Are shoes messing up my mare's hoofs?

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Are shoes messing up my mare's hoofs?

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    07-08-2011, 03:06 PM
Exclamation Are shoes messing up my mare's hoofs?

I live in arizona and board my horse at a cheep barn (facilities are not very good and the arena is rock hard.) When I got my horse in 2008 she was barefoot. I was just riding her for fun and would go on the trail on the weekends (the trails are very rocky). I put shoes on her when her feet started to chip because I went on the trail a lot. They were okay for about a year until I started riding her harder and training her to do barrels. In the last two years she has gotten 3 cracks all starting at the. Top close to the bulbs of her heels on her front feet. I just discovered the third crack tonight on her left front. And she has an older crack on her right front. I have her on horseshoers secret concentrate and I am putting Hoof Alive on all her feet at least once a week. She has a size one egg bar on her right front and a regular size one on the left front. She is usually a zero but it was contracting her heels and me and my farrier that was causing the cracks. We are going to try letting her go barefoot and see how she does. What do you guys think? Should I let her go barefoot? Should I use more hoof oil? Should I go to a different barn that has better ground? I don't know what to do. Please help!
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    07-08-2011, 03:14 PM
Pictures would help to start so we can really see what you're talking about. ;)
    07-08-2011, 04:35 PM
Agreed, pictures would help a great deal. If you can, take one at hoof level from the front and each side with her standing on concrete, then pick them up and get a picture of the sole. As for the cracks, do they look something like this?
    07-08-2011, 04:39 PM
No the cracks are vertical
    07-08-2011, 08:27 PM

There are a range of factors which effect a horse's feet & IMO it is probably rarely if ever *just* shoes that cause the issues. However, the innate nature of metal rims do at least contribute to a number of problems. It's best for you (& of course your horse) to do your homework & educate yourself as best you can on principles of hoof health & the factors that effect them. Then you can weigh up the pros & cons of shoes, barefoot, boots, management, etc and come to a more informed decision on what is right for your horse at the time.

Are shoes damaging your horse's feet? Generally speaking, if they are well applied to healthy, strong, well balanced feet and horse is reshod/reset at least 6 weekly and you're not riding on hard/flat ground(so peripheral loading & concussion is not an issue) and your horse is given a number of periods each year(or in the 'off' season at least) without shoes and with good frequent hoof care and his diet & nutrition is good & there is no other cause of laminitis, then shoes are probably not going to be that much of an issue.

In addition to good pics - see; Good Hoof Photos - How to take Good Hoof Photos - as much info on management, diet, problems, etc would be helpful. For eg why is she in eggbar shoes for starters? Is it possible the original chipping was due not to overwear, as I am guessing you thought, but to too much growth/infrequent or inadequate trimming &/or diet probs? See my signature link for more info.
    07-08-2011, 09:47 PM
I live in Arizona too, up in the White Mountains. I think dry, hard pens are your friend because it keeps the feet hard and dry. I keep my guys barefoot and use Easyboot Epics in the rocks, but most of the time we ride completely barefoot around home.

Like was mentioned before, we can only guess as to what is going on, but I would think if there are multiple cracks going on, the feet are too long or improperly balanced. Sometimes cracks are chronic and it is hard to get rid of them, especially if they are due to a defect in the coronet band of the hoof. But it sounds like if your horse is springing cracks right and left, the hoof is long and maybe imbalanced.

So, everyone has a different idea of what they want to do, but I personally would go back to barefoot and just boot in the rocks. I only have to boot the fronts on my guys.

The feet to have to be kept trimmed and the edges rasped to keep them tidy when going barefoot for you will get chips. But small chips have never caused me a problem. It is just nature's way of trimming long feet. If I start getting chips, I know it is time to trim/rasp.

PS. Re-reading your post, I think I know what you are talking about. I think you are having problems with quarter cracks and that can be from contracted feet. Larger shoes with room for expansion are the way to go if you are keeping her shod. That, and I bet the farrier is relieving the quarters where the cracks are. My friend had a horse that was the same way. The crack actually started from the top down, not the bottom up. Personally, I still think barefoot is better for contracted feet, but I don't want to start a barefoot vs. shod debate. Those never go well!

I don't use any external hoof products on my horses, (unless they get thrush), so I don't think the lack of moisture is the problem. Moisture comes from the inside out. I think if they are getting a healthy diet, you really don't need feed-through hoof supplements either. But they can't hurt I suppose. My horses have really good feet on just an alfalfa/grass mix diet.
    07-08-2011, 09:56 PM
Her feet are not getting too long because she gets them done every six to eight weeks and she got them done June 9th.
    07-08-2011, 11:15 PM
Getting them done every 6-8 weeks does not guarantee that they are not too long. Some horses need done every 4, others do well on a 10-12 week rotation, it all depends on the individual horse.

How about, instead of just saying "no, it can't be that" every time someone offers a suggestion, you get us some pictures so that we can at least get an idea of what is going on and make suggestions on what we see rather than trying to imagine what you are describing.
    07-08-2011, 11:46 PM
Originally Posted by Buckskin984    
Her feet are not getting too long because she gets them done every six to eight weeks and she got them done June 9th.
June 9th and the rest(?). I know of plenty of horses who would be overlong & overdue for a trim at 6 weeks, let alone 8. Just because that is the norm for many doesn't make it necessarily suitable, let alone right for all. I find a 4-5 week schedule generally pretty good, altho some can cope with less frequent.
    07-09-2011, 01:24 AM
I have had this mare for three years and I know her. Her feet grow slow so she doesn't need be trimmed once a month.

cracked, dry, hoofs

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