Saturday, January 24, 2009


I realize I've been remiss in bugging yall for pictures of your horses' feet while not putting up any of my own in months. Well, here's Part One - Champ.

Short back story: Champ was (I think) 12 when I bought him. He'd had basically one owner before me, a sweet old man who took what he thought was the best possible care of Champ by keeping him shod year round on all four feet with keg shoes. I personally think the best possible care is barefoot, so I screwed up my nerve and had his shoes pulled a couple months after I got him. He's been barefoot for two years now, and his feet are... pretty good. They don't look great and I don't think they ever will, but he's sound over everything except pointy gravel and there's not much of that around here. For the first couple months I had him, he stumbled and slipped over everything, but barefoot, he's as surefooted as a mountain goat. Here we go!

Front feet, side shot. Almost no flaring, which is nice. Looks to me like the left is a little longer and the right is a little underrun?
Champ front feet

Front left. Heels definitely look a bit long to me. After I took these pictures, I trimmed about 1/16th off the heels of both his fronts. I'll look at them again in a day or two and see if some of the powdery sole has come out and I might take more off. His frogs look puny, but they have always been puny. These look better than in the past, at least the central sulcus has opened up. And his heels look level.
Champ front left

Slightly different view of front left, I can see the heel height a bit better here.
Champ front left

Front right. This side definitely looks a bit more underrun to me. I think that means I should work his right toe back a bit. I know some people don't like seeing chips missing out of the sole walls, but it doesn't really bother me. It'll grow back, and it obviously doesn't bother him. I thought these heels were long too so I trimmed the same 1/16" from them.
Champ front right

Champ front right

Here's his rear feet. Rear feet almost always look better than front feet, and his are pretty symmetrical so I only took shots of the left rear. (I was getting the flashing low battery warning on the camera, even though I'd just put batteries in it, and I didn't want it to die.) His rears have better concavity, but the same puny frogs. I like this first picture because it has bonus Cersei action.

Champ rear feet

See? Better frog, but not what I'd like to see on his rear feet. And they're slightly asymmetrical - larger toward the inside. I suspect this is connected with his conformation and way of going, and I've been leery of making drastic changes and possibly stressing his joints. I dunno. This is the kind of thing where I wish I had a really good barefoot trimmer to consult with.
Champ rear left

Ok, this is weird but common, from what I've read. This picture shows me holding his gaskin, letting his leg dangle from the hock down. See how the inside is way higher than the outside? The left leg is the same in reverse - his rear inner heels are higher than his outer heels. For the first year, I left it alone. For a couple months last year, I viciously attacked those high inner heels and kept them trimmed so that his hoof was balanced. I never noticed any difference in soundness or temperament, so I went back to leaving them alone. But looking at that picture just bugs me! Should I trim those high inner heels or leave them alone? Rrrrgh.
Champ rear left

Please feel free to comment. I'm not an expert by any means. I'm not going to trim frogs or trim live sole, but I'll consider anything else yall have to say!

Oh, hell - last post was my 200th post. Oh well. Around here all anniversaries go unremarked; artificial celebrations are stupid. Here's to another 200 ramblings!


  1. You may want to try treating him for thrush, with those frogs. They can have thrush or fungal infection without the rotting, stinky frogs. "Whimpy" frogs can be thrush. I've been dealing with this here myself, and its working, but its slow. I have one pony that has always had frogs shrunk in and shaped more like a T than a V. She is absolutely thrushy, and I scrub out her soles with a TTO dish soap and a scrub brush. Then I put some usnea tincture, then diaper rash cream over it to keep the moisure out. It is working, but I've owned this old girl for 8 years and she's always been this way, so I have to assume it is very deep-seated. She is sound over any terrain, but those frogs just really bug me!

    You can also try the Clean Trax, or White Ligthtening treatment, but you need to be diligent about keeping those feet cleaned.

