Thursday, July 19, 2018

hoof works

A little over a year ago, I spent some time writing about the products used to help manage Charlie's tootsies.

He's a typical thoroughbred I guess in that his feet are kinda soft, and we went through a not-insignificant phase at the end of last spring through the middle of summer where Charlie was basically on a 2-week shoeing cycle. That sucked just about as much as you would expect.

tell me he's not the most lovable thing
Obviously his feet had to undergo a fairly extreme transition in coming off the track: shortening his toes wayyyy back (for the record, while his original splint injury was self inflicted from weaving, I'm about 89% sure the subsequent flareups were all due in part to too-long toes....), and growing more heel.

These goals on their own were enough to motivate a short cycle - typically about 4 weeks.

RH: fairly prominent crack growing out from when Charlie stepped on a nail and then abscessed last winter; and chipping around nail holes
But then just as we were thinking Charlie could graduate to a 5wk cycle, summer kicked into high gear with bone dry, rock hard ground and lots and lots of stomping at flies, and Charlie basically started walking out of his shoes in no time flat.

LH: surprisingly his one white hoof is the least problematic of the bunch!
Looking down the barrel of Spring earlier this year, I was absolutely determined to not fall into the same cycle again.

LF: you can sorta see how the outer wall chips away around old nail holes and clips
Charlie continues to get the supplements recommended to me by my vets, farriers, and trainers: Platinum Performance and Farrier's Formula. Both have all sorts of fun little extra goodies in them, and Charlie eats them well.

He's on a maintenance dose of the Platinum Performance now, but ramped back up to the full dose of Farrier's Formula once the faintest haze of sprouting green grass appeared this spring.

RF: fairly significant chipping around the edges. nails still tight tho!
Additionally he's back on a religious 5wk cycle, after going through a period of ~6wk cycles (sometimes longer, I admit, esp around his surgery) since moving to this farm last year. Including a couple times when I had him on the list to be done, but the farrier decided not to bc "his shoes were on tight," even tho his toes were getting too long.

Knowing what I do now about Charlie's hoof history and general soundness, that logic doesn't really work for me. So after some trial and error I've switched farriers and am satisfied that Charlie's current guy will basically do what I ask while also feeling free to make suggestions and tell me what he thinks is best for the horse.

front shoes have leather pads + clips
Case in point: Charlie's schmancy full leather pad boat shoes. The farrier at our last barn had Charlie in leather rim pads, which I really liked - but the new farrier says he doesn't like them bc they have a tendency to not stay put.

Personally I would prefer rim pads I think - esp bc of the freedom it allows for things like packing the feet with poultice or magic cushion as needed. But Charlie's been in these pads now for a few cycles and seems to be doing well with them, so I'm just trusting my farrier on this one.

hind shoes just have clips
Especially considering, knocking on all things wooden, Charlie hasn't lost a shoe since last winter. And even that was kinda a fluke - he was super lame from stepping on a nail and abscessing, and his other leg had to compensate and carry a heavier burden. Add in the extremely muddy conditions and maybe that shoe didn't stand a chance.

But so far, through the heat and hard dry ground of June and July, Charlie's shoes have stayed on tight. All the pictures above were taken at about exactly the 4wk mark, and you can see that the edges, especially around the old nail holes, are just starting to crumble a bit.

Luckily, in addition to all his feed through supplements, religious application of Keratex (usually just the fronts, with the hinds maybe 50%-33% of the time) around the nail holes has kept his hoof wall flexible enough to not grow brittle and completely break apart. All the nails except one are still on pretty tight.

So I'm optimistic that the approach I'm taking to Charlie's hooves is working for him. Fingers crossed lol. I never really knew much about the inner workings of farriery before. Obvi I didn't have to as a non-owner. And even tho I was responsible for Isabel's farrier appointments she had such excellent sturdy little arab feet that everything was always really straight forward.

Charlie, as a Size Large OTTB, has been a little bit more of a trial by fire for me haha. But it's interesting stuff! So we figure it out. Have your horses ever required special footwear? Or any extra care in keeping those toes happy? Any products you love and swear by? Or maybe you're one of the lucky ones whose horse's barefoot feet crunch gravel for breakfast?

30 comments:

  1. 2 week cycles for shoes sounds plumb awful! So glad you've more than doubled that now and have a farrier who you're more comfortable working with moving forward!! And that's amazing (knock on wood) re: not losing a shoe since winter.

    Q's a gravel cruncher, Grif can be if I get him moving often enough on varied surfaces, and Stan's solid on his hinds but his fronts sometimes need a bit of extra protection. All have great feet all things considered though! I am a biiiig fan of SHORT toes. I think Q's hind toes being a titch longer than normal for her may have played into her suspensory lesions 2 years ago. My horses are fortunate tho because I trim their feet and can commit to doing them on any length cycle; I have Dan toss shoes on as necessary, usually a couple times per summer.

