Hoofcare & Information for Barefoot Soundness

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9 Year Old Navicular QH

See January 20 2006 update page


Setup trim 10/4/2005

Many of the horses I work with have feet that are so bad I wonder if I'm up to trimming them, rehabilitating them... Leaguer was one of these horses.

When I see feet like his and hear his record of spiraling unsoundness, I wonder if I can trim them. This fellow was being shod by "the best shoer in the area" according to his vet. How could I hope to turn him around? I always remember Martha Olivo's passions for healing sick feet and Pete Ramey's confidence in both his methods and the ability of folks like me to be able to apply them successfully, and know that I can help these horses - that I NEED to help them.

Leaguer has has Navicular for some time, and after her vets favorite farrier had problems Nina began researching alternatives. The many healthy bare feet she saw online looked better and better to her, and the more time she spent looking at Leaguers shoes and pads, the more toxic they appeared. He was getting more depressed and his movement had deteriorated significantly. She decided she needed to try taking him barefoot, and gave me a call.

These shoes, Natural Balances, were raised by adding pads to the heels in addition to using a wedge pad. Cranking the horses heels up like this numbs the feet, reducing their discomfort temporarily, but accelerates the hoofs deterioration.

Leaguer is a very sweet guy and stood quietly as I removed his shoes. He has a soldierly type personality, but let me know when he was uncomfortable so I feel that he'd do anything we asked but would try to let us know if he was uncomfortable.

His soles are still on the thin side and his heels are very weak, so the most I could do was bring his toe back and balance his wall length. His bars were long and laid over, and I fixed those too. We have him on a weekly schedule at first so that I can monitor him.

We fitted him for Epics and checked him out in the sand arena. He seemed comfortable but cautious in his paddock and the sand arena, and is able to move from the [paddock to the arena across the gravel road without showing discomfort.

He was landing toe first consistently in the shoes, but once in boots was landing heel first about 80% of the time. His first week has gone well, and he'll get a checkup and touch up tomorrow, a week after his shoes were pulled. His owner is extremely happy with how he's doing at this point. She had been concerned that he would be extremely uncomfortable, but he acts "careful".

She's added shavings to his paddock to cushion his feet for the first few weeks, and plans walks in a local park in his Epics as soon as he's ready.



1st Re trim, 10/10/2005


The owner, Nina Strand, has another horse, Promise, that needed a setup trim scheduled for a week after Leaguer's set-up trim, but I would have visited him anyway. .When I have horses that start off as imbalanced as Leaguer, I keep in touch with the owner after the trim and schedule a re trim the following week to ensure that he's doing okay. In Leaguers case, I wanted to see if he was moving comfortably and make any necessary corrections.

His feet looked great and he was moving *very* nicely - particularly for a horse that was very uncomfortable when we started! He was managing to get from his stall to the arena and trimming area without boots, and was walking very well in his new Epics too.

I was also considering doing a toe rocker using Gene Ovniceks methods as described to my by Claire Vail from the barefoot list.

Clair had visually described a rocker for another horse, Scout, and it had helped increase the quality of Scout's movement, so I hoped it would help Leaguer as well. I didn't have X-rays of his feet, but rockered based on other information that Claire has shared over the past few months, and the effort was **EXTREMELY** successful!

Nina was thrilled with his movement the week following his set-up trim, telling me that Leaguer was, by nature, a very cheerful and active horse who loved getting out and going trail riding. As his feet got progressively worse, he began moving less willingly and he became very depressed. His movement and attitude improved immediately after his setup trim.

I was careful when I rockered his toes not to trigger a set back... it's hard to know how far we can go with horses who have been uncomfortable for long periods of time. I rockered Leaguers front toes and brought back his rear toes a but, then we led him to the nearby sand arena to hang out while we worked on Promise.

I waited at the arena, watching him, as Nina went for Promise. He had covered the grassy lawn from the trimming area to the arena with long easy strides, and once in the arena he began cruising from one end to the other at a brisk but relaxed walk, taking nice long strides and having a great time moving without pain. Ears up, he checked out everything around him with interest and walked and walked and walked.

I was thrilled to tears, literally. He looked awesome! He didn't stop walking until we pulled him out 2 and a half hours later!


Clair's diagram of Scouts foot and the "rocker" the we would work towards over a one month period. Leaguers foot wasn't as long or distorted as Scouts.

Leaguer as he relaxed to enjoy his new feet. Note the length of his stride; he had been VERY short strided before! And now 8 out of 10 strides are heel-first, and his occasional toe first landing is barely noticeable.

I am so grateful when I notice this much improvement in one short week.

One other significant change was in his top line and how he carried himself; all of the full body pictures I have of him were taken after we pulled his shoes and trimmed his feet. His posture and conformation have changed significantly. He initially looked and moved like a much older horse.

December 15, 2006

Guess what Leaguer is getting for Christmas??? Santa Nina is moving him to a 1 acre pasture!

His feet are looking better and better, and he actually has good concavity already, but we're going to wait until next month to show it off... it it's good now, it'll be great in a month!


Below: pre-trim on October 4th, coming out of shoes with severe navicular and ringbone.
Right: Two and a half months later, he has great walls and is almost completely sound!

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