keep barfoot or get her shoes? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 03-06-2020, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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keep barfoot or get her shoes?

Hi,

(right up front: sorry I haven't got pictures yet, will try to take them this weekend - if anyone can tell me what pictures exactly would be helpful, that would be great … and also sorry for this becoming a longer read)

I have a bit of a problem with my horse's hooves - or with what people say about them:

I bought my mare in 2008 with shoes on the front hooves, because the previous owner only went on trail rides and had 99% of stony roads and not much else.

At home with us we soon realized, Lucky didn't need shoes all the time. She's fine at home with the soft ground at home on the paddocks, in the riding arena and the stables in general. We only got hoof-shoes to put on for trail rides.

Up until December 19/January 20 - we were doing fine with this set up. Or so we thought. At least no one EVER told me any different - not the stable owner, not his girlfriend who also lives there and sees the horses daily.

Now, end of this fall/beginning of winter we found someone who would also ride Lucky (don't know how you call that in English... it's not really leasing a horse… maybe call it part-time-leasing??). Anyways, this friend is also a vet and learned how to trim hooves during her time at university.
She did Lucky's hooves between our normal trimming dates with our regular farrier and I really liked the result, because Luckys gaits really improved with the permanently shorter hooves and our regular farrier was satisfied with her work, too.

Anyways, here starts the problem:
This friend told me, that after our regular farrier did Lucky's hooves they started to feel warm and she suspected, they were trimmed too short and she acquired an inflammation of the hoof-skin.
This is something that never happened before - not to my knowledge anyways, and no one ever told me something like this before.
So, we had a vet with a mobile X-Ray here this week for another horse, and thought - just to be safe - let's do x-rays of Lucky's hooves as well. That vet didn't find anything really bad, just that her soles are rather thin on the front hooves and he would recommend to have her shod at least for a while. But only on the front hooves.
Our friend says, she should be shod on all 4 hooves, also because she doesn't like the way her hooves grow (too flat, too short heels, too long toe). She also says, this is due to bad work of our regular farrier.
NO ONE in all those years, ever told me anything like this or that there was anything wrong at all - our barn owner and her girlfriend see the horses everyday and they probably know better than I how hooves should look (our barn owner, did his own horses' hooves for some time). But NOW, they start saying the same as our friend (I do have to say that our barn owner is easily influenced, esp by women… ).

On the other hand, I have my fiancee who says that our friend seems to be overreacting and just wants to show off with her knowledge or whatever … and he also says that Lucky's hooves seem fine to him. If anything they tend to get too long, but not too short.

Now I asked our regular farrier today, what she thinks about all this and she told me that, as long as Lucky doesn't get any problems (lameness etc), we should just keep her barefoot because with shoes she would need especially short trim intervals as her hooves would have NO natural abrasion at all and would grow longer even faster and they are already growing fast as it is. So yes, it would be a good thing if our friend (or someone) kept trimming her hooves in between our regular trimming dates. Sadly, our regular farrier has quite some way to come to us and can't come here more often. But we still kept her, and would like to keep her, as it is the first farrier in more than 10 years that has really been reliable and has been doing good work with our horses.


Now, what should I do?? Get her shod?? But by whom, there aren't many farriers closer by that we haven't tried before and that would reliably come out every 5 weeks.
I'm not sure if our friend can do shoes and I'm not sure she'll be able to keep doing her hooves anyways. … Also if we completely get another farrier (or our friend) for Lucky, who would do my fiancee's mare's hooves, who only need barefoot trimming? I'm not sure our regular farrier would still come here for only one horse?? But my fiancee would love to keep her as she's been the only reliable one around for so long.

Or just keep her barefoot as long as Lucky's fine with it?? Even despite the thin soles?? I really doubt that she'll grow thicker soles just because we get her shod - if anything she'll become like our barn owner's horse and be unable to walk barefoot at all (that horse is REALLY senisitive!).


