Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Barefoot Horse: Photos and Websites

Oh...Hi down there.

Relaxed Harley sporting his naked feet.

Left front: Note the bevel (a.k.a mustang roll)
The hoof tubules are visible on the outside of the hoof as thin, parallel lines descending from the coronary band to the ground.  If the foot is not flared, the tubules will extend in straight lines with the same angle all the way down the hoof.  Event lines may be seen as slight bulges which encircle the hoof.  The event line was produced at the coronary band during a time of stress.  The event line migrates downward as the hoof wall grows.  What caused the event line in Harley's hoof?  Change in weather, hay, vaccinations, worming?  If you can keep track of how fast your horse's hoof grows, you may be able to work backwards and figure out what disrupted his hoof growth enough to make a line.
Left front: Look at how much of his foot is frog.
The spring weather leaves the ground moist and this takes its toll on the frog.  I treat any signs of fungal or bacterial infection with Absorbine's "Hooflex Thrush Remedy".  This spring, the central sulcus developed a shallow crease, which I also treated every time I visited my horse by holding the foot up and allowing the "Remedy" to drain into the crack.  The crease will probably not completely resolve itself until the ground dries up, but I must remain vigilant, because thrush is very painful.  I basically treat the frog every time that I notice moisture or an odor of any kind.  I belong to the school of thought that discourages "beautifying the frog".  I only remove frog callous if a flap is harboring fungus or bacteria.  Usually, scrappy pieces exfoliate on their own after a fresh trim.  Harley's frogs are typically more robust, tough and dry looking.  As we move into summer, the frog will "fatten" and become buffed to a smooth, hard finish.

Left front:  The mustang shot complete with concavity.
Hoof concavity is dynamic.  When the ground is hard in the winter, his concavity is reduced.  As the ground softens and we ride more, the soles develop a nice inverted dome.  The lowest point is in front of the apex of the frog and extends to the edges with even a little in the heels.  When I notice the sole exfoliating, I help it along with the edge of my hoof pick.  Quite a bit of chalky sole has exfoliated this spring.  A good trim offers the sole more ground contact and an opportunity to thicken and exfoliate as needed.  The bars do the same thing and rarely require any of my attention.  I do not use my hoof knife to remove sole or frog callous.  In fact, I have not taken my hoof knife out in months. 

This sole is the color of concrete and feels surprisingly similar.  Also pictured is my portable hoof stand.  ;)

Feeling good...

...with no strings (or shoes) attached!
My Favorite Barefoot Hoofcare websites:

Barefoot For Soundness by Marjorie Smith
Hoof Rehabilitation Specialists by Ivy and Pete Ramey
Star Ridge Company: The Original Natural Hoofcare Store

Star Ridge offers a Friedr. Dick hoof rasp for "Her" that is 12" long.  I have found this rasp to be easier to use than the standard 14" rasp.  I also attach the metal JV Rasp Handle.  Since I always rasp with one hand and support the hoof with the other, I do not actually use the handle while I am working, but the handle is still an important safety feature.  I do not want to jab my horse (or myself!) with the pointed end of the rasp.  I have had terrible luck with wooden handles; they just fall right off no matter how I try to twist them into place.  The JV Rasp has a nice rounded design and tightens with an allen wrench.  Ingenious!

On my wishlist:

Hoofjack Hoof Stand (Standard)


  1. Nice blog... and a lovely horse, too!
    I love hearing about other people going barefoot, and also promoting it with such success!
    Thanks for following along at Tekes Tally-Ho!


  2. Thank you! This post was fun to write.

    I enjoy reading about the unique horses at your farm.


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