I can only give you my opinion as a hoof care practitioner based on those pics and the info you've provided. I deal a lot with rehabbing sick hooves, most clients finding me after 'doing the rounds' or on vet's referral. Of course it is only my opinion based on little info & I wouldn't expect you to take it any more than take anyone's advice on blind faith, as you say you've learned not to since your last farrier.
I wonder if the pads are aiding in the reason why the nails are "lose".
Could be, if they're material that has compressed under load.
I'm not that worried about the competance in my Farrier, he is pretty educated and has been doing a great job thus far, and I wonder if he's just having to spend more time on repairing the angles and the hooves in accordance to the incompetant farrier I had for so many years
Of course I'm but one opinion, but if he's been working on your horse for that long, angles should have been rectified by now. That is one concern that can't be seen from the pics. Another that can be is the flaring. Along with the cracks indicating hoof imbalance.
Regarding his diet & nutrition, as mentioned, there is no obvious evidence of lami from those recent pics. I personally advise doing at least a basic diet analysis, through a service such as feedXL.com(that's who I subscribe to) in order to correctly balance nutrition. Neither of those Purina feeds give a list of ingredients. They both say 'low starch' except that the Senior has molasses, which is a cause for concern. I presume the Optium is the competition one? Is he in very hard physical work to need that? Just be careful of how much hi-carb feed he gets, along with calories in general. Fat horses are also more at risk of health/hoof probs. Safergrass.org is one source of info on diet as it relates to hoof health.
The other thing is the size of his meals. Horses are 'trickle feeders', evolved for tiny amounts near constantly. They have small stomachs(about the size of ours) & quick metabolisms. Especially when considering starchy feeds, to reduce the risks, the daily ration should be fed in as many small meals as possible & the fewer feeds per day & larger the meals, the more likelihood of hind gut problems.
HORRIBLE, which I feel aweful about.........I should of educated myself on feet and took that step to find him a better route than trusting the Farrier I had at the time. I blame myself for the condition of his feet because of my ignorance in the department of hoof health.
Interested to know what you did to become educated about it? Where did you learn from? What is it that about this farrier that gives you faith in him? How do you see the general health of your horse's feet now?
how off his angles were and how they should be in accordance to his pasterns, shoulder's and hips.
That, I think is open to opinion & interpretation. Yes, pastern angles are *generally* a match to the toe walls in healthy feet *depending* how they're standing, etc. Yes, shoulder & hip angles do change when hoof angles change, but every horse is individual & conformation is individual. No horse should be trimmed to conform to preconceived 'correct' angles IMO. No horse should be trimmed in order to make pastern/hip/shoulder angles 'correct'.
He just recently put wedge pads on Nelson, the last appointment we had with him was the time he put these new pads on. He explained something to do with his lack of heels or something like that.
Horses are *supposed* to have very short heels(again, it's individual, there's no absolute 'correct' angle/length). Generally when people talk about a horse 'lacking heel' it is either because of a preconceived notion that they should have high heels & they need to be 'stood up' more, or they fail to realise the horse actually has long but crushed flat heels - he's walking on the backs of them(which is a prob difficult to correct with shoes). While the current shots don't show the heels, your earlier pics show heels that are indeed crushed forward.
Nelson was quite sore for about a week afterwards due to the new angles - and now that I think about it, that was when the cracks came about.
There are exceptions, but a horse being sore after a trim is generally down to farrier error. The horse should be the same if not better after each trim. Yes, forcing a horse onto his toes is one reason for cracks - along with a multitude of other more serious problems - but if this was only done 4-5 weeks ago, I imagine the cracks had already started by then(unless his walls are a lot weaker than they look & there's been lots of high impact exercise). But that they got obviously worse then is another indication of faulty treatment.
but again, it was hard to understand what he was saying.
I would suggest that if you're allowing him to do whatever to your horse, that you at least make sure you understand what he's on about. How can you make informed decisions without?
I tried the Barefoot thing a year ago and it did not work out well. I had a barefoot farrier come out and take care of him. He was sore, tender and ended up not even wanting ot move. He incurred bruises and abcesses on all 4's and it was a disaster. I even invested in 4 Easy Boot Epics and he was still miserable.
I wouldn't expect a horse with feet like that to cope well barefoot on anything but soft ground. He would have to develop healthy feet first. While I suggest *shoeless* that doesn't necessarily mean bare. Did you use the boots from the start full time? Was the trimmer someone who was experienced in rehab? What other measures did you take to protect/support his feet & help them become healthy?
I shoe because I believe he is a horse that needs them, and we are
In my opinion he is a horse that needs NOT to be shod, until his feet can become healthy & strong. That may well mean putting your eventing ambitions on hold & give precedence to getting him sound first. IME it is difficult or impossible to rehab feet like that when the entire load is forced to be kept on disconnected walls. The walls need to be relieved, not loaded. If boots aren't good enough protection/support for him, there are additions & alternatives such as foam pads, Vettec SoleGuard and Equicast for eg.
Anyway, that's my take on it. Be happy to give you further more specific opinions if you want to post some more pics that better show the state of his hooves now.