Sunday, February 8, 2015


This post is for my educational purposes mostly.

Ashke has been barefoot for over two years now, since I first started using M in December of 2012. His feet have looked pretty good for most of that time but now I am seeing stuff I haven't seen before, and frankly, it's freaking me out. He was trimmed by my barefoot trimmer on 1/17.

Front hooves.

There is ridging which has not gone away, so I am taking him off the barley since that was the newest feed introduced. Everything else he has been eating in the past.

It doesn't look like it, but he was standing square. 

Flaring on the inside of the hoof 


Right Front. Lots of flare. This is the hoof I'm the most concerned about.

Ridging almost to the toe.

Right foot. The heel on the inside is low and the bar is almost gone.

Back feet, which have been great for months and I have no real concerns about them.

So, what saith thou, Saiph?


  1. Ok. I went and compared these photos to the ones in your post from when he was footsore:

    He has all sorts of little flares right now that he didn't have then, but these are also hooves that are 3 weeks out from his trim, vs hooves that were recently trimmed in the previous "Hooves" post. And even then, I'm tremendously excited for you about the things I'm seeing here! :D

    The most important things I see here:
    1. The photos taken from the front of his front hooves do show some flares at the bottom of the hoof, yes. But if you look halfway up the hoof wall and up towards his coronet band, the wall of the hoof is growing straight down. His new growth is 100% straight and correct. You can clearly see the demarcation between old hoof/previous trim method vs new hoof/new trim method.

    2. I know you are worried about his RF but I encourage you to look at your old photos of his RF: BIG changes in that hoof! Before he had no bars at all, and now he has supportive bars and deep collateral grooves (the crevices between his bars and frogs), which mean his sole has gotten nice and thick: the deeper the collateral grooves, the further inside the hoof capsule the coffin bone is. The bar is a little thinner on one side but you still have a deep collateral groove all the way down the length of the frog: he's wearing down the portion of bar that he doesn't need because his hooves are developing more concavity and thus don't need all that extra bar support. YAAAAY!! This is a GOOD thing! :) His toe has shortened (the tip of his frog is closer to the tip of the toe, if you compare photos), the heels are also set further back than they used to be and have become slightly wider apart: all good things! He has a deep central sulcus (crevice down the center of the frog) on this hoof, however, that I would apply a thrush treatment to, just to prevent any issues since you're having a wetter-than usual winter. Was this the hoof you had mentioned he was not landing heel first on? I would treat that central sulcus because that might be the cause of the issue. For thrush treatments you can try Thrush Buster, Durasole or the Tomorrow mastitis treatment (this is one of the best things you can use to treat thrush! Most feed stores like Tractor Supply and Southern States carry it) He *might* just be in the process of beginning to shed out this frog (in which case it wouldn't be thrush, just natural shedding), which may also account for a bit of tenderness at the back of his hoof and a resulting reluctance to land heel first.

    3. I'm not concerned about the breakover on his feet. Looking at him standing now, it looks like he stands toed-out a bit, but given his wear pattern, I'm going to guess he paddles or wings out a bit when he trots. This isn't a bad thing, it's just the way he moves. Both of mine move in this fashion with their front feet and they wear their toes in exactly the same way. I just even out the toes every few weeks.

    4. The ridging is nowhere near as dramatic as I'd imagined. It's barely perceptible, which is excellent. You have some old faulty hoof that's half grown out which is making his feet appear kind of wonky right now, but I'm really excited about all of the changes that are happening. I'm willing to bet that in another 3-5 months, when all of that old hoof is completely gone, he's going to have some really awesome gravel-crunching feet with tight white lines and minimal flaring.

  2. 5. He is keeping his toes nice and short and he's basically rolling his toes where he needs them to be rolled right now thanks to all of the barefoot riding you are doing with him. The fact that he is putting on so much muscle, that his shoulders and withers have filled out and his back has those ridges of muscle, are all proof that the current trim is working for him and he is moving to the best of his capabilities. The famous quote "No hoof, no horse" is 100% true! I think he's going to look even more amazing as his feet continue to change.

    So all good things!! I would just keep doing what you're doing: keep feeding him as you are, and ride him as much as you can barefoot. I think his feet are going to be something amazing by the time spring comes around for you!

    1. *He also has a bit of a groove starting in the middle of his LF frog as well. I'd apply thrush treatment there too, just to make sure nothing starts brewing in there.

  3. He is shedding out all of his frogs. The frog is something that Dan doesn't touch at all. I haven't smelled any thrush, but I will certainly start treating his feet as a preventative. I am concerned that the flat foot landing or toe first landing is due to a slight tenderness due to the barley grass, which is why I'm taking him off of that just to be sure. As far as I know, he has never been on pasture and has always been fed dried grass or alfalfa. I much as I love the idea of the barley fodder, I'm afraid this slight offness in his gait might be due to the sugar in the grass. We should see in the next couple of weeks, I figure.

  4. Hoof photos! Love! As I looked and read through, I was jotting down mental notes, then got to the comments and saw that Saiph had addressed every single one of the things I was thinking! So I'll refrain from blabbering more of what is above. =)

    FWIW, Q has the ridging and has always had it. She gets tons of movement, has forage to eat 24/7, is fed the TC Senior when she is grained (and you know how low that NSC is), is sound on pretty gnarly terrain, and generally has few complaints about her feet. I've always noted the ridging, but I figure it must just be the way she is. She always has pockmarking on her soles, too, because she doesn't like to let go of that false sole but every so often. A few weeks out of the year she'll have textbook perfect looking soles, but the rest of the time there is slight pockmarking. Everything else is 110% awesome, she moves great, she isn't painful, so I don't worry about it. Overall, her feet have improved dramatically since I've had her. They're stronger than they were, though they still have the little cosmetic differences. It is just the way she is I've decided after 3 years.

    She's also got the slight flaring laterally or medially, but it is absolutely attributed to the way she moves out. She needs it to support her way of going, so I let the slight flaring stay. It's become far less dramatic over time, but it still always comes back a little bit if I take it off. She's telling me she needs it, so I leave it for her now.

    In contrast with ridges and pockmarking, Griffin has neither. His feet are beautiful and just what textbooks say is perfect. But he isn't nearly as comfortable on varied surfaces as Q is. Granted, he doesn't get the mileage she does, but even in the height of riding last year, he was still more sensitive than the little mare across tough terrain. It's definitely a fun long-term experiment to observe the differences between the two and how their feet are changing with time.

    Keep us updated with how he is in a few weeks off the fodder! I'm a closet hoof nerd and interested to see what changes (if any) occur.

  5. This is so interesting!! I'm enjoying the comments. :D It makes me want to take pictures of Chrome's hooves. I wish I'd been more consistent photographing the changes in his hooves. Chrome has the ridges too. I think they go with the changes in seasons (spring grass, etc.) and dewormers... but I'm not positive. Even though he's always had ridges he hasn't acted footsore until he developed thrush. I hope Ashke feels better soon!!