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    1. Sometimes I seriously miss Isabels feet haha! And I should maybe clarify - I really really really liked Charlie’s first farrier. The two week cycle was awful but I think that was kinda more to do with the hoof we had to work with as Charlie came off the track. Now a year later he’s basically grown a whole new hoof and it’s holding a shoe much better.

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  2. Ugh feet. My thoroughbred has wedges in front and pads bc of his crappy low heels and thin soles, normal shoes behind. I apply rainmaker ~3x a week because he has dry brittle feet, and he is on smartpak's hoof supplement. 6 week cycles year-round. He used to lose shoes on a nearly daily basis and be lame off and on, and his feet would look god awful after any xc ride, but now we have all that figured out and (knock on wood) his feet hold up great and look so much healthier 😭❤

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    1. Oh man it’s SUCH a struggle trying to figure out what will help the horse! Esp bc when you’re in the throes of constantly lost shoes the hoof just gets worse and worse and the cycle persists..... glad you’ve finally found a recipe that works for your guy!

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  3. Hooves are fascinating! Currently growing out Cruze's feet and man is it a slooow process. I miss those tough Arab feet. Hoof supplement and Farrier's Barrier.have stopped the chipping and breaking for the most part. Now he just needs to grow more hoof.

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    1. Ugh it’s such a long slow process sometimes!! Esp when they keep breaking off more pieces of hoof.... hopefully tho in just a few short months Cruze’s feet will be completely different !!

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  4. my farrier always sounds surprised when i want a 4 week schedule especially in the summer. I guess people like to stretch it out... but id rather have him reset the shoe at 4 weeks than have ponyface rip it off (with half of his foot) at 5...

    spice has some GNARLY abscess blowouts that I can't wait to grow out!!

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    1. yea i'm 100% agreed that i'd rather a shorter cycle to keep everything kosher vs risking a big mess if the hoof falls apart before we can get to it.

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  5. If it makes you feel better, May's only black foot is also her worst foot. Go figure. Her feet are fine, but she definitely needs to live in fronts to be comfortable. I was using Keratex, but my real issue was bacteria and various microbes getting into the foot and causing weakness. This weakness led to cracking and chipping around the nails.

    My farrier originally suggested just "Painting her hooves purple" with thrush buster, and that seemed to help, but lately, I have switched to Farrier's Finish (made by the same people as farrier's formula), and so far, I have been REALLY happy with it.

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    1. isn't it funny how sometimes the most typically problematic areas end up being the least of our issues??? and yea i've heard a lot of people talk about microbial problems with hooves too. actually a barn mate encouraged me to pick up some white lightning gel for painting the nail holes for the same idea - basically murder the F out of all that bacterial nonsense. i haven't really gotten into using it yet tho bc i'm so attached to my keratex and the two chemical compounds probably shouldn't be combined... maybe i'll test it out soon tho!

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    2. I think, as with all things with horses, it depends. If your issue is poor hoof quality, Keratex is probably your best solution. If the issue is environmental factors breaking down a good hoof, I would try something like white lightning. Food for thought for sure!

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    3. yea i mean i'm basically all about all the things all the time. like trying everything even just to see if it helps or not. tho haha this isn't always the best approach for my budget....

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  6. Somehow I think I've gotten quite lucky (knock on wood), with all of my Thoroughbred's feet! Charmer consistently does 6-8 week cycles with little to no issues. His front shoes look a little funky to help his breakover, but nothing too wild. However he is on Farrier's Formula Double Strength since I first got him due to crappy feet. Now I'm just far too paranoid to take him off of it! Wonder & Banner both currently have shoes but both can and have easily gone barefoot and will probably go back to being barefoot in the late fall/winter when they don't get as much time under saddle!

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    1. that is definitely lucky! tho not really unheard of. some TBs just seem much more... blessed in the hoof department! it's nice to have horses that can go unshod for the winter too, esp so the hooves can get that break from constant nail holes. i don't see that as a great option for charlie, esp bc we still jump through the winter, but maybe some day!

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  7. I've got an in-betweener. P doesn't have terrible feet, but they're not great, either. He's on a 5 week cycle, and gets shod all the way around in steel shoes. Nails and toe clips (usually) keep them on.

    Since it gets ungodly hot and humid here in the summer, I used to hose P off after every ride last year. My farrier yelled at me not to do that, and told me to use Keratex hoof hardener a few times a week. This year, he only gets a bath once a week (for a lesson or show) and rather than hose him off after most rides, I just stick him in front of a fan to dry off. That and bell boots have helped lessen the emergency farrier visits, fingers crossed!

