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Bad Feet Are Driving Me Crazy

During my test ride and subsequent PPE I knew the feet would be an issue. He hit all the other marks though and I figured the risk was worth it.

If you remember, the very week I brought him home I had the farrier come out. He had lost his right hind in the pasture and half the hoof wall with it not allowing a new shoe to be put on. He was extremely lame after that. So much so I that I took him to the vet. A few days of bute and Farrier’s Barrier and he was back to good.

You get recycled pics for now. This was when

At that same farrier appointment, he had new fronts put on. I wasn’t that thrilled with how they were trimmed but they started from a bad place and were improved on to the extent they could be. With two front shoes he was sound over pretty much all terrain except the heavy gravel in the water complex on cross country.

This water complex. I really want to go back and

Well, dang if he didn’t lose his front left shoe in the pasture last week. It took a mighty chunk of hoof wall with it too. Knowing that we couldn’t likely get a farrier out soon, I had Dusty pull the right front and then he came up lame. Not as bad as on the hinds but lame nonetheless.

Sigh.

As of this post he is sound in the pasture but lame on gravel. I lunged him last night and he was sound but short striding on the front at the trot which had me cancel my lesson for tonight. Ugh. I hate canceling lessons.

My farrier is coming Friday anyway though I’m on a wait list to get in with another one that I’m hopeful will do a better job. I think this current farrier is doing the best he can but I want a second opinion. This leaves me with a bit of a decision to make and my gut is telling me one thing while my heart sinks a bit at the short term trade offs.

Eeyore is very skeptical about what is to come

Here’s the deal. I firmly believe that a barefoot hoof is the healthiest hoof. Endurance is a sport of obsession with all things horse care related and I did hours upon hours of research on the hoof, trims, barefoot, boots and shoes. I also realize that the Big E has crap feet that will likely never be able to handle work while bare. I’m fully ready to put shoes all around.

But form tends to follow function when allowed to and right now his hooves are all sorts of wonky shaped. I’d love to put shoes back on him this week. He’d be sound and happy immediately and we can get back to riding and training. I could lesson next week. Life could move forward.

Except that is only a short term gain. He’d still have wonky feet. Even the best trim can’t simulate how the hoof responds to barefoot use. I’d love for his left front to build a better sole and thicker heel. For his frogs to widen, his toe to shorten and his grooves to deepen and shoes aren’t going to do that. Barefoot will with time.

I want more of this.

The unfortunate part of leaving him bare is that it will likely mean time out of the saddle for a while. I’m going to try the cavallo boots I bought for his hinds on the fronts and see if I can ride in those for the time being. My thought process is that with barefoot ambulation in the pasture the hoof should start to grow out with a better angle, more support and a healthier overall hoof capsule and sole. Then if he still needs shoes for support, which I’m betting he will, at least the shoes are on a proper hoof instead of what he has now.

The timing is actually not that bad since it is already in the mid to upper 90s with no chance of cooling for the next two months. I don’t feel right asking him to work in 98F temps with high humidity. If I do it is at mostly the walk with some trot which he hopefully will start to handle pretty quickly anyway. Plus, between the right hind and left front hoof wall loss it’s not like he can even have a shoe tacked on with any hope of staying put.

So that’s where I am with the Big E. Barefoot by default basically for the time being and likely bare through next spring when hopefully he will have a new hoof grown out that will better take a proper shoe. The short term loss in the high heat and humidity for the long term gain in soundness and health is worth it. I could easily hop on him as he is right now in the arena and do walk work which at the current temps is all that is safe anyway.

We shall see how this journey goes.

26 thoughts on “Bad Feet Are Driving Me Crazy”

  1. Ugh! I feel you. I ended up letting May go barefoot for a few cycles last year, after she ripped a shoe off so bad that we basically had no hoof to nail to. Durasole, Keratex, and Easyboots got us through. It took a while, but the hoof was definitely healthier after a spell without shoes. However, I also learned she is not a horse that can event without front shoes.

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      1. Agreed! It’s not the fast road, but it’s probably the right one. (I got a lot of pressure from people to do glue-ons, but I chose to be patient and it really paid off)

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  2. I think your gut instinct is right.. keep him barefoot, grow a solid hoof and then look into shoes again. Better to invest the time now that having to keep band aid the situation for longer… And he will be a long term investment so it’s worth it! AND WHATS THE NEW NAME? I have zero patience obviously, lol

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  3. good luck! i don’t have any personal attachments to hoof ideologies one way or another – conceptually i agree that barefoot is ideal, but realistically most horses i’ve known who have had riding jobs have also worn shoes, with the exceptions having more to do with breed than anything else (ponies and draft types, etc). so for me, i’m pretty comfortable with putting shoes on a horse that i expect to perform in sport.

    and actually had to build a new hoof in charlie coming off the track too – something that’s taken a lot of time, effort, and expense. he stayed on a very short cycle for a long time (4wks), has occasionally worn leather pads, and gets buttloads of farriers formula in his feed and keratex hoof hardener on his hooves religiously. but it’s worked and his feet today are entirely different from his feet off the track (long toe, no heels, high/low syndrome). so it *is* possible to rebuild a hoof while the horse stays shod. all roads lead to rome tho – i hope you find success with the plan!!

