Three Months "Barefoot"

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domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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Just thought I'd share some comparison pics of Gracie's hooves, since she had all four shoes removed at the end of March. The newer pics were taken at the end of June, so pretty much 3 months, a day or so after a trim. The purple spray is just a health booster/issue preventer. Each "before" pic is on the left and they were all taken 24 hours after shoe removal.

So this is her off fore. Things I can see that have improved are...

Her frog is more pronounced and the central sulcus thrush has been treated and is now gone. The crack has nearly grown out too.... It was very deep.

Her bars have migrated to the back of her hoof and her wear pattern is over the whole hoof and not just at the toe, so her tendons have stretched.

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This is her off hind. This one had the worst central sulcus thrush and it had cleared up until it got damp again recently. However, it's far better this time, more suoerficial, less deep and as her frog grows out (and I continue to treat) that little hole should heal before winter. Again, the bars have migrated to her heels which gives a better all-round wear pattern.

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This is her near hind. This was her only hoof that didn't have any central sulcus thrush. This hoof has done really well in terms of the increased side of her frog, the overall widening of the hoof itself, the bars and wear pattern again. A slight split now in the frog which I will monitor closely, but no infection. I think it was just a prolonged period of dry weather.

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And finally her near fore. Again, big changes here. This is what I used to call her "gimp foot" in that she toed-in and it was quite noticeable when she didn't have feather. You can see in the pic on the left that the hoof is uneven and wider on the left side than the right. However now, she has magically evened herself up and the hoof looks a lot more balanced. The CS thrush has gone and the frog, whilst not as wide as her hinds, is looking a lot more healthy.

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Gracie has taken to being shoeless very well and I have managed her carefully with the best nutritional balance that I can muster. Whilst she still has a long way to go until she's completely grown a whole new hoof, I certainly feel that we're on the right track. We occasionally hack over all terrains, to help condition her feet to become "rock crunchers" and so far she's doing brilliantly.
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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Found a pic that illustrates her previous "gimp" (pigeon-toed) hoof.... the one on the right!

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newforest

Somewhere in the solar system
Mar 15, 2008
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Looking good. It's amazing how the hoof and horse react to no shoe, I better grow a frog then, I will need that.

A quick way to harden up the hoof is to scrub it with salt. It sorts bad bacteria as well and wont interfere with the good.

Take measurements for comparison now to another three months. I expect her to have slightly bigger hooves as she carries on adjusting. It's amazing how flat and small shod hooves really are.
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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Yes, I've always thought she had very tight, upright, boxy hooves for a cob. They look a totally different shape now but weirdly they haven't expanded as much as I thought they would yet. Her measurements are still very similar.
 

newforest

Somewhere in the solar system
Mar 15, 2008
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I think from memory when mine was in boots she went from a size four up to a size 6 over 18 months. But she was a youngster and so the workload was minimal. - probably still is. :)
 

saffysue

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Jul 12, 2020
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Hi Ive had horses barefoot for 11 years and what I see looking at her feet before and after is.... left hoof (dead) right hoof (alive) !!!
Well done for taking the timeout to give your mare a chance to go barefoot, I would never shoe another horse. They say all horses can be barefoot, not all owners can :)
 

newforest

Somewhere in the solar system
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I will do what I feel is right for that individual.
If a shoe is, then I will shoe, never say never, you close a door.
 
