Barefoot Horses: Part 3 – The Good and The Bad

Hey Guys! Happy New Year!! Here’s to a Year filled with lots of riding and happy barefoot horses. πŸ™‚

I have to admit, while I am forward to 2019, I’m also sad 2018 is already over. 2018 was a low year for me filled with lots of big changes that caused me to feel like I needed to survive throughout the year. Looking back now, I wish I would have found ways to thrive and live happier but I can’t change that so I’ve vowed to make 2019 better.

But this post isn’t about this year or my New Year’s Resolutions..that post will come so I can hold myself accountable for accomplishing it all! πŸ˜‰ This post is an update on my horses being barefoot. So let’s get to talking about that but first, if you need to catch up visit the first post, where I talk about removing the shoes and why and then readΒ about the changes I made.

{GOOD} Noticeable Changes

The Thrush Problem

These past few months have been filled with new barefoot hoof experiences for me. I’ve become hyperaware of how environmental changes affect my horses hoofs but also their diet too. In NC, we’ve been getting SO MUCH RAIN the past couple of months that I constantly worried my horses would have thrush issues. Well, worst thrush issues than they had when I started this process and that it wouldn’t be curable because of the wetness.

Surprisingly, the thrush didn’t get any worse for any of the horses but actually did start going away. Despite the wet, muddy pastures, I continued to treat each hoof every other day with Tomorrow paste and slowly I’ve noticed less thrushy places. This difference alone makes me more confident that the diet changes I made are helping and correct.

Not only is the diet change helping the barefoot hooves, I’ve also noticed my horses coats not looking as dull this winter as they normally do. Don’t get me wrong, their coats aren’t squeaky clean and pretty without a lot of good elbow grease but when I do give them a good grooming, they have a natural sheen to them.

 

Sole Depth Increasing

As this process typically goes, I’ve been able to see the hoof change shapes and go from being very flat underneath to building some concavity (which is really good). This process is sooo slow though. I wanted to see these results right away and that didn’t happen. Gracie’s hooves started to have more sole depth in the 2nd month of being on the new diet. However, Rumor’s hooves just started to show some signs of building more sole depth. (If you want to learn more about sole depth, read Pete Ramey’s article about horses soles.)

 

The End of Wall Cracks

Another BIG positive change I’ve seen since removing shoes and going barefoot is less wall cracks. When I was shoeing the horses before, they would always have a big crack in the center of the wall at the toe. This was a constant stressor for me because I worried about bacteria getting into these cracks and causing more problems. Not to mention, I shortened up the shoeing cycle by 2 weeks just to see if we could outpace the cracks and we never could.Β It was only after reading Pete’s articles and book that I started to understand the cracks were caused by diet and the way the horses were being shoed. Their toes were too long and too far forward, period. This didn’t happen over night either. This happened over time. It’s amazing how many horses with shoes have this problem and their owners are ignorant to it.

 

Getting the Heel First Landing

One of the biggest things with this barefoot process, is getting a horses hoof right so that they land heel first and not toe first. Gracie lands toe first with every stride. I thought that by pulling her toe back and leaving her toes alone I would see her start to take some heel first strides. Nope. Since I pulled the shoes and trimmed her on a 4 week schedule, making sure to pull her toe back and leave her heel alone each time, she still continued to land toe first. This week though, that changed. I started to see her reach further with her front feet and start to take some steps toe first. She is starting to look like she’s floating when she trots and isn’t so choppy. I’ll have to make it a point to get video for the next post.

 

{BAD} Noticeable Changes

Honestly, the only bad thing I’ve noticed is that Gracie has been MOODY AS HELL.

I don’t know if it’s because her feet were hurting or if it has been something else. She hasn’t been lame nor have I felt any heat in her hooves. However, she has had issues with locking up again this winter and I’m not sure if that’s due to changes in her feet. I would assume if she’s a little out of balance right now, that could cause it but I don’t know how to verify that. I have had the chiro out to adjust her and that seems to help for a while and then she’s needed again.

Although, with all the rain we’ve had and how wet, muddy and slippery the pastures have been, it’s possible she’s just strained a muscle or used her muscles differently and it’s caused the issue. Who knows. The best thing I know to do, that has had the best results, is continue to get the chiro out as she’s needed. That makes Gracie happy, so then I’m happy.

 

WHAT I DON’T RECOMMEND

In my last post, I told you I was trying out Easyboots for Gracie during Turnout. Let’s just say, I ran into a few roadblocks with these. The first problem I encountered was them rubbing the heels and making her feet sore. So I’d leave them off for a few days and then try them again. This kept a sore spot from developing but wasn’t ideal since I wanted to keep these on every day during turnout.

The worst part though, they didn’t stay on well when it was muddy. When I say muddy, I mean like 2-3″ of mud. Not enough to even come up onto the outside of the boot. Just enough to cover the bottom rubber sole. I can’t count the number of days I’d walk out to bring in and I’d have to go search for boots. Not only did the boots come off but the pads would come out too, so I’d be searching for boots and pads. Too this day, I’m still missing 1 pad. Today, I found 1 pad that had been missing for 1 month.

Needless to say, I don’t recommend these horse boots for trail riding or wearing for turnout if your pasture has the slightest bit of mud.

 

BEFORE {and} AFTER BAREFOOT PICTURES

barefoot horse hoof

This is Gracie’s low foot with the under-run heel. Notice, as I continue to pull the toe back and let the heel grow, the hoof is becoming more upright. {2 Months in b/c photos}

 

barefoot horse hoof

This is Rumor’s foot. Her biggest issue is feet that were out of balance with major wall flares. {2 Months in b/c photos}

 

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I need to get all the pictures I have, organized and labeled so I can post them along with the videos. I promise to work on that. πŸ˜‰

 

So Tell Me…

What do you think of the changes?

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