Hoof Post: The Beginning

Hooves fascinate me which I suppose isn’t that surprising given my profession as a foot doctor. Biomechanics and foot function are interesting and complex topics in both humans and horses. That doesn’t mean anyone else finds it to be as well, so while I chronicle the changes in Cruze’s front feet for my own sake in the journey, I won’t mind if anyone decides to skip these posts.

Unfortunately I never grabbed immediate pictures when the shoes came off in the pasture four weeks ago. I was too worried about getting him comfortable again to bother making him hold still for a picture. There have been early changes but not drastic enough to ruin this series, so I’m starting out today as his baseline.

His front right is the better of the two. It has a higher heel to start with and a shorter toe. The sole is more concave though he still needs to lose sole out by the toe.

Too high of a heel, long toe and a lot of nail hole cracks. If you look at the toe itself you can see a distinct ridge just above the lost area from the nail hole that needs to grow down and come off. 

The hoof keeps breaking as the old nail holes grow down and I am hoping once that all goes away the wall will be stronger. He has almost no wall to walk on and while the angle of the hoof will take a year to grow fully out, he should get a stronger support base a lot quicker.

There is some concavity going on in the front right foot. He still has sole touching at the toe but it is getting smaller. You can see the formation of bars at the heel that need to grow forward and thicken but at least it is a start. 

He is more sound on the front right and I expect that hoof to make changes quicker than the left which started out from a worse position. The heel on the left is extremely low and lacks support. The sole remains flat and has a lot of changes to make.

A lower heel and much longer toe. I’d like to see the new hoof grow in more upright. 

He is doing a lot better on the front left but his hoof print shows a lot of sole contact happening. I expect him to rock back on the heel as that lessens.

Still pretty flat. You can see that on the entire right hand side he is weight bearing on the sole itself. He has a baby bar beginning on the right, but not on the left as of yet and his frog remains pretty narrow. 

It is nice to have some baseline pictures to use as this process slowly moves forward. He gets a lot of motion in the pasture, has the paved driveway to walk down twice a day, is getting Farrier’s Barrier applied regularly and is on a hoof supplement daily as well. Plus he gets his high end complete feed, so nutritionally and physically he should be set up for success.

I began writing this a week ago and as of now he is walking at a normal tempo down the paved drive instead of slowly crawling and asking to go in the grass. That’s a huge win in terms of comfort. I also noticed that he has changed from toe touch to flat foot touch which while still not the holy grail of heel touch is a step in the right direction. I expect his soundness to be complete once he begins rocking back and landing in the heel. That will also jump start the changes he needs to make.

Time is my friend here and I’m in no rush to go beyond the basics of riding at the moment, so hopefully things move along well enough before the ground gets mushy in the fall rainy season.

21 thoughts on “Hoof Post: The Beginning”

  1. Hooves are fascinating! You’re certainly right about time and it can be hard to see them struggle on rough ground but it’ll be worth it; you’ll have a happier, healthier horse in the long term! 🙂


  2. So when May ripped her shoe off last year, I had a lot of people telling me to do glue on shoes or other ways of “patching” the problem. Instead, I opted to be really patient and just let the foot grow out. Durasole, Keratex, hoof boots, etc.

    It took a while, and we did end up putting shoes back on once the hoof grew out. However, the hoof we have now is SO MUCH healthier than what was throwing shoes left and right last year.


    1. Yeah…not everyone agrees with this approach and that’s fine. I’ve talked extensively with Trainer and she agrees. He will likely end up in shoes eventually but what is the sense in shoeing a bad foot that will just rip it back off and start over again? Time will tell.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup. That’s where we were. It meant taking it easy for several weeks as the foot grew, but at least we weren’t trying to nail into nothing.

        (trainer at the time was not on board, but she admitted that it was the right choice after the fact)


  3. Looks like he’s got great structures and foundation to build up around. And that’s awesome news re: comfort moving out on the paved drive so soon. Very promising!


  4. Frequent reader, first time poster. Have you ever visited the Rockley Farm blog? They specialize in rehabbing horses with heel pain/ navicular etc. by taking them barefoot and turning them out on tracks. Their method isn’t practical for most people, but there is a lot of good info and before and after photos and videos of the horses on the website. I think its amazing how much a horse’s foot can change if you give it time and movement! http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/


  5. I can definitely tell the difference between the right and the left! He does have a lot of growing to do, but I think it works out well since time IS on your hands, and you’ll have a much better foot for it!


  6. I’m a firm believer that care is individualized to the horse. I’m not confident I can give Scarlet all bare feet but I’m very careful to watch the growth and make sure we have a good hoof going on. Looking forward to more update pics.


  7. I think I started following you right around when Gem had her accident with her foot and I really liked how well you chronicled it. I think Gwyn and Cruze have similar hoof issues, so I’ll be interested to see how your approach is working.


    1. Oh…ugh that was horrible 😦 Gems hooves are the complete opposite of Cruze. She tends to grow too much heel and a very upright near club hoof. Cruze is underrun and weak. It will be interesting to see how he changes over time


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