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Hi all, my horse is about 15.2hh, 4year old gelding on light work. He will tip toe over small stones when ridden, go weeks and weeks without needing a trim..

He is a little flat footed, and it's never bothered either of us working, I just have always has this question in my head 'to shoe or not to shoe'

Sometimes he will get a touch of thrush in his front foot. I catch it immediately and it's gone the next day. Hooves picked when needed, but are looked at everyday. He has had a crack jn his back hoof since I got him. Farrier said it wasn't anything to worry about as it's just a surface thing, but see if it goes Amy deeper.. Recently the farrier cut in to the bottom to create an upside down v so there was no pressure on the crack to make it go any worse. But his hoof looks a bit bruised.( been bruised since he done the crack, possibly galloped on a large stone or kicked a fence ??) the severity of the bruise has gone but it looks a pale pink on a wider scale.

Bracken is brushing his back legs in the field, but not ridden. ( bruising in on the outside of his hoof) and he is also over reaching. I was turning him out with over reach boots on, but the daft thing lost 1!!! And I have no idea how!!!

If I can I will upload images of his foot/frog.

I only ask because he is coming to be due a trim soon and I am thinking of a barefoot trimmer. She very good and been recommended via a few people on my yard. She has also seen bracken and said he has good feet. But to me it looks as though the underside of his foot has changed shape with depth an flatness.. ( hacking in the area is road work)

Comments? Xxx
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It totally depends on the horse, where you ride, and who you ask.

If he were mine, I would put shoes on him because of the rocks that I ride on. All the bruising would go away and he would do great.
Other people think that shoes are terrible.
My horses do much better with shoes than without them.

Now I will go hide from the coming assault by the bare-foot Nazi's......
 

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I prefer to keep my horse barefoot, but if I was doing a lot of riding on gravel or hard surfaces, I would have her shod. Her feet are good and strong, and the majority of our riding surfaces are soft arena footing or natural trail/grass.

I'd consult with a farrier that is experienced in both shod and barefoot horses. S/he could give you the best, most unbiased opinion for your horse, without pushing one or the other.
 

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I prefer not to shoe. Even riding on rocks and gravel all my horses are fine barefoot. Not only that but I honestly can't really afford to shoe if I don't absolutely have to. My TB was always fine barefoot after I pulled her shoes when I got her, then in April I moved her where I take lessons and had the farrier that they use trim her, since then she is a little tender on rocks so I got her boots, tonight tho I rode her for the first time in a long time without boots and she was 100% normal on rocks again :)
 

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A lot of it could depend on the horse.
My mare is tender on rocks. I don't want to have to baby her and use boots.
She went over three years without shoes; when I started riding her heavily, she had problems. As long as I keep her shoes in good shape, she is 100% sound.
It would, of course, be a lot more economical just to trim her. I am happy for those people that have horses that don't need shoes. Mine does.
I take my horse shoe money out of my budget first, before food and electricity........
 

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Hi,

The general question of 'to shoe or not' is one that you'll need to decide for yourself I'm afraid. I would advise you learn all you can about the principles of hoof health & function and the pros & cons of different approaches. Hopefully the link to the other thread in my signature will help get you started. My personal opinion is that generally speaking horses are far better off without shoes(not that that necessarily means bare), but in some situations, conventional shoes may be the best option.

Given his age, I would be extremely hesitant to shoe him yet(or ride much/hard). His feet(& back) are still maturing and I'd wait until he was fully developed first at least.

If he lives in a soft pasture, or otherwise has no way of developing strong feet by getting lots of stimulation on hard ground, he will likely always be a bit 'ouchy' on rough going at least. Therefore I'd work at building his hoof strength. Putting down 'pea gravel' in his pasture, around water & in hang out spots, & in his stable is helpful. I would also protect his feet with boots or such if going on rough trails, etc. While exposure helps feet develop, I don't think forcing them to gimp along if they're not comfortable is desireable or helpful to development either. Horses need to be able to use their feet correctly to function properly & get strong. Sand or pea gravel tends to be generally comfortable for horses regardless of the state of their hooves.

