|Doesn't Harley look tall in this picture?|
I am happy to report that the hoof wall separation created by reducing the hoof wall bevel (a technique which I have now rejected) is growing out nicely. I trimmed his front feet at exactly two weeks, so that there was not an opportunity for his hoof wall to reach the ground. I also trimmed his bars, which I think look quite nice.
|Left front: A small crevice at either quarter remains, but should be gone very soon.|
|Right front: Similar improvements are present due to new hoof wall growth.|
|Right front comparison: The same heel two weeks ago.|
|Fresh rolls and straight legs (Where did his hind legs go?)|
In other hoof news, I have decided to join "Boot Club", as in hoof boots. As the owner and hoof care provider of a barefoot horse, you may be surprised to learn that I do not own a single pair of hoof boots. I mostly work Harley in the ring, which has a startling number of rocks amidst the sand, but I also take him out on the trail. I have done this with him for years without a thought about hoof boots, even though there are other horses on the property that do wear them.
Last weekend I went on a group trail ride. It was the first big trail ride since the ticks and chiggers appeared in the woods. I basically avoid the woods like the plague all summer, because of those nasty arachnids. It is just about time for them to die off for the year, to I agreed to go out on a trail ride. Two of the horses in the group were wearing hoof boots and their riders commented that there was a rocky part that bothered their horses. As usual, I listened but did not worry about it. Harley walks over gravel without a problem. But then we got to the rocky part and I understood what they were talking about...
There were a lot of stones. The water runoff from last spring or during the summer, must have washed away more of the sand uncovering the rounded river stones. It has a been months since I have been out there, but I think there are more stones in a couple sections of the trail. I was surprised to find that Harley was "footy" over them, meaning that he was walking carefully and gently. He even "ducked" a few times, which feels like he stepped on something that hurt. Needless to say this was upsetting to me. The horses with the boots walked over the rocks like they were not there. I was surprised that the rounded stones bothered him so much. He walks over crushed driveway stone freely when grazing in the stable yard and those are pretty jagged rocks. There are also tons of rounded stones in the riding ring and we walk, trot, and canter over them. I guess the sand in the ring allows the rocks to sink away from his foot if he lands on one. The ground beneath the stones on the trail had no give.
After our ride, I thought about it from a whole-horse perspective. Diet is usually the culprit for footiness, but hoof conditioning is also a factor. Since he had not been trimmed for two weeks at the time of the trail ride, I do not think it was my trim (I have never had a problem there.), but he is growing out hoof wall separation, so maybe there is something to that. Experimenting with his diet is not a small factor, because of his hardkeeper status and boarding limitations (I cannot offer free-choice hay, for example), and I do not see myself trail riding enough to condition his feet to stony terrain. After thinking about it, the responsible thing seems to be to purchase hoof boots. I only trail ride occasionally, and I do not want to risk injuring his feet, whatever the cause of his dislike for the stones may be. I think that a nice pair of hoof boots is probably something that I should already own for him, so now is the time...
...to join "Boot Club". There are no rules that say I cannot talk about said club, so here we go!
A popular hoof boot for trail riding at my barn is the Easyboot Glove. It has been recommended that I purchase pads with the boots, but I am also told that the Easyboot pads wear through too quickly. Not sure what to do about that.
I think I am going to order a size 2. I tried a 1.5 and a 2 on him. I was able to squeeze the 1.5 on without pads. The 2 fits with or without pads and just looks better to me. I know the glove is a snug fit, but I think the smaller size looked crooked after he pushed his foot into it. He also picked his feet up high when he walked in the 1.5. Is it possible for the boot to be too tight?
Harley walked and trotted with long strides and without a hiccup in the 2. I am a little worried about getting the size right, because I do not want them to come off, especially when he canters. I plan on ordering the "power straps" just in case. I measured his feet and I found both fronts to be 120 mm long and 115 mm wide. I was surprised that the dimensions were so close. His feet do not look that round to me. Looking at the sizing chart, I am pretty sure that I did something wrong. Ironically, I think the bevel makes measuring difficult. Do I measure the weight-bearing surface or to the edge of the bevel? His feet are about 125 mm long if I account for the rounded bevel, but the width doesn't really change. Do I measure something that I rasped off and if so, how?
Boot advice welcome.