Taking good pictures of horse hooves can be tricky. To get the best results it is best to take the photos on a flat, firm surface with natural light (preferably not sunlight!). The hooves should also be clean so that all the details can be seen. Using a wire brush is a great way to make sure that the walls, sole and frog are clean of all dirt. The more detail that can be seen the easier it is to detect problems and mark ups.
The hoof is a dynamic structure that grows and changes constantly depending on diet, living conditions, exercise and trimming. It is important to have regular hoof photos taken from the same angles, so that you can see these changes and compare them. This allows you to assess whether the changes are positive or negative, and makes it much easier to monitor progress.
There are seven main hoof photos that you should aim to take – lateral, solar, medial, toe, heel, oblique and a front shot. When taking all of these shots the camera should be perpendicular or square on to the foot and not angled up or down (this is especially important for the oblique and solar views). If you can get these shots right, then you will have a good set of photos that can easily identify problems and markings.
Lateral shots are taken from the side of the hoof, and show all of the hoof wall down to the ground. This is a great view to assess the height of the walls, the quality of the sole and if there are any cracks or other issues present. It is also useful for assessing the balance of the hoof.
The medial view is a close up of the inside of the hoof, and shows the collateral grooves, frog and white line. This is a very useful shot to check the health of these structures and can be used to identify if there are any issues such as sole concavity, rot or bruxism.
Toe shots are a quick and easy way to see the quality of the toe, as well as the toe and sole alignment. This is a very useful shot to have for checking the quality of the toe, to see whether it needs trimming or not and to help with gait analysis.
Heel shots are a little trickier, but can be very helpful for checking the angle of the heels and also if they are on a healthy angle or not. This is another good shot for assessing the toe, sole and heel alignment as well as sole concavity.
Oblique shots are a bit more difficult, but can be really useful for assessing the frog, toe and heel conformation as well as sole concavity. This is another shot that you can experiment with to find the best angle for – just be careful not to tilt the camera too far or it might be hard to see!