Did I do the right thing?
 
 

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Did I do the right thing?

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  • How to get horse's heels uncontracted
  • Disagreeing over horse care forum

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    09-26-2012, 02:07 AM
  #1
Banned
Did I do the right thing?

My farrier recently brought the idea of letting Drifter go barefoot to the table. He said that since he was not in heavy work (or work period since his injury), it would be a good time try it. We have been trying to correct SEVERELY constricted heels from a whack job by a previous farrier.

The first time I got my new farrier out, he shaped Drifter's angles and kept shoes on him (ones that are actually the right size..imagine that!), with a little more support in the back for his heels. Drifter had been losing shoes every 2 weeks with previous farrier's work. He managed to keep them all on up until the week he was due this time. He threw one of his fronts, and the hoof wall immediately cracked. When the farrier came out the next day he said he wasn't comfortable putting shoes back on Drifter, that we needed to address his hoof wall issues and that going barefoot would probably be the best option for him right now. I was majorly skeptical, because Drifter has NEVER been sound when going barefoot. Amazingly enough, this guy did it!

Drifter is perfectly sound out in his pasture and walks, trots, canters, etc with no problem (he was not even pasture sound the last time we tried to go barefoot. But have since discovered he was trimmed as if we were going to put shoes on,and then turned out barefoot and apparently that makes a huge difference). However, in order to toughen up his soles my farrier suggested I walk Drifter on the gravel/dirt road a distance of maybe 5 feet every day. He hates that. He trips, walks slow, very 'ouchy' ... will stop and refuse to move... and its gotten to where now its a fight to get him out of the gate from the barn onto that road because he knows what we're about to do. He walks, because he knows I'm going to make him, but I feel bad about it. He has not gotten any better, but I know its only been 2 weeks and this takes time ... I just wanted to make sure I'm not unintentionally torturing him? And If I am, please let me know! I trust this new farrier and Drifter's angles and heels are looking better and better, but will he ever be able to walk on a rock or hard packed ground and not look so depressed? Am I blindly trusting someone who is telling me to go about this the wrong way?

Just looking for other opinions/advice as always. Thanks all :)
     
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    09-26-2012, 12:02 PM
  #2
Foal
Ok, you asked. In my opinion, yes, you are unintentionally torturing him. First let me say, Im not pro barefoot or pro shoes, Im pro horse. I think there are some horses who can truly become barefoot all of the time but I also believe most of those horses live on what they are ridden on, meaning, live in hard ground rocky pastures and ridden on the same, or live in soft squishy pastures and ridden in the same. But I know in my area, we put our horses in soft pastures and then ride them down gravel roads, they hurt! My horses have been bare for 5 years and doing well but I still wont ask any of them to ride on gravel unprotected. Your horses hooves will toughen up over time, will he ever walk across gravel without gimping, maybe, maybe not, depends on him. So in my own personal opinion, I think its not nice to do to the horse. He is sound in the pasture, wonderful!!!! Let him be happy and put some boots on him when you take him out for a ride. Best wishes to you. You obviously care very much about your horse as its hurting you to see him hurt.
walkinthewalk likes this.
     
    09-26-2012, 12:14 PM
  #3
Trained
I agree with Jetson on that. What you could try is get some pea gravel, the round little rocks, and put a good layer where his water source is. The round rocks don't hurt near as much as the dirt/gravel combination of the road and still toughen the sole. Either way, it will take time and it depends how his feet are trimmed. If the farrier pares out the sole he'll take away much needed callusses so it'll hurt. Boots are probably in order for dirt roads. At least for the transition. You'll have to see with time if he improves. Some horses just don't.
     
    09-26-2012, 02:10 PM
  #4
Banned
Thanks guys! He is coming back out next week and ill talk to him about putting drifter's shoes back on. He did mention while he was trimming him that he wasn't going to pare away a lot of his sole because of what you mentioned deserthorsewoman.

He said when we did it that it might not work out but that it was worth the shot if I was willing to try it. I was, and we did and now I am just cutting my losses and re shoeing him. He has pretty thin soles anyways, I just didn't want to request shoes for him if I was reading to much into it. Glad to know I'm not. Thanks y'all :)
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    09-26-2012, 02:13 PM
  #5
Banned
The pasture he is on also has rocks and gravel in some parts. Almost all of his water sources require him to walk on small rocks, but not to the extent of the road.
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    09-26-2012, 02:25 PM
  #6
Foal
If your farrier recommends a break from shoes and he is doing great in the pasture and you said he isnt at work, then why put shoes on him? You have to remember, that if a horse goes sound or not on gravel doesnt happen over night. I believe most say its atleast a year. So why not give his feet a break and have your farrier correct what he need to correct as long as he isnt being used and doesnt have to walk down a gravel road?
     
