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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This sounds like a stupid question, but what is the point of top-dressing flares? I was thinking about it today when I was looking at Moonshine's hooves.

I think the argument is that if a flare exists, it perpetuates hoof wall separation because there are forces that act on the flared hoof wall every time the horse moves. But if this is the reason, then wouldn't it make more sense just to take off the excess hoof wall, then bevel the flare, rather than top dressing it? Is it really a good idea to be thinning the hoof wall?

I was just thinking that really it almost seems more about aesthetics (we don't want our horse's hooves to look flared) than anything practical. In a sort of poor (and reverse) analogy, this would be like, someone who was worried about too skinny deciding to wear padded clothes, in order to look less skinny. The problem is no loner visible, but it's still there. I'm wondering whether top-dressing these flares is just a cosmetic remedy.

I take out flares from the bottom, by taking down the hoof wall and then rasping the outside of the wall (but only at the very bottom) and then I try to bevel it. I haven't been top-dressing them, and I'm wondering if I really need to.
 

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Bandit's toes flare out. Not quite a flare. They get very thick at the front. Left alone, he could get an inch thick hoof in the front. If I don't trim them, he'll start to catch them and stumble.

And in my experience, thinning the hoof wall is fine. If it then gets too much stress, it will chip. Not a big deal. But a thicker wall that flares can, in my experience, develop a crack that can take months to heal. Although when I trim the flare, I usually take some off the bottom too - so I don't know if that matches your question. I'm way too old to bend over and hold a hoof and trim anything just for looks.
 

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I think flares are a horses hoofs way of getting to get rid of what they dont need... does your horse have a flare in the quarter area?
 

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My tennessee walker, Chief, had very bad quarter flares (hinds) and i was top dressing them with drawing salve every day for a while with no real results. i was also rasping the outside of them which helped a little... i am now doing the HGM trim on him and his feet look better than they have in awhile.
 

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Gene O. recommends thinning the wall on flares to reduce leverage but no higher than 1 inch from the bottom as this weakens the hoof wall too much. And he also recommends thinning no farther inward than the inner hoof wall which is white. In his videos he points out where white begins to appear at the bottom of the hoof wall as says to stop there. This is repeated as the wall grows down until there is no flare to remove.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Gene O. recommends thinning the wall on flares to reduce leverage
But wouldn't just trimming thoroughly and beveling be more effective for that purpose, in addition to being less destructive?
 

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A flare won't effect a hoof unless it reaches the ground. If your bevel removes the flare out of ground surface bearing area, then that is fine. No mechanical leverage will continue pulling on the flare. Some flares are more difficult to deal with from below. If you imagine a toe with a dish such as this, but a little less severe, that would be an example of a flare that might more easily be addressed from above. You'll still want to stay in the lower third of the hoof.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cool, that makes sense.
 

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A lot of barefoot hoof care professionals have stopped top dressing flares these days so it's a good question to ask. I don't know enough to address the specifics, at all, so I won't even try. But it is something I've seen come up a lot in hoof care groups. I think with shoeing you kind of have to take the flares off that way to make the shoes fit, to a point anyhow. But it's not necessarily the ideal way to deal with them otherwise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
think with shoeing you kind of have to take the flares off that way to make the shoes fit, to a point anyhow.
Ah, yes... that makes a lot of sense.
 

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My tennessee walker, Chief, had very bad quarter flares (hinds) and i was top dressing them with drawing salve every day
Baby lotus, when talking about 'dressing' flares, that means rasping them off(or reducing) on the plane the wall should be on. It is not about putting anything on the hooves. I'm very curious tho, where did you get the idea to put drawing salve(like a magnesium ointment or such?) on his feet & what's it meant to do? I've never heard of the idea & it doesn't make any sense to me.

