Originally Posted by Captain Evil
I am learning a ton from this post. The combined knowledge of people in this thread alone is rather astonishing. I really did not understand how complicated and remarkable horse hooves are.
Ahab is my first draft, and when I go to the local fairs and see the draft feet there, they all look so terribly wrong, but because the majority of them, the VAST majority of them look similar, I assumed that that was the normal hoof of a draft. Flat, splayed, laminitic looking, cracked, flares on all quarters, and shoes that curve and twist and bend to match all of the deformaties. I heard someone say that these huge grotesque draft feet are something of a status symbol with some of the pulling people, but I don't know if that is true. One of the things I liked about Ahab when we bought him was that his hooves looked relatively normal, for a draft, despite that awesome crack. Well, as I've said, I'm learning a lot.
My plan of the moment is something like this:
Slowly increase his excercise
Create varied footing in his turnout paddock, with the immediate hang out area being gravel (my farrier's suggestion)
Talk to my farrier about my options, including having me maintain a short toe, as drawn by Loosie, between trims
Have x-rays done in the fall (even if they can't help, I'm now wicked curious to see what's up
Discuss shoeing as a possible course of action for healing the crack.
The only way to truly learn is to look at all the info you can get and then weigh it up with an open mind as to whats going to do the best for your horse, most of us have to work with what we can best afford I would dearly love an indoor school but that aint going to happen any time soon so I just have to keep doing battle with the weather here and now the blasted deer flies who think my girls are for target practice. I never had this big a problem in England.
My grt uncle was a blacksmith/farrier and I can remember him giving me a massive horse shoe when I was really young, we still got a lot of vanners around in those days pulling light haulage and (mostly) shires were still used on some land and to pull the canal barges, money would have been tight but they all had good feet.
I had to give up on my first farrier here as he seemed inclined to shoe them all too long in the toe but was getting our mini-drafts feet in an awful mess. Our UK front shoes for general use are a different style to the ones I see here as they have just one clip on the toe and are heavier too but we do a lot more roadwork over there as we mostly don't have easy access to large trail areas
I hope that given the length of time your boy has had this problem that you will only allow a realistic time period in which to see improvement from trimming alone, I'm not even convinced that shoeing without some form of pinning is going to help either. I would want that X ray ASAP myself but that's just me
The gravel (as long as its smooth stuff should make life better for him - in around 350BC Xenophon wrote what is possibly the earliest guidelines on keeping horses 'On horsemanship' and his advice to owners that 'the stableyard be of pebbles contained by iron' (to stop them scattering I assume) as they will serve to strengthen a horses feet. Some of his advice is a bit off the wall so to speak but so much still relates to what we do today!!!
Good luck, I hope you will report back with your progress as it will be a good learning tool for others