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    1. I agree you can get there with shoes too. Right now I can’t shoe. Well I could glue but ugh. I’m not a fan of the glue ons. If he was lame I’d throw shoes on him anyway I could to get him comfortable. He isn’t tho. He is toe walking versus heel to toe which gives him the shorter stride and is ouchy in gravel but otherwise ok so barefoot should be doable as he grows in new hoof. We will see though. If he doesn’t stay sound then shoes will have to go on.

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  4. I think you’re on the right track with letting the foot grow. As unfortunate as it is, as others mentioned it’s better to do it now then have to mess with it later! I don’t know if this is an idea for you, but a farrier that I had in Texas would “cast” the feet. It got so wet one spring that all of the horses were losing shoes left and right. He did this for Amber and 2 other mares whose hoof walls were relentlessly chipping away, but because they were so sore and very very lame, he would get one nail in on each side, wet the casting material and then wrap it around the whole hoof. It was basically like a permanent easy boot that glued to the hoof. This helped all 3 of them a lot. One mare kept hers on for at least 2-3 shoeings, when her feet had finally grown out more. The shoe offered stability, and the cast prevented anymore hoof wall chipping off. Potentially he doesn’t even have enough hoof for that, but perhaps to keep him comfortable too? Just a thought! He looks so happy with you too 🙂 Love that selfie!

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    1. The good thing is that he isn’t actually lame. He doesn’t walk in a normal heel to toe gait on the front which is giving him the short stride but he isn’t lame on grass or in the arena. If he does come up lame I’ll like glue or tack shoes on to make him comfortable.

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  5. I understand this, especially if you can keep him pasture sound. If you can’t (been there, done that) entirely different conversation. That said, you’d be amazed by how much you can do with boots. I’ve jumped Batty in Cavallos and he now jumps in renegades. We also don’t ride in an arena so the ground is muddy/rocky/uneven/hard/etc. You can do a lot with boots.

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    1. That’s good to know! I’ve never done the boot thing as Gems natural hoof shape wasn’t good for boot fit and I didn’t agree with trimming them to fit the boot. He is sound now just not waking in a normal stride so time will tell

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      1. Boots are way more forgiving than the boot cult will lead you to believe. Batty doesn’t have the required renegade trim but he’s very happy in his so… we’ve had them 2+ years (maybe 3) and they’re still going strong. They can handle abuse.

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  6. Uggg I feel ya on this issue!!!! When I first got Chimi he came with front shoes only and the little turd kept pulling them off and blowing abscesses (plus I was having farrier difficulties and the guy I found to do my horses lamed all 4 in the 2 shoeing cycles he trimmed them) I literally said fuck it and pulled Chimi’s shoes and left him in the pasture to chill out. I kept him barefoot until this past April and May when we had Hoofageddon and he went front being barefoot for the past 4.5 years to having 4 shoes with pads on him. I’m hoping to go back to barefoot or at least just fronts (his soles are very flat and thin).
    Hooves are tricky little suckers and I hope Eeyore’s grow thick and fabulous like his breeding says they should be (love those rock hard appy feet!) after some TLC from you 🙂 But at least it’s to gross and hot to ride so you don’t feel like you’re missing to much!!!!!!

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  7. I tried for five years. I hope you have better luck. My horse is completely sound and moving better than ever with shoes. He definitely needed the support.

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    1. Shoes aren’t evil and I will put them on him if he needs them. I am pretty much preparing myself that he will need them while in work. But I think being barefoot could really help change the shape and function even if it doesn’t mean they are strong enough to go without shoes.

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  8. I agree while heartedly with your approach. Solid thinking all the way around. Hopefully he will respond quickly so you two can log some fun time in the saddle sooner than anticipated.

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  9. since it is summer and it is going to be hot for a while (who knew you could sweat while walking the dogs in the rain, oh hello humidity) you might as well try it. You can still figure out ways to ride him even if just hacking around your fields. Fall is coming 🙂 It will be cool again (I am chanting that bit in my head) HA.

    I think you are thinking the right way. Why bandaid it to death all summer and end up having to do this over the winter……

    He is the cutest….and ahem NAME?? I agree…wtf 🙂 LOL ha ha ha

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  10. I think you are right on with the idea of letting his hooves go barefoot to grow out and be trimmed properly. I am not a barefoot or shoe person, just a “what works for the particular horse” kind of person haha. I wish you were closer to either New England or Ohio (my farrier flies out to OH every few weeks to do horses out there!). He has worked miracles on horses through trimming when vets had given up.

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