Thin soles, sore feet.. Never-ending
So I posted on here quite awhile back asking for opinions and suggestions on my 5yo thoroughbred mare. I've had her for a little over a year now and it has been nothing but a constant battle trying to get her moving comfortably. I have yet to really be able to start doing any sort of real work with her be ause she is always just too foot sore.
When I got her, her feet were in rough shape and unshod. My farrier put a light plate on her and she moved ok but had trouble if she hit any sort of stone or rough ground ( the indoor I was using at the time had footing with lots of rocks, it's one reason I left that barn)
Next, my farrier put a heavier, thicker shoe on her to try and get her heals up. After this she progressively got worse. Her movement was horrible amd she looked so uncomfortable. Short, choppy stride, tucked her head in when she was real ouchie, wouldn't open her stride up, didn't want to canter etc.
Next we tried similar shoes and added pour in pads. No change at all. She also was pretty good at losing shoes, she didn't have a lot of foot to keep them on. She lost the pour on pads pretty quick and so we opted against them in the future since they didn't seem to help at all anyways.
Next few months we just kept plates on her and tried to get her to grow some foot. No improvement in her movement at all. Even on good, soft footing she just looked awful. At the end of last summer she pulled a shoe and tore her foot up too much to tack it back on so I was forced to leave her barefoot.
After losing the shoes she moved 100 times better (on good footing) than she had since I got her. She reached, she floated, she cantered happily and looked great! I couldn't quite believe it. So after getting some suggestions on here I decided to try a new farrier and started using a barefoot trimmer. I thought maybe she could benefit from casting but the trimmer didn't think so.
So she has been barefoot now for over 6 months. If the footing is perfect, she can and will move comfortably in it. But, she's otherwise still super ouchie and even has a hard time stepping out of her stall ( it has a small drop down) if her feet are packed with bedding. She is hesitant and sore walking on any sort of hard ground, gravel..anything not super soft. She is definitely not comfortable enough to be worked or ridden. So, while she moves better she is still far from good. I'm worried now that she's just going to be so susceptible to bruising and her feet are just getting worn down with how hard the ground a already is this summer.
The other day the farrier that the rest of the boarders at my barn use was
out and took a look at her. He saw what we already know - that she has paper thin soles. He is one of the better, if not the best and most respected farrier in our area and I really respect his opinion- which is that she NEEDS shoes and possibly a pad to ever be workably sound. He said it's just a fact of life that some tb's have to have shoes especially in work to be comfortable.
So now Im leaning towards trying her with shoes again. my only hesitation is how poor her movement got before with shoes, they really didn't seem to help AT ALL. But, I wonder now if it was something about the way my old farrier was shoeing her...but he was also a very good, well respected farrier.
SO, long story short..I'm not sure what to do. Shoes didn't work before, but barefoot isn't working either. Boots would probably help her I'd imagine to be ridden, but she's just so uncomfortable all the time. thoughts!? Opinions!.
The boots will help her move better and more on less than perfect terrain and so help her grow a new, stronger foot. It can take a year, sometimes more, for a decent foot to grow.
What is she eating currently, is she stalled or on turnout or lives out?
Can we get pics?
In general, a good trimmer, boots or casting, 24/7 turnout, good nutrition and patience will do the trick.
My TB absolutely needs shoes! He has thin walls and if he looses a shoe I must get it back on asap. That is just the way he is made. Also we have tons of gravel and such so its a must. Anyway, my first thought was, what good is a horse you cannot ride?? I say go for it with this new farrier and see what happens.
Show us pictures. Something is going on that hasnt been identified and addressed. Guarantee it.
I will try and get pictures, I don't have any on hand that show her feet that great.
She is on an excellent grain, Blue Seal Sentinel LS, free choice hay and she does get a smartpak hoof supplement and digestive supplement. She is not on 24/7 turnout but is out as much as weather allows. I live in Buffalo, NY.. 24/7 turnout is pretty rare around here unless it's summertime.
The barefoot trimmer I've been using, who was actually recommended by someone on this forum, didn't think casting was necessary. I've also asked her multiple times about boots but she didnt seem to want to push them either. She has told me to work her on hard ground to toughen up her
feet, but i just think that's kind of cruel with how much it hurts her. I also worry that it's only going to cause bruising, or worse.
I realize it can take a long time to improve hoof issues, but I see little to no improvement in how sensitive she is.
And I do want to add that I have had lameness exams done. My vet thinks it is entirely a foot soreness issue. They had recommended bar shoes and pads. My farrier I had been using didn't want to do bar shoes because he thought she would pull them too easily, which I did agree with. But we did try the equipak pour in pads.
Let's wait for the pics.
I did see a TB with feet like you describe, lame on hard packed dirt, who went over gravel and such just fine with boots. She eventually grew a decent set of feet;-)
Will wait for pictures.
for future readers: DO NOT work any horse over ground that makes it lame without protection. Bad Bad idea.
If your horse has 'paper thin soles' and is even sore stepping out of her stable, she absolutely needs protection and I very strongly disagree with just working on rough ground on the assumption it will 'toughen her up'!! The horse needs to have healthy feet before it might be OK to start doing that. You are absolutely right to be worried about bruising & such.
I would not shoe her, at least until her feet become healthy, at least until I'd exhausted other options. As it sounds like she's sore pretty much always, padding & casting may be best for now, then when she's improved, you can use boots for work. I've been experimenting with using casting temporarily, with duct tape - to be able to take it off & on easily, for treatment/cleaning & it does well.
It may be the norm in your parts, but keeping her cooped up is not good for her on many levels, hooves included. Use it or lose it is a valid principle.
I feel your pain, OP, though my case wasn't as severe.
My QH (lease horse) came to me sore, but not horribly so unless he was on hard ground. I'd known him from a few years ago, and know that much of his farrier work was done by amateurs as he was a school horse, and the learning farriers would often use him due to his good nature. He was only ever shod on the front. As a result, he had thin soles, recurring thrush, prone to stone bruising and abscesses, and soft hooves.
I considered going barefoot, but it was obvious that that just wasn't going to work fast enough on the hard ground here. I finally managed to get ahold of a reliable farrier who provided some more insight - he had recently recovered from seedy toe, and his hooves on either side were different sizes - one side left too large, one side too small. I mentioned boots to him, but he said that they would be very impractical due to how often he would need to be trimmed, and the fact that his hooves were different sizes. Before the farrier came, I'd used neatsfoot oil on his hooves every few days and it basically made his hooves so hard that the farrier had to strain to cut them!
The first ride after he was shod, he was a new horse.
I feel for you, definitely, especially after you've already tried so many methods. I do recommend neatsfoot oil to toughen the hooves up a little, although it did seem to dry them out quite a bit too.
I'm going to follow this thread though, to see what you find that works.
I'm also from the Buffalo, NY area and can provide you with with contact info for my barefoot trimmer if you're interested. I've been very pleased with him. He'll tell you straight out if he doesn't think barefoot will work for your horse and if you should get shoes. But if he thinks she can go barefoot he'll probably recommend hoof boots until her feet are healthy.
How much turnout is she getting on average a day? I'm lucky, my mare goes out at least 12 hours a day. Doesn't matter the weather, in fact Friday when it rained cats and dogs I went to bring the horses in and they all looked at me calling them, looked at each other, and put their heads down and kept eating.
Turnout is important. The improvement I've seen in my mare from her going from 2-3 hours a day to 12+ hours a day is amazing. And not just in her hooves, her condition and her mindset have also improved greatly.
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