Also, I can't even be sure if this friend of our's will keep riding Lucky or will keep having the time to do her hooves as she's getting her own horse soon (yes I knew that before - I never was looking for someone to do additional work with Lucky, but I don't say "no" if I find someone my horse is having fun with and can even teach her something new… even if it's just for a short time... I'm a bit "strange" about that, I don't want any complete strangers to work my horse regularily and I don't have the time to come to the stable every day and watch them until I'm sure I'm satisfied with them - I don't trust people easily in general… I do trust friends and relatives much faster, esp. if my horse show's she's enjoying what they do with her … and it's not like we actually NEED an additional rider… we were doing OK before, too, but I won't refuse that extra help while it lasts either ;) ).


So, to sum this all up: I basically have 2 different point of views from a lot of people and I'm none the wiser XD … maybe someone here does have some helpful input??
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post #2 of 34 Old 03-06-2020, 03:44 PM
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Shoes will not fix low heel/long toes. That is a flaw of the underlying trim. If your farrier cant fix this barefoot, he certainly cant fix it with shoes.

Is Lucky actually sore or showing any lameness? Sometimes horses get trimmed too short. Next time, dont trim them so short. Doesnt mean everyone needs to be in shoes. If shes not sore consistantly on reasonable footing, such as in her pasture or a groomed arena, dont bother. You said you have boots for times she need more protection.
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post #3 of 34 Old 03-07-2020, 11:31 AM
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Sorry long story,I’ve had a similar situation.

When I moved I had to find new farrier and without Any horse friends’ recommendations. I started with Farrier A for my TB and mini-mule. TB has had longer toes and low heels, but not lame. The TB got what farrier A said was a common way to trim TB with a little longer toe. I had my vet take look after a trim and she said the longer toe trim was fine and the hooves looked balanced.

My mule disliked farrier A at first sight and never warmed up to her and got progressively more confrontational over the next several trims. I decided to use a new farrier B to trim my Mule but still keep Farrier A for my TB since she seemed to do a good job. Farrier A took it personally and ended up not returning my calls to set up the next Trimming for the TB. So farrier B wasn’t able to come out for awhile so the TB’s next trim was a month overdue.

Farrier B used a gauge to measure the TB hoof angles, which showed a similar problem of long toe, under run heels, and the long toe forcing the sole to have too much contact with the ground in his front hooves. The front left was measured at 50 Degrees (looked more pancaked than the others) the front right was 53 degrees and the back were balanced at a good 55 degrees according to farrier B.

Either due to different hoof growth rates, the overdue trim or the way he was trimmed previously; he was unbalanced enough that it was going to lead to soreness or lameness issues eventually. Farrier B said adding shoes would add a cushion between the soles and the ground and prevent tenderness but wouldn’t fix the underlying cause.

To bring the hooves back in balance he started trimming the toes shorter in a squared fashion to allowing the hoof to roll faster off the toe during a stride this putting less wear on the heel. He didn’t trim the heel of the hoof except to shape it to allow more growth in the heels.

The next trim after that was 5 weeks and the front left hoof had already increased by one and half degrees, bringing the front feet more in balance. I never had a farrier actually measure hoof degrees before they just kind of eyeballed the hooves to check the balance and it seemed to work on my other horses. Hope my exceptionally long story helps.
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Last edited by loosie; 03-08-2020 at 04:10 AM.
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post #4 of 34 Old 03-07-2020, 02:40 PM
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If you look @loosie posts there is a link in her sign line for instructions on hoof pics.
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Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #5 of 34 Old 03-07-2020, 02:49 PM
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My horse gets thin soles from the winter rains (which are excessive) so I have to have him shod in front with leather pads and I put packing beneath the pads. Soon he will be back to barefoot.

If your horse's soles are thin (yes per xray) I would have the vet also do bloodwork to make sure nothing metabolic is happening. Not sure how old your horse is, but as they age things happen.

For proper barefoot trimming get pictures as recommended by @loosie and she will assess the trim and show any corrections needed.

Good Luck!
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post #6 of 34 Old 03-07-2020, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApuetsoT View Post
Shoes will not fix low heel/long toes. That is a flaw of the underlying trim. If your farrier cant fix this barefoot, he certainly cant fix it with shoes.
^^^ This.
Some pictures would help to see if your horse actually has long toes and of the "low" heels are actually long, underrun heels.

