overgrown bars project
My purpose for posting this is to share my experience with severely overgrown bars in the event that it might prove to be of some use to someone “out there” some day that encounters a horse with a similar problem. My filly came to me w bar material that had actually grown over the sole. I had personally never witnessed this sort of thing before, and the results of a web search for a like condition proved to be disappointing, at best.
Below are 3 pictures of my filly's right front foot.
Picture 1: Nov. 2012, right after I got the filly.
Picture 2: Nov. 2012, directly following initial trim (performed by a farrier)
Picture 3: Yesterday (mar 2013) before trim (which amounted to a bit of rasping)
Note: Her hoof “rehab” is still in progress.
Her frogs are shedding, so they currently look ratty, but aside from needing a trim, they seem to be reasonably healthy. I am aware that the pictures are far from ideal, but I think they convey the idea. She came to me untrained, and while she has since started training for being trimmed at liberty – taking quality photos is still a chore.
I initially had a farrier trim her. I performed all the trimming thereafter. The farrier said the glossy multicolored material covering her toe area (see pic 2) was sole. I doubted that on the basis of appearance, especially the color. If you encounter this, you will have to go w your instincts.
I initially made the assumption that her soles in the toe area back to the quarters were dangerously thin on the basis the overgrown bar had acted like a metal plate and prevented a normal growth cycle. I slowly (over a period of months) whittled away at what I believed to be bar material covering her sole. This effort was a bit tricky in-as-much as the material had the same appearance and texture of live sole material, only it seemed harder. It was not at all like “false sole” or dead sole. So, it was deceiving and I often worried that the farrier was correct and I was, in fact, removing healthy sole. This was another reason I removed it at such a slow rate.
I kept/keep her walls trimmed.
All the bar material that covered the sole was white or near white. Once I “hit” darker sole I assumed I had hit the “real sole” material and I quit all efforts to remove bar material from the sole and let the remaining material wear off on its own.
After the initial trim (pic 2) the soles were quite “flat”, they have since developed really nice concavity which, unfortunately, does not show up in picture 3.
She lives in sand. IMHO, this is the best medium for this sort of problem b/c of the “fluid” nature of sand.
Surprisingly, as horrid as the initial condition of her feet were, she showed no signs of lameness or tenderness. Go figure.
As a note, she initially had pretty stinky feet. I aggressively treated them for thrush although its presence wasn't that apparent. I only mention this b/c my fear was that there could be microbes "going on" in the layers. Now her feet smell like roses. :wink:
I imagine this effort to date would have been/would be easier and have gone a bit faster on a trained horse. Even w an untrained youngster it was not that much effort.
I hope this helps a horse in need someday.
I was reading somewhere just yesterday that over grown bar material is not necessarily an issue or causes any real problems (pain) so the fact that she was sound does not surprise me.
From hoof dissections that I've seen, the bars don't physically grow much more forward of where they grow from the internal foot. You can see in this picture the laminae of the bars, because they are in reality the end of the hoof wall that curves around at the back of the foot. The bars have four layers, like the hoof wall. When the bars lay over, the white line (which looks yellow) of the bars can be found more toward the outer hoof wall than it is supposed to be. Other pigment can get mixed in with the sole and be found all over the bottom of the hoof.
The more "furry" sole papillae usually grow the sole tubules straight down. However, if the bars are too long, they can push the sole tubules forward so they grow at angles that make them appear to be bar material. When you trim bar material, however, it feels plastic-like, just like your fingernails or the outer part of the hoof wall. The sole has a different consistency. That's why it seemed like sole (it was).
Your horse had a lot of overgrown sole (and bars as well). It needed to come off, and you did a good job. What we call "live" sole often is overgrown in the wrong places and needs to come off. Horses are meant to wear their entire foot evenly over abrasive ground, and so the entire foot must be trimmed as needed. Sole, bars, wall, frog.
Interesting, gotta. As hard as I try, I just can't handle pictures like the one you posted. :)
That is a good explanation and great info b/c it is confusing when you actually have it "in hand". I kept thinking "how can this stuff be bar 'growing' here, and live!!???". I wish I had known at the time, it would have made me a bit more confident about what I was doing. The info should be a big help to someone confronting the same problem b/c it will arm the w the knowledge to "feel confident" that they can "fix" the problem and are doing the right thing. Cutting into the sole really made me nervous.