I think it's important to trim hooves frequently enough to *keep* them in functional shape, rather than allowing them to overgrow & then have to 'correct' them. Generally I find somewhere between 3-6 weeks is optimum. When you say 'weeks & weeks without needing a trim, is this because they're hardly growing or perhaps that you're waiting for them to overgrow to provide a significant amount for the farrier to remove? (I'm guessing it's not because he is in an environment that wears them down) If they're not growing much, this can be due to diet, nutrition &/or amount of exercise/hoof function.

Being flat footed can be a problem, can mean that the horse has little between internal structures and the ground. But I don't think it's necessarily so - can be natural & fine for that horse & that environment.

Re the crack in the back hoof, it may well be of little consequence - due to overgrown hooves before you got him which are growing out. If it's been there a long time though, I would be thinking the hooves are allowed to become overgrown &/or being trimmed in an imbalanced way &/or there is infection in the crack that is perpetuating it - eating away the horn as fast as it can grow down. I think it depends how it's done as to whether cutting a 'v' will help or further hinder it's healing. Also wouldn't be inclined to shoe feet with cracks, until they've grown out at least. I think that generally speaking, shoes are not a good move for unhealthy feet.

Where abouts are his feet looking bruised? Is it all feet or just one? Bruising can be not much of a deal or can be an indication of problems. Eg. if he has a small bruise somewhere, it could be that he trod on a particularly sharp stone or kicked something, but if he has bruised soleS, particularly in the toe region this could be due to thin soles providing too little protection for his corium & pedal bone. Could also be to do with trimming.

Brushing & overreaching could be natural conformation, lack of fitness, injury, inadequate or imbalanced hoof care.

Hoof pics(check out the link in my signature for tips on those) and more info on diet, environment, etc would be helpful if you want any more specific advice.
 

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... He will tip toe over small stones when ridden, go weeks and weeks without needing a trim..
There are four reasons to shoe a horse.

Your opening description just defined reason number one; 'Protection'.

He is a little flat footed, and it's never bothered either of us working, I just have always has this question in my head 'to shoe or not to shoe'
It might bother you if roles were reversed and you had to carry the horse around on your back for awhile.

He's flat footed. That predisposes a horse to tender feet over challenging terrain as evidenced by your assertion that "he will tip toe over small stones...".

Wear exceeds growth (also a reason to shoe), as evidenced by your assertion that, "go weeks and weeks without needing a trim".

In short, you've answered your own question. Your horse would appear to better meet your use expectations if he were shod.

Recently the farrier cut in to the bottom to create an upside down v so there was no pressure on the crack to make it go any worse.
Sometimes this works; often it doesn't.

But his hoof looks a bit bruised.( been bruised since he done the crack, possibly galloped on a large stone or kicked a fence ??) the severity of the bruise has gone but it looks a pale pink on a wider scale.
Happens all the time and more visually evident if the horse has a light colored hoof. Usually no big deal.

Bracken is brushing his back legs in the field, but not ridden. ( bruising in on the outside of his hoof) and he is also over reaching. I was turning him out with over reach boots on, but the daft thing lost 1!!! And I have no idea how!!!
Brushing; over-reaching; tearing off bell boots; tender over rock. I'd guess excess toe length. Given he "goes weeks and weeks without a trim", the excess toe is likely all forward running distortion and accompanied by dorsal wall distortion. In other words, someone is trimming the bottom of the feet but not addressing wall distortion by dressing. Horse ends up with overly long, dishy feet; d/p imbalance and.... brushes/interferes.

Is this horse gaited? Perhaps a Tennessee Walker?

If I can I will upload images of his foot/frog.
Please do.

I only ask because he is coming to be due a trim soon and I am thinking of a barefoot trimmer. She very good and been recommended via a few people on my yard. She has also seen bracken and said he has good feet. But to me it looks as though the underside of his foot has changed shape with depth an flatness.. ( hacking in the area is road work)

Comments? Xxx
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Sure, I'll comment. Why would anyone employ a practitioner who intentionally limits their hoofcare education and experience to less than required of most farriers in their first 30 days of training?

Worse, you're located in the UK. Barefoot trimmers are recognized in that area as being so poorly educated/experienced in equine hoof care that they are forbidden by law to do anything more than just a trim.

