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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Transition to barefoot of an unhealthy foot

This foot was never 'officially' diagnosed as suffering from laminitis. But the signs were there. Stretched white line with blood at the toe. Significant stress rings and a dropped sole.

The first picture is beginning of Sept 09, the second is today Feb 2010. I have edited this post to put in today's picture. If you click on it you can clearly see how the foot is still scooting forward, but we are getting there. Both pictures right fore.

It's easy to see how distorted the hoof capsule is in the first photo. The toe is too long, the heel underslung and there is a wave in the coronary band where the quarter is out of whack.

In the second photo (apologies for the mud) you can see a much shorter hoof capsule overall, the heel is back in the correct position and there is no distortion in the coronary band. The mustang roll is less than pretty, but we are working on that :-)

These pictures have a bigger time frame between them. The first is beginning Sept 09, the second is today, beginning Feb 2010. Both right fore.

You can easily see how the foot has decontracted and the concavity has improved signifcantly. There is still more to go, but we are making progress. This hasn't been achieved because of the trim, but because the whole lifestyle of the horse has been addressed (DEET).

The horse was allowed to self trim its sole and bars which happened very quickly once the shoes were removed. The bars were badly overlaid and had become embedded in the sole.

Underneath the overlaid bars were substantial, weeping corns.

The 'live' sole was more convex than concave and there was a significant amount of bloody torn laminae at the toe. All in all a very sick and painful foot.

Despite the difficulties we are making progress and today the horse was able to walk comfortably over a patch of large, fairly sharp stones.


Val said...

Great post! The difference in balance and health is undeniable.

Gina, said...

This is the type of thing that gives me hope. I want my TBx to go barefoot but every person (farrier, trimmer, trainer) who looks at his feet says, "Nope." Or the ones that do say it will take years for him to be comfortable. I can take a few months off ridding for my horse to adjust but not years. He has similarly shaped feet to the posted horse and the progress you have shown is great!!

Sophie said...


The most important part of going barefoot is diet. A lot of people struggle with that - and most professionals have not had the training to enable them to offer sensible advice regarding diet.

If you want to contact me for the transition protocol I use I would be glad to share.

To be honest we could have probably made faster progress with this horse, but extreme other 'issues' not related to feet have made it more than usually difficult.

And don't be shy of using well fitting hoof boots, especially in the early days. I like Easy Care Gloves but they do need to be properly fitted (use a fit kit).

Sophie said...

Val, thank you for your comment :-)

I wish you could see this horse move! She has gone from a hobbling cripple (that was often grumpy) to a floating princess who is constantly 'smiling'.

Austen said...


I'm incredibly interested in this! Your "before" pictures look a lot like my TB when I got him. Terribly long toes and wedge pads to prop up his crushed heels. We took off his shoes and just trimmed up his wall, leaving his sole and bars to do their thing. He started to be sound again after about a month - and be quite happy about it too. Now, he's sore again after backing him up some at the toe. It's all very frustrating (especially when your barn manager keeps telling you to put shoes back on, just because she didn't think he was "this sore"), but I feel like I am going in the right direction.

Sophie said...


Your horse Guiness is gorgeous!

I have had a peek at his feet. It is dangerous and foolhardy to diagnose by photo, but that said I've chucked in my tuppeny worth on your blog.

I love your banner on your blog too - great photo :-)

Gina said...

I do not see your email address anywhere. Mine is in my initial post, I would love to know more/ as much as possible about going bare.

I know diet is hugely important. Right now my boy is on a high fiber high fat low starch (and I think sugar I need to check again) diet. His turnout is as good as you can have in my area (10+ hours a day weather permitting) and keep grass in the fields.

His feet have a not-so-long story attached to them, that make boots a hard fit. I have pictures taken over the last bit of our foot journey, I would love your opinion on them.

air yeezy shoes said...

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horsegal1966 said...

Thanks so much for a very interesting read. I ride at a barn that frowns at a horse going barefoot. I believe that a healthy horse will have healthy feet! Cheers!

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