Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Barefoot Horse: July Bar Trim

Harley is due for a full hoof trim right now, as these pictures are from last week.  I keep a close eye on his bars and any crusty material around the frog that might need to exfoliate.  Sometimes the bars get their own trimming day, especially because a hoof wall trim often gives the solar surface of his foot more ground contact and then I can see what he wants to wear off.  I let my horse's feet dictate how I care for them.  You will also notice that I do not pretty up the frog.  I almost never trim it, the only exception being a flap that is harboring moisture and therefore inviting bacteria or fungus to the party.  Thankfully, his feet rarely host parties, although I am not shy about applying some preventative treatment to the central sulcus.

Right front: The sole looked good, but a little trimming of the bars was necessary.  I gently remove bar until I reach the level of the sole.  Some of the initial material to come off was very soft and crumbly, which tells me that he wants his bars down.

Left front: Same thing here.  On a separate occasion, I also removed some flaky material just to the right of the frog in this photo.  I only take material away from the sole if it comes off with the lightest drag from the curved edge of my knife.  I do not cut live sole and I only ever need to help him exfoliate material close to the frog.  He takes care of the rest.

Right hind: Barely anything to trim off the bars.  You can see where I gently scraped the sole medial to the frog.

Left hind: The left hind required similar attention.  The lateral bars on the hind feet are a different shape than the medial bars or the bars of his front feet.  I am guessing that this has to do with the way the feet land (lateral side first).  Check out the giant flap hanging from his heel bulb.  There was no cut or scrape visible, so I guess it was just callous, but, man, talk about hard-working hinds!

I also felt like taking a picture of Harley's hind end muscles, although he told me that this makes him feel like a piece of meat... I took another picture of his cute face, too.  I can never have enough!

The bar trim took about five minutes for all four feet.  Once I put his feet down and began talking to a friend, Harley started to yawn over and over again.  He yawned about six times in a row!  Some horses offer releases like this quite frequently, like after a ride or after a massage, but Harley is not quite as expressive in this area.  He will stretch and flex and do whatever is asked of him, but he is a tough nut to crack when it comes to visible releases.  He tends to get really fidgety with his mouth and face instead: sticking his tongue out, crossing his jaw, doing the Flehmen response (horse smile), pulling halters off the wall, shoving the fan or garbage can...

More than one person has said that he has ADD.  I just think he is hyper-vigilant, something that comes from being an alpha horse.  Oh and let's not forget, curious.  And nosy.  And a ham.

Okay, you get the point.

Harley yawning like that tells me that having his bars groomed felt very nice.  This confirms for me that he did in fact want them trimmed and that his feet even felt better after I helped remove the material that was trying to come off.  I used to never trim his bars and just let nature do her job, but I found over time that his bars became laid over and overgrown.  Now, I try to help when it looks like my help is needed.  I appreciate it when Harley gives me some feedback indicating that he is happy with my plan.


  1. Mmmmm, butt dapples. Love them. ;)

    Also, I am super-jealous of his beautiful feet and your ability to care for them. I dream of Saga's feet looking like that... alas, it's not to be.

    1. Saga is lucky to have YOU looking out for him and doing everything that you can to take care of his feet.

      My horse's "foot problem" is in his mouth, by the way. Nasty overbite that cannot be completely fixed, only managed. They each have something, right?

  2. Is it my imagination or are his feet opening up a bit at the heels?

    I was trimming for a new client a few weeks ago with an OTTB who was lame. I told her before I started that sometimes I end up jumping around from foot to foot as the horse tells me where they want me to go next. The owner then proceeded to be amazed as the horse did exactly that. I'd get half done with one foot then he'd pick up another. Lots of yawning when I was done.

    Horses will talk to you if they know you're listening.

    1. That is a very cool story, especially because you told the owner ahead of time and then it actually happened.

      I think they might be. I am glad you mentioned it.

  3. Harley should not feel at all self conscious of that bum! Not only nice muscles, but that color is just gorgeous!

    I would really like to gain the know how to maintain my own horse's feet. The farrier is coming out tomorrow but nothing ever gets better and nothing ever changes with his trims...still the same shrunken frogs and contracted heels. I'm really hoping to scrape together the $$$ this month to get x-rays done of her fronts so I can make a proper argument for fixing them at long last!

    1. I understand the frustrations that come with not being able to improve a problem with your horse. I have gone through that with Harley regarding his teeth and will probably continue to experience that regarding his weight for the rest of his life.

      One thing that helped tremendously for his teeth was finding a new dentist. It was awkward to tell my barn manager that the barn dentist just wasn't meeting my horse's special needs, but the switch paid off and now his bite is much more balanced and I feel that he is in very knowledgeable hands. Just some food for thought. I wish you luck.

  4. Very cute dapply butt and an even cuter face. Glad Harley enjoyed his trim and was so relaxed he was yawning. Nice job on his feet.

    1. :)

      At the show, people were commenting on how cute he was and, of course, his unusual color. My husband was like, "You should see him when he is dry."

  5. Nice Butt! His feet look terrific too. I enjoy reading about how you take care of his feet. He really looks good, I can tell he feels good to. Win win!


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