If your horse has long toes and underrun heels, then the sole is going to be thin.
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post #7 of 34 Old 03-08-2020, 05:01 AM
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Hi LuckyLady,

Firstly, check out the link in my signature for one good place to learn to take decent hoof pics. And I suggest you do what you can to educate yourself as best you can on hoof function & form, as there are many incorrect assumptions & 'hoof ignorant' people out there, even among professionals, and there are many factors which come down to management/owner care, rather than just a 6-weekly farrier visit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyLady View Post
:
This friend told me, that after our regular farrier did Lucky's hooves they started to feel warm and she suspected, they were trimmed too short and she acquired an inflammation of the hoof-skin.
Hooves *generally*(it depends) SHOULD feel warm. If they feel really hot(when the horse isn't standing in direct sun), &/or the horse has a 'bounding' digital pulse, this may indicate laminitis - what your friend meant by 'inflammation of hoof-skin'. If being warm was the only reason for her to suspect a problem, then I wouldn't worry about it. But perhaps the horse is sore, shifting weight constantly, obviously over trimmed or some such, then there may be a problem. And yes, over trimming can indeed cause sensitivity &/or laminitis.

Quote:
This is something that never happened before - not to my knowledge anyways, and no one ever told me something like this before.
As per my first paragraph above, that is because many have no/little clue about hoof health - UNhealthy, ILLfunctioning hooves are more the norm than truly healthy, strong ones, & people often don't even recognise that. So educate yourself, for the sake of your horse, don't wait for 'someone' to tell you something might be an issue.

Quote:
just that her soles are rather thin on the front hooves and he would recommend to have her shod at least for a while. But only on the front hooves.
Our friend says, she should be shod on all 4 hooves,
Yes, thin soles are a common prob. It does tend to be a 'symptom' of the 'real' issues though, such as hoof form being a prob(you mentioned long toes for eg) If your vet was talking regular rim shoes, they will provide no protection/support under the foot and can cause further issues if hoof form is already a prob too. They are often an effective *palliative* though, if a horse is 'ouchy' on hard/rough footing or such though.

IF you use plastic shoes, or shoe with rubber pads, then there will be some sole protection. If you're already using hoof boots on rough ground, and the ground she lives on is yielding, if she is not sore or sensitive at home, then I imagine there will be no need for shoes.

Fixed shoes of any kind do come with some... less desirable effects, especially if hooves are unhealthy when shoes are applied. Sometimes it can be a 'necessary evil' & sometimes the 'side effects' may be extremely small, but it pays to educate yourself on the pros AND cons, so you can make more objective decisions.

Quote:
also because she doesn't like the way her hooves grow (too flat, too short heels, too long toe). She also says, this is due to bad work of our regular farrier.
Short heels(esp compared to what is often seen) are good, as a rule. Of course, it's possible heels have been trimmed too short, or(rarely IME) overworn. But often, esp if toes are long/run forward, when people talk of 'too low heels', it is that heel walls may well be too long, but they've collapsed/crushed forward.

Quote:
as long as Lucky doesn't get any problems (lameness etc), we should just keep her barefoot because with shoes she would need especially short trim intervals as her hooves would have NO natural abrasion at all and would grow longer even faster and they are already growing fast as it is.
I agree with this generally. Hooves are always best trimmed little & often, rather than only 6-8 weekly, as is the norm. Depends on many factors as to how often is best for any horse, but 3-5 weekly tends to be adequate. If a horse is shod, I would advise it was trimmed/shoes reset at least 5 weekly max.

Quote:
I really doubt that she'll grow thicker soles just because we get her shod
Yes, correct. Using shoes will not cause her to grow thicker soles, and if anything, will compromise hoof function & health further and so cause soles to become even thinner. As said though, it depends & sometimes may be necessary, so, do your research.
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post #8 of 34 Old 03-08-2020, 05:09 AM
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Serenity, I'm not sure if you just wanted to share your story for OP to know she's not alone in getting different opinions, and I won't comment much here on yours, so as not to 'muddy' OP's thread(by all means, start your own thread if you'd like advice/further opinions), but I wanted to say...

