Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

Last post 01-31-2008 10:33 AM by boosiler. 29 replies.
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  • 01-10-2008 9:06 PM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    Good to have you back. I hope you heal quickly. It is never fun being sick. I'm not sure how your weather has been but up here in NH we've had a great break from the bitter cold. I'm sorry, if you too have had good weather, that you might have missed it.

    Anyway, one comment about this whole adjustment period. Why are you making your horses suffer? How can you justify even one day that your horses have to be uncomfortable? You have said that for some horses your adjustment period can take up to a year. I cannot see the kindness behind this. Again I am confused as to why your horses are in such pain, I know that you have said that the whole blood reduction belief and the gloves, no gloves. But again all the horses I pulled shoes on for the winter are sound and comfortable walking across the frozen ground, which thanks to the thaw, has frozen again and is horribly choppy and rough. Why is there this adjustment period? And again why are they suffering?

    Anyway as for your question for the acute laminitis. As we know with the acute stages of laminitis there is usually some sort of external cause. After making sure that the cause has been eliminated, and that the vet has done all that they can to assist the horse on their end, I proceed to pull the shoes, if there are any. One must make sure to pull the nails individually because there it is far too painful to try prying the entire shoes off. I pull the shoes, purpose NOT being that the shoes are the culprit, but rather to administer a different approach through the acute stage. Besides trying to make a horse stand on one foot for too long, other than being very painful, you also can run the risk of adding to the damage.

    The idea is to support the coffin bone in the attempt to prevent it from rotating. There are great amounts of pressure placed on the coffin bone by the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) and with the failure of the laminae in the dorsal area (front part) the bone also looses it's attachment that keeps P3 in place. As such a trim is done however the toe should be rocker-ed (rasped back) all the way to the white line. We know that the greatest amount of pressure on the DDFT is during break over. So by rockering the toe it aids in easing those stresses. Besides that support must be applied to the sole. There are a variety of different products out there. One could use anything really that would be firm yet mold to the shape of the sulci, the frog, and sole. I prefer to use dental impression material which once the trim is performed can be held in place with a simple use of vet-wrap.

    Additionally some people believe in using styrofoam pads cut into a wedge and applied so that the thickest part of the wedge is placed to the palmar aspect of the hoof, is beneficial to also take more stress off of the DDFT, thereby removing even more pressure from the laminae in the dorsal area of the hoof.

     Some people believe that soaking the horses front legs and hooves (typically fronts because those are most often effected but definitely not limited to) in ice water for 30 minutes at a time aids in reducing swelling of the laminae. I think perhaps if caught early enough this could have some beneficial effects, however it requires intense dedication, 30 minutes in the ice, 20 minutes out all through the acute stage. If you have read anything as to whether it truly is beneficial or not I would be interested in reading that also.

    What are your recommendations?

  • 01-12-2008 6:09 PM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    Hi, unfortunately, I did miss some great weather, but it's not bitter cold/wind now, so I'll settle for that!

    The adjustment period. I'm not making my horses suffer one bit. With a trained eye, you can anticipate whether the horse will need boots before you ever pull his shoes (though I recommend them for backup, regardless,for the adjustment when I pull shoes). With a proper trim, they should be as comfortable or more so than when you started. If a hoof is not developed enough, then the boots are always applied for exercise until the hoof has had time to adjust. The only horses that are sore ALL the time are ones that had pre-existing conditions that shoes weren't helping anyways. The same horses that you seasonally pull shoes off of, are pasture sound barefoot, but most would be tender if asked to continue to work, but by spring are probably worked some before you make it out there to put the shoes back on because over the winter, the hooves have adjusted some, and the seasonaly shod horses have the benefit of less deformity created by constant, year round shoeing. 

    My pulling shoes may be at a different time of year when the horse is active, but it's no more cruel than pulling shoes in the winter.I never denied that some hooves do need extra protection sometimes. I just think there are better ways than metal shoes to do it, that allow the hoof better function. Boots fit the bill for that. They can be supportive, protective and easy on/off but allow the hoof to function uninhibited. If a hoof isn't conditioned for hard gravel roads, then boots will likely be needed. A hoof that's conditioned for hard rocky ground can go anywhere, bare. If you only walk 3 miles every day, and occasionally tried to run 8, you wouldn't make it, but if you ran 8 each day, walking 3 is easy, right?