  2. Gimme a pep talk, Michelle, cause I feel pretty negative about being able to keep his feet clean. :(

    I got no hoof boots. I am not convinced of my ability to measure for and put on hoof boots, and I'm pretty certain he would kick them off if I DID get them on. He's loose on about 10 acres with 12 other horses, so there is no manure control (and I can't bring myself to muck out after that many!)

    I can catch him and scrub his feet out and put antibiotic/antifungal goo on them daily, but is that really going to work when he walks away from me right back into the mud? I know that sounds whiny, but it's an honest question. Would daily cleaning help?

  3. How deep are his grooves on that first front foot? They look too shallow to go shortening heels on, but hopefully it's a camera trick. I know you know Ramey so I know you know about the groove depth vs. heel lowering. :)

    To build on what Michelle said, we used Clean Trax on Gene. This was to not only get his sad little pathetic frogs to come back to life, but to help the plumber's crack that existed between his heel bulbs to open. While that first front doesn't have a tight crack like Gene did, it could still decontract a lot.

    Hey, would you be interested in me running the pics by Dawn? If you could take a set of pics as described on her site, I could send them to her and see what she thinks. I'm doing a little work for her website, so this could be payment, if you will.

    uncest: immediate relatives who refuse to have anything to do with each other.

  4. Oh... my comment about groove depth has to do with trimming into live sole on the heels to lower them. Dawn has found that hooves respond much faster if she goes into the live sole with the groove depth as a guide vs. leaving it alone. Now, when she first trims a horse, she'll take this path. This was partly demonstrated to her by Gene, whose front beer cans didn't move very much until she finally went into live sole about 1.5 years after she first started trimming them. Suddenly, those feet started doing all kinds of awesome stuff. Each time she trims, she goes a little more into the live sole.

  5. Sara, it's absolutely a camera trick. His grooves are REALLY deep these days! Most of the height of the pick?

    I kept scraping at his heel area and there's still some amount of crumbly "dead" sole in there. Hopefully that will flake out on its own in the next few days and give me a better clue about how much more I can lower them. I don't trust myself with a knife to clear out the crumbly stuff.

    I am cheered by how much his wussy little frogs have opened up over the years. He used to have plumber's butt for sure. Now they're still puny, but at least they're wider and not hiding deep thrushy canyons.

    I'd love a pro opinion. I'll take some more pictures for her tomorrow or Monday and mail them to you. Thank you :)

  6. Hmm. I'm not even at live sole on his heels, and I think I'd really have to screw up my courage to trim live sole. Eeeek.

    The major benefit to trimming your own horses is that you don't have to be very brave. I can take a tiny bit off every two days - I don't have to get it perfect all at once.

  7. A depth of a pick is really deep. Dawn likes 3/4 of an inch for the depth of the groove at the heel, and she lowers into live sole accordingly. That lets her know that there is plenty of sole to protect the coffin bone.

    Dawn can take a while to get back to emails, so it may be a bit. I'm working on the pics of Gene as he's going to go on her site as a case study. I can't wait. So in exchange, hopefully she'll give a little feedback. She adores owner trimmers. :)

  8. they look good to me. i'm not a foot expert, but i'd be happy with them. if you are concerned about possible thrush, but it's not the festering rotting slimy kind, i wouldn't get too aggressive in treating it or you might dry the feet and open them up to more problems. for my horses that live out or are in mucky conditions, i clean them out good and pack them with 'sole pack' or paint them with something with pine tar like 'reducine.' no wrapping or boots necessary, as it sticks pretty well even in messy conditions. just a thought. good luck :-)

  9. Just a note about the heels in the back:

    A LOT of quarter horses have this as well! My farrier has a QH mare who goes to the world/Congress shows, and he has another 'TOP' farrier come in to shoe this mare. Well, she started going lame in the hocks, so they were shooting them up--800 dollars A HOCK. Jeeze! So he decided maybe he could find something, and he noticed if he held the hoof by the gaskin to check if it was level, he found that the inside heels were much, much higher. He cut them down, and after a few weeks... guess what? Mare no longer has 800$ hocks, LOL.

