Saturday, February 1, 2014

2014 PNER Convention: “The year of the hoof”

Officially, this year’s convention theme was “Hobby or addiction?” —and while that is a really valid question (!), it wasn’t the one addressed by the majority of our speakers. Instead we were treated to a wonderful assortment of talks about hooves—anatomy, biomechanics, lameness, shoe v. boot, and more.

Obviously, these topics are relevant to my interests. Sadly, I found myself leaning over to Heather all too often and saying “Blue’s are actually worse than that” when one of our esteemed speakers showed a picture of what they would call “extreme aberration” of hoof angles. Whatever those pictures showed, make them 25 percent worse and you’re talking about Blue.

And it wasn’t just the weak angles. It was the narrow frogs, the contracted heels, the crushed tubules, the bruises and, now, the abscesses. 

I find myself in an almost permanent state of apology for Blue’s hooves. My new farrier, who came along as an accessory to the new barn, is a barefoot guy. An Easyboot guy, even. I was excited to meet him and show him how much progress had been made and tell him what my hopes were for the year to come. But of course, these things are never as simple as I imagine them.

Farrier day arrives and I cleaned off Blue’s feet to find these.

Yes, those are twin blown abscesses. Perfectly symmetrical, twin, blown abscesses. I say that so that I can point out the one silver lining. At least they are symmetrical. My horse may be messed up, but he’s messed up evenly. Whoop dee freakin’ doo.

Hoof growth wise, it is hard to say if these date back to Foothills or OR 100. It was almost certainly one or the other. I can’t imagine a training ride being the culprit in this case. 

Chuck, the new hoof guy, was incredulous when I told him Blue is perfectly sound on everything except loose, chunky gravel. But he really is; I swear to you.

Or maybe he isn’t. Maybe all of his feet hurt equally, so they balance out and there’s no apparent limp. It could be that. 

My only solution for now is to be more diligent about using the boots everywhere except the arena. 

Now, you maybe have read Amanda’s blog about padding the inside of Easyboot Gloves. This is not what my clinical friends would call “best practice,” but I’m tempted to give it a shot after all I learned this weekend.

Hopefully, with the help of hoof guy, my own regular follow-up trimming, religious booting, improved diet and more natural living conditions, the hooves will get a chance to improve drastically this spring.

I am curious if padded boots would increase Blue’s stride back to where it was when I bought him. So I’m gonna order some and try it. I can't imagine it would hurt.


  1. You're not alone! Major has some funky feet (contracted, run under heels, always working on bringing toe back), but he's sound barefoot on everything but big gravel too. I was thinking about padding boots too, even bought some pads but haven't tried it yet. I'm sure Blue will improve, but might always be funky. Good luck!

    1. Thank you! I honestly don't expect perfection from him (or me), but I'd like to think that I can influence improvement at the very least. It sounds like Major and Blue come from the same stock! :)

  2. People always admire how concave Rose's hooves are whenever they see them but I always just stare at them and wonder how they don't see her contracted and/or under-run heels and side flares. Sometimes I look at farrier's blogs where they show bad feet and good feet and I have come to accept that despite the fact Rose is somewhere in the middle she is sound on all except gravel.

    1. If you visit the Rockley Farm blog, which is in my list on the right over there, She has a lot to say about hoof shape as it relates to function. She might tell you those flares are a good thing!