Barefoot for good

Early yesterday afternoon, Dermot McCourt and his son John arrived after a very long drive to take the shoes off our horses. Ben and Rosie were going barefoot too and Maíre brought them up here, so there were four equines waiting to be done.

Cassie went first. Dermot explained that taking the shoes off was going to take a bit of time as it is important that the nail holes don’t get damaged. Usually, a farrier that comes to re-shoe a horse, will take the old shoes off in seconds. Cassie has a lot of damaged nail holes from the previous set indeed. Dermot showed me that the current nail holes were so high, that they had actually gone through the sensitive lamina.

When the shoes came off, the underlying problems showed up.

Here is Cassie’s right fore. She has underrun heels, they are too far forward and she has white line separation. Dermot also showed me that the pedal bone sits tight against the hoof wall. All these are problems associated with shoeing. Another 6 months of shoeing and her future could have looked very bleak. Here is a front view after the left fore has been trimmed. A big difference, but the trimmings that came off were actually very small.

Shoes can hide a lot of problems, and one of them was a fungal infection. Here is her right hind. The fungus is clearly visible.

Dermot treated her feet with an anti fungal treatment, made from ingredients that come from the Amazonian rainforest.

 Dermot told me that in spite of these problems, Cassie has essentially good feet, with good concavity and now that the shoes are off her feet can go back to how they should be. An interesting detail was that Cassie had actually started to build a toe callous against the shoe.

Dermot and John are lovely with horses. They connect with them and it makes such a difference. The last time Cassie was shod it was a drama and my farrier told me she was a b**** to shoe. This time, there was a gentle atmosphere in the yard. Cassie was calm and relaxed and standing next to the hay shed she was happily muching away, while her feet were looked after.

Minnie was next. She also had a fungus infection under the shoes, but Dermot found her feet otherwise good. Her hind feet were especially good with very hard soles. Her front feet need to toughen up and grow a toe callous.

Here is Minnie’s left fore before the trim, the fungus clearly visible again. Interestingly the only one without fungus infections was Rosie, who has been barefoot for well over a year.

Here is a side view of Minnie’s front feet after the trim.

During the afternoon, we got a lot of good advice and encouragement from Dermot and John. It was a relief to learn that all our horses were in essence good candidates for going barefoot, and that they should do well. Their feet look so much better now, pity about the nail holes!

This evening I was watching Minnie and Cassie as they were coming in for their dinner. Cassie trotted into the yard, oblivious to the rough gravel under her feet. She will be fine. Minnie was very much aware of the gravel and took care where she put her feet. Here they are, leaving the yard on their way to the field. Barefoot. I feel good about it.


2 thoughts on “Barefoot for good

  1. I’ve twice had people tell me their horses didn’t like the farrier – who behaved like perfect angels when I trimmed them. I think it’s just because I was polite to them.

    Good luck with barefoot – I’m sure your horses will do great.

  2. Thanks June. I’m very happy the shoes are gone and I know that this is so much better for my horses. I will never have another shoe nailed to their feet. You don’t actually get to see your horse’s feet when the farrier comes for re-shoeing. They take the shoe off and before you know it, the new shoe is in place. I was quite shocked to see what was lurking underneath the shoes!

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