    Laminitis: I agree a lot with what you say.I won't explain it again, I think you covered that pretty well. The cold water treatments, I find the soaking to be more of symptom relief for the horse, cold is numbing, but it doesn't stop the destruction going on inside, but it's better than loading with drugs, although I think in moderation drugs are okay to ease suffering, they should generally be avoided.

    No, I don't see shoes as always causing laminitis by any means. I think they can contribute to "road" founder and create a prime situation to allow the p3 to rotate, but diet and lack of exercise is usually to blame for starting the whole process. I do think they need to come off imediately and I think "corrective" shoeing later just delays progress.

    With laminitis, I find that a very short trimming cycle-2 weeks helps prevent a lot of rotation. Even with the best shoeing, the shoes prevent wear, and as the hoof grows, that leverage is there to help rip more lamina. So leave the shoes off, trim more frequently so the lamina have a chance to grow in tight and strong, and the lessened leverage gets the horses so much more comfortable quicker than any shoes I've seen.I'm not talking about trimming to blood, just keeping the leverage off the toes, small amounts in frequent intervals.

     In soft footing, I leave them "naked" but if the ground is too firm or choppy, I fit the horse in pads and boots, to support the sole, as you mentioned doing with dental impression material. Duct tape works great if all you have are pads and no boots. Once the horse is relatively comfortable, I have them put it where it can move IF it wants. No stalls, I feel restricted areas lead to slower healing. If you get them moving comfortably, then they move, and THAT'S what gets new growth coming in, not laying around.  And of course, consider a diet change if need be, you have to treat all aspects of the horse's life or it can be an endless cycle.

    I guess you and I pretty much agree on the laminits. What would you like to discuss next?

    Barefoot and Loving it!

  • 01-12-2008 7:09 PM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

     Boosiler & NHFW, would you accept topic suggestions from ES members?

    I'm not advocating that you get into personal advice for individual horses -  that, I think, can be bettered dealt with in separate threads posted by each horse owner.  I really like the way this thread is progressing much like a debate ... very informative, well written & interesting.

    So - if you're up to taking suggestions, I wonder if you would care to discuss/debate the pros & cons, differences & similarities, etc. between a pasture trim and a  barefoot trim.

  • 01-12-2008 8:18 PM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    I'm all for it. I think everything we put out is good education for horse owners and especially since they are two very different points of view, people can read and determine what they think is best for their horse.

    How about it, NH?Big Smile

    Barefoot and Loving it!

  • 01-13-2008 12:07 AM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    May I make a suggestion?

    How about a nasty hoof crack. One that comes down from coronary band to the toe and if you didn't know it was a horse's hoof, you'd swear it was a cows?Hmm

  • 01-13-2008 8:35 AM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    I would be happy to take suggestions from ES members. At least that will keep us in the track as to what people want to learn about.

    First of all let's discuss the so-called "pasture trim." In a pasture trim the hoof is supposedly prepared for the application of a shoe, the sole is left un-trimmed and basically the hoof wall is just shortened. I guess the nicest way to describe this method of trimming is that it is the exact opposite. It is in fact not truly trimming at all. Oh sure the hoof wall has been taken down a touch but there are no benefits to this modality of hoof care. It is my opinion that once again either laziness and/or ignorance is the resulting "pasture trim." I honestly believe that people who perform this so called trim simply are un-educated. In every horse that I trim, whether he is a working horse or a lawn ornament he will receive the same trim (with-in reason of course, no horse is the same) I will trim the hoof to it's given parameters. These being set by the horses hooves - not by me.

    To summerize this the sole will be at it's appropriate depth and concavity to allow for it's natural actions I do not believe in the sole callous theory. I believe that leaving the sole untrimmed ends up constantly squeezing the sensitive tissue between the ground and the coffin bone and will find the horse sole sensitive and bruised among other problems of coffin bone bruising and chipping. Besides this I don't believe it allows the sole to exfoliate properly. I cannot tell you how many horses I have gone to trim who had received this "pasture-trim" and when I began my work ended up finding that the horse had grown another sole an inch underneath this "false-sole." With the false sole inplace it gave the illusion that the horse had no wall to be trimmed despite his underrun heels and long toe. Upon removing the false sole it found the horse infact had plenty of hoof to be trimmed. Again leaving the sole inplace does not allow it to exfoliate naturally.