    A lot of QH's he knew had hock problems, and so he started leveling the hooves, rather then keeping the inside heel high. He's heard nothing but good reviews so far. :)

    He keeps my boys level in the back, and none have had any reported problems for two years... we'll see, huh? He also has a prescription drug for thrush that is absolutely AMAZING--I'll have to find it if you ever need it. My Paint didn't have 'thrush' when it came to being smelling, but he had the 'plumbers butt' heels bad. Just squirted that stuff in there, and ta-da! They're solid now and i can't stick a friggen pen in there now!

    There's my 2 cents, though. Wish I had the courage to do my own feet... lol

  10. The high heels usually are from heel pain (if its not bad trimming). They don't weight their heels, so the heels grow higher, so tha they aren't weighing the sore frogs from the thrush or fungus in the frogs.

    Yes, cleaning out the feet each day WILL help even if you put them right back down in mud. Sounds crazy, I know, but it does help. It takes longer, of course, but I actually think its better than when its dry, because then the frogs tighten up and lock the bugs inside deep crevices that you don't even know are there.

    I've only relatively recently learned this (last 6 months). The first (well second, after scrubbing) thing you need to do is trim all the flappy bits off the frogs. They hold the bacteria in there and allow it take hold. The foot needs to be able to self-clean as much as possible. So clean up the frogs so there are no crevices and flappy bits (that's a technical term, you know).

    Scrub them out, then apply something like Usnea tincture (antifungal herbal tincture). Use the dropper and squeeze it into the frogs crevice, any cracks, etc. I hold the foot up for minute so it seeps in. Then, this is the key. Get some Desitin diaper rash ointment, and slather the entire frog and commisures with it. Get the heel bulb crack, too and smear it right up there. This will help hold the antifungal in there, and also keep moisture and bacteria out for awhile.

    Make sure you do this every day or every other day at the very least. I would also toss in a Clean Trax or White Lightening treatment here and there as well, for good measure.

    You'll start seeing his frogs looking more plump and happy, then the heels will start getting lower, and lower.

    this is a Pete Ramey discovery, BTW. he uses a mixture of OTC athletes foot cream and antibiotic ointment. I had the Usnea on hand, so use that. I also use a Tea Tree Oil dish soap for the scrubbing. TTO is also antifungal, so I figured it couldn't hurt.

  11. A comment that came up on FFF today about thrush, just FYI:

    My trimmer had me order a topical treatment designed to address mastitis in dry milking cows. It's made by Fort Dodge and the product is called "Tomorrow." I ordered it through Valley Vet. He said to use it once a day for one week, and once a week thereafter (12 tubes per package for $24.25). He said it works better than CleanTrax. I'll post a follow-up after treatment. Just thought hoof-minded folks would like to know.

    trogyrap: the real underground music scene

  12. Ok, Michelle, I've been picking his feet everyday and I think you're right, it really does help even if they're not on ideal footing. He's got junk crammed up in the deepest parts of his foot, but the rest of the foot stays pretty clean, so I think it's doing some good.

    I'll try and work out a regime of antifungal/antibacterial goo and see how that works.

    I also whacked a little more off his heels the other day - brought them down to just above live sole. Took a little more off the toe that had the underrun heels, and took a bit off of his back inner heels. I'll update in a couple of weeks!

  13. i just found your blog and was thrilled to see all these great hoof photos and this discussion about thrush.

    like you, i'm unable to get my horse out of the muck he's in 24/7, so i just did every-other-day cleanings with vinegar/water and scrubbed really well with a brush, then i used pete's goo and stuck a piece of cotton in the culcus to keep it there as long as possible. it actually worked, even though my horse lives in the mud, and i can't be there every day.

    and since i'm not in america, i'm not able to get all those fancy thrush treatments people talk about here, so i was really glad when simple vinegar washings and pete's good worked.

    it's cool to learn alongside people, in blogs, with photos and first-hand experiences.

    thanks for sharing!

    ~lytha in germany
    p.s. please more kudzo photos - i've never seen it before and i'm curious about that stuff!


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