Hoofcare & Information for Barefoot Soundness

Linda Cowles Hoof Care - Serving the greater SF Bay Area and Northern California

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A "Less-Is-More" Poster Child



Invasive trim performed March 26, 2006
Pictures taken April 2 (9 days later)
X-Rays taken April 4th
Pasture sound in mid May (6+ weeks)


This young guy belongs to my best friend. AT the time he was a 5 year old, never been shod Arab who was used to running over rough terrain easily.

I talked my friend into trying barefoot with her 4 Arabs back in 2005, and lined her up with a hoof care professional in her area because I wasn't there regularly at that time.

The trimmer was highly respected; her basic training was from Martha Olivo, but she had also studied Pete Ramey and Strassers. She liked to "borrow from what made sense to her". I'm hoping that these pictures will cause her to question her methods and stick to a LIM technique.

My friends 4 horses feet looked wonderful from the top, but they were consistently sore for days after their trims, and they didn't have much concavity considering the environment they lived in.

My friend would remark about the horses tenderness, and I would ask her if she talked to her trimmer and she'd reply that she had, but to no avail.

Eventually I was in the area at least twice a month and would stay at her place. I would shudder when I walked across the driveway and say the pile of sole trimmings where her trimmer had last worked. Picking them up, I'd test the texture and know it was not shedding sole.

Looking at her horses feet, I noted the lack of concavity and flat areas that stretched from the white line towards the collateral groves. I voiced my concerns to her, but she thought I was being too conservative and she didn't want to alienate the trimmer. She was concerned that I may not be around to maintain her horses if she started having me work on them.

If you didn't look at the bottom of the feet, they looked extremely good! I loved her work until I picked the feet up and saw how flat they were, and how shallow the grooves were. Now? I kick myself for not being more assertive. My friend is a strong minded person and it takes a lot to get her to change her mind!


March 29, 2006

I was on my way to her place for an overnight visit before driving to a Santa Ynez clinic. I called fifty minutes from her house to see if they needed me to stop and get anything.



She interrupted me to ask about abscess symptoms; she was worried about her young horse. She said her trimmer had been by on Sunday and had been working on the sole and at one point drew blood, which she explained away as an abscess. She felt he might have other abscesses.

When I asked which foot was abscessing, she said all of them, and my stomach sank.

This boy had needed a round of antibiotics for a recent infection, and my first thought was that he was foundering. She confirmed that he was standing in a founder stance, crossing his front legs and leaning back on his haunches. I told her to put him in a stall, on mats, and I'd check him when I got there. It took her more than 30 minutes to move him 100 feet.

When I got to the house, he refused to lift his feet, and when we finally persuaded him, he did it with a groan as he rocked backwards to avoid weighting his other front foot. i had a second, touched his sole and it was soft and warm.

We booted him and added pads, and my friend called the vet made an appointment to have them come by for X-Rays and blood tests as soon as they could..

When I got back that way on Sunday he was much better, but that was still ***very*** sore. That's when these pictures were taken; I wasn't able to lift his feet to get pictures.


Results - X-Ray & Vet Exam

The vet concluded that this horse had between 6 and 8 mm of sole between the ground and his coffin bone. The minimum that a horse his size should have is 15mm, and most sound barefoot horses have much more that 15mm.

The cause? Over thinning the sole.

It was 6 weeks before he was marginally pasture sound.

How To Avoid This?

The best thing for owners to do it to educate themselves about their horses feet. Sole very rarely needs to be removed mechanically. Most of the time it will begin to shed voluntarily, at which time trimmers can coax chunks loose with their nippers or a knife.

There are a few occasions when sole can become packed and need to be removed, but this is rare.

Linda Cowles Hoof Care
Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
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