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Kite_Rider

Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
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Hi Ive had horses barefoot for 11 years and what I see looking at her feet before and after is.... left hoof (dead) right hoof (alive) !!!
Well done for taking the timeout to give your mare a chance to go barefoot, I would never shoe another horse. They say all horses can be barefoot, not all owners can :)
I’m interested to know how much ‘time out’ an owner should take before they feel it’s fairer to the horse to put shoes back on?
As @newforest says above, you surely have to do what’s right for the horse? Not just blindly keep on trying while the horse is clearly uncomfortable without shoes?
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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@Kite_Rider I am going to give Gracie a year to 18m. That will give her a chance to grow a whole new hoof (she's not a quick hair or hoof grower), but on the basis of how the first 4 months have gone, I doubt she'll have shoes on again, to be honest. The farm where the yard is has 500 acres of grassy field edges to ride around so the majority of her work has been and will be done on soft ground. With lockdown, YM advised us to stay "on site" so it's only been recently that we've starting venturing out on tarmac and more stoney tracks, so it's bound to be something of a shock to her. Funnily enough I have just ordered her some more Cavallo Treks in the next size up because we hacked out 5 miles last Thursday on all types of terrain for a change and G was totally "rock-crunching". However, we did the same route and then some on Saturday, with best hacking bud Jill and she was a bit footsore..... a case of too much too soon, imho. So my reasoning for the boots is to have back up if we do two "hard/tricky" surface hacks in quick succession. She'd go BF for the first but then have a bit of help for the second, just whilst she needs it. It's lovely having the soft field edges but I obviously realise that she does need regular work on alternative surfaces to condition her hooves. I'm confident that over time she'll get much, much better but it is still very early days in terms of hoof growth - she still hasn't quite grown out her nail holes (told you they were slow!) so I'm offering a bit of help and assistance, just in case she needs it.

I'm not a BF warrior now by any means. I absolutely give them what they need. At one point I owned three riding horses who all had different requirements to be comfortable - a full set, fronts only and none. Their comfort is paramount. But any time without shoes will never fail to improve the quality of the hoof. Three hooves with central sulcus thrush are now down to one tiny bit and it was scary just how much of her frog has been eaten away where you couldn't see! The first time I packed them with gauze and it all just disappeared into the hole, I felt physically sick that I'd not realised things were so bad. Apparently farriers are so used to seeing it that they don't bother saying anything so it must be pretty rife in shod horses.
 

Kite_Rider

Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
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@domane my post wasn’t directed at you, I totally know that you’d do what’s best for the horse.
I just get really quite sad and find it very hurtful when barefoot evangelists say that it’s all down to the owner and any horse can be ridden shoe less.
Belles feet are terrible and always have been, all our hacking is tarmac or stoney tracks and the only grass we can use we have to do either or both to get to.
I’ve tried everything to get her comfortable and spent two years trying, she too grows very little hoof and even with hoof boots she can’t cope from field to barn over the stoney tracks, at 23 I will not let her suffer even those five minutes of pain. So when someone says ‘all horses can go barefoot, it’s owners who can’t it kind of gets my back up a bit.
Luckily Belle has no thrush or deep groves in her central sulcus or anywhere really, her white line is tight, she has no flare and her bars are right where they should be, so other than the fact she has tiny feet for her size (even the vet commented on that) I struggle to see what else I can do.
 
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chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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...la la land
I think with shod hooves the muck is held in by the shoes more. When i pick up chunkys feet his fronts with shoes are always full of mud and poo yet his backs are quite often clean.
The only time you get it out easily on shoes is on the road. I will see it flick out from the fronts in a clod if we trot on the road. But if we just walk the mud stays compacted in the foot. So in some ways it goes without saying if the horse is shod you get more muck trapping.
Having said that ive seen tb with shoes who have very flat feet and no frogs and they seem to have clean feet. So maybe the deeper the frog the more the muck compacts and holds in.
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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@Kite_Rider I'm so sorry if my post came across as defensive, it wasn't meant to. In my head I was just rambling and chatting and I certainly didn't feel that anything was being directed at me. All is good here 👍

And for the record, I totally agree that not all horses can go barefoot. We do what we need to to keep them comfortable.
 
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Mary Poppins

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Oct 10, 2004
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I am a total convert to barefoot. Ben had his shoes removed over 2 years ago and has not had them touched since. Not one single trim. They are huge, I love looking at his prints after he has walked through a puddle as it leaves a complete circle with a frog shape, proving the whole foot now comes into contact with the floor.

He is lame anyway and we only walk round fields for exercise, so I have no idea how his feet would cope with his old varied workload. But I know we did the right thing for us removing his shoes when we did. If I thought he needed a farrier I would get one, but he self trims and looks after his feet himself.
 
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