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Monday, December 14, 2009

Hoof breakthrough Part 2

When digging at the tip of her frog on her right front, a chunk of sole crumbled from her foot.

What the.....

At the bottom of the "pit" was good looking, waxy sole. Hurrah! The wet weather/tightening white line/rinsing the beet pulp/whatever was causing Farley's front feet to exfoliate all of that dead sole.

I grabbed my tools and went to work.

I started on her left front. I gently scraped with my hoof knife and dead sole crumbled away. What emerged was absolutely amazing. A round little hoof with a tight white line all the way around, cute little concave cups. I could see her bars clearly for the first time. I could see I much her heels needed to be taken down to the live sole. I could see the patches of live soles near the white line by the toe. It was amazing.

Next was her right front. This was the foot that gave me the clue that her feet were exfoliating, but they weren't ready to give up their secrets yet. The white line is still not tight at the quarters, but I can see progress with this foot. Chunks of dead sole are flaking away, exposing live sole, and I'm sure when the foot is ready, it too will transform.

All four feet got a good dawn scrubbing and then it was off to work again.

So what did I learn today?
  • Even on the crappiest day, a miracle is waiting to surprise me.
  • There is nothing more beautiful than a barefoot hoof, coming to life
  • Have patience - even if nothing looks like it it's happening in there, the transitioning barefoot hoof is slowly transforming.
  • I read that getting a tight white line is key - then the rest of it will take care of itself. That has certainly been true for me so far. Her hinds had a tight white line first and got their little concave cups first. Is it a coincidence that the first trimming that the LF has a tight white line, that it also develops concavity? While the only hoof without a tight white line (RF) is the only one without concavity at this point?

At this point it's been 9 weeks since she's seen a traditional farrier, and 3.5 months since she's had shoes. This is the biggest transformation so far, and I really needed it as reassurance that things are progressing in the right direction.

I took pics, but it was dark and it's hard to see. She'll continue to get a good Dawn scrubbing daily until the thrush goes away (usually 1-2 scrubbings), and I'll boot her for any rides I do. I'll continue to focus on getting that RF white line cleaned up (and have patience! Because it totally paid off!) and hopefully I soon have 4 little cupped feet.

Barefoot totally rocks!


  1. Way to go! That happened to Boomer last year and I was pretty concerned at first. It seemed like an awful lot of flaking and crumbling. They were not flaking evenly and I was scared his hooves were coming off! Then a day or so later, his hooves were so clean and 'fresh' and I realized that hooves are in fact, growing and changing things! Who would have thought?

  2. Did Boomers feet stay exfoliated, or did the dead sole accumulate again? I'm wondering if this is a wet weather phenomenon or if I get to look at her pretty little feet in all seasons. :)

    Her hinds, once they exfoliated and cupped, have stayed cupped, so I guess that is an indicator.

  3. Mel, with your ride schedule and the miles you cover, you are going to see some amazing hoof transition. This is but the very beginning of an adventure of a lifetime! (OK so maybe not THAT big, but it is one heck of a cool journey!)

    As you condition Farley, her hooves will condition as well. The smooth sole, tight white lines, and concavity will stay put AS LONG AS:
    - Conditioning remains steady
    - Trimming to the correct physiology of the foot continues.

    Can't wait to see pix!

    And BTW0 very good work on NOT forcing sole out. Take ONLY what the foot offers you ;) Save you a lot of trouble and heartache in the long run.

  4. Hi Mel- out of curiosity, what barefoot methodologies are you following? Or maybe the question should be whose methodology are you following.

  5. It stayed up until recently when I left him untrimmed for 8 weeks and then had shoes put on him for 6 weeks. Now we are back to square one (well, not quite) and I am still evaluating his hooves and curious to see where his hooves will be in another 4-6 weeks.

    Boomer's hooves didn't always look like that though, they do go through periods of looking a little funky, depending mostly on the weather. sometimes his bars would seem taller ( I leave those when I trim) before they 'settled' or he would start to loose a frog- those changes didn't seem to happen on the same day for all 4 feet, but were all within the same week or so.