    09-26-2012, 02:46 PM
  #7
Yearling
NO NO NO...you don't force a horse to walk over sharp gravel to "toughen them up" This is asking for bruising and pain! STOP IMMEDIATELY.

Walk him on ASPHALT or CONCRETE first! The roughness and hardness helps condition the foot. Soft ground all the time IS actually bad for a horses foot. They need stimulation from all types of terrain but If the horse isnt sound, he isnt getting ANY kind of proper stimulation from it. Sharp gravel is for horses whose feet are pretty much perfect, not horses with problems.

Pea gravel is great (think aquarium gravel) Asphalt and concrete are great, BIG flat rocks or hoof sized rounded stones and varied terrain out in the pasture is great. NOT sharp man made gravels.

If he really is massively contracted, Id leave him bare if he is sound most places except this sharp gravel. Walk or ride him on the asphalt 10 to 15 min and treat his feet for thrush and use Durasole! Im not anti shoe but I CAN tell you that this is the fastest way to a healthy uncontracted foot. Also, once any thrush and fungal crap is gone and clean, Soleguard is amazing for helping heels decontract.
loosie likes this.
     
    09-26-2012, 08:42 PM
  #8
Trained
[quote=DriftingShadow;1697123]We have been trying to correct SEVERELY constricted heels .....Drifter had been losing shoes every 2 weeks ... and the hoof wall immediately cracked. When the farrier came out the next day he said he wasn't comfortable putting shoes back on Drifter, that we needed to address his hoof wall issues and that going barefoot would probably be the best option for him right now. I was majorly skeptical, because Drifter has NEVER been sound when going barefoot. [quote]

Sounds like you might have a smart farrier there. All those problems are very good reasons, IMO to get his shoes off, at least until his feet can become healthier. But just because I think shoeless would be better for him, that's not to say I think all horses can cope with what we ask of them barefoot, let alone one with obviously unhealthy feet. You still need to protect his feet if/as necessary.

Quote:
But have since discovered he was trimmed as if we were going to put shoes on,and then turned out barefoot and apparently that makes a huge difference). However, in order to toughen up his soles my farrier suggested I walk Drifter on the gravel/dirt road a distance of maybe 5 feet every day.
Yes, farriers often rasp the bottom of the foot flat, including into the sole if necessary. Also often routinely pare the sole & frog with a knife, all of which cause the horse to be more sensitive - as you'd be if somebody sliced the callouses off your soles & told you to go bare! But I've seen nice trimming without unnecessary invasion of the sole or frog by farriers that shoe, so I wouldn't say that's universally a 'trim to put shoes on'.

I disagree thoroughly with your farrier *for now* at least, on the subject of 'toughening up' on gravel. Your horse has weak, compromised hooves & it sounds like he needs them to become healthier before they can start coping with & benefitting from rough ground. Forcing the issue without protection may just lead to further problems such as stone bruises. Have you looked into hoof boots?

Quote:
Am I blindly trusting someone who is telling me to go about this the wrong way?
Possibly. As said, I think so re forcing him on gravel. Who knows without a lot more info - he may be completely on the money with everything else. But unfortunately there's no shortcut I know of to learning enough to make objective opinions rather than blind trust.
Trinity3205 likes this.
     
    09-26-2012, 09:25 PM
  #9
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie    
Your horse has weak, compromised hooves & it sounds like he needs them to become healthier before they can start coping with & benefitting from rough ground. Forcing the issue without protection may just lead to further problems such as stone bruises.

This is exactly where asphalt or concrete will help. Start in boots just walking anywhere if he is so ouchy that he can't even walk on flat hard surfaces soundly. As soon as he can, walk him barefoot on the flat (no rocks!) asphalt as his feet improve. We call them "promenade" walks and they do help. The key is SOUND movement...not limping around. You have to build the bridge to graduate to gravel not just jump off the cliff with just a problem foot.
loosie likes this.
     
    09-26-2012, 09:53 PM
  #10
Trained
Barefoot will definitely help your horse's contracted heels within a few months time, but as others have said, it can only happen if the horse is moving properly.

Asphalt and concrete are your friends. Nice hard but smooth surface, hand walking 20 minutes a day will do tons to get your horse's digital cushions into shape. Once the back of the foot starts to strengthen, your horse starts to use it more via a heel first landing (which you want), and then a good cycle begins where the better he feels, the more he walks correctly and the healthier his feet get.

I would not walk him on anything uneven, hard or gravel for many months without hoof boots. It's not just a matter of toughening up his feet. His soles are likely thin and this takes months to change through just letting a healthier foot to grow in.

Keep with it. Protect his feet on rocky terrain and watch those heels spread out!
     

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