These Are Not Reasons To Shoe A Horse, Young or Old

horse1Interesting article from The Horse, addressing the question whether older horses need to be shod. I find these to be the most frustrating sort of articles to read. The author comes to the conclusion that some horses ‘just need shoes’ (as so many so often “just” do). But, not only are her ‘reasons’ for shoeing flawed, nothing in them or the article addresses the specific issue of an older horse needing shoes. And think about it – what about an older horse would make his hoofcare needs any different from a younger one’s? (Answer: nothing) Only thing I can think of is that they’re assuming an older horse’s workload is reduced and thus the need for shoeing. But the article doesn’t go into that, discussing active horses.

 

Although he has pretty decent feet for a Thoroughbred, it was pretty clear he needed some extra support to successfully navigate the varied terrain on which eventing takes place, based on his short and choppy stride coupled with the fact that his front hooves started chipping like crazy once he started jumping. Our farrier tacked on a pair of front shoes and things have been going well. Continue reading

Will Removing My Horse’s Shoes For More Than a Few Cycles Help?

People often ask this question, so I thought I would copy a question/comment from one of the case studies which is typical of owners trying to decide whether to go barefoot – temporarily or longer:

Hello!
shod hoofI have an Appendix gelding (15 y/o) who has terrible feet. They can go from too dry and hard to soft and mushy just within a shoeing period. His walls are very thin, and I had a farrier once tell me it “was like nailing through kitty litter” If we are careful, he can keep his shoes on a full shoeing period, but he often looses a LOT of wall around the nails/holes. I have decided to pull his shoes for a few months and let him wear Cavallo boots to protect his foot while in turn out. Do you think that letting him go barefoot for longer than a few trims (before I move barns) will be beneficial. If he gets lame without shoes, we might have to put them back on. I also heard that there is a difference in concussion absorption in aluminum vs. steel shoes. is this true? We are currently actively training for the 2’9 – 3′ hunters.

Select comment christina
barefoothoofcare@verizon.net
74.108.160.34
Submitted on 2014/09/29 at 9:04 pm | In reply to Kristen.
Hi Kristen!
So glad to hear you are going to give your horse a chance to improve his feet by removing his shoes, at least for a while. There are several reasons that horses have poor hoof horn quality like yours does, and ironically the main reason for this is the presence of shoes. The other main reasons are stalling and exposure to wet/dry cycles – but these are all mitigated by removing shoes!

The reason shoeing causes poor hoof horn quality is that it reduces blood flow to the hoof (for a variety of reasons) which negatively affects the quality of the wall. As soon as you remove shoes you will see an improvement in the quality of the wall. There will be a ring that grows down the foot where it will be very apparent where the shod growth ends and the barefoot growth begins. It will look different and feel different and have more ‘life’ to it. It is ironic indeed that a horse has to be barefoot in order to grow wall thick enough to be able to hold shoes – LOL! In my own horse’s case (typical TB) his wall thickness went from about 1/16″ thick to more than 1/4″ thick! Continue reading

Do You Have a Metabolic Horse?

Low starch meals are forage based

Low starch meals are forage based

There are multiple avenues for approaching the ever-growing problem of metabolic horses. Most of the attention has focused on the diet and limiting intake of grass and in the case of obese horses, hay as well. This is a self-perpetuating cycle as it puts the horse in starvation mode which releases the hormones that contribute to obesity and metabolic syndrome.

prod-coolstance-med

Copra (coconut meal)

Low starch foods only work so far in helping to solve the problem (and one of the newer choices available to horse owners is copra (cococut meal) a low sugar foodstuff.

It is no secret (or shouldn’t be) that regular consistent exercise is one of the best ways to manage, reduce and even eliminate metabolic syndrome (and accompanying problems of laminitis). But recent research has shed a little more light on why. There is a white fat cell (which stores fat) and a brown fat cell (which generates heat and burns fat). Exercise will convert white fat cells to brown ones which in turn will result in weight loss.

