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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Barefoot horse case study fronts - day one

The owner of this horse has very kindly let me post these 'before' pictures of their horse's feet.

There is a lot going on with these hooves. I will bullet initial observations after each pair of pictures. These are limited - we will be able to tell more when the shoes come off.

For the first stage of the transistion to barefoot the owner is moving the horse onto a high forage, low sugar diet with mineral supplementation (not OTC). This stage will take four weeks as the horse is weaned off a packaged mix.

Right Fore Front, Left Fore Front



  • Both feet show stress rings
  • The top of the hooves is showing a significantly different angle of growth to that lower down, suggesting flaring
  • Left front toe has been damaged, the owner reports an infection
Right Fore Side, Left Fore Side



  • Stress rings very clear in left fore
  • Heels appear underrun
  • Although not clear both fronts have bull noses
  • Lateral cartilages appear weak

Right Fore Heel, Left Fore Heel

  • Both heels are contracted
  • Palpitation revealed poorly developed digital cushion

Right Fore Sole, Left Fore Sole

  • Heel contraction very evident
  • Frog weak and thrushy
  • Infection in the toes
  • Bars are overlaid

I will post more pictures of these feet when the shoes come off - and I will post the hinds tomorrow.

6 comments:

Di said...

We're transitioning two horses at the moment, so shall follow this with interest. Thanks

Wolfie said...

As a new rider and owner of a barefoot horse,I find your posts very interesting. I love the fact that you post pictures with comments. I am very visual and I find it very helpful. I am a bit concerned right now with one of Gem's feet. Not an infection, but he got loose and went galloping around the back roads and came back with a huge chunk out of the side of his front left hoof. He was scheduled to have a trim anyway and my farrier tried to even off the rough edges, etc. I was shocked to see how much was trimmed off of his foot to repair the damage. Off course the missing chunk includes part of the white line, which makes me nervous. Gem is not sore, but I can tell he feels a bit off. :-(

Sophie said...

Hi Di - thank you for your interest. We won't be taking the shoes off until we have the diet under better control. Watch and wait - I'll post any progress.

Sophie said...

Hi Wolfie

The ability of the hoof to heal if it is given the chance never fails to amaze me. See http://danceswithgrace.blogspot.com/2009/10/six-weeks-off-hind.html

Wolfie said...

Thanks for the link! I had seen those pics before and had forgotten. Gem's is no where near what Grace went through. I can't believe how much hers grew out in 6 weeks! Amazing.

Di said...

Ours are all on a high fibre diet and funnily enough I've just ordered the Feet First book.

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