I will continue to trim his bars short, keep the toe back, trim his heels as low as he wants them according to the live sole, and treat the frog as needed to prevent thrush. If his foot is to widen more at the back, these things should support that change, not a more conservative bevel. This experiment does not stand alone as the only evidence that the strong bevel is a beneficial technique for his feet. I have observed similar hoof wall separation when the rapid growth of his hoof walls got away from me in the spring and early summer. I have also seen this effect on one other occasion when I tried a slightly different technique (from a professional how-to DVD) for judging how much bevel to put on the foot. This also produced a more conservative bevel.
His hind feet were not affected as quickly as his fronts, but I can see some separation developing there at the quarters as well. Interestingly, the hinds are more likely to chip at the quarters or do so much sooner. I am sure that his fronts would do the same, but I am not comfortable with allowing that much time to pass knowing that a cavern is developing along the edge of his precious feet.
|Left front: The separation is not as wide on the inside/medial side of the foot, showing that the horse puts more pressure on the outside of his feet when he moves. This crevice may be gone as soon as the very next trim.|
I found a Pete Ramey article from 2005 which discusses hoof wall separation. There are some interesting points about the differences between a hoof in a hard, dry climate and a hoof in a softer, wet climate. I am sure that I have read this article before, but what caught my attention was the notion that flare and hoof wall separation are necessary side effects of overgrowth. Furthermore, the invasion of fungi or bacteria is also necessary to weaken the excess hoof wall and allow it to break away, keeping the coffin bone (P3) at ground level. This time around, that concept pretty much blew my mind, but I think I understand. Mr. Ramey is not advocating that you let your horse's feet go, just that there is a purpose served by the flare and separation seen in overgrown hooves.
I am not about to allow Harley to go down that "natural" a road, because he is NOT a wild horse and if flare and separation are indications that he wants to relieve himself of that hoofwall then that is precisely where me and my rasp come in. As a domestic counterpart, I want to help him to trim MORE efficiently than a wild horse, especially because I expect things from him that a wild horse would not be required to do, like power trotting up the diagonal while carrying his petite friend around on his back. I seek clues from his feet to tell me where to help and where I can rasp away what he would break away himself many weeks later. The wild/natural horse model only goes so far, in my opinion, whether it be for training or care and management. For example, a horse in the wild must be on high alert all the time to avoid predation. I do not want my riding horse to behave that way. I want him relaxed and free to think about my attempts to communicate riding exercises to him. And let's face it, Harley probably would not have made it past age 10 in the wild, because his overbite is so severe. I do not just want to give him what a wild horse would have, I want him to have it much, much better.
Cosmetically, his feet will look very nice with the strong bevel, but I am thinking more about preventing the invading fungi or bacteria. Even if they serve a purpose in nature, those microbes can easily get out of control and I am just not willing to roll those dice. I'll stick to rolling the hoof wall instead!
|Ready when you are!|