Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Barefoot Horse: Fun With Paint

Not actual paint.  The old-school computer program "Paint".  My husband and I have both a sentimental and practical appreciation for "Paint".  We have completed many a graphic project, for work or play, using this simple program, which lacks all semblance of bells and whistles.  Can Photoshop do a better job?  Most definitely, but I do not own Photoshop and part of the fun is trying to make things happen within the bare-bones software that existed in nearly the same form on my first family computer.  It was a Gateway.  Remember the box with cow spots?  I had so much fun using "Paint" back then.  My high school teacher even had a mouse-pen tool for drawing.  I have wanted one ever since!

Keep your Photoshop and Gimp, or whatever else you use to make amazing graphic creations.  I enjoy using "Paint" and making it work.  "Paint" does not care about being user-friendly or innovative.

As spoken by the computer program, "Paint":

"Oh did you misplace one of those photos?  Hope you saved the original, because you are going to have to start over."

"Typo?  No problem.  Just create a white box and cover up the original text box and make a new one.  That's right.  Start over."

"Is the color wrong in the image?  Too bad.  Take a better photo next time."

Thankfully, I do not have complicated demands!  Using "Paint" requires a lot of problem-solving.  I think there is some value in that.  Or maybe I just enjoy pushing the limits of my frustration threshold.

So for your viewing pleasure, I present a study of my horse's right front: pre, mid, and post-trim using the simple, yet elegant, "Paint" program.  Eat your heart out iPad!

Check out the evenness of width in Harley's hoof wall, outer and inner, all the way to the heels.  I am very excited about this.  The quarters used to get really thick and wide, while the back of the foot did not have as generous a wall thickness.  He usually rounds the toe a bit himself, so this left his front feet somewhat box-shaped during the fastest growing season.  Of course, I would trim his feet which remedied the unevenness, but this is the first time that I have seen the wall balanced in thickness at the time of the trim.  His left front demonstrated the same thing, but for some reason I forgot to take a mid-trim photo.

Hopefully this change is due to the improvements in my mustang roll and maybe his shorter bars.  I now bevel the edge all the way to the heels, even rounding them a bit, so that there are no sharp edges.  I have been keeping the bars tidy for a year now, as I used to leave them to self-trim.

Left front: Three weeks of growth

Left front: Post-trim

I would love it if my horse could self-trim, but it seems that our environment is not suitable.  Although sand is very abrasive and we have plenty (PLENTY) of rocks mixed in the arena and paddocks, there is also a lot of mud and soft pine needles which do not help very much.  I also do not feel safe riding on our roadways and I am not a fan of lengthy trail rides, especially during tick season (with chigger season just around the corner).  So until I win the lottery and buy my own farm complete with a paddock paradise and pea gravel and other good stuff, it looks like the trimmer's life for me!

Left-hind: Three weeks of growth

Left-hind: Post-trim and ride

Right-hind: Three weeks of growth

Right-hind: Post-trim and ride

The hoof wall is not as even all the way around the hind feet, which were clearly in need of a trim at three weeks.  I just cannot go any longer than that during the summer.  His heels are also not as big as in the fronts.  I try to keep the toe back as best I can, but these hard-working hinds threaten to pull the toe forward, as evidenced by the extra wall at the toe pre-trim.  On the other hand, the concavity of his hinds is enviable, in my opinion.

Worth the effort!


  1. Kudos to you for doing such a nice job on his feet!

    We had a Gateway too, and I do remember the spotted box!

  2. Many thanks!

    The cow box made the computer even better.

  3. Concavity does not always mean a healthy hoof. First of all not all horses are going to have "D-cup" feet if you know what I mean ;). Secondly a horse on harder, more demanding ground will grow a flatter foot, or more sole. A horse who is on softer ground (like sand) will actually grow a more concave foot to accommodate the soft footing underneath. Think of it in the means of footwear. Pavement is much more comfortable to walk on in stiffer soled shoes since there is little give. Sand on a beach is easier to walk in felxible flip-flops since they bend and give and your ankles don't twist as easy if say, you were wearing the stiff boots. Make any sense?
    Good job on his feet by the way.

    1. I have read the same about concavity. We have lots of sand here. I have also noticed that larger feet (drafts) tend to appear less concave, because they are so huge and horses that work on pavement tend to have less concavity for the reasons you described.

      Thanks! I do my best to educate myself and foster good technique. I appreciate your expertise.

    2. I meant lack of concavity*
      Also when thinking in terms of width, frog size etc. A horse carries 60% of his weight on his front feet. It's usually easier to remedy a crappy frog and digital cushion on a front foot than a hind, in my experience.
      Horses hooves are like the skin on your hands. The more you use your hands the more callouses you develop (in the case of a farrier you never can seem to develop enough callous and forever seem to be scraping off knuckles, especially when trimming mini's). This basically means your hand responds to rough work by growing thicker skin in areas you use most. Horses hooves are the same. The more work, abrasive surfaces and abuse they are subject to the more hoof they grow. It's funny I trim all sorts of old pasture pets or retired horses. The ones that still get regular exercise or are on rougher pasture seem to grow more foot. I keep them at a shorter trim interval. Others I can keep the same maintenance at longer weeks because they simply don't grow an efficient amount of hoof to trim the same.

    3. Definitely makes sense!
      Thanks for your interesting comments.

  4. As always, Harley's feet look lovely. Sydney K is making some of the same points my farrier made when he was out the other day. He has a client whose horses live in deep sand. He says those horses grow a foot almost like a paddle. When Jaime first met me, he was skeptical of my need to have my horses done between 5 and 6 weeks. Once he saw how much I ride, he agreed to put me on the shorter schedule since my horses grow a TON of foot. Exercise does grow more hoof for sure!

    1. Thanks!

      Definitely. I am glad that you adopted a shorter schedule. I personally cannot believe that some horses have to wait eight weeks to get their feet done, and we are not talking about self-trimmers either.

      That is also why movement is so important to a horse who is trying to grow a new hoof. Movement is an important part of rehab since it is tied to hoof growth.


Leave a comment or add to my memoirs with some of your own.