sure to get as close as safely possible to the horse and have the camera aiming at the knee-at right angles. You will have to crouch down to get this photo on the right angle. Be sure to get the top of the legs, part of the chest and the hooves in the photo.
 

Examples of photos of front limbs

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Good

Bad 

Ugly

The hind limbs, again, you’ll need to squat down a little to get a good photo of the hind limbs ( a lot for ponies and minis ) and aim the camera at the hocks.
Don’t get too close, this time use your zoom instead, rather than standing in the ‘danger zone’!

Examples of photos of the hind limbs      

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Good

Bad 

Ugly

The whole horse
The icing on the cake is a great photo of the whole horse.
Properly done, this can give you a huge amount of information.
You may be able to pick up tension areas in the body that is causing hoof distortion.
To take a useful body shot of the horse, it needs to be standing square on a level surface. The camera lens needs to be pointing at the middle of the horses shoulder.
Yes, the person behind the camera will probably have to squat down again to get the angle just right for this photo – you’ll have to crouch down a lot for the tiny ponies and maybe even stand on a bucket for the bigger horses!
Remember, just angling the camera is not good enough, you need to have the camera pointing level with the shoulder.
You can make the most beautiful horse look hideous if you get the camera angle wrong….
 

Examples of whole body shots

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Good

Bad

Ugly

If using a digital camera most of your photos will probably be stored on your computer.
For Natural Hoof Care Practitioners you are likely to end up with thousands of photos.
Be sure they are labelled in a way that you will remember which horse it was.
Burn your photos to cd every now and then to safeguard against losing them all if your computer hard drive dies or your computer gets stolen.

Cd’s don’t last forever but try not to shorten their lifespan further by leaving them in direct sunlight, near a heat source or expose them to extreme temperature changes.