    The frog will be trimmed to uniformity, the excess hoof wall is trimmed off and balanced.The outside hoof wall is rasped to an even hoof wall thickness, all flares are taken off to the amount allowed. Additionally in all my barefoot horses I provide them with a rocker toe which involves rasping the toe area back on an angle to ease breakover. We know that in joggers by turning the toe up on their sneakers it takes stress off of their hamstrings. We can provide the same sort of ease for the horse by beveling the toe. This has been proven to ease stress on the deep digital flexor tendon. The horse should be maintained on the normal 6-8 week trimming schedule.

  • 01-13-2008 10:06 AM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)


    There are a couple of things that need to be considered with severe cracks in a horses hoof. First is the involvement of bacterial infections. The crack must be opened (de-brided) to be sure that it is not in fact bacteria eating away underneath the horses hoof wall. Most bacteria in this situation are anaerobic and enjoy their home away from oxygen and light. By opening the crack up you are taking the roof off of their home. Further treatment with the use of "White Lightning" or chlorine dioxide (CLO2) will ensure that you are able to kill the bacteria off. The nice thing about CLO2 is that it only attacks the bad stuff and leaves healthy tissue unharmed, unlike many products out there for the treatment of bacterial infections that in-fact can cause chemical burns.

    If bacteria is indeed a threat the application of a Sigafoos glue-on shoe with a section of the cuff where the crack is should be cut out to allow you to continue to treat the infection. Once the threat of infection is neutralized than a complete sigafoos shoe can be applied. Part of the failure of the crack to heal is due to the instability of the hoof. In other words the two halves move independently of each other causing a constant shearing as the horse walks. Application of a balanced trim and then the shoe will prevent those forces and allow the halves to heal together.

    I have posted some pictures under the photo tab of a horse with a severe quarter crack. The picture where the crack is visible is about 12 weeks after the application of the Sigafoos with a section cut out for treatment of the crack. And the picture that is after (which ended up getting posted first) is a complete Sigafoos shoe applied where all the bacteria had been eliminated. The hoof has been given it's integrity back.

    There is NO boot in the world that can provide enough support for this to heal quickly and allow the horse to be sound while it heals. Boots cannot prevent the shearing effect going on with the severely cracked hoof. Take a moment to view the pictures.

  • 01-13-2008 10:28 AM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    I'll begin with the barefoot (aka natural) trim.

    And like NH, I'll cover the marks of a poor natrual trim first. Aggressive in trimming of the sole and bars of the hoof, where the bars are trimmed to the point I would consider it surgical removal, and it's done with the idea that it will cause the foot to decontract, but really, it's very invasive, and does NOT benefit the hoof.There should not be any "opening cuts"!  Anyone who cuts the sole with the thought they can carve out the concavity they want to see in a healthy foot is actually thinning the sole to the point that they minimize protection of the coffin bone, creating more potential for bruising and abscessing, and if the trimmer EVER draws blood (besides opening an existing abscess) they are clearly uneducated and don't understand what they are doing and should have their knife taken away imediately!

    For a quality barefoot trim:  First, a healthy foot will have enough sole depth that doesn't need special consideration, so the wall is trimmed to about 1/8th inch height above the sole plane all the way around the hoof, heels included, then, the whole wall beveled from the water line out at an angle, though less so at the heels, and from the quarters forward it's the same consistent angle (unless there is flaring, then the bevel is more aggressive, but without thinning the wall excessivly). Then smoothed with a rasp. Any thicker areas are rasped to the approximately the same thickness as the rest of toe (not at the heels). In a thin soled horse, I will be conservative about trimming the walls as well, and the horse is fitted for boots for exercise. A healthy, thick sole is compacted to a dense callous that sheilds the coffin bond from impact and buffers it from bruising and abscessing.

    The walls are beveled all the way around because a proper bevel will, encourage a squeezing efect on the walls as it sinks into terrain (it will look like we removed walls from load bearing while he's standing on concrete, but its still very active in motion) and the the forces inside the foot press outward, but the ground will push back, which prevents flaring and maintains a tight white line. Depending on the terrain the horse is on most, the bevel can be trimmed slightly different. This squeezing is not negative, like it sounds. The shortened breakover is more for the benefit of not tearing the lamina than to relieve the tendons, and to balance the foot for a heel first landing.