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    1. yea i hear ya on trying to avoid wet hooves whenever possible. before it got quite so hot i was trying to sponge charlie off rather than hose him, but he just sweats so so so so much that it's really not super realistic. plus considering he literally wades through a stream to drink in his pasture, plus is turned out overnight and is thus in the dewy morning grass, it kinda seems like avoiding the hose is just a drop in the proverbial bucket....

      tho one of my barn mates is very much in the same boat as you in really needing to make avoiding the hose a priority. and she actually has this waxy stuff that she puts on her horse's hooves as a barrier when she *does* have to hose him. i should find out what that stuff is, actually....

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  8. Oh man, I do NOT miss the foot fuckery with Bobby. I'm so glad Opie has fantastic feet, and if Farrier hadn't approved them while I was shopping I would have left him behind in a heart beat. Sounds like all your hard work is worth it now though! Knocking on wood for you that you didn't just curse yourself on missing shoes lol

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    1. that was definitely smart to focus on feet when buying the horse. i.... did not really follow that advice with charlie, who was actually foot sore and lame even the day i bought him. uh.... but he's cute at least, right?

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  9. This is so timely - Mae just lost a front shoe & wedge for the first time in ages. We had a very brief wet spell that just sucked the shoe right off. Her OTTB feet are very crumbly this summer, even though we have her on Farrier's Formula. Let me know if you find anything else that works!

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    1. ugh yea we just had a brief few days of thunderstorms and horses were throwing shoes left and right! i think any time the ground really changes, whether it's wet to dry or dry to wet, it's just a tough time for hoof health. i'll definitely keep this space updated if i find anything else that's helping!

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  10. Ugh, feet issues are my absolute least favorite. It's really hard to find a good farrier in my area, because all of the ones that are good and people like are of course fully booked. I have been trying to find a new farrier for a while now since I will be switching barns and I don't think the current one travels - I've only been somewhat happy with his work anyway so was glad for the opportunity to switch. My older gelding has pretty solid Appendix feet, but I am OCD about my yearling. Poor trimming could cause limb issues as she grows, and I would be so mad if I let that happen to her.

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    1. omgosh yea i totally understand being extremely protective of those growing legs! it's amazing to me how complicated and involved farriery can be. like, the hoof is just such a complex and incredible structure... good luck with the farrier search too. i went through the same thing last year when i moved barns. i loved the farrier at our last barn but he wouldn't travel to the new one. that sort of change is always kinda worrying, but hopefully it ends up working out for you!

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  11. I'm pretty lucky with Amber's feet. Hers are generally hard as a rock. Even if they're super dry they've never chipped. I only had one instance where she kept chipping hoof wall and taking off her shoes and that was when she was pastured near a pond and the mud was like quicksand.

    Our farrier was leaving, so I had to switch too. Turns out they weren't setting Amber's feet right, and I'm actually glad I had to make the switch - the newer farrier so far seems more willing to do what I ask but input suggestions as well. Ugh, feet are so complicated. So glad Charlie is looking well and seems to like the new farrier!

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    1. isn't it funny how sometimes an unexpected change like that turns out to be just what we needed? i hate change, but then again it's often been the catalyst of very good things for me...

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  12. My horse has fairly good hooves, just one slightly clubby front that is easily managed with a 5-week trim cycle and religious picking out. The most problems I have had are with moisture management--keeping them from getting soggy and mushy. My favorite products to recommend: DuraCornum for moisture management (which is expensive and a pain to apply but it WORKS), ArtiMud and the other Red Horse Products to combat bacteria (ordered direct from England), Keratex Hoof Gel (when I don't want to spring for DuraCornum), and Shoofly Leggins to stop the stomping at flys.

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    1. good to know about those other products! moisture management is definitely tricky. i've felt lucky that i haven't had to be too too too careful in that regard, but it's always on my mind! also i've heard a lot of really good things about the shoofly leggings. maybe will pick up a pair when my current fly boots bite the dust eventually....

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  13. I miss having all my horses barefoot. Levi requires the most expensive shoes and Eugene just gets regular shoes, but has to be sedated to get them. Nilla only gets shod if she's doing an endurance ride. I am so not looking forward to finding anew farrier when we move.

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    1. ughhhhh having to look for a new farrier when i moved barns last summer was the freakin worst, and i wasn't even moving out of my existing known network of horsey people. i can't imagine how tricky it would be to have to figure out all that stuff in an entirely brand new and unknown area.... good luck!

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  14. A lot of the Thoroughbreds I know tend to have feet that require special care -- Miles had special shoes and was religiously on a four week cycle during the summer. Moiya hasn't been quite as special needs, but to be fair her workload in the summer is not NEARLY what the show horses endure.

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  15. Finding a good farrier is tough, I'm glad that the current cycle and maintenance is doing the big guy well!

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