This is the same hoof 6 months apart. Can you see the difference? The first picture on the left shows a pushed up hairline from the quarters being too tall. The heels are crushed and run forward into the middle of the hoof and the angle of the toe is too steep.
The picture below shows what a good barefoot hoof should look like. Relaxed and straight hairline, short heel that is under the back part of the hoof and a less steep toe angle. The photos below show lines drawn to help see what I mean by the hairline being pushed up or looking more like a rainbow than a straight line. The black lines show what the hoof should look like, where the yellow is outlining where the hoof was at during this point in time.
You can also see the legs are wrapped in the above picture. This horse frequently went lame and had swelling of the ligaments in his legs. Now he is no longer lame at the walk, trot or canter and prances instead of thumping his front end along with a low head. His topline has filled in and his hunter's bump has gone away. There was no chiropractic or massage work done with this horse. If there had been, his progression probably would've happened more quickly.
This horse stays on a 6 week trimming schedule.
I am dedicating this page to the horses who have taught me so much. I've learned patience, how everything is connected, how much the diet affects them, how much the trim affects them and how much the environment affects them. They are such robust, strong creatures yet they seem to have so many ailments...
I am focused on recreating the mindset of horse husbandry. What we think is right, usually isn't and usually is the cause of the majority of issues. Genetics definitely play a roll, but not as much as one might think.
We haven't domesticated horses long enough to take away how they survive in nature. Instead of trying to change them, maybe we need to change us.
Believe it or not, this is the same hoof, on the same day. This mare had not been trimmed in three years. I am unsure as to why except that she was/is a rescue horse. She was very uncomfortable holding her leg up so most of the work was done with her hoof on the ground. When I did get her to lift her leg for a few short seconds I could see that she had foundered at some point and still had extremely thin soles.
In subsequent visits I was able to get her heel down lower, but I do not know how she fared after this, as the rescue stopped having her trimmed again.
After this first trim she was able to walk much more soundly and even trotted down the aisle!
The above picture is commonly what is seen with draft hooves. Most farriers will tell you that they have to have shoes because there is too much weight on the hooves to keep them from falling apart.
This is quite simply untrue. And the pictures below prove it. A drafts hooves are no different structurally than a quarter horse's or a pony's. They have the same lamina, same coffin bones, same supporting structures within the hoof. They are also susceptible to the same hoof issues as normal size horses due to diet, environment and trims.
The hooves above are owned by a 2 year old Shire. They are hard as concrete and the only real issue he has is a bit of thrush in the central sulcus of his frogs. His diet is grass hay and Tribute feeds. Very simple. And the results speak for themselves. He is kept on a 6 week trimming cycle and has a good 3/4-1" of hoof wall to remove at that point.
I am hugely impressed with his hooves and his owners dedication and care.
This was a cadaver foal hoof that I learned on. My job at that time was foaling out mares on a large breeding farm, so to be able to learn about these newly developed, young hooves was very interesting to me!
Just goes to show foals hooves should be trimmed as often if not more often than adult horses. Their bones and sensitive structures are forming and a hoof that is let go like this can cause issues all the way up the shoulder and into the back during development.
The before and afters are dramatic. The hoof on the left will happen within a few months of birth if the foal is not allowed to run around and play. Some professionals seem to think that keeping a foal in a small area and on very soft footing is best for their development.... I think that is extremely far from the truth. The left hoof is what happens when they are confined to soft areas. The right can happen naturally for the most part, if left to wander a large area or paddock paradise set up.
I'll say it again, TRIMMING FOALS IS VERY IMPORTANT. I have trimmed dozens of foals since this first cadaver hoof and the amount of dysfunction by age 1 is astounding without routine trimming.
This was the first mare I ever trimmed. She was a boarder at our barn and newly off the track. I can't imagine being forced to run with flippers like she had at the end of her legs... The above photo and left photo are before shoes were removed.
The photos above are before shoes were removed. Below is after the shoes are removed and I trimmed her. Can you tell the difference in pastern and toe angle? You see, long toes and underrun heels not only affects the hoof, it travels up the leg and affects every joint up to the shoulder, and muscles in the withers and along the spine.
This horse is a Tennessee Walker. A quick glance may make you think, "Wow!! What great hooves! But if we take a closer inspection we can start to get a better picture of what this horse may be going through.
We can see the rings on the hoof wall and the more pink color instead of creme or white. These indicate consistent inflammation of the inner sensitive laminae, which leads to separation of these tissues and bruising. It also pulls the toe forward.
As we can see on the palmar shot to the left, the dirt line on the sole is where the true breakover should be if this were a well connected and healthy hoof.
