White Line Tightens Up After Shoes Are Removed

The transition from shod to barefoot almost always results in the white line growing in more tightly as a result of the absence of leverage of the wall away from the coffin bone due to the presence of the shoe. While the shod part of the wall is growing down, there is a ‘ridge’ visible where the white line has started to grow in more tightly.

The hoof is shod.


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Shod To Barefoot Transition – Long Toe Low Heel

A 5 yo Hanoverian/TB X gelding

Shoes were removed in December.  The images represent his progress over the course of the next 5 months.

Left Front Foot

Dec082lf      Mar09lf

Fig. 1                                                              Fig. 2

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

What a Little Good Trimming Can Do


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

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Barefoot Children’s Hunter Pony


  Horse and rider right after a trim.

The mare is classified as a pony but is a QH, with large, horse-sized feet. She had fairly healthy feet to start with, with the exception of some minor flaring that was corrected over the course of the first two trims. This enabled her right lead canter to improve and helped with better lead changes.

    blog4lfbeforeflare.jpg                  blog5noflare.jpg 

     Slight Medial Flare                      Flare has been corrected

 blog2.jpg             blog1.jpg              blog3.jpg

    Left                                                    Right                                        Left Sole

She and her owner/rider have had a very successful 2007 showing season,  winning Champion in Children’s Hunter Pony Division at the “Big E” Eastern Seaboard Exposition  in MA, a finalist (8th place) in Marshall & Sterling National Finals at HITS in Saugerties NY, and Reserve Champion at Gardnertown Farms in Newburgh NY. They are now (February 2008) competing at HITS in Ocala, FL.

smallbig_e.jpg             small-m-s.jpg

At the “Big E”                       In a Chronicle of the Horse ad congratulating M&S Finalists

                                               (upper right hand corner)

Uneven Hoof Walls

This is a Left Front foot with the inside wall curving to the inside, in a bell-shaped fashion (red dotted line Fig. 2).  This is being caused in part by the sole at the inside toe which is  too high (Fig. 1) as well as the toe too long.

This young mustang, never shod, has very thick and extremely hard walls which do not break off with wear but continue growing in a distorted way, and altering the horse’s stance.

1alfbefmu.jpg    4lffrontmu.jpg

Fig. 1                                                          Fig. 2

The trimming treats this condition similarly to a flare but also lowers the toe on the inside (sole is removed). So, there are cases when sole forward of the frog does need to be rasped. The trimming is complicated by the inside-growing direction the walls have adopted. Now that the inside wall is growing more correctly, the outside wall needs to begin to start growing in a more outwardly direction (more visible in Fig 3 due to the angle of the photograph). Advanced trimming techniques such as floating the heel and the diagonal toe will allow this to occur.

2alfheelsnov1mu.jpg   5lffrontoctmu2.jpg

Fig. 3                                                     Fig. 4



Fig. 5

A photo from an early trim shows how all the pressure was  put on the inside wall by the long toe, with all the compression rings on the inside only.

Overgrown Bars – ‘False Sole’, ‘Double Sole’

Here is an example of overgrown bar that has migrated forward onto the sole creating the appearance of a ‘false’ or ‘double’ sole.  The material is not merged with the sole and is distinctly different in appearance and texture.

   right-fore-solar-initial.jpg    right-fore-lateral-initial.jpg 

After 5 months of trimming:


The bars are brought back to their correct position ending alongside the collateral grooves and approximately to the midpoint of the frog. Also note the expansion of the contracted heels.

These pictures are courtesy of a barefoot trimmer in the Midwest.

Overgrown Bars

The horse in question is a 30+ (?) yo neglected (starvation) rescue case.

Overgrown bars can lead to a variety of problems, such as exerting pressure on the hoof wall which causes it to crack.


The Right Hind hoof has a crack starting at the lateral toe quarter which began with an abscess. (As seen here).

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 Before trim                                            After trim

Both bars are too long, grown above the height of the frog preventing it from being weightbearing. The lateral bar has extended almost to the frog’s apex and overlaid onto the sole. At the green arrow it is raised above the sole by at least 1/4″.  The furthest point of the bar (where the blue arrow starts), exerts pressure on the wall when the foot is weightbearing, in the direction of that arrow and splits the wall apart.  The underrun heels also contribute to the problem. To correct the problem, the bars have been shortened and brought back approximately to the frog’s midpoint, the heels have been lowered and brought back to the widest point of the frog, and the toe has been backed up. These changes will allow proper forces to be exerted on the hoof capsule allowing the crack to grow out.

Tight Laminar Connection – Founder Prevention

Healthy laminae are vital  in preventing founder. The health of the laminae is determined in part by their length. The shorter they are, the more tightly they connect the coffin bone to the inside of the hoof wall, because they are not ‘stretched out’.  Their distance is measured horizontally from the coffin bone to the inside of the hoof wall. On the sole view, they appear as a narrow, tight, healthy white line with no separation.  

The photos  in this progression essentially speak for themselves, and are used to illustrate the change in the laminar connection, as well as the angle of growth, once a correct trim is undertaken. Equally obvious results are evident in horses that are already barefoot but were not correctly trimmed, and examples of these will be posted in future entries. (Reader contributions as always are welcome).

1aug9bfm.jpg August

The horse was ‘rescued’ from a hack line by a new owner at this point. The horse was bruising himself with the shoes due to the overgrown feet.





2sep06m2.jpg September

One month after the shoes were removed, the horse has largely self-trimmed its feet to this profile with the exception of the toe being rasped a little by hand. The new laminar growth has come in so much tighter (closer to the coffin bone) that the hoof wall has ‘separated’ away at the line of new growth and looks like a crack. The second half of the new growth has come in at a more correct angle as the hoof started correcting itself.  



The new growth has progressed almost halfway down the hoof and continues to come in at a steeper angle, closer and tighter to the coffin bone.






 A small amount of old growth remains, projecting beyond the new growth.






5nov28m.jpg December

The growth is now all at the same angle and the ‘cracked’ hoof wall has almost grown out.





 The pastern angle remains steep as a result of joint adaptation (from the long term incorrect hoof form visible in August), rather than heel pain.