To have pets means to take on the responsibility to look after another living creature’s wellfare and comfort. We have dogs and cats and they are part of the family. We look after their needs, feed them properly, make sure they have a nice place to sleep and we love them. If anything is wrong with them it is usually very obvious. One of our dogs stepped on something sharp and cut the main pad on his front paw in half. He immediately came to us on three legs, whining loudly and we were able to look after him. Horses are stoic and they hide their pain inside. The responsibility of having horses is huge.
Even though I never liked horse shoes, I never realised how detrimental to a horse’s feet and health they can be, because I didn’t have the knowledge. Qualified, experienced farriers will tell you that horses that do a lot of road work need shoes and that once a horse has been shod, there is no return. The answer to a lot of hoof and lameness problems, like navicular syndrome, is specialised shoeing. I read a lot about going barefoot, but I found it hard to make a decision based on instinct. If you want the best for your horses, but lack indept knowledge, you have to rely on the opinion of vets and farriers.
After last weekend’s barefoot trimming course, I have taken a good look at Cassie and Minnie’s feet. Even though they have both been seen by qualified farriers recently, I found that all is not well.
Here are Cassie’s front feet. You can clearly see that the nails have put strain on her hooves and that the holes are widening.
This is the side view from the left.
And from the right
The toes are too long and I think the whole sole has moved forward. Her feet are in front of her, instead of underneath her.
Here is a view of her hind feet.
This is her right hind. It has a large flare on the inside.
Here is her left hind. There is a bit of flare on the inside, but not as much.
Cassie is only 5, but I can see how if she continued like this, there are real problems ahead. When she walks, she lands toe first. I worry about what the impact on her pedal bone must be like. It is hard to see what the soles are like with the shoes on, but as far I can see, the bars need trimming.
Here are Minnie’s front feet.
She was sore on her right front, which is also the leg with the damaged tendon. I looked at her soles, which are quite flat, and the bars look as if they might have folded over. I wonder now if she was sore because she has bruises underneath the bars. When I tapped the sole of her right foot, she pulled back. There is still pain there. With the shoes on, she is walking straight again, but I now feel that it is masking the problem. I didn’t want Minnie to be in pain, so when the farrier told me she needed shoes, I conceded. I am worried now it may be compounding the problem. The farrier never looked at the bars.
Here is a side view. I was told that the area where the hoof wall has worn down to the white line is what caused the pain. Having seen ponies last weekend that were doing road work on their soles only, with no hoof wall touching the ground, I wonder about that.
Here are Minnie’s hind feet.
Here is a side view. She has a bit of flare on the outside of her right hind, but otherwise they are in good condition.
It is interesting that it’s Minnie’s unshod hind feet that seem the best.