Changing farriers and thinking barefoot... - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By loosie
  • 1 Post By verona1016
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post #1 of 6 Old 08-25-2014, 06:32 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: michigan
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Changing farriers and thinking barefoot...

I have used the same farrier for several years, my horse loves him, and he seemed very knowledgeable. This year he has been trying to even out his angles ( be nice please... I am NOT good at hoof terminolgy!) and he has been telling me that he has one hoof that is slightly clubbed and the other dropped. So he put a slight wedge to the shoe on one and not the other. Made sense to me.

Well,this spring he became more than his usual clumsiness, ( he is always a clumsy horse) and seemed comfortable walking in the pasture but when I would hop on he became very ... i dont want to say limpy, as that is not it.. but it almost felt like his fronts wanted to buckle under him. Needless to say I did not ride him, had others I could ride and figured he was happy as a pasture pet, well loved and enjoying being a horse.

So when the farrier came last week ( Sam's been in the shoes for maybe 12 weeks...with a trim after 6..) I said lets take the shoes off, he is not being ridden. I gave him bute for a few days as he got used to being out of the shoes... and noticed a few days ago that as he walked on the cement in front of the barn... I could HEAR that he was walking better. Both fronts SOUNDED the same. Previously he landed much harder on the right front. So out of curiosity I hopped on bareback and he moved so much better than he had.. we actually took a lap around the trails ( walking only ) and he was stepping over logs, etc just fine.

So I sat down and kicked myself silly. The ONLY thing that changed was taking the shoes off. I have always shod him in the summer as his feet are very flat and tender for any gravel etc. This is the first summer the farrier tried the wedge on one. It made SENSE to me. But now I am thinking all we did with the wedge was transfer what was a foot issue into a shoulder issue, and maybe even his back. Hence the tripping.

So after telling the story to my friend, she strongly recommended I try her barefoot trimmer. I have done some reading and am very happy to try.

Barefoot people, please chime in here. Does it seem like I am on track as far as the 'corrective" shoeing possibly causing him more problems than it fixed? I am very happy to try barefoot after this whole fiasco!
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post #2 of 6 Old 08-25-2014, 07:28 AM
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My take on it if you can find a good barefoot farrier, then barefoot's the way to go. I'm not anit-shoeing but, there are so many things a good trim can do for horses that have hoof problems.
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post #3 of 6 Old 08-26-2014, 12:37 AM
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Re the 'clubbed' & 'dropped' hooves, as with everyone, horses are very rarely(ever?) perfectly symmetrical. Also, like us, they automatically favour one side - eg right/left handed. So, with natural inclinations to stand with a particular foot forward, body issues, etc, they do often tend to have one fore more upright to the other. I wouldn't consider the 'high' foot necessarily a 'club', unless it's severe. I also wouldn't try to match the feet to eachother *at least without a good bodyworker to work with the horse too. Just because the 'low' foot is low in the heel doesn't mean it's too low(you'd need to assess the bones inside), and just because a hoof is higher than 'ideal' doesn't mean the heels should be lopped off.

What does tend to happen with 'high/low' feet is that the 'high foot' toe flares forward, which is it's inclination, as it's the 'back' foot with more pressure on the toe anyway, but often farriers do try to match them, encouraging this further. The toe should be kept in check, in balance in relation to the bones, regardless how high the heel may 'need' to remain. The 'low foot' is also inclined to 'run forward, both in heels & toe. Unfortunately, depending how it's done, wedging can not only be unnecessary, but further exacerbate crushed heels.

This horse may be 'clumsy' for a number of reasons other than his feet, but commonly, high or crushed heels are quite weak, so it could be that he needs protection under his frogs. Or it could be about balance, particularly if he has long toes to trip over. That he seemed worse with the wedge could be about the different pressure on his feet, or about the different body balance & that he was out of balance for what *he* needed. Could even be that something was hurting, due to forcing a body not used to it to be more symmetrical.

As for 'trying barefoot', you've probably already heard me say I think (conventional)shoeless is best where possible, but that's not to say it's always the wrong choice, or that barefoot is best. Horses very frequently need protection/support in some situations at least, to do all we ask of them. If your horse genuinely seems to have good, strong feet & do well bare, by all means see how far you can go with that. But if your horse has unhealthy feet, they're sensitive on stones, they're thin soled, etc, I think it's best to assume they need boots or such when ridden, and take 'trying bare' carefully & gradually. It's all very well talking of 'transitioning', but I don't think just forcing it on them is reasonable, and what if, due to damage, lack of development, environment, etc, the horse is not at the point where he CAN grow better feet yet & handle what you want without further risk of injury?
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post #4 of 6 Old 08-26-2014, 01:26 AM
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I think barefoot is great if the horse can be sound and happy. My boys are barefoot and always have been so it can be done. Take your time to find a good trimmer and allow your horse time to adjust. It certainly sounds like he will be happy barefoot.
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-26-2014, 11:56 AM
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My horse has had front shoes on most of his life. I had them pulled last November to see how he'd fare barefoot and have been very happy with the results. I was originally thinking he'd go back in shoes when spring/summer came around, but he was doing just as well barefoot as he had been shod, so I really didn't see any reason to put them back on. My avatar is him earlier this year on the 2nd day of two one-day horse trials and he was perfectly happy barefoot for all three stages on both days (dressage, show jumping, and cross country)

I did get him hoof boots for trail riding, since he lives on pretty soft terrain and I really couldn't expect him to handle everything on the trail without being a little tender footed on some of the rougher/rockier ground.

I really like that I'm able to do more of his hoof care myself now, too. I've gotten pretty interested in learning to trim. Maybe one day I can take over the majority of his trims and only have a professional out every once in a while to check on his progress...
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The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will. - Buck Brannaman
"Nothing forced can ever be beautiful." - Xenophon
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post #6 of 6 Old 08-26-2014, 03:11 PM
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It had nothing to do with shoes per se. It DID have to do with trying to make naturally mismatched feet match, Simple as that.
They are what they are and never will match, the two feet have long ago adapted to the differences in the structures above them. One will be more upright and shorter , the other will be lower and wider.
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