This is a post I've been wanting to put up for a while but - like a lot of things - its taken quite a long time to put what is very nice and clear when looking at a horse into words that make sense when there are no visual aids other than a few photos. So here goes, and if you want clarification on anything that I haven't made clear, just shout ;-)
First off, what IS a balanced hoof? Well (within this blog, at least!), a balanced hoof means only one thing: a hoof which is balanced for that particular limb on that particular horse. This means of course that hoof balance is unlikely to be the same for 2 horses - in fact its unlikely to be the same for 2 limbs on the same horse, given that horses, like people, are asymmetric.
There is (IMO) no way of evaluating hoof balance by using reference points or angles which are external to the horse. I explained a bit more about why this is the case in an earlier post: http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2011/09/more-than-one-sort-of-table.html
You can however get a very good idea of whether the hoof is balanced for the horse by assessing the horse's conformation, particularly the limbs, and by looking at the hoof capsule.
Its important to remember that although the hoof wall looks solid and unyielding, its actually quite a malleable, plastic material. Think of a glacier - looks like a dense wall of ice but is constantly moving and responding to pressure - and a hoof is similar - always trying to support the limb in the most effective way.
I'll be posting more on hoof balance soon - there is masses to put up and this is only the first instalment!