Hoofcare & Information for Barefoot Soundness

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Thoroughbred Gelding

November 11th Updates

This Thoroughbred is a dressage horse who gets trail ridden on rare occasions. He has good feet and a nice conformation, and the only obvious anomaly is a scar on the right rear inside heel bulb , the result of a wire cut.

The "SHOD" pictures were taken several days after the shoes were nailed on. The owner chose to pull the shoes 2 weeks after the shoeing because she was concerned about the angles and under run heels.

He's in a turnout that is bedded in rice hulls and gets ridden or ponied weekly in Epic boots.

This horse, like several others in this series, has an overly long toe that has been rasped into the underlying wall in an attempt to shorten it. The rasping is most obvious in the toe.

He had wedge pads behind and full pads in front. He is shod with toe clips to help keep his shoes on.

Feb. 2009 - In Hindsight...

I should have left the shoes on this horse at least 3 or 4 more weeks - it would have accelerated the transition by several months.

At the time, most of the folks wanting to try barefoot would only risk it on super pathological horses (last resort cases), broodmares, babies and horses that had successfully been barefoot before. Part of me was afraid that she'd change her mind if I asked to wait, so... and learn. Maybe If I admit my mistakes others will learn from them!

This horse is still barefoot and is very sound. His owner and her best friend keep him and his two companions trimmed.

The study on the Left Rear foot, above and above right, illustrates a barely noticeable bulging in the hoof wall that's been thinned repeatedly. Is the bulge a result of the rasping? That's an assumption, and maybe not a good one. I'm not the first trimmer to point it out.

The only time I notice this bulging is when the wall has been thinned repeatedly.

After the Setup Trim

This horse doesn't have as much wall length or thickness as I'd like him to have, but his feet have a nice shape.

His poor wall integrity isn't due to breeder negligence, it's a result of over rasping the wall to remove flare and long toes. The outer layer of wall has been regularly rasped thin from the lower 2/3's of his hoof, and as a result the hoof wall is paper thin when it meets the ground.

Rear feet from the right side

Front Feet from the right side

Front feet from the front

Front feet from the left side

A wire cut is barely visible on the outer heel bulb of the front left foot, above.

To the left, the heel on the left rear hoof (at the right) is higher than the right hoof (to the left!). The wall at the toe on al of the long toes has been rasped into the inner layer of hoof wall.

Front Right Sole

Front Right Sole

Rear Left Sole

Rear Right Sole

Several Weeks Later... October 27th

I've been doing these guys (Ace, Grandar, Rio and Stretch) every few weeks and taking lots of pictures and... the saying "watched pot never boils" comes to mind!

These four horses all had the whole walls rasped excessively at the toe and in the quarters so their wall wore down much faster than we'd like it to. In the ideal world, this fellow would have grown at least 1/4 in of sturdy wall (note the movement of nail holes down the wall) however its broken or worn off almost as fast as it touches the ground.

What we're seeing in each case is getting much better... their walls are thicker, and they are starting to get a scoop in the quarters naturally as the weaker wall wears away. Their heels are all getting stronger, their coronets all are smooth, and their frogs are extremely tough.

These guys are all bedded on rice hulls which may be why their soles aren't looking more calloused. They had been extremely thin due to excessive rasping and paring when shod, and are now getting much more durable.

Before After


November 22nd, 10 weeks barefoot


Rios feet just get better and better!

He had an abscess a week earlier, but with the exception of that, this "bad footed TB" who had previously needed wedges and sole pads - and toe clips to keep him from shedding his shoes prematurely - hasn't had a bad day... he just gets sounder and sounder.

His walls are growing very fast, and the wall thickness at the ground is about 1/16th of an inch. It will ultimately be at least 1/4 inch thick.

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