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Thursday, December 3, 2009

The iron free hoof Part 1

This is in 2 parts, because after writing the first part, I realized I hadn't said anything I meant to say - which was that after trimming I realized how much the hoof is a changing, adapting structure. Bear with me as I first get through probably the least entertaining thing you will read - a description of Farley's hooves.

On Thursday afternoon I trimmed/rasped Farley's hooves again. I've limited myself to only touching up her feet NO MORE OFTEN than every 2 weeks. In the meantime I can gaze at them for long periods of time, watch her move, and contemplate what I want to do, but I will NOT touch that rasp.

Since I'm still learning I want to give her feet a chance to get some growth between raspings so I can see how her hoof is changing and *think* about it.

Here's the conversation that happens whenever I contemplate my trimming and her front feet:

Part of me says: "Leave it alone. You are employing the white-line/maintenance trim strategy and the hoof will evolve. Everything is starting to look picture perfect on the underside so you are on the right track. Just wait it out. So what if the toe looks a bit long? After the sole sorts itself, you'll be able to see if you can shorten the toe - in the meantime the white line looks GREAT there!"

The other (less thinking) part of me says: "Fool! you have ruined everything! Her angles are whacked! What did you think you were doing? Playing farrier? In 6 short weeks since the farrier saw her you have meddled and you have screwed up. So what if the farrier will cut off sole? Schedule her for an appointment TOMORROW."

The hinds are different story.

So far I'm pleased. The white line in her hinds is tight all the way around and both have cute little concave "cupped" soles. :) I never have to do anything but roll the walls back to the water line.

Let's talk about the fronts.


The fronts are why I put down my tools for 2 weeks at a time. Better to leave too much on than to do something drastic and regret it.

Both fronts have a tight white line, except for a slight separation at the quarters. I re-read my online sources (check out Karen Chaton's blog for a great list of barefoot trimming links) and decide the way to handle this is to rasp through the (non-existent) white line, so the edge of the sole where the line is separated, and then to the water mark where the line is tight.

That's what I did and I'm happy with the result. Hopefully this keeps the wall from continuing to flare and I'll start to see the line tightening at the quarters.

Here comes the hard part - the heels and the toes.

The toe on both has a tight white line, and the wall keeps itself rolled back to the water line, so I usually don't touch the toe on either. So what's the problem?

The LF is clubbed and always looks toe short and heel high to me. The RF is "normal" but while the heel looks fine, the toe looks long....but maybe it's only by comparison?

My strategy is to take as much heel off as I can of the LF- which means taking down the heel until until the "triangle" is clean and not flaky. I usually leave the RF heels alone, just swiping a rasp a couple of times so that I can see that, yes, the heels are the right height.

And since I'm trimming and rolling to the white line, and the other landmarks in the hoof itself, I'm thinking that the toe is where the toe is, until the hooves start to adapt more? Manage the heel on the club foot and get the white line tight all the way around before worrying about anything else? Mmmm....

Onto the real point of the post: In which I realize that hooves are changing, adapting structures....(stay tuned)

1 comment:

  1. I don't have any sources at all to back me up, but I really suspect that most horses are clubby on one front and long-toed on the other. It's up to us to manage it, and for most horses it doesn't become a problem, but it's SO common.

    I think it's like dressage. We ask them to do dressage to help them carry themselves equally. It's better in the long run for the horse to learn to lengthen and collect, and to canter on both leads, and to bend smoothly in either direction. Likewise, it's better for the horse to have symmetrical feet - but neither flying changes nor perfect feet are a prerequisite for life.


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