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We Are Flying Solo

February 11, 2010

Hoof And Mouth II

Since Dr. Bob was already at the farm to do Solo's hock injections last week, I had him take a look at our ongoing foot rehab and took the opportunity to ask a few questions. Because I ALWAYS have questions. And I am trying not to drive my wonderful farrier completely insane by asking 40,000 questions. So Dr. Bob = new victim.

Dr. Bob was the one who helped us get the feet back on track so he has seen their progression over time. Overall, he gave the farrier's work a thumbs up and said things were looking good (woohoo!). I need to get some new pictures...

I had several questions about the hind feet though. I freely admit I hate (HATE HATE HATE) having Solo in shoes, but as I told Dr. Bob, they are working and he is so obviously more comfortable, I have a hard time arguing with their usefulness for the time being. He still has some sensitivity in his rear heels. I wasn't sure if that was residual from the removal of heel by ex-farrier or if it could be caused by something else, even the shoe itself. I wanted to pull the hind shoes but couldn't in good conscience do so KNOWING those heels were still sore to the poking. I also had been staring cross-eyed at his hind frogs. Barefoot, his frogs had gotten VERY wide behind and since reapplication of a shoe, had narrowed back up some. Not so much that they looked cramped or smooshed, though. So was this bad, good, indifferent??? I had to know...and fortunately, Dr. Bob's most favouritest thing is talking to people so he was happy to answer as follows:

The heel issue: residual soreness can last for six months to a year after the heels are compressed in constant contact with the ground. Don't pull the shoes until that bulb sensitivity is no longer there. (Which seems like a big duh, but ya know, sometimes you just need to hear from someone qualified that yes, you are doing what you need to be doing.)

The frog issue: yes, all the barefoot literature constantly talks about the frog being wide. But much more important is the fact that frog have depth/height to it so it can actually function as the pump it needs to be. When it gets super wide and flattened and smooshed down as you see with barefoot horses who are low heeled, it can't do anything. So, no, I do not need to worry about the width as it is nowhere near constricted at this point.

So I guess now, I get to find something new to worry about, hmmmm....


  1. Hey, it's always good to ask. Why are you stressing about the shoes? Barefoot isn't a morally superior position, it's just something different.

  2. I agree, SB. But having had Solo barefoot for a year and a half, I LOVED it. Never a worry about a pulled shoe and his feet always looked healthier than they ever do with shoes on in terms of quality of the sole, wall, and frog material. They are also pretty much self-cleaning when barefoot so wet, smelly stuff never gets trapped and held in the foot. Traction is much better! But shit happens and after stupid ex-farrier messed 'em up, for now, he needs the shoes to be comfy. I'm ok with that for the most part, but I dearly miss the barefoot benefits!

  3. Ok, that makes sense. My girl is barefoot and we're happy, but I don't object to shoes... if someone else is paying...

  4. I think both can have their benefits and drawbacks; it is just balancing which is best for your particular horse at that moment.

    Horses are naturally designed to be barefoot, but because of the nature of their work with humans now, we put a lot more stress and strenuous tension on the hoof with the 'work' we demand of the horse-ie: jumping, Dressage, etc. where they are worked consistently in particular footing, etc. and asked to use their hind end especially to push.
    This can take such a toll on the hooves, that sometimes, they need that support and traction that a hind shoe can give to them to be able to keep up with our demands and give the hoof a higher "load bearing" capability, so to speak.
    Of course, if a horse is turned out for a bit, due to injury or etc., pulling the shoes to allow the hoof to grow and expand naturally is also sometimes best, as a shoe is, in the end, un-natural and can create issues, like you had mentioned was your reasons for disliking them.
    A lot of it is what you are demanding of the hooves and how they are able to handle it. As the work increases, sometimes a horse needs a shoe to get the support that the hoof needs for that type of work.

  5. I wanted to add my personal data to the shedding study. We are in the midwest. Barrett (the Paint) is shedding profusely & Mosco (the TB) isn't shedding a bit! So I don't know who's confused & who isn't, because we are clearly in for a lot more winter in our area. Maybe B is trying to tell us that he wants to move somewhere warm? That or Mosco doesn't see the point of losing what little fur he's grown! :)
    So there are some more data points for you!

  6. Of course, I am sure you knew that, and your reasons for putting shoes on Solo sounds different ( ie: heel issues/support due to ex-farrier's negligence/bad work ), but just thought I'd add. Shoes are not always bad. Just as barefoot is not always the answer. Of course, visa versa.
    I have some horses in shoes, some barefoot, some just with back shoes, some with wedges and shoes, etc. Haha, about variance in farrier work, bless him!

  7. I agree with your overall point, Em, and you are right -- the reason I shod Solo is because previous farrier messed him up and trimmed all his heel off. :-(

    Jen -- chosing to ignore Mosco...

  8. I feel bad for any vet that comes to my barn. I end up asking them a million questions, it doesn't matter who's horse they're working on. I want to know why, how, and how often.

  9. Hahahahaha, Denali, an owner after my own heart!