Snow is no problem for barefoot horses

Snow is no problem for barefoot horses

In people, researchers have found that:

• Slender people have more brown fat than obese people do
• Younger people have more brown fat than elderly people, and
• People with normal blood sugar levels have more brown fat than those with high blood sugar

So it is not much of a stretch to think that this could also be the case in horses. So, saddle up and get working. If your horse’s feet are tender because of metabolic induced mild laminitis, start out with padded boots. Eventually you will be able to ride completely barefoot.

The Hoof Is The Mirror To Your Horse’s Health

I came across this post  on my new favorite blog, Good Horsekeeping and thought I would share it.  The focus is on the two extremes – from very unheatlhy to very healthy, but there is a lot of room in between the two. It is important to learn to recognize what hoof rings are telling you. It usually means there is some form of inflammation going on inside the hoof.

An  upset in the horse’s metabolic system eventually shows itself in the hoof wall texture and horizontal rings.  The hoof becomes a mirror of the internal imbalances.
MMP enzyme, (matrix metalloproteinase) controls the growth and direction of the laminae in the hooves.  This enzyme is well regulated in a healthy system providing flexibility in the connective tissues of the hoof wall.

rings

The cecum, in the hind gut is part of the digestive process.  It is a fermentation sac containing microbials that assist in breaking down the forage.When the diet is high in grains and sugars this causes the bacterial population of the hind gut to rapidly increase damaging the lining of the colon and releasing toxins into the bloodstream.

Continue reading

Navicular, a.k.a ‘Caudal Heel Pain Syndrome’

What a Little Good Trimming Can Do

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The horse in question, an 18 yo Appaloosa was retired from showing because of the non-specific diagnosis of caudal heel pain syndrome.  Xrays confirmed the presence of ‘changes’ that were attributed to his discomfort.  He was shod according to proper conventional veterinary standards for navicular, which did help to make him comfortable, but he still seemed stiff, definitely not agile, and, at the bottom of the pecking order would allow himself to be cornered and bullied rather than try and run away.

Right Front Leg Lateral View

1may07b.jpg           2may07b.jpg         3my07b.jpg

a.  With shoes                          b.  Shoes Just Removed            c.  First Trim

Continue reading

Ringbone?

OR POOR HOOF FORM? 

The Morgan mare is believed to be about 15 yo.  She was found at auction in MA. Due to her severe lameness (grade5/5 at a the walk), no one wanted her and for several weeks she wasted in the auction pens.  She was shod, but according to the sellers it did not help, and even with Banamine she was completely lame on some days.  She was in danger of getting picked up by a slaughter-bound truck when by chance the current owner found her and purchased her for $400. 

(Click on thumbnails for larger views).

  lily002.jpg                      lily-fink0003.jpg

        Left Hind AP                            Left Hind Lateral

This horse clearly has a very advanced case of high, apparently articular, ringbone.  According to the veterinary diagnosis, it was the most severe case ever seen by that vet and the horse would never be sound for riding.

lhringbone.JPG        lhbfrb.JPG   rlh.JPG

Left Hind

The ringbone is clearly visible even without radiographs and the mare frequently favored the Left Hind.

Moving on from what is visible on radiographs, the obvious confronts the viewer: the horse’s hoof form is terrible and overgrown, the result of neglect or ignorance. There is certainly more than enough cause here for lameness of some degree.

2lhsolebf.JPG      1lhsolebf.JPG         3lhsole.JPG

LH before, fig. 1                    LH before, fig. 2             LH after, fig. 3

The bars on the Left Hind are clearly overgrown to the point where they are actually above not only the level of the sole but the wall as well, meaning the bar would be the first structure to bear the horse’s weight, upon weightbearing rather than the walls and sole.  Since the foot is somewhat contracted and the wall and bar material are very hard (as is typical in Morgans), the bars are not folding over onto the sole, the effect for the horse being like stepping onto the dull edge of a knife with each step.  No wonder she refused to put any weight onto that foot.