Now, back to the question... What is the point of dressing flares? 1. If they're substantial, even if well trimmed on the ground surface, there's still likely to be some extra material under pressure from the ground(perhaps not on flat, hard surfaces, but how many of us only ride on pavement?). 2. Many people believe that to 'top dress' flares, while largely cosmetic, it also stimulates extra growth, to grow them out quicker. I've heard it heaps, I've said it myself at times(perhaps Bowker or someone gave me the idea, can't remember now tho) but I never have found any study that shows that difference. 3. Hoof boots - need to dress any flares for them to fit well. and 4. Cosmetics. It looks nicer.

If the hooves are well trimmed & beveled to the correct 'footprint' for that horse, on the ground surface, then smaller flares don't tend to NEED 'dressing' though. And serious ones, such as that pictured above, where the distortion starts up high near the hairline & is very 'forward', to dress that flare off completely would leave no hoof wall on virtually the entire dorsal aspect of the hoof - NOT good! Walls are needed for protection & lamellar/wedge material is just not as strong, to provide necessary protection. So... I work to the premise that double the thickness of lamellar wedge, compared to wall material should provide adequate protection if I must dress a club or chronic founder or such. And that I will only ever dress up to 1/3 max from the ground up.
 

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Green line is about where the dorsal wall should be - do to 'dress' that flare fully would mean removing the entire wall at the front. Red line is approximately where the live tissue & bone is. Blue line is approx how I'd deal with that 'flare'.
1110578
 

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Agree with @loosie. I was trying to find a hoof with a dished wall and less severe, but couldn't find one online. But you can still see how it would be difficult to remove to the blue line that loosie indicated by only doing a bevel from underneath. Here's a better example of a hoof you might want to remove the "point" from the top. This is a club hoof ready for a trim that develops a flare when left to grow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Cool, thanks guys.
 

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Baby lotus, when talking about 'dressing' flares, that means rasping them off(or reducing) on the plane the wall should be on. It is not about putting anything on the hooves. I'm very curious tho, where did you get the idea to put drawing salve(like a magnesium ointment or such?) on his feet & what's it meant to do? I've never heard of the idea & it doesn't make any sense to me.

loosie, Thank you for explaining what dressing means lol
Honestly I had the Drawing Salve Laying around and i read it could be used on hoof cracks, my geldings quarter flares also had cracks, so thats why i was putting in on. i think i thought that if i put this stuff on, it would prevent the flares from breaking off,seal up the cracks ( stupid fantasies, yes, i now know better than this) looking back it doesnt really make sense to me either!
 

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Try to picture this foot on fairly firm soil but still sinking one inch or more into the soil, and then picture it rocking forward in breakover before the lift off.

Do you think there will be any forces pulling the hoof wall away from the coffin bone as it attempts to grow down firmly attached? I do.

Gene O. is arguable the most advanced, knowledgeable, and skilled farrier in the US if not the world. To skip over his advice and protocols is not something this home based trimmer, me, is going to do.

I don't know why this kind of stuff drives me bananas but it does. I need to figure out how to get past it somehow.

1110610
 

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Try to picture this foot on fairly firm soil but still sinking one inch or more into the soil, and then picture it rocking forward in breakover before the lift off.

Do you think there will be any forces pulling the hoof wall away from the coffin bone as it attempts to grow down firmly attached? I do.

Gene O. is arguable the most advanced, knowledgeable, and skilled farrier in the US if not the world. To skip over his advice and protocols is not something this home based trimmer, me, is going to do.

I don't know why this kind of stuff drives me bananas but it does. I need to figure out how to get past it somehow.

View attachment 1110610
That was a confusing post. The markup @loosie did seems to follow the protocol you posted of not removing more than an inch near the ground. Perhaps you were looking at the wrong line, i.e. the bad example.
 

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I just found Trail's post cryptic, made no sense.

Been searching for info again on this - just online, haven't time atm to really get stuck in - but all I can find is a discussion with Patty Stiller, emphatically saying it's a lot more than cosmetic. I will ask her...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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but all I can find is a discussion with Patty Stiller, emphatically saying it's a lot more than cosmetic. I will ask her...
That's great. Interested to hear what she says. I have seen her FB page. Glad to hear you're in contact.
 
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