Stumbling: shoeing vs barefoot - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Stumbling: shoeing vs barefoot

When I got my new horse he was barefoot and his hooves looked really healthy and were trimmed on the short side. He was out of shape and had extra fat. He was a bit stumbly, both under saddle and lunging. After he stumbled a bit harder, like fell on his front knees when my trainer was riding him, she pushed for him to get shoes to help.

It's been a couple months now, the stumbling has improved some but otherwise she still describes him as naturally clumsy. He's in better shape now. But I've noticed he forges, especially when I ride him, probably cuz I'm not as balanced as my trainer. So his shoe is pulling away and overall I haven't been happy with his hoof and frog condition since shoeing. I'd like to take him back to barefoot again. But will he start stumbling worse again? Supposedly the shoes help him pick up his feet more, and my trainer would keep him shod. I'm just not sure what direction to go in.
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 04:22 PM
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There are a hundred-and-one different reasons why a horse could be stumbling. While, yes, hooves are one of the major ones, it is not the only factor. How is his health otherwise? How are his legs and conformation?

I'm an advocate for barefoot whenever conditions permit. I understand not all horses can go barefoot, but many can and do go better barefoot. A goof hoof is a process, not an event. That process starts with a good trim. The best horseshoes in the world would not compensate for a bad trim. What you do after the trim depends on the individual horse. Corrective shoeing can be beneficial, but one must be careful and know what they are doing. I've heard many people try to correctively shoe a horse. While the horse's original condition may have improved, when the shoes were pulled, the horse had other problems, such as becoming sore, lame, or bruised.

I think @loosie would be more of someone to listen to, though; she is a farrier.

Would it be possible for you to post pictures? She also has information about how to take the best pictures for hoof conformation, evaluation, and critique.

I don't know about being "naturally clumsy." I do know some horses tend to be a little trippier than others, especially young horses or horses that aren't paying attention. However, a majority of horses are actually pretty aware and careful about how they move around. Consistently, constantly tripping is not "normal." I'd evaluate health and physical problems, like you are, before just dismissing it as "oh, the horse is just naturally clumsy."

Horses can trip under saddle due to rider error, which you addressed.

Horses can trip while lunging due to being unbalanced. Lunging is can be rather strenuous for a horse, especially if the gaits are fast or if the circle is particularly small.

ETA:
Another thing that can cause a horse to trip is the lack of their head. Horses use their head and neck to balance. When one over-restricts the head, especially on an already unbalanced horse, the horse can't brace and balance against anything and can cause them to trip more often.

Does trip out in pasture when he is at liberty?

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - Confucius

Last edited by LoonWatcher; 05-13-2019 at 04:35 PM. Reason: Adding.
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 04:26 PM
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Can you post pics of his feet? Several things can cause stumbling i.e. long toes, conformation, rotation of the coffin bone, unbalanced trim or shoeing. Did he not forge before the shoes were put on?
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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He is short backed conformation-wise, even for an Icelandic. It's hard to say if he was forging before shoes since we put them on so quickly after getting him, but previous owner says no. I dont think he stumbles out in the pasture. I wish I had a pic of his hooves when I got him, his frog looked great.
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File Type: jpg 20190512_112506_1557779528498.jpg (126.0 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg 20190512_112541_1557779547392.jpg (112.3 KB, 5 views)
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 04:49 PM
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Something is different if he does not trip out in pasture at. You are either not witnessing his tripping, there is some kind of human error when you work with him, or some different environmental element that is causing tripping. If a horse is consistently, constantly tripping, look for what conditions they trip under. If a horse is tripping in pasture at liberty, then they are likely to trip when working with humans. However, if they trip when working with humans but not in the pasture at liberty, then there is something about that situation that needs to be evaluated.

I highly suggest reading this to get a better idea on what kind of images we'd like to see for hoof conformation, evaluation, and critique. I cannot accurately say (so nobody quote me) just based on the photos, but it looks like his toes and heels are too long.
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I'll get some other pics. I did find one that shows his hooves when we got him without shoes. And when I thought he was due for a trim, they wanted to keep him long to put shoes on.
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Last edited by Shortyhorses4me; 05-13-2019 at 05:00 PM.
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 05:04 PM
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In the before, unshod (#2) picture, it looks like his hooves are shorter and less stretched than in the current, shod (#1) picture. (Again, nobody quote me.)
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File Type: jpg Shoes.jpg (21.4 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg Barefoot.jpg (21.5 KB, 2 views)
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Last edited by LoonWatcher; 05-13-2019 at 05:14 PM. Reason: Grammar.
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 05:57 PM
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He also appears toed out/knock kneed which would explain the forging. I agree long toes and heels. When walking on a flat surface, does he land heel first or flat footed?
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 06:07 PM
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His toes are to long probably reason for stumbling. Shortening up toes will help. As far as barefoot or shod depends on the horse, what kind of footing he rides on.

Mine are shod do to footing being rocky/gravel.
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-14-2019, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shortyhorses4me View Post
He was a bit stumbly, both under saddle and lunging. After he stumbled a bit harder, like fell on his front knees when my trainer was riding him, she pushed for him to get shoes to help.
Your trainer may have a bit of knowledge 'all round' about horses, and changes in their feet do indeed impact the way they're going, that she would notice as a rider. But don't forget, your trainer is a trainer, probably not also a hoof care &/or bodywork expert. So don't just take their word blindly for stuff like this. (Not that I advocate taking anyone on blind faith, regardless what they seem to be 'expert' in...)

There is something significantly wrong, if a horse trips & stumbles often. Even if it is 'just' because the horse is footsore, putting conventional rim shoes(?) on is purely symptomatic - it may reduce/relieve pain in the feet, but won't actually help whatever the underlying problem.

Quote:
she still describes him as naturally clumsy. He's in better shape now. But I've noticed he forges, especially when I ride him, probably cuz I'm not as balanced as my trainer. So his shoe is pulling away and overall I haven't been happy with his hoof and frog condition since shoeing.
Forging/overreaching may be a body issue, or may be due to imbalanced feet. If he's pulling his front shoes loose, you need to get the shoes off pronto, before any major mishap/injury happens. Regardless of whether you choose to keep shoeing in future. So I'd ring your farrier today.

Quote:
I'd like to take him back to barefoot again. But will he start stumbling worse again? Supposedly the shoes help him pick up his feet more,
So as per above, shoes seem to have made a minor palliative difference, which indicates it is more likely to be about hoof sensitivity, in part at least, but can't know what's wrong, so how best to address, and at best the shoes will be palliative only. So I reckon you first need to get to the bottom of what the problem is. No, shoe do not 'help him pick up his feet more', they simply cause him to feel his feet less. Unless they're particularly heavy shoes which force him to 'throw' his feet up - as is the premise behind what they do to 'Big Lick' Walkers.

So... first thing I'd do is get to with your tools & remove the shoes at least - or if you don't know how, get the farrier out ASAP - and have him teach you how to remove shoes, because if you're going to shoe your horse, for the sake of 'emergencies', I believe you really should know how - & have the tools at hand - to remove them yourself. I would not ride the horse until this is done, because it's dangerous for you both.

Next thing I'd do is make an appointment with a chiropractic vet or some other reputable bodywork expert, who can better evaluate what's going on, give you a prognosis, hopefully treat... If they're any good at their job, they should have a pretty good idea about hoof balance & whether that's a/the issue too.

Esp if you really think it's the horse's hooves only, posting some hoof pics & more info here may shed some more light too. **If you want to post pics, please see the link in my signature for what angles etc are required.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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