Monday, November 6, 2017
My journey into hoof health continues.
I went back to check my hoof history and am reminded that I’ve only had this mare just over 3 years (feels like I’ve had her forever…) and actually she was only in shoes starting as a 5 yr old:
- 2015: August-November
- 2017: March-June
So one full season and two half seasons.
I don’t think it’s my imagination that her legs look stronger, thicker and more proportional now than in this picture from September 2016 (I see an even bigger difference in the hinds here).
Until now I’ve been working with a rasp and a woodworking file tool only as I felt the changes were minimal enough that I couldn’t do any drastic damage too quickly that I might with nippers or a knife.
I have a lot to learn but keep trying to understand the mechanics of the foot and read as much as I can as well as working on a few actual horses with some initial direction from a mentor and seeing how my eyes steer me over weeks and months.
The good news is that K hasn’t had any true lameness issues from going barefoot and hasn’t been trim sore in months.
Photo from July 2017 a couple weeks after pulling shoes:
Photo from November 2017:
I’ve been working on her feet every couple of weeks in small maintenance trims and am now much better at watching how her feet change.
Because she’s more flat footed than any of the other horses I’m working with, I’ve come to decide she would benefit from better removal of some of the dead sole than my current tools were allowing for.
I suppose it was time to get myself a hoof knife. It wasn’t quite as big a deal as I’d worried it might be. I wear gloves because my concern was only in small part screwing up my horse- the bigger part was slicing myself!
One thing I’ve been told and read is that dead sole will come out pretty easily and live sole takes a lot of pressure to cut through. My aim was to try to remove some of the dead sole to give a little more concavity andtake the bars just slightly done to basically sole level.
Photo from July 2017 a couple weeks after pulling shoes and pads:
Photo from November 2017
My hoof trimming work is anchored currently in the ‘first do no harm’ mindset and though I’m quite pleased with how her feet came out of my mini-trim it is far from beautiful work!
The first hoof I was working left handed with a right handed knife (this took me a little while to realize) and the paring out was small rough little patches. None of them are deep and I think it will get the job done but it’s not particularly pretty.
I was pleased to find that the dead sole did take a little effort to remove but wasn’t difficult. The thin layer I started with will help ensure she doesn’t have as much dead sole causing pressure spots that are even with the hoof walls.
I didn’t see any evidence of hemorrhaging either which is also good news both in impact/pressure and diet/sugars. (She had some blood traces in her first barefoot trim in July)
Photos of hinds from early July 2017 a couple weeks after pulling shoes:
Photos from hinds November 2017:
I got a little handier with the knife as I went along.
Walking her back to pasture she was moving fine on all surfaces (pavement, hard pack and grass) at walk and trot. I’ll see how she’s doing as the days go by and if she’s at all tender (I’d be surprised as I was so conservative this time).
I can’t imagine going barefoot and taking on your own trimming is the right choice for everyone, but I’m glad to be in this position for the moment as I like being able to have more hands on control week to week instead of going on a 4-6 week trim cycle.
I’m thankful to Scoot Boots not only for a great easy to use boot that stays on for us making barefoot even possible- but also for their barefoot information and blog that gave me the courage to try!
Without question this is a whole horse picture and none of the factors are stand alone. Good nutrition, body work to be sure she can move her best, work on my riding to do the least harm when riding her (effecting her natural movement), a saddle that goes beyond a good fit to encourage building topline, and next stop will be looking into different schools of equine dentistry and how the teeth have an effect on the entire body and how the horse moves.
I suppose I’m also grateful for endurance riding that has been the catalyst for finding the best instead of what works- the journey has been eye opening for sure but also really fascinating!