    The bars are only trimmed slightly if they are now taller than the walls at any point, and trimmed to just short of the wall height, but not much, they are there to support the back of the foot somewhat. The frog, if there are no bacteria harboring flaps, or excess height, is left alone. Only the offending flaps are conservatively trimmed. This allows the frog to pack into calloused material. Routine trimming of healthy frog leaves it sensitive which can encourage a toe first landing (thrush does the same, the sensitive frog is protected by the horse, so he tippy toes). If thre is excess height that seems to cause sensitivity, it is lowered, but this is usually in horses that had club feet or shoes and the frog had decended (in an effort to fullfill it's purpose-ground contact)

    The sole is left alone in a healthy hoof. The only time excess sole causes sensitivity, is when the sole is just forming callousing, and most of it is still very thin and flat, and after the walls are trimmed, a bulge at the toe can cause tenderness, and I will shave it down to wall height to relieve that pressure, as nothing should bulge past wall height when done trimming. This is a horse that would need boots for riding, to encourage more sole to build and pack down (yet keeping him comfortable). A healthy horse will have all the sole packed into a uniform thickness and it will be naturally concave, with no lumps or bumps in his sole.The lumps and bumps are the sole trying to build, but if they are higher than the walls, they can create pressure points, so a conservative trimming might be in order. In horses that just had shoes come off , I leave all sole I can to protect the foot temporarily, the flaky stuff will come out on it's own, and not create a false sole, because regular trims will keep the walls short enough to allow wear and stimulation of the sole.

    False soles do occur in horses that have ben neglected or spend all their time on super soft footing and don't get adequate exercise, or individuals that have had careless pasture trims. It's generally apparent to a trained professional when it exists, though it won't cause sensitivty while it's in the foot, it shouldn't stay. Once the false sole comes out, you can trim the walls to their true proper height.A healthy foot doesn't just grow a false sole because it's not carved out, it does reach a balance of growth and shedding.

    Finally, a good trimmer will sight down the hoof to make sure it's balanced with the bars and frog and toe callous not higher than the walls. Then, I put the hoof on a stand, and reomove any flared material from the very lowest part of the wall ( I never rasp higher than the bottom 1/3 of hoof) and just smooth the wall all the way around, Even in a severe flare, I don't remove it higher on the hoof wall, it will grow out and excessive thinning removes the protection of the hoof.

    Overall, a good barefoot trim is one that balances the foot, but is minimally invasive and allows the foot to function as naturally as possible. A healthy hoof should be maintained on a regular 6-8 week interval, problem hooves may need it as often as 4 weeks.

    Barefoot and Loving it!

  • 01-13-2008 10:59 AM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    Toe Crack Question from Missyclare:

    First, I agree that a chronic toe crack is likely infected with a fungus or bacteria and recommend soaking, but I don't recommend cutting the hoof open to expose it (I've seen where farriers have practically resected a hoof to expose the lamina to get rid of the infection and I strongly disagree).

    Sometimes a crack stems from a scar at the coronary band, sometimes there's a deformiy of the coffin  bone itself, that can mean there's a weak lamina connection at the toe (the bone can be compromised from years of toe first landings, chronic abscessing and the tip of the bone -which grows lamina is compromised and doesn't grow as much connective tissues to attatch to the wall) and there will be a visible "dip" on the sole of the foot, at the center of the toe where you can see a funny shape-that's the coffin bone deformity and can be confirmed with x-rays. Anyways, this a weak spot that can crack easily and invite bacteria/fungus to settle in, and it's a constant battle because it's always going to be a weak spot. However, some chronic toe cracks are actuall stemming from the shoes or trim job.

    A lot of times, once a crack starts, the farrier will notch the wall right where the split ends, but that weakens the wall some more. Some will try to square off the toe to ease breakover, thinking that will ease the stress, but the squareness, IME, tends to add to it. When the horse puts weight on it, does the crack spread, close or stay the same?

    A good trim would still shorten the toe right there, but also round the foot, instead of leaving it square. The crack itself should be removed from weight bearing with a notch, on ground level, and treated for infection.WIth a good bevel all the way around the foot, the spreading forces will be removed.