    So, I think his hooves pretty well stayed exfoliated, however, they weren't always light and new looking. After walking around and being 'used' they started to look dark again, and parts would re-exfoliate (around the bars), but it didn't seem like the whole sole needed to exfoliate again.

    I don't use a hoof knife so his 'transformation' wasn't as uniform or quick. I only trim the walls and let his hoof do the rest. The sole and bars really do take care of themselves! Though, I am lucky that Boomer really has great feet that are easy to work with.

  6. I must admit I like using a hoof knife, and I use it like a hoof pick most of time - poking, prodding, and scraping. I'm really careful about cutting away hoof or sole - just take away stuff that's already loose to look for thrush etc.

    I printed a lot of information from ironfreehoof before they took a lot of the information down (I don't know this for sure, but someone told me they made a video, so took it down). This was the site tha made the most sense to me. There's another site that I can't remember the name of that talked about the white line trim versus the maintenance trim, and tightening up the white line that way that was useful.

    Kathy sent me the other day some videos/sites that she found helpful. Here are the links:

    I alternate trimming from the top and trimming from the bottom. I'm very lucky that Farley has basically good hooves. Basically my "trimming" is bringing down the heels, rasping to the white line or water line depending on where the white line is tight and where it isn't. Making sure the heels are level, making sure the plane of the foot is reasonable, and beveling the wall. I'll have my farrier check my work every couple months to make sure there isn't any huge imbalances that I'm not catching or that I'm causing. I don't have to touch the bars - they aren't laid over and they are usually the height they are suppose to be.

    I hope this made sense. I also look on Karen's site for links. That's how I came across the Dawn scrubbings for thrush.

  7. That is basically how I trim as well. I used the web site and really liked their visuals.

    It really is a cool process!

  8. Mel, I'd love to see pix when you are able!

    Also, Karen C recommended a product called "Durahoof" to me (Jeffers carries it) as a sole toughener, and I'm finding that it also works well as a thrush preventer. Main ingredient is iodine. Don't know how it would work as treatment, because I haven't seen a speck of thrush all winter, even though we live in the Swamp.

  9. I also am very much looking forward to the pictures.

  10. pictures, Mely!! You've got even *me* wanting to see this "nice tight white line" you speak of..

  11. Hi Mel
    I really enjoy your blog but never felt inspired to leave a comment till now.
    it is so exciting watching those feet isn't it! You'll end up obsessed like the rest of us barefooters!
    I have 3 barefoot horses - they have been for 3 years. Here in Western Oz we have VERY hot dry summers then an autumn "break" into a wet winter. EVERY year as the rain starts my horses shed vast amounts of dead sole. All summer the soles look fine, then all this flaky stuff comes off when the weather changes. I think extra thick sole is an adaptation for our hard rocky ground, then when the dirt softens up they don't need it so much so iff it comes. I used to try and chip it off over summer (their hooves are like iron!) but now I don't bother - I figure it stays there in summer for a reason and comes away in winter when it's not needed.

  12. Okay you do know that you have to post photos? You can't just talk about it!

    Barefoot is a lot like a roller coaster ride. Kind of fun at times, exhilarating at others, boring and not exciting at all sometimes too. Kind of like watching water boil when it is working.

    It is fun to see the improvements as your mind expands to learn why barefoot is really a healthy alternative to nailing on shoes.

    Be careful with the TFTT method. It does work...but is best used for touch-ups in between trims.

    I tried TFTT for awhile and it just didn't work long term for my horses. It is great for touchups. You have to work from the bottom too with endurance horses in certain situations.

    You can't only focus on working from the outside. That being said, it may work for you/your horse and others but just didn't work for any of my guys. Be careful about rasping too much hoof wall, whether you are TFTT or gluing boots - taking off more than you need can damage hoof health.

    It'd be better to talk in person and look at our horses' feet. So much easier, as photos can really distort things a lot.

    Ultimately what matters is "what works".

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