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We Are Flying Solo

December 21, 2009

Foot Fanatical

As you can see, Solo is spending his days like any smart horse in winter -- curled up snug, basking in the sun! Complete with neon blue Lycra club-tail, always an "in" look for the colder seasons.

Me, on the other hand, I am busy being over-the-top-OCD (as usual) about Solo's feet. In short, I'm not satisfied. Ok, he is moving great. BUT. But, over the last couple trims, he has begun to forge so much he tears up the front of his back feet and I have to keep four bell boots on him (he is prone to a little forging, but usually just light and occasional). Plus the back shoes are squooshing his back heels back together again, narrowing the frog and narrowing my eyes.

Momma ain't happy.

My farrier, bless his heart, has been wonderful answering all of my questions and being open to anything and is working with my vet. But he sucks at returning phone calls. I have a call in to him now asking about the forging, if there is anything we can do before the next reset.

I just HATE HAVING STUPID SHOES ON MY HORSE. There. I said it. It's true. They are always a fuss (if you pay attention to them) and it seems no matter what, his foot will never look as good as it does bare. Ignorance was bliss, before I began learning all about feet when Solo was barefoot.

His heels are looking a TINY bit better on the front and he is definitely more comfortable up there, that is undeniable, and we are keeping his toes nice and short and the angles are good. And he's not parking out when standing still to take weight off the back heels. So I guess that is a good thing too.

But I still don't like the trend and am just tapping my foot for farrier to call me back! I am wondering if we can pull his back shoes, if there is enough heel yet for that? But I don't want to make him uncomfortable. But now is the time to do it as we have some breathing space away from any big comps coming up.

Ah, universe, why must you torment my foot obsessed mind with so many variables???


  1. Ooo, I am going to be a "hooves" posting soon, probably tomorrow. Great minds think alike! This whole barefoot thing has me learning tons and tons. Before, I never how ignorant I was about hooves. By now, I'm practically a bloody expert.
    I hope you guys can work out Solo's issues soon! :-D
    What about pulling the shoes and using Easyboot Epics with pads?

  2. Ooops...that last comment is missing a word. Whenever I have a typo, I think someone is going to take back my English degree.

  3. LOL, lh, this too shall pass.

    Oh, Frizz is an expert now! Sweet, come and fix it! Oh believe me, I have done boots. On the front, boots just won't stay on a horse that forges. It's a common problem. I even put pads on them once, which changes the boot fit and makes them even easier to pull off.

    I love the Epics on the back feet, they work well, but it's a pain in the tail to put them on for every ride and even then, they are only protecting the heels for that ride, not the other 23 hours a day, so it's really only a bandaid if the heel is not correct in the first place.

  4. Dumb question, as I know NOTHING about shod horses, but is he forging because of the shoes, or is something wrong with his feet that is making him do that? Is there any possibility his new and improved self is really reaching under himself & catching himself up front because he's not used to all that reaching from behind? Clearly this isn't a problem I've ever had :) I always learn new stuff from you! And can I just say that is one of your cutest pictures of Solo?! And apologies for any typos...I have a kitty pinning down my arm!

  5. HHhhmmm...*begins to question expert status*...I thought that the Epics were supposed to be just about the be-all, end-all of horse boots. Are you sure you fitted them properly? One thing that is really stressed is that the boots are tight and can not be moved at all once on the hoof. And the gaitor was supposed to "end forging problems." Guess maybe it doesn't quite work in the real world?
    As I recall, you put shoes on because he didn't have enough heel, right? From what I've been learning, though, the heels actually start to lower themselves in a properly-trimmed barefoot horse.
    I'm still on Round 2 of watching my 16 hours worth of hoof DVDs. When I'm done, I will get back to ya!

  6. Ah, Frizz, grasshopper...Epics are great. If your horse doesn't interfere. And yes, mine do fit correctly, but the fact is no matter how tight they are, if your horse interferes, he WILL rip them off. It's a design flaw caused by the big heel sections on the back. We can keep them on at walk and trot, but forget canter and jumping. Trust me, we tried EVERYTHING for many miles. The gaitor does help stabilize the boot and keep it from being totally lost if the boot comes off -- unless the horse steps on the boot hard enough to rip the gaitor off the stitching. Yup, we did that too.

    Heels will spread and grow on their own most of the time with a correct trim. The problem was, Solo was not getting a correct trim. And once heels are gone, they are HARD to grow back. We could MAYBE get the heels back barefoot IF I took him out of work. To stay in work, he needs the shoes to protect his heels till they grow.

    The problem with a lot of the barefoot hoof material is that it has a lot of great information, but like training material, it's easy to fall into statements like "if you just do X and Y, then Z will happen." What I have learned is that the hoof is so complex and variable from horse to horse, you can very rarely make those statements.

  7. Wow, Solo certainly is a unique and talented horse -- but, of course we already knew that. :-D
    Well, I will go over the "Heel Height" section of the DVD very carefully and see if there's anything on there that could help you(?). I do remember hearing on there that a lot of "natural" trimmers try to force hooves into the natural parameters, but some horses' hooves just were not made to be that shape. It really emphasized the fact that there is no cookie cutter way to trim, and that you should read each individual hoof and see what will work best for it. It also stresses trying to build the hoof's internal structures (digital cushion and lateral cartilages) so that the back of the hoof is not sensitive (although I suspect that Solo's are well-developed). Did the vet say that Solo is sensitive on the back of his hooves bacause he doesn't have enough heel height? Forgive me if you've gone over this already, I just can't recall.
    Have you tried the Renegade boots? They're a bit pricey, but they sure do look high-tech.

  8. If I had unlimited amounts of money to spend trying different boots, I certainly would, but it's just not possible. I've looked at the Renegades, but they are too "fiddly" for my taste and still wouldn't solve the underlying problem in the long term. They have their own issues and are not really a good fit for jumping, which is always the kink in the equation -- lots of things work for trail riding that just won't cut it on an event horse.

    You are right -- each foot has to be approached as an individual and some farriers just don't seem to get that. Which is why I like the one I have now because he understands that you have to act based on what that foot is doing, not on some fantasy of the ideal hoof. It's a matter of time and patience, gently coaxing the foot back to a shape that will support the level of work that is required.

  9. I hear ya. I don't like shoes either and we're going through something similar with Marley's fronts. Hope the shoes help Solo and that they are temporary. I've had a goal to stay barefoot and was surprised when my farrier prescribed shoes. His goal is barefoot too, but he said we must do what is best for the horse. They are such individuals. Solo looks content and comfy in his blue blankey. Very pretty color.

  10. I have just recently discovered your blog, and I love it! I swear your story is my story to a T! I would really REALLY like to know more about hoof care and hoof health. I fully intend to pick my farrier's brain, but at this point, I don't even know what to ask. Were any book/web resources particularly helpful for you?

  11. Thanks, Katie, and I'm sorry I didn't see your comments sooner -- comments on old posts require moderation and I rarely check that page.

    Horse feet are like horses -- ask five people, get six answers. So I just keep asking questions and gleaning the little kernels of truth out of the bucket of opinions and trying to do what works best for my horses. So my #1 advice is to take everything you read with a grain of salt and use lots of critical thinking. Some of it is as simple as physics + physiology, but some of it is as vague as art.

    Some resources that I have learned from: (even though I disagree with some points -- some horses NEED shoes to do their job and a well set shoe is not damaging the foot, which can still flex in the heels unless your farrier put 27 nails in it.)