Measuring hooves & angles can indeed give insight. But hooves should not be trimmed to some 'proscribed' angles, lengths, etc, as all horses, like people, are individual. Re imbalances, again, as with people, not everyone is symmetrical, so it's possible your horse *should* have odd sized/angled feet, and trimming them to be symmetrical and matching may well be entirely the wrong thing to do.
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post #9 of 34 Old 03-08-2020, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyLady View Post
She did Lucky's hooves between our normal trimming dates with our regular farrier and I really liked the result, because Luckys gaits really improved with the permanently shorter hooves and our regular farrier was satisfied with her work, too.

This friend told me, that after our regular farrier did Lucky's hooves they started to feel warm and she suspected, they were trimmed too short and she acquired an inflammation of the hoof-skin.
This is something that never happened before - not to my knowledge anyways, and no one ever told me something like this before.


If anything they tend to get too long, but not too short.

So..... how often has Lucky been getting her feet trimmed? Most horses need to be trimmed around 6 to 8 weeks. If you are allowing her to get too long on a regular basis, it can create long-term problems.


I would absolutely NOT put shoes on her if you cannot get a farrier to come out at a reasonable time to reset those shoes. It's one thing to allow them to get too long barefoot (which is not good) but it's way worse to let them get too long with shoes on.



Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyLady View Post
Our friend says, she should be shod on all 4 hooves, also because she doesn't like the way her hooves grow (too flat, too short heels, too long toe). She also says, this is due to bad work of our regular farrier.

Poor trimming is NOT a reason for shoes.



Sure, long toe can be due to poor trimming (although long toes / short heels usually don't go together .... usually it's long toes and long heels).


It might be that the regular farrier is doing "bad work" but it might also be that there is just too much time in-between trims.



For what you describe, I would absolutely not shoe her and instead focus on how you can get her on a more regular trimming schedule.
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post #10 of 34 Old 04-09-2020, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Hi again, and soooo sorryyyyyy for not posting an update for about a month! With corona and everything that is going on here I simply didn't feel like getting on any kind of social media much 🙈

THANK YOU for ALL your answers - you're awesome! 🙂

First of all @loosie where can I find that signature with the link for the description on how to take proper hoof pictures?? I can't see any signature in your answers to my post and also not on your profile?? Is that because I'm using my mobile phone or am I looking in the wrong place??

I did take pictures in the meantime, but I don't know if they're ok. ... If I can find your link I will definitely take new pictures.

In the meantime, our friend won't do anything with Lucky anymore as long as she doesn't get shoes - no work, no hoofwork. She says she's afraid that she'll damage something if she keeps working her without shoes.

Our farrier was here on Saturday and did Lucky's hooves again ... On wednesday I got a message from that friend and later from the stable owner (probably after a hint from that friend that he should write sth. too), that Lucky is slightly lame again and that she was trying to relieve weight from her front legs.

I drove out to the stable today (which I had planned to do anyway). First of all I was greeted by a dozing horse on her paddock who was relaxing one of her hindlegs and had her weight definitely on the front legs... and I let her walk and trot on the lunge. I couldn't see a real lameness though, maybe she did slightly walk out of beat now and again, but I can't be sure... I also took a video and showed it to my fiancee - he didn't see anything out of the ordinary either...

I will try and post those videos, and I'll also try to post those pictures ... Hope they're not too bad and help until I can get proper pictures 🙂

We've also decided that we will get a neutral farrier to have a look at Lucky. One that isn't fixated on "barefoot" or "horseshoes" only and who maybe also offers alternatives - just in case ... I hope that someone who isn't involved in this whole "discussion" that's going on in the stable will be able to tell me what actually IS necessary or not and if it's just that we find someone who can come and do her hooves more often (our regular farrier comes every 8 weeks, unfortunately she can't come more often 😞 ).
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