Monday, April 1, 2013

My Barefoot Horse: Staying Ahead of the Ball (Hoof)

Spring is here.  Do you know what that means for hoof trimming enthusiasts?

A hoof-growth EXPLOSION!!!

My horse's feet grow at a snail's pace all winter long.  I inspect his feet regularly and ask myself if a trim is necessary.  Most of the time (during the winter only) I put his foot back down and decide that he can go another week.  Sometimes I just touch up the bars.  I can wait four and even five weeks at times to do a complete trim without issue or much sweat.  This winter has been no different.

Usually the first spring trim sneaks up on me.  I become complacent and lackadaisical, because he puts out so little hoof for months and then all of the sudden there is flare popping up at the quarters and I have a long arduous trim ahead of me.  I cannot let that happen this year.

Let me repeat.

I CANNOT let that happen this year.

I will be forming a preemptive strike this week, because I am off for Spring Break.  The pictures in this post are from a couple weeks ago.  I have already noticed that the bars on his front feet are starting to pick up speed.  He is getting a touch-up trim this week no matter what!

Left front: Hoof photos are taken fast and furious these days.  Some will be blurry!

Right front: This frog is having the hardest time with the mud.  Those deep crevices are not good.  I have opened them up a bit with my knife and have been cleaning and treating every time I see him.  He does not show any soreness, thankfully.

Show-off: He always poses when I try to photograph his hind feet.

Right hind

Left hind

You're looking less woolly these days, Mr. Harley!

Harley's feet are not the only things growing this spring!  My feathered friend pictured here is Avery.


  1. So far I've been keeping up on my weekly trim schedule. What I've noticed is how quickly the hooves get rock hard when it's dry enough to keep the frogs funk free... it's always something. :D

    You are definitely glowing as well as growing!

    1. That is great about the weekly trims! I agree completely. As soon as the frogs are good to go you have to start wetting their feet just to cut through the tough hoof wall. ;)

      Thank you!

    2. Then the hoof shavings gunk up the rasp... ;D

      I let the Veterycin I am treating the separation with soften the walls a bit before I start. Two birds and all that.

  2. I think his feet look very good. You and Avery take a great picture together. My sister is very into birds also. She's had a cockatoo for almost twenty years now.

    1. Avery is a cute one. His personality is pretty complicated compared to Harley. There are certain things that annoy or frustrate Harley, but he is never really in a bad mood. Avery, on the other hand, has a wide range of emotions and can go from content to upset fairly quickly. Avery loves my husband and misses him terribly when he is at work. We each have our own special pet. :)

      I liked how he matched my sweater in this photo.

  3. Gosh, his feet are fantastic. And he's pretty darned cute too.

    1. Welcome, Alicia.

      Thank you very much! It is a labor of love, but he makes it easy on me.

  4. YES!! Today I go into the Preemptive battle too...after I stop in at the farrier supply.
    WHAT hoof knife,clipper, or? do you use for the bars??
    I have tons of ammo information from Shannon from "Quarters" so paranoid about it . Leftie and a rightie? Or someone mentioned a round knife tool for both sides...Do tell which you like Val.
    His feet look terrific. You have done a good job, truly. It is all about not letting them go, as i found out last year with the "Snake River" white line.

    Too cute, you and the Avery bird!

    1. I do not own clippers and only use a rasp for the trim, which is part of the reason that a lot of hoof growth is difficult business. I use a hoof knife for the bars. I have made due with a right-handed knife for years, but recently purchased a left-handed knife, because it was so difficult to trim the bars on the left sides of his feet. I am not quite as good with my left hand, but I am sure it will get better. The job is so much easier with two knives! I have not tried those double sides ones, but have eyed them online.

      Happy Spring and best wishes with your own hoof tasks!

  5. He's got wonderful concavity, enviable! Cassie was improving until the exit hole from one of the abscesses started growing out; it burst at the heel bulbs, so now her outside heel sheared off. Ah well, in this case I'm delighted to see spring growth!

    You look great! Love Avery, I used to have a budgie and a cockateel- they were great and the budgie was a wonderful speaker too.

    1. Thanks for noticing! An abscess bursting at the heel sounds pretty icky and even more so with the sheared heel. Yikes! I hope she mends quickly. I am sure the spring growth will help all of that grow out.

      How great that you had a budgie and a cockatiel! Budgies are wonderful talkers. They can out-talk a lot of larger parrots, but most people are not privy to their talents!

  6. Hello!

    Where did you learn to trim? How did you start?

    I am about to remove my horses shoes and learn the barefoot trim (with the help of books and knowledgeable friends). You seem to be doing a beautiful job!

    1. Hi Kerry,


      I watched Harley's trimmer closely for almost two years. She showed me how to trim beginning with just the roll at the toe. I also read everything I could find and looked at tons of hoof photos. My technique and understanding of what my horse's feet need has developed over time. I have been his trimmer exclusively for about three years. In the six years I have owned him, he has never been in shoes, so I cannot offer much information regarding transition.

      Don't forget that diet, turnout, and exercise are critical to successful barefoot hoof care! Good luck!


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