Select an experienced, full service farrier that can meet ALL the needs of your horse; current and future. Licensing requirements in the UK for hoofcare practitioners are tough and produce a necessarily high level of farrier quality. That law is intended to protect you and your horse. Just to give you an idea of how strict those legal, educational requirements are, the lower class Associate Farrier in England is considered equal to the top AFA journeyman farrier certification in the United States.

Avoid the charlatans and leverage that legal quality requirement to assure your horse the best possible care it deserves.

Cheers,
Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Wow! Thank you all!!

Bit of background for you all to understand. My boy was an abused youngster, and when I bought him he was knee deep in mud for turn out and was given hay in the field. Previous owner didn't feed him after working him if he had been a bit naughty. In the end she was whipping him for a walk and trot rather than asking and teaching his aids.
Since buying him I have taken him off the calmer she had him on, and tried a couple offered Pt to see what's best for him. Currently he is on hi-fi and low cal.. This is also changing soon as it's not giving us the best results..
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Sorry, **** iPhone!

My nutritionist mentioned alfalfa chop, and pony cubes. So we are going to give that a try soon.

Also, since buying him I have moved him from the postage stamp of mud he was stabled, onto possibly 6acres of good grazing, no bogginess ect. He is also walking on concrete, cobbles, and sometimes small lose stones coming in to the stable.

I take into account his condition and hooves are gettin better, and I know it takes a long time to see a difference with hoof condition.

The farrier he had before I got him was trimming wrong. He let his apprentice trim my horses feet (before I had a say), and he was trimming him to be more on his toe than heel, this is when the crack and bruise happened.

He has has soft feet in the past, but now with the wet weather am having in the uk, his feet are still pretty hard. The crack doesn't seem to be getting worse.

When I say he can go weeks and weeks I mean 6-8 weeks with ease as he has slow growing hooves, and once I learn to upload images of his feet on my iPhone, he is due in a week or so.. **just for the record he has never been lame as far as I know**

The barefoot trimmer has noticed his feet are beginning to bulb or flare out a touch due to incorrect trimming. She seen him 2 weeks after being trimmed.

Hope this helps, and after mucking out my stable, I will try figure out how to upload images xx
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I only ask because he is coming to be due a trim soon and I am thinking of a barefoot trimmer. She very good and been recommended via a few people on my yard.
I don't think sweeping statements about 'barefoot trimmers' are any more rational than those about farriers. If your farrier is experienced, well educated & doing a good job, no reason to change IMO. If the trimmer is indeed experienced & well educated, then she's likely good too. There are good & bad on both sides of the fence. It's up to you to learn the difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
An old horse on the yard constantly lame has been trimmed via the barefoot trimmer, he is walking fine pretty muchthe next day after seeing her and not the usual farrier. another lady swears by her, hense the reason am thinking an experienced barefoot trimmer, to keep shoes off him for as long as possible if possible. Xx
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An old horse on the yard constantly lame has been trimmed via the barefoot trimmer, he is walking fine pretty muchthe next day after seeing her and not the usual farrier. another lady swears by her, hense the reason am thinking an experienced barefoot trimmer, to keep shoes off him for as long as possible if possible. Xx
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Yeah, she may well be good, but that to me sounds like it may have been coincidence, so I wouldn't personally base my opinion on that sort of thing alone.
 

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Here where I live, there is no licensing for farriers. There are good ones and bad ones. The bad ones soon get a bad reputation. My own farrier is excellent; however he is expensive. To me, he is well worth the money.

Think about the history of horse shoes. People have been shoeing horses since the Roman Empire or before. They did it to make the horses more resiliant to abuse of their hooves. If horses are used hard, they hold up better with shoes. If horses are not used hard, shoes may be a waste of money.

Some historians think that the Civil War in the United States may have had different results if it weren't for the northern states. (I haven't found my source on that but I have it somewhere.)

I hate having to pay for shoes. I have tried every alternative and nothing else compares. No real improvement has been invented since 1000 AD.

I will shoe my horse because I don't want to have to hand walk her over pea gravel. I want to be able to leave her out in the pasture all week and then find her sound when I get ready to ride.