Again, with the photos to the right, we see the toes wanting to go forward and the loss of connection in the hoof wall. These are probably the prettiest foundered hooves I've ever been able to work on, but they are still on the verge of disaster none-the-less.
This horse is on ADM Metabolic Minerals and has been for quite some time. He has access to a grass pasture as well. This horse has not been tested but I would venture to guess he is IR/Hypothyroid and would do best with no grass at all and a mineral that complements his hay and metabolic issues.
These hooves belong to another beautiful tennessee walker. Can you see the differences? The only issue he has is some slight flaring and slightly forward heels, possibly due to diet. This is very common in most horses unless the diet is right. You cannot trim a healthy hoof onto an unhealthy horse.
Otherwise this horse has nice, big frogs, no thrush, strong walls and a fairly short breakover. The sole is also very healthy. This hoof is a good goal for every horse even though there are still improvements to me made.
Unfortunately I did not take photos the first time I trimmed this mare. I was not able to take much of anything off at the first trim which was rather disappointing to me. I wanted to jump in and get her hooves to at least a good angle the first trim, but she was not ready.
She had been trimmed by another farrier every 6-8 weeks before I met her and was becoming increasingly lame. She had x-rays which showed a very slight imbalance but no rotation and no navicular changes. However this mare could barely shuffle herself around. Can you see why?
Look at the top right photo. She actually had higher heels than this to begin with. How many of you like walking around in high heels? Especially for more than a few hours? And how relieved are you to get them off your feet at the end of the day or night?
This mare was also trimmed every 4-6 weeks when I met her. The owner sent me the photos on the top left and I asked how long it had been since her last trim. Expecting her to say oh 4 months or so, I was shocked when she said just 3 weeks.
This is not to show all farriers are bad and all barefoot trimmers are good. Actually, the person trimming before me was supposedly a barefoot trimmer. It just goes to show, it doesn't matter what you call yourself. Knowing the horse, hoof and anatomy and how to do a job well is what matters.
The photos to the top left are of her front foot before my trim, bottom left is same hoof 4 weeks later.
The photos in the center and to the right are of her hind hoof. Top left photo in the center is 4 weeks after the last farrier's trim. Bottom left, center photo is after my first trim.
Far right photo is 4 weeks after my first visit and after I trimmed her a second time. She had a slight negative palmar angle in her hind hooves as well.
This little pony could barely walk when he came to me. He had been trimmed previously every 5-6 weeks by another trimmer. This is a good example of not having enough experience to know when to take hoof and sole and when to leave it. This transformation took about 4 months.
This was one of two severely neglected ponies bought at auction. They were reported to have been wild on 100 acres with a herd of about 30. Never trimmed, never handled. This day was a first for them on many counts and they did exceptionally well for me. It took a hacksaw to get these extremely long toes off.
I am still amazed how long these animals can suffer and still walk before they completely break down, and how quickly they can bounce back.
Picture to the left is before trim. Middle picture to the right is the same day.
This little mare was once a little girl's pony. Once the girl grew up, the pony got put out with the cows and neglected. Sadly this happens more often than most know about. Lucky for her, she found a new home with about a dozen grandkids to dote on her and love her. She's also got someone who cares about her hooves! These photos are of the same day. Knowing the internal structures and being able to read the hoof intricately is so important in all cases, but especially these.
The left photo was taken on January 1, 2018, the next two photos were taken on January 27th, 2018.
Can you see how much the heel has expanded and grown in just 26 days? This is evidence for every horse that has thrush, as this one did too, that with proper care and proper trimming it does not take months and months to fix these issues. There is no excuse for horses not completely recovering within a year (barring any major medical issues) with the correct diet, exercise and hoof care.. If we can do this in 26 days, imagine 365 days...
These photos really truly show the overall difference. Same foot, photos taken same days as above. To achieve this drastic of a change in under 30 days is amazing and an absolute testimony to the hoof healing itself when everything else is correct.
The photo to the left shows a common perfectly round hoof, atophied frog, low heels and flaring pillars.
The photo to the right shows an anatomically correct hoof that is oblong rather than round, heels that are becoming taller and more under the back of the foot rather than run forward and bars that are nice and straight. The frog is becoming strong and healthy and the inside of the hoof is slowly healing as well.
Again, this is the same foot. Funny. The second photo looks like a back hoof doesn't it? Hmmmmm.....
Top photo was taken January 1, 2018. The bottom photo was taken January 27th, 2018. Notice the flaring is gone and the hoof is more symmetrical in the lower photo.
Again, this is in only 26 days with one TACT trim.
Hooves... What a story they tell!