Bars can cause extreme problems. It depends on the horse. They can be vey bad sources of chronic abscessing and certainly can be the cause of quarter flaring and sole thinning. They can jam up and crimp the lamina in between the bone and bar and cause subtle issues that go undiagnosed. Good job getting those back in much better order! There is still work to do but its a vast improvement.
Thanks Trinity. My hope is that if someone wavers from getting a perfectly good horse w hooves like these b/c thought it might spell a lot of time and money....that they can take this case in point - it was a bit of time, not that much effort and it cost me nothing other than the original farrier's fee. To be honest, it wasn't as if her hooves didn't "get my attention" or not have me questioning my decision. I am not that confident or knowledgeable. If I could do it anyone can, and hopefully do, give them a chance.
I know they have a ways to go. It is getting easier and easier to work on her feet as her training is coming along nicely. So, hopefully the "progress curve" speeds up a bit.
Clava, I think it depends on what exactly is overgrown, environment & work the horse does.
I think her frogs are ratty(thrush & shedding aside) because they are trying to reach down to the ground when the heels are so high actually. I'd trim the daggy, flappy bits off them & lower those heels. She may be on her toes because of weak heels though, so don't drop them too far, too fast - as usual, respect the sole plane - & it may be beneficial to use frog support pads to allow her comfortable heel first impacts until they develop.
I doubted it was sole b/c of the massive amount of bar that covered it prior, which I had been able to "pick at" a bit before the farrier trimmed them. That "tab" formation in pic 1 wasn't "independent" of the sole, that is it couldn't just be lifted up and trimmed off - it was "melded" on there. And the color of what I assumed to be an "overlay" covering the sole after the initial trim was the same as the bar. As time went on and I continued trimming it off, I would "break through" in areas to crumbly false sole looking stuff that I could easily remove. And, her sole is now a dark color. It appears from your and other posts my assumptions were or, at least may have been, wrong. I don't know that I took the wrong action, but if i did it luckily it did not result in any harm. It is good to discuss it in the case someone is faced w the same problem. Like I said before, info on it on the web is hard to find to non-existant (w actual pictures and "real life" discussion).
I have experienced melded and calloused bar material also on overgrown and wonky feet. I would have trimmed that material based on the depth shown at the apex of the frog. be it false sole/bar, it still could go. There is a time to get rid of apparent sole and if the apex were a deep groove and the sole appear quite flat and melded with the bars, that would be then. IME, it is a faster rehab when you get the false stuff gone asap. You can know the depth is there by finding the true frog apex and where it melds in with the sole.
Yes, I don't think it was bar material, but sole growing a bit weirdly, a lot of which grows out of the bar laminae. I think when bars become overgrown, this is what can result, perhaps as Gotta describes. Interesting that IME you only tend to see this in heavy breeds. Interesting you mention it could be a breed trait with Haffies & frog material. I haven't worked on a Haffy for a long time & don't find this with other heavy breeds(reg work on clydies, freisians & perchs), but they do tend to put out extra sole, which IME needs trimming more than light breeds... excuding donkeys & minis who also tend to need sole maintenance.
But essentially I don't think it matters much where it comes from, not saying I'd treat it any different than you did. I think the proof's in the pudding when you talk of finding crumbly sole beneath the hard stuff. Also that it didn't just 'pop back' when you removed it, which IMO indicates you probably should have left it ;-)
Frogs can be notoriously hard to trim sometimes. They can get almost as hard as wall material but their flexibility means they still yield to the knife without being cut easily. Yes, you can use the nippers if possible, if you're very careful, but using a knife in a sawing action works better than just trying to push it through, as you would wall or sole.
I don't think you need to get 'aggressive' with the frog at all really, just remove the dags & flaps, and keep those heels down. Horses do tend to grow 'layer upon layer' of frog material when it's trying to reach the ground(if it's not rotted away) & I think his frogs would be flatter & more whole looking if they were in better contact with the ground - and firm ground, if deep sand is all he gets, I'd endeavor to work on firm ground & provide some if poss in his living environ.
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