Horseshoe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://www.equisearch.com/horses_care/health/hoof_care/eqhorsesho610/

There is certainly nothing wrong with leaving a horse barefoot; there is something terribly wrong with forcing a lame horse to work. So if your horse is sound enough to do what you want barefoot, go for it. I would try it. But if your horse is typical and you want to have a trouble free hoof, use shoes.

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost
For want of the horse, the rider was lost
For want of the rider, the battle was lost
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost
And all for a two penny nail.

(Author unknown)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Here are the images of his feet. Please remember i said he is due a trim in a week or so!! his last date with the farrier was about 7 weeks ago? give or take a week? x
 

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You may want to just shoe his front and leave the back alone.
My large gelding drug his back feet I could never keep rear
shoes on him. I can see the wear on the rear toes from the
photos, looks the same as old Roosters. Trimming up of course
would help but it could just be caused by his conformation etc....
Those heels are worrisome, remember that is where he bears his
and your weight.
It would help to find a good farrier and good shoes to get them back
in shape and see how it goes from there.

You are a great! Way to go on the rescue!!
 

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I don't want to have to baby her and use boots.
How is using boots occasionally 'babying' but leaving shoes on 24/7 not, to a greater extent?

I used to shoe my arab. I now have him bare. I don't have pea gravel or anything else in my paddock. I leave him alone until I want to ride - He is always sound and ready to go. He rides on roads, tracks, and grass. The only surface he takes a gimpy step on is smooth ground with sharp gravel - And funnily enough he gimped a bit on that with shoes, as well. Shoes didn't protect his soles at all. With boots, he is fine. I use them maybe once every month or two.

Just a perspective from someone who goes bare and uses boots with success.
 

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Reasonable looking feet, so far as can be told from those pics. Bit of flaring esp at the quarters from being overgrown. Her heels dont look too bad but not well used. It appears by the toe wear that she may be avoiding using them.
 

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Just curious. Did your farrier and/or trimmer mention any potential hock/stifle problems? Hind limb flexural reaction, particularly at the hock?

Dubbed toes on the hinds means something. Occasionally a "lazy" horse but more often, not.

Come back with some new photos after the next trim.

Cheers,
Mark
 

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Some historians think that the Civil War in the United States may have had different results if it weren't for the northern states. (I haven't found my source on that but I have it somewhere.)

)
I'm sure the south would have won if it weren't for the north!
 
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Discussion Starter #20
FlyGap - The farrier he had not 7 months ago was trimming him and all the horses wrong so he was actually bearing weight onto his toes.. slowly but surely hes getting back to normal. can only take it day by day with a slow growing hoof lol!

wild_spot - I did used to use over reaching or bell boots on im, but hes managed to lose 1 in the field, silly boy! i dont really want to use bootsboots with him as his feet are still developing. but i have the same issue with flat gravel and sharp stones. i think everyone does! He doesnt tiptoe as much at all, but he used to when his weight was on his toes due to crappy farrier!!

loosie - Thank you for the compliment, i really am paranoid about giving him the BEST care, but being careful not to over do it ! As mentioned before, hes not really on his heels yet as previous owners farrier was trimming for weight on the toe... slowly getting back to normal :D ! ..

Horseman56 - The farrier has mentioned nothing of the sort, but he is a mix breed of 'dont know' and unknown' .. so poor conformation is expected. Also my horse is very lazy horse, slowly working on this, but due to his age and past with going sour in the school easily, its still a work in progress! For a 4 year old, if the only horse he is hacking out with is galloping off, bracken would much rather stop and watch then follow on!! suppose thats a good thing, but somethimes i do wish for a little bit more... GO.! .. ill run away and hide now as i will probably get beaten down with 'bomb proof hacking' rules!.. :)


There isnt much to trim away, and hes not in work at the moment, i have turned him away for a week or so to think about what we have achieved recently in the school before he got sour. (works for us anyway..)

I think he will be getting seen to in say ? 2 or 3 weeks (fitting in with my new horse who is coming on in 2 weeks.. same farrier, fantastic rep! been using him for 3 months and no issues so far! I will be posting images of a fresh trimmed foot and see what you all think about shoes ect.. xx
 
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