    It's hard to say without seeing the foot, but those are my thoughts. I have worked on several horses that have had toe cracks most of their lives with all sorts of corrective shoes, and they  grew or are growing out nicely barefoot, all had some degree of fungus (if the crack was so bad to look like a cow's, it is just begging for infection). If he does have the corroded coffin bone, be prepared to fight infection on a routine basis.

     The only one that I haven't been able, is a mare with a crack in the quarter that goes up into the coronary band-she cut it badly years ago and the scar is in the coronary band and doesn't grow proper hoof wall. It is more of a gap than a crack, she's been through farrier after farrier and vets and the only thing I've managed to improve on her was that it's not abscessing all the time now. Even hoof puttys and patches haven't helped her. The first time I ever picked up the foot blood and pus squirted out just from a touch, but she's an extreme example. She's a broodmare now.




    Barefoot and Loving it!

  • 01-13-2008 12:33 PM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    I absolutely agree with you that if the perioplic ring is damaged than the hoof wall will never grow "normal" from that area. You are correct about that.

    However, you are very wrong about not debriding a hoof that is riddled with bacteria under the hoof wall. Not even the best soak in the world will be able to get into where the bacteria have traveled. Hence the reason you must remove the infected wall. Otherwise you will never fix the problem. The bacteria will continue to eat it's way through the stratum medium, and although the outside will look fine, the hoof wall will begin to break and more and more cracks will show up, from it's weakness. I have seen this time and again. Professor Wildenstein has done many studies pertaining to this exact problem. Many horses were brought in with a persistant crack that often seemed as though it was healing for a little while, only to flare up again. It never healed until the crack was opened and the infected hoof wall was resected, and then treated. Yes, sometimes this means you have to remove a lot of hoof wall, and unfortunately I fear that is why hoof trimmers do not believe in doing it. Simply put at that stage of necessary removal how might a trimmer be able to support the horse with such hoof wall loss?

    I have a good case for you Boosiler that I am working on right now regarding a 39 year old thoroughbred mare. May we discuss it?

  • 01-13-2008 6:33 PM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    I have good results without resecting large sections of wall, but you have to maintain a short trim schedule to prevent the wall from growing down enough to recreate the leverage forces that pry the weakened tissues and allow the bacteria to progress farther up. With softer tissues, such as the frog, flaps can be trimmed, but the hoof wall is a barrier and a support structure, and removing large chunks may allow medicines to get in there, but also allow more bacteria in and expose sensitive structures. And using putty to close it back up can trap bacteria that you missed and create even more problems.  An aggressive soaking routine and regular trims while keeping the hoof as clean as possible works. With shoes, even if you prevent movement, you prevent wear and shortly after, the wall is long enough to produce leverage forces again.

    Also, in regards to how do you support the resected hoof with such a significant loss of wall? You don't, in a sense.To me, severely rotated coffin bones create a similar problem to relieving a toe crack.The flare that comes from the separation of the coffin bone and wall means the wall is no longer weight bearing, might as well consider it gone, and a strong bevel relieves that pressure, allows the hoof to grow in reattatched. But in the mean time, the compromised lamina are a good environment for fungus/bacteria to set in and create WLD, (this is more evident in chronic horses than one that got into the grain 1 time). However, to remove the entire toe wall because it's no longer weight bearing would strip the horse of protection provided by the wall. It sheilds from direct dirt contact that would introduce more germs to the internal structures and protects from scuffing on a rock or whatever. Same with a crack, yes, it's compromised, but cleaning it frequently and soaking will take care of the germs, if you set up the mechanics so the leverage isn't prying the weak structures apart, the bacteria isn't able to eat the healthy tissues and the wall is intact to block excess amounts of new dirt. Dirt isn't fluid, soaking meds are, and can get into tighter places. A foundered horse gets enough support from a padded boot, and a resected wall could use the protection, so again, I'd recomend a protective boot to cover the exposed structures.

