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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Do horse shoes hurt horses?

The answer has to be yes.

Both in the short term because of badly fitted shoes and in the long term because of damage to structure. 

We have looked at the cadaver photo before.  It shows a nail which has been placed under veterinary supervision into a hoof.  You can see how it is slipped between the inner (water line) and outer walls.

Often when hoof is not healthy and is not maintaining the healing angle to the ground, the toe starts to become more sloping and creeps forward.  Farriers are taught that hooves need to be maintained within certain angles. And they do this using largely by thinning the hoof wall and jacking up the heels.

Again looking at the cadaver hoof, you can see how if the outer wall is thinned, this precludes the 'ideal' nail placement.  So where does the nail then go?  We can see this from the second photo.

Nail placement

In the second photo the hoof wall has been thinned and the farrier has been left with no wall to nail into.  As a consequence the nails have gone through the white line (ouch) or worse through the body of the foot (double ouch).  Look again at the cadaver nail - you can see for yourself what this means.

Note also on the second photo how the white line is stretched and there is evidence of blood.

This has happened in at least half of the horses I deshoe.

Has it happened to a horse near you?

A quick anecdote. Had my last horse from 19 months of age. At two the farrier said I should take her back because she had terrible feet. We had a lengthy conversation and one of the things that I remember was the farrier telling me that 'All horses feet creep forwards and the only way to deal with them is to rasp the toes back.' and that 'All wild horses are dead by about 5 because there is no one to take care of their feet.'. He also told me that 'We had bred the feet off horses.' and that 'Modern horses feet were too small.'.

I am happy to report the horse didn't have terrible feet, at least not genetically. Upto that point we had been making a complete hash of looking after them. But we got better and in later years she was happy to cover all sorts of terrain for many miles completely barefoot.

But boy did I have a lot to learn to get them that way.  (mostly cut the sugar and expensive bagged rubbish and let her move naturally and a lot)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Wet wet wet..........

Just back from soggy land, otherwise more usually known as Inverness.  It was wet.  Very wet.  Knee deep in slush.  Slush and assorted animal droppings. But cold enough that my water bottle froze completely solid and refused to defrost, even after a several hours inside.

Thought you might like to know how the hooves were doing?

Well this time I only saw hooves that were on a low sugar, well balanced, organic, no junk diet. And putting aside the mud fever and a bit of thrush they were great.  Forage was hay and oat straw.

Nice hard hooves and very solid soles.  No white line infections, soggy soles or other dramas.

I would have taken photos, but trust me, there was no way I was taking my gloves off :-)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Which one has laminitis?

Yes it's the cob at the front, previously confined to a box for many months.  Now deshod, AANHCP trimmed and barefoot diet.

Long may it last and woe betide this little guy if he injures himself........  cross your fingers please

Friday, 3 December 2010

Let there be light part two - laminitic cob hind foot

Left = Before/Right = After

Before trim

Partly cleaned

Wall height

Heel view post trim

This is the foot from 'Are you being kept in the dark?'  If you look at the Before picture you will see that it looks like 1'000s of other cob feet across the globe.  Only this one is attached to a horse that has been in a box for 9+ months with laminitis which has not resolved.  Advice has included PTS.  Upon shoe removal the owner was advised that the feet could not be trimmed because there was nothing to take off.

In the partly cleaned photo the chalk has been scraped (not cut) from the sole and the bars have been started.  Wall height shows just how high the walls have become.  That is a standard hoof pick for comparison purposes.  Walls should not be the sole weight bearing mechanism for a horse, it causes all sorts of problems.  You can see that prior to trimming this horse had no option but to largely walk on his walls.  With laminitis, that was probably quite painful and not at all helpful for the healing process.

The trimmed view (solar) shows a rather different foot.  Longer than wide, the stretched white line at the toe is now clearly visible.  The quarters which had looked flared, now look quite tight and much of the gunk in the walls and around the frog and on the sole has gone.

The final view across the back of the foot shows a frog which can now be properly engaged.  It is slightly prominant but it will flatten and toughen quite quickly.  The hoof is no longer peripheral loading and the true state of the sole can be seen.

This foot has been trimmed to the AANHCP guidelines, which seek to facilitate nature rather than work against it.

This horse now has limited turnout onto a nettle patch, which he loves and will shortly be going out onto a track.  Photos when we have them.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Barefoot Fred - loses his stilettos and turns back the clock

LH - left 14/10/10; right 01/12/10

This is Fred, first met in October.  He used to trip, a lot!.  The hoof care professional looking after him was unwilling to remove any hoof height 'couldn't be done'.

So to start with on 14/10/10 (left hand picture) we removed his shoes.  He stopped tripping after his first post deshoeing trim.  Since then he has been hacking mostly on the road, but also on some softer field and woodland surfaces. 

With two further trims and his own efforts you can see the foot is much shorter.

Buff/orange line - to help me line up coronary bands
Red lines (both the same length) - to check I've sized the pictures properly
Red circle - nail holes
Blue lines (both the same length) - shows the difference in toe length of hoof

His 'Mum' commented yesterday that he is in overall better health, seems younger, happier and more comfortable (to ride) and in himself.  And he is standing so much better too - and he is 'smiling' :-)

We still have to work on decontraction and somewhat dodgy frogs, but not bad for under 7 weeks :-)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Let there be light...... part one

Pre cleaning heel/sole view

Partly cleaned heel/sole view

Partly cleaned oblique view

Remember the previous hoof care professional wouldn't trim this horse because 'there was nothing to take off'.

A different foot to the previous one, bur suitably grotty.......

Can you see how just be cleaning the chalk from the sole that there is a better view of just how much excess hoof wall there is?  For newbies - chalk is dead 'chalky' sole which if the hoof was working hard enough in the right environment would have worn away naturally.  Many domestic horses just don't work hard enough on abrasive enough terrain, so the job of the trimmer is to remove (only) what nature would have taken given the chance.

Pictures post trim to follow.

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Southern England, United Kingdom