Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nimo's Feet

So I've decided to start trimming my horse's feet on my own.  Because I know very little about the subject, I've been doing some research, and I can see that there is a lot of conflicting information out there and that I'm going to have to pick a methodology and try it to see how it works for Nimo.  The methodology I've selected belongs to Maureen Tierney.  She's got a website:  http://barefoottrimming.com/.  The information provides a compliment to her book, Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Hoof Guided Method.  I'm still in the information assimilation stage, so I don't have a lot to say at this point except that what she says makes sense to me.  Her advice is to try to simulate how nature would wear the hoof if the horse was wild, but also to give the hoof space to essentially tell you what is going on and what it needs for a trim.

I will say that because Nimo has never had shoes on, I've been a little frustrated with all the barefoot trimming information I've found.  There seems to be an assumption that readers either currently shoe their horses and want to take the shoes off or recently took the shoes off.  What would be more helpful is how to handle a horse that has always been barefoot.  I say this in particular because after I took some pictures of Nimo's feet, I realized that maybe they weren't quite as fantastic as all my farriers have been telling me.  I'm not saying there are huge or serious issues, but as you'll see below, the frogs on the front feet are not quite as healthy as they should be and there is some definite flare going on for all 4 feet.  (And it's entirely possible there are other things going on that I don't see right now because I'm still new to this level of evaluation of my horse's feet.)  I'm actually kind of bitter right now because I'm realizing that I should have been paying more attention to Nimo's feet than I have been, and it appears that the trims he's been getting may not have been exactly what he needed.

I also discovered that it isn't that easy to take good pictures of hooves, especially if the horse is not interested in standing still or holding his foot just right.  While Nimo is normally pretty easy to work with, he was behaving like a complete idiot when I was trying to take these pictures, nearly resulting in me beating him to death with a hoof file.  So, my pictures could use some improvement, but at least I got something to give me a reference point.  Below are the front pictures of all 4 feet.  You'll see the flare that I mentioned.  It's not horrifying, but it was a surprise to me because I literally never noticed it until I took the pictures.  Also, his left hind is not quite as wonky as it looks.  I was off-center with the picture.  And, the hind feet are untouched at this point, but I had previously done a little rasping on the front feet to clean up some minor chips that were driving me crazy.

Next, here are the pictures of the bottoms of his hooves.  Overall, I think these look pretty decent (although they are all tilted one way or other - it's hard to hold a giant hoof and a giant camera at the same time!).  I do see some asymmetry on the outside of the both hind feet and the frogs of both front feet were a little softer than I like.

After the pictures, I did clean up the frogs just a little by removing anything that was obviously dead.  I also did a little beval around the hind feet, but I felt like I needed a bit more information before doing more than that.  Now that I've had a chance to study pictures and videos more, I think the next step is to file a 45 degree beval around each hoof, starting just in front of the white line.  I think the toe could come back just a smidge, particularly on the hind feet, where I was surprised by how thick the wall looks, but I'm going to stick with minor adjustments for now and see how things work out.

I would also like to emphasize that any book on trimming hooves should include this statement:  ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD ATTEMPT TO RASP THEIR HORSE'S FEET WITHOUT GLOVES ON.  Yes, I am an idiot.  I did not wear gloves because I thought I was just doing a little touch up and didn't need the protection.  I was wrong.  This is what your hand will look like if you don't wear gloves:

And, in other news, the size 5 Easyboot Epics that I ordered seem like they are going to work out, at least for awhile.  I can tell they fit much better than the larger size and I ended up liking the cable system better than the adjustment system on the Bares.  I still don't like the screws on the inside of the boots because I could see where there was some minor scratching of the hoof wall and the gaiters are still way too big for me to fasten properly.  I think I will call the manufacturer and see if they have any suggestions about fitting the gaiters, but hopefully they will work well enough for me to keep conditioning.  It's really time for me and Nimo to start climbing some mountains to properly prepare for our Old Dominion 15 mile ride at the end of October, and I think the boots will help keep his feet protected while we work on rocky terrain.


  1. Oooooh hooves!

    It's harder than it looks to take hoof pics, yes! And it shows you stuff you just can't see IRL, I totally agree.

    I think people don't talk much about never-shod healthy feet because there's just not much to say, compared to fixing pathological feet. It's like rear feet - there's not much literature about trimming rear feet, because they just don't usually have problems. Once you get the hang of it you'll have smooth sailing.

    I used to have a Percheron, and Nimo's feet look like my boy's did. The bigger horses have a tendency to splat like that when they get long (but compared to the other problems out there, it's not bad at all). I think once you get his feet whipped into shape and grow out the flares, you'll go down at least a boot size, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in Gloves next year.

    These are good gloves. Home Depot gardening section. When you rasp a hole in a knuckle get new ones because you're going to unerringly rasp the same spot again.

  2. Thanks for the tip for gloves - I'm definitely going to get some! And I hope you're right about the Gloves. I would love to be able to use them.

  3. Gail! I don't know why I've never visited before!!!!! Anyways...I'm here because if your L&R comment....are you talking and love and Ricketts? That's the saddle I was borrowing from a friend at the beginning of the year. She had two, sold one for a couple hundred dollars, and I was using the other. she doesn't use it and has talked withdrawing it. Don't know if you would be interested, but if you are and are still pining for it, let me know.