     And, just a side note, I work on a couple of different horses, one is a barrel horse, the other a polo mare, and both have interesting scars that leaves them without a whole section of hoof wall!  They simply have a funky exposed, lamina with a thin layer of periople like covering of scar tissue. It's not hard like wall, and if you were to rasp it, it would bleed and they would hurt, yet both have athletic careers and the sole just calloused more on the bottom. THe rest of the hoof is normal. (one is from the toe all the way back, the other is just over the quarter area). These are old wounds and obvisouly they had had lots of trouble trying to shoe these mares, but I just trim the rest of the foot and ignore the scar area, and they are sound, even on gravel ( I had to admit, even I was doubting if they could do it without shoes at first).They don't need any support, the foot adapted. I'd say the only problem they have would be going on real rough rocky ground that would scrape the side (or if the scar was on the inside of the foot and the other foot interfered, it could rub it), and for that, a boot would protect it.

    I would love to discuss the 39 yr old TB mare. (Did I read that right?)



    Barefoot and Loving it!

  • 01-13-2008 9:28 PM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    "And using putty to close it back up can trap bacteria that you missed and create even more problems."

    It is interesting that you say this. If trapping the bacteria under acrylics can trap bacteria that may have been missed, what is the difference if you never open the covering (hoof wall) you are still missing all of the bacteria. It is not very different from the afflictions people go through with fungus and bacteria, sometimes as the toe nail is eaten away underneath the only way to attack the problem is to remove the dead tissue. And that is exactly what you are doing when you remove bacteria infected hoof wall. The bacteria have continued to eat its way underneath the stratum externum thereby destroying any healthy attachment that the hoof wall may have had. It is no longer attached. So instead of permitting the bacteria to continue on it's journey of destruction you remove the already dead tissue. But you did mention something very important. You MUST get rid of ALL of the affected area otherwise the battle is futile. This is possible. Sometimes it involves only a small section of hoof sometimes it involves a larger portion. The American Farriers Journal had an interesting case study in it's December issue of a draft horse suffering from severe WLD. I think I would have done things a little different but the overall idea is that the resection of hoof wall saved this draft's life. A good read.

    You also wrote:

    "With shoes, even if you prevent movement, you prevent wear and shortly after, the wall is long enough to produce leverage forces again." 

    And later said:

    " if you set up the mechanics so the leverage isn't prying the weak structures apart,..."

    A boot would in a sense, among doing other things, prevent the horse from wearing it's hoof correct? If this is the case then the "leverage" is the same as if he had the more supportive shoe on. Now I know that you had said that there are things that you as a barefoot trimmer do such as the beveling of the outside edge of the hoof wall. I believe you had mentioned something about this is so that as he steps into the soil it doesn't pry on the hoof wall. I think I have that as you stated, forgive me for not going to your earlier posting. Anyway it is a well known fact that the hoof wall expands and contracts with every step it is a natural function that allows for proper shock absorption and blood flow. However if you are doing something in your trim that counteracts this natural occurrence as well as when the horse wears a boot you will be causing greater problems for the hoof down the road.

    As for the lamina being pried we must remember that it is already dead and detached. At this point it serves no purpose, and even can become more of a hindrance. The already stretched laminae from a rotated coffin bone have opened up a multitude of opportunities for bacteria. Sometimes in foundered horses the pus will build up inside of the hoof wall is so great that it will blow abscesses from not being given a path to erupt from as a resection would provide. By ressecting hoof wall we can prevent abcessation which causes additional stress to the hoof that is trying to heal. I can provide pictures of this to prove this point if it would help.

    Anyway, onto my wonderful friend who owns this, yes you heard me correct, 39 year old papered ex-race horse thoroughbred mare. It is a feat in and of itself that this mare is a depiction of pristine health and beauty. With the exception of the poor creatures front hooves.

