What Am I Doing Wrong With These Feet?

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What Am I Doing Wrong With These Feet?

This is a discussion on What Am I Doing Wrong With These Feet? within the Hoof Care forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Hoof wall separation in horses
  • Repairing pancaked out horse feet

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    07-11-2013, 09:45 PM
What Am I Doing Wrong With These Feet?

I've been doing my own horse's feet since I got him about a year ago. I've been meaning to post these pictures asking for specific advice for a while, but never seem to have my phone when I'm out trimming.

Buck is approximately 3.5 years old Missouri Foxtrotter/Arabian cross. As far as I know he has never been shod, and had no foot care at all before I got him. He is sound on all surfaces except gravel, which he minces across. I'd like to get him to the point where he is sound on gravel, if possible. He is kept pastured 24/7 with unlimited access to grass and a mineral block. He is given feed concentrate only on days when he is worked. I've had ongoing problems with thrush that clear up when the weather is dry and comes right back when the weather is wet. When the weather is dry his frogs are nice and hard. When his feet get long they tend to pancake out.

The main problem that I am able to see with his feet is the bruising in the walls and the splitting of the hoof wall at the bottom of the feet. He also has two large cracks that I have had no success in growing out. I mainly ride him on sand, clay, packed dirt and blacktop. We avoid gravel roads for obvious reasons.

I'd really like to know what I'm doing wrong in his trim, because I'm seeing a lot of hoof wall separation. Plus, it's good to have outside feedback.

Front Feet (Side):

I have no idea what the black hole is - perhaps an abscess that is growing out? He was very sore for about two weeks a while back and I had to give him time off.

Front Feet (Front) :

You can really see the two cracks in his toes. The hair loss is from a severe rope burn injury he received about two years ago, before I adopted him from the Humane Society.

Left Front :

You can see the hoof wall separation and the hole in his toe. :(

Left Rear :

Right Front:

This is his worst hoof. You can really see the hoof wall separation and the hole in his toe.

Right Rear :

Standing (Kind Of) Square:

Rear Hooves Angle 1 :

Rear Hooves Angle 2 :


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    07-11-2013, 11:09 PM
I can't see his tootsies.
    07-11-2013, 11:14 PM
They're loading fine for me, I'm using imgur.com to host them...
    07-11-2013, 11:25 PM
Green Broke
Honestly, they look pretty good to me. You are pretty aggressive with the mustang roll. He might be less sensitive if you were a little less aggressive because the less hoof wall you have the more the sole bears the weight.

I know you are trying to grow out a healthy foot, so I know why you are being aggressive, but in my experience with my own horses they are always soundest when they are due for a trim. Then when I trim and get a little aggressive I have to go to booting them in the rocks. So even thought they look the best short, if you really want to ride on gravel you might try leaving him a little more hoof wall. Both length and thickness.

The cracks don't go all the way through the hoof wall so they don't look too worrisome (to me anyway). The separation might be due to a defect in his coffin bone and will never go away (there is a name for it but the name escapes me right now). Or it could just be separation if his feet have been too long in the toe for a while. But either way, it's not the end of the world, my Mustang has similar feet. You CAN get more aggressive with trimming the tip of the toe if you want to see if you can get rid of the toe separation. Look up Gene Ovnicek and the 4-point trim. He is very much into break-over.
    07-11-2013, 11:28 PM
Green Broke
PS. I would also treat all the cracks in the frogs for thrush. It's hard to tell how deep they go in pictures, but if they go deep that can also cause sensitivity.
    07-11-2013, 11:35 PM
Ah, there they are! He is quite handsome, isn't he?

It doesn't take a lot of study to see the slight flare out in the toe from the side angle. And, no offense...but it doesn't really look like as much effort and care was taken to smooth and bevel them from the "underside" as was the top side. The coronet isn't "even" which would seem to coincide with whatever is going on w the toe (e.g., wedge, and/or not the optimum toe to heel length). I am not an expert...so that is all for "what it is worth". An expert will undoubtedly chime in, though.

Added: I would fix that bar.
And added: I don't really see the cracks, what cracks I see look superficial.
    07-11-2013, 11:54 PM
I've been treating it with a water/vinegar spray and the purple stuff (not in these photos obviously). His last bout is 99% cleared up except for the sulcus in his left rear. He's really fussy about having that picked out so I know it's still sore. The right rear frog is really ragged but I'm pretty conservative about cutting the frog.

I hadn't been trimming quite this aggressively until about a month ago. I did indeed let his toes stay too long for a long time, which I believe is what caused the hoof wall separation in his right front.

He is soundest on gravel when he is due for a trim, but I've been so concerned about the hoof wall separation I'm seeing that I haven't let him grow that much hoof. His hooves pancake out as they grow.

And yes, Missy May... you are right that I did not put in as much effort on the underside. I will take that into consideration on his next rasping. I actually JUST started rasping from the underside recently and am still getting my bearings as it were. He is very obliging about having his feet done but I still find it physically taxing to bend over rasping with a hoof wedged between my knees. I will try harder! Also, which hoof needs to have the bar fixed? I'm still learning and have only recently started addressing his bars.

I wish I had pictures of his hooves when I first got him. Thrushy, tiny pinched frogs and so long they were chipping.
    07-12-2013, 12:13 AM
Right rear, (bar on left side of pic) and left rear - right side...they are laid over a bit. I am not sure why, and it may be the pics or just me...but his bars in general seem on the thin side. I don't even know what, if anything, that matters or indicates (soft ground, I am guessing)...just an observation.
    07-12-2013, 12:17 AM
Oh...and I am like you, it is physically taxing! In this weather I can only do 2 hooves at a time...then go try to recover from heat stroke. :)
    07-12-2013, 12:29 AM
I have to catch my breath between feet... I swear it's better exercise then riding him is!

I'll address his bars the next time I rasp his tootsies. I've been trying to touch them up lightly at least once a week, with a full on trim every 4 or so. My boyfriend described his mincing on gravel as though he were feeling around looking for a good spot to place each foot as he walks... kind of what I would do walking outside barefoot, come to think of it. I like to ride 5 days a week, but it usually ends up being 2-3 days. We ride between 3-5 miles most days, with the occasional 8-9 mile ride. I'd like to keep him barefoot as long as possible. As soon as I can afford it I'll be buying him boots for his front feet to see if that helps him out on gravel. There are a lot of gravel roads here and it would expand our riding territory if I could get him to the point where he's comfortable on it.

The ground here is very sandy, and my favorite routes are all sand or packed clay.

I am glad to hear that I was overreacting about the seriousness of the toe cracks. Should I be exfoliating his soles or are they fine?

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