The Athletic Rider: Farrier Fitness, Part I

Hoof care professionals have incredibly demanding jobs, requiring the physicality of weightlifters, the skill of craftsmen and the patience of saints. All that hard work takes its toll and is the focus of a new series by equestrian personal trainer Leah Hinnefeld.

In Part 1 of the HCP series, I identified three postural distortions common to most people-and for our purposes, common specifically to hoof care professionals (HCPs). In part 2, I will identify the specific activity in the HCP that exacerbates the pronation distortion syndrome, then offer suggestions on flexibility and strengthening exercises that could be part of a complete training program.

The first common postural distortion is the Pronation Distortion Syndrome. This distortion is characterized by a knock kneed appearance that is often accompanied with a flat foot, or inwardly rotated foot position.

Pronation Distortion Syndrome

Doesn’t this look just a little familiar to the position an HCP holds when he has a hoof between his legs to clean, trim and shoe a horse. This means that a posture issue that is already present in most people is reinforced for hours each working day for the HCP. Common injuries that occur with this distortion and the accompanying muscular imbalances are not addressed include: plantar fasciitis, shin splints, patellar (knee) tendonitis and low back pain. No wonder your otherwise chipped HCP may not be his jovial self after attending to the needs of a show barn full of horses!


Pronation Distortion Syndrome (and each common postural distortion)  is a result of certain muscles maintaining a shortened or contracted position and opposing muscles painting a lengthen position. The muscular imbalance leads to altered joint mechanics and often results in one or more of injures mentioned above. The knock kneed appearance can be a result of a shortened adductor muscle (inner thigh) and a lengthened gluteus medius/maximus muscle (outer butt cheeks).

A combination of foam rolling the inner thigh, adductor stretches and strengthening exercises (like tube walking) targeted to those specific gluteal muscles can restore the imbalance, prevent further imbalance and provide an environment for correct join function (not to mention reduce pain).


Because there is more than one muscle that contributes to this distortion and because each individual is unique, it is recommended to contact a personal trainer who is skilled in identifying muscular imbalances through postural assessments to provide a custom designed program. The Athletic Rider offers this service virtually should you not be able to find a local certified personal trainer in your area. Just CONTACT The Athletic Rider to schedule your online assessment.

*postural distortion image courtesy of Clark, Michael A., Sutton, Brian G., Lucett, Scott C., NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 4th Ed., 2014. Jones & Bartless Learning. p. 134-136.

Leah Hinnefeld is a lifelong equestrian who spent over a decade studying hoof health and metabolism in horses before turning her attention to rider fitness. Leah is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Fitness and offers Virtual Fitness Training for riders and horse lovers. You can learn more about how to get fit to ride at Please contact Leah if you are interested in learning more about the Rider Fitness Boot Camps offered by The Athletic Rider.



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