    Here's the background. My first introduction to this blessed creature found her with size 3 plate like hooves. The laminae was stretched beyond imagination, and this wonderful barefoot trimmer believed that beveling the hoof wall would enable the hoof to come back to an upright position. The problem being that she didn't recognize or understand she was beveling a 2 inch thick flare. To add frosting to the cake the horse had a nasty quarter crack originating from the coronary band (an obvious old injury).The owner informed me that the horse was always lame she hardly ever moved any longer. She was told by her last trimmer to purchase boots. Oddly enough, it was amazingly hard to fit the horse to boots. Go figure. I began to trim the hoof, and trimmed, and trimmed to the point where I found a good case of WLD. I removed all of the dead hoof wall and was left with a 0 size hoof, much more appropriate. I treated the hoof for any left over bacteria, and applied a front pair of Sigafoos. The owner called a week later virtually in tears to tell me the horse had taken off through the pasture with her elderly companions at a gallop. She hadn't seen that in months. The next visit showed beautiful growth although the debrided hoof wall had not yet reached the ground yet. Another application of Sigafoos. I visit this farm every 6 weeks. Then I received a call, saying that after a rather rambunctious day in the field the mare walked in lame. I made the trip out and checked over the shoeing. Everything was great. It was time for the vet. The vet took radiographs of her front hooves, and I received a call from him that evening. It was bad, although it looked like it had been bad for a VERY long time. The mare had a sagittal fracture of the coffin bone from what he figured to be years ago. Furthermore she suffered from a very progressed navicular degeneration. In all her rambunctiousness she had caused greater damage to her disease. She had minimal clearance between p3 and the ground and the only thing keeping her sound was the clearance provided by the shoes, and it's concussive reducing capabilities. The vet's recommendation? Euthanasia. Well, the owner believed that as long as the mare had an appetite and was willing to eat she was willing to live.

    Then worse yet. The last visit found an excessive growth of hoof wall on the medial heel quarter. She had popped a good sized abscess just below it. I removed the shoe and began the trim. Well enough trauma to the poor things previous year of ill kept hooves found her sloughing her hoof wall. From the medial quarter to the medial heel peeled off like a banana peel with little help from me. The excessive growth near the coronary band was the hoof wall attempting to fix the trauma however it is only a half an inch down form the hairline. The rest of the area below that is old dead laminae. A simple rub from trying to get a boot on or puncture from a stick would leave her bleeding indeed. There is no hoof wall. The body itself has decided to rid itself of the last of the bad hoof wall. She has sturdy healthy hoof from medial toe quarter all the way around to the healing lateral quarter crack and strong lateral heel. Now before I tell you what I have done to remedy this I would like to know how you would treat this. Let me summarize the conditions.

    -Dropped sole from chronic founder, vet estimated probably only 3/16" sole depth.

    -Sole touching the ground (without shoes), has been that way for many lame years.

    -Severe lateral quarter crack

    -Sagittal fracture of p3 causing obvious pain.

    -Extreme degeneration of the navicular bone

    -Missing 1/3 of the hoof wall. Sensitive structures exposed.

    -Potential for contra-lateral limb laminitis

    This one is a doozy, but I'm happy to report that she is pasture sound, certainly not ridable sound. Either way I would like to know how you in the barefoot hoof trimming world, would address these issues.

    Oh I forgot to mention that she also has stringhalt, but after all of this the stringhalt is the least of the problems.Tongue Tied

  • 01-16-2008 1:14 PM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    I had just typed a response, and it didn't post because hubby hoped on and closed the window and I lost it. Grrrrrrr....I will have to try start over again later.  Indifferent

    Barefoot and Loving it!

  • 01-18-2008 8:38 PM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)

    The putty trapping bacteria is a possible situation because it stops the meds from going in and an ongoing regime is more effective in truely fighting the fungal/bacterial infection. I find that the crack leaves a gap that allows meds to get up in there to fight the infection, but still leaves the foot somewhat protected. Again, if the mechanical aspect is corrected, the strain on the lamina is removed, so it's not as easy for the bacteria to eat it and weaken it more, esp with an ongoing round of treatment. Resecting a hoof for a hoof crack (with rare, extreme exceptions) is invasive and un-necessary in most cases*if you get the trim right* and keep treating the infection properly. Why jump to an invasive procedure when a more conservative one works, when you can always resort to the resection if need be? Leaving the hoof intact still allows the horse to work.

    The boots, do prevent wear, but, they allow easy access to trim the growth that doesn't wear off. Shoes are too rigid, and too hard to get off an on when boots cushion AND protect, yet pop off/on as needed, and you can let the horse go without the boots on soft footing, shoes are on there, regardless.

    I am not the best at explaining things but I'll fall back on Pete Ramey's explanation and recommend that you read his and Jamie Jackson's literature on the mechanics of the hoof. They explain how a pasture trim that leaves the walls flat will allow leverage forces to pry at the lamina, and that the foot is left to load periphially, much lie a shoe, again creating a recipie for flaring and breakage. But a natural trim, esp the bevel allows the hoof to expand as needed but it sinks into the turf more, using more of the foot as a weight bearing structure and the turf, at the same time pushes back a little, lessening the "prying" effect and acutally prevent it. If you want a more thorough explaination, check out their websites.