Fig. 1 shows the edge of the too-long bar (red arrow) as well as the desired location of the bar (blue dashed line). Fig. 2 shows the bar grown all the way around the apex of the frog (red arrows), also a source for pain. Fig. 3 shows the bars lowered and removed from the sole.  After this trim the mare was much more willing to stand on this foot but was still lame on turns.

Having become more comfortable on the LH, she now exhibited more clearly lameness on the Right Front and is seen holding that foot behind her, a sign of pain.

1body.JPG

Further investigation revealed deeply imbedded bar on the RF front, which when removed, produced immediate improved soundness.

Right Front

1rfsolebf.JPG                        3rfsolaf.JPG   

Before                                                       After

 2rflatbf.JPG                   4rflataf2.JPG

Before                                                      After

Update:  The mare has been under the new owner’s care for about six months now.   After her first few trims she was able to place weight on her feet and move comfortably, so she was started on trail rides of increasing duration, sometimes as much as 4 hours long.  After the very longest rides she would show some signs of discomfort in her hind legs, which presumably was the articular deposits being worn away from the hours of movement. (This will be confirmed in the coming months with new X-rays).   But evn this discomfort is no longer present. It is apparent that the obvious pain and inability to place weight on the Left Hind was orginating from the large overgrown bar seen from the underside on the lateral side of the foot, even though this was never observed in the lameness diagnosis.  The lameness was all attributed to the ringbone.  She requires no boots on every kind of footing in the park where she trail rides. 

Founder – Recovery

4 yo Shetland Pony Mare

The pony had not been trimmed much until the time she foundered, and grazed on lush grass while under the care of the previous owner, resulting in a combination of probable metabolic and mechanical founder. Her X-rays and laminar wedge closeups appear in the posts below.

Ruby Standing

A tight regimen of frequent trimming as well as limited access to grass (using a muzzle) has been implemented, resulting in improved hoof form and a healthier body weight.  The trimming focused on lowering the heels and backing up the toes, realigning the coffin bone parallel to the toe wall, as well as bringing it closer to a ground parallel orientation. The parallel hoof wall/coffin bone is a primary factor in the prevention of founder.

BEFORE

rfbefdecember-2.jpg   solebf.jpg

Somewhat difficult to see in the grass, but this is where the corrective trimming started, with high heels and very long toes.  The red arrows at the toe show imminent coffin bone protrusion, along with a wide gulf  separation between its edge and the wall. The bar, (red arrow), level with the frog, is high.

rfsole.jpg       rfsole0307.jpg       rfsolebl.jpg

1 mo.                                  3 mos.                                    6 mos.

As the hoof wall grows down, the separation (all the way around the edge of the hoof) diminishes, and the white line becomes healthy and tight, enabling it to suspend the coffin bone in the hoof capsule.

 rflat.jpg                                              rflatbl.jpg

1 mo.                                                                                   6 mos.

By 6 months most of the hoof wall has grown down with less prominent rings. The remaining separation at the toe (red arrows) corresponds to the separation on the sole at the same time frame and will grow out in another month or so.

Founder – Laminar Wedge Xrays

The following xrays depict radiographically the laminar wedge as well as the rotation characteristic of founder. They correspond to the photographs of the laminar wedge in the previous post.

lfmu2.jpg

The horse was diagnosed with rotation of 12 degrees. The space between the laminae at the top of the hoof (L1) is smaller than the space at the bottom (L2). These two measurements should be the same, or stated another way the wall of the Coffin Bone (red line) should be parallel to the hoof wall (metal marker seen in gray). When the space at the bottom is greater this indicates the laminae have given way and the bone has begun to rotate, or founder. The wide space at the bottom, L2, is now full of torn and dead laminae, inflammation and blood, and this is what becomes the laminar wedge.

The importance of correct laminar spacing (he calls it the Horn-Laminar zone) is discussed by Ric Redden here

Here is an umarked Xray of the same foot:

lfmu.jpg

Click on thumbnail for larger image.