    The old mare with the many,many problems (poor gal!) The P3 fracture was likely caused by years of stress from crappy trims/shoes. The same for the navicular degeneration. Sometimes you do end up having to do a drastic trim, but if you can read the sole properly, you can judge just how drastic it needs to be. Sometimes you have to leave some of that ugly stuff for a while and make signifigant changes in angles before really removing much hoof to allow the horse to adjust. That's when frequent trims help a lot-the goal is the keep the comfort level going. And sometimes you just have to boot them.

    The fracture-fractures inside the hoof capsule, common treatments are bar shoes with clips to totally stop all flexibility, but I would leave them bare. No uneven terrain, for sure, but the hoof itself is stable enough if the horses' movement is minimized for a few weeks. Joint fractures, well, casting the leg can help, but those are the worst kind and end with some arthritis and limited soundness, esp if it's an old fracture that went undetected for a long time, and a shoe isn't going to fix it.

    Navicular problems. Many times there is damage done to that little bone because of shoeing. High heels are the worst thing, though it masks the pain for a while. I know you said the bone was damaged, but I know of severl that have had spurs or other permanant damage,but symptoms can be alleviated by pulling shoes, lowering the heels and backing up the toes. Once the bone is damaged, it's never the same, but you can ease the comort level and reverse some of the pain. The degeneration of the bone usually coincides with a compromised coffing bone, but most people don't look for that. It's a sign that the angles have been all wrong. Shoes take the back of the foot out of the equation and the hoof doesn't get a good shock absorbing function, and slowed circulation, which makes the foot weaker and more tender, that catch .22 situation. Once you put the back of the foot back into use, it can start to do its job and the horse gets more comfortable, though if the bone is damaged, it's damaged. It takes time to build the back of the foot up to be able to work bare, and boots with pads help.


    I would ask if the navicular issue was known and was perhaps treated by corrective shoeing for years and that set her up for her other issues or if she had that fracture and was treated for navicular and that treatment actually created the navicular issue itself, but I suppose it's a chicken/egg situation and doesn't really matter.

    Her missing hoof wall, and quarter crack issue. Wrap the open section in vetwrap a few times to stop chaffing when the boot goes off/on in that area, slap some boots on there. If they fit properly, they don't rub, and they protect that exposed area from debris and the rest of the foot gets the benefit.

    What I don't get is how you seemed to think it was cruel that my horses have to adjust to being bare, even though I stated time and again that if you can anticipate potential soreness and use boots to prevent it  but you think it's not cruel to have this old mare with a broken bone, navicular syndrome and a hoof missing a significant chunk and having rotation of the coffin bone on paper thin soles not able to do more than graze? That's contradiction, in my book.

    Well, I would not worry too much about the fracture right away,since it's old and with that sort of thing, time is of the essence to do any good with treatment.Get the P3 back where it belongs by putting her in padded boots to cushion the soles, protect that open foot and keep that trim cycle short until the P3 is back where it belongs.Then the other problems, can be dealt with. I see her, esp at that age ,as never being totally sound. Even if the fracture heals, she's going to have that pesky navicular problem that needs to be dealt with, which is not the worst of her issues, the quarter crack and blown out hoof wall are just symptoms of the wrong trim, the most painful thing for her right now is the dropped soles, but that can be fixed with pads-shoes will suspend her and take the pressure away, true, but it's just a mask, not a cure. Periphial loading by shoes wills suspend her and encourage her to drop more, or at least never improve. The soles will remain thin, the lamina stressed. Barefoot would help. She could at least have that relieved. And boots can protect her foot from flexing too much laterally on choppy ground which would aggrevate her fracture, though I'd keep her off choppy ground right now anyways.

    So what did you do for her?


    Barefoot and Loving it!

  • 01-31-2008 10:33 AM In reply to

    Re: Barefoot trims vs. Shoeing (from the hyjack of "bad feet" thread)


    NHFarrier, where are you? Did you forget this thread? You've been on other ones.....I would really like to hear what you did for the mare.

    Barefoot and Loving it!

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