Sunday, September 27, 2015

Trimming Update, hind feet part 3

Mel over at the Boots and Saddles blog often does an "In Real Life" post at the end of a month to talk about how her goals differed from reality.  I've always enjoyed reading them, but have never posted something similar because I seldom have specific goals each month.  However, with this series on Nimo's hind feet, I did have some very specific things that I wanted to show and real life ended up creating some difficulties.  So here's my version of IRL.

What I had hoped to do was to show you how Nimo's feet changed over the course of a three-week trim cycle and then conclude by giving some details about how I trim.  What actually happened is that after managing to get some halfway decent pictures showing Nimo's freshly trimmed hooves, I forgot my good camera, so had to use my iPhone camera, which is not intended for taking pictures of horses' hooves at night in a poor lighting.  Then, I missed taking pictures at week 2 because I had guests staying with me for the week.  During week 3, my skills with the iPhone camera got exponentially worse, resulting in pictures that are almost unidentifiable.  Also, I completely changed my objective.  More on that in a bit.

But first, I'll show you the comparison photos that are kind of pointless because it turns out that Nimo's hooves didn't really change much during the three weeks.  They measured 6 1/8" wide by 6 1/8" long just after the trim and they measured 6 1/4" wide by 6 1/8" long at 3 weeks.  The only real changes I noticed were that the gap between the back quarter of the hooves and the ground got smaller and the beveling on the bottom of the hoof got more rounded and worn.

LH front view
LH lateral view
LH back view
LH bottom view
RH front view
RH lateral view
RH back view
RH bottom view
Normally at this point, I would trim Nimo's feet.  I like to schedule frequent trims because Nimo's feet are big and hard to rasp, so trimming often helps keep the work load manageable.  However, I had a little epiphany a couple of days before.  I have been using Cavallo Simple hoof boots on Nimo's hind feet for about the last year because he absolutely hated the Easyboot Epics I started off using.  Nimo wore the Cavallos for our ride at Fort Valley last year and they worked OK, but he ended up with an interference scrape on the inside of his left hind fetlock and the boot on his right hind twisted a little by the end of the ride.  The interference injury was likely due to how close he travels behind and the relatively large profile of the Cavallo boots while the twisting was likely due to the round shape of the boot and Nimo's slightly funky movement on that hind leg.  I've been meaning to work on trying different boots, but Nimo rarely needs hoof boots on his hind feet and while he tolerates the Cavallos, I can tell he still isn't crazy about them and I wasn't looking forward to tormenting him further.

But, hoof protection is required on all four hooves for OD rides, and with one coming up next month, I knew I needed to start riding with hoof boots on Nimo's hind feet.  I brought the Cavallos back out, thinking that with Nimo's measurements, they might be a little snug.  The Cavallo website shows that 6 1/8" is the upper limit for both width and length for size 6 Simple boots.  However, the Cavallos did still seem to fit and they worked OK, but they just seemed so clunky on his feet, especially when he cantered up a hill.

Because I was in the hoof measuring and hoof boot research zone for Nimo's front feet (I tried the Easyboot Trails with success a week ago), it seemed natural to keep working on options for his hind feet.  I had a couple of brand new size 4 Easyboot Epics that I bought in February this year, thinking they would work for Nimo's front feet.  When they didn't, I just put them in the giant container in the garage with all my other failed or broken boots.  When I checked the measurements for the size 4s, I realized that I just needed to trim a tiny bit off the width of Nimo's hind feet and they should fit.  The maximum width for the boot is 5 15/16 and Nimo's width on a fresh trim is 6 1/8.  The maximum length is 6 7/16 and Nimo's is 6 1/8.

I have always meticulously avoided trimming Nimo's feet to fit a boot.  I have completely bought into the idea that a horse's feet should be trimmed the way they should be and then a shoe or boot is fitted.  However, that philosophy has been causing me endless issues with hoof boots over the years.  So, much like many other philosophies that I have held dear (horses should wear bits, hooves should be trimmed by a professional, a whip should be used for discipline), I decided to pitch this one in the trash.

I can sort of hear the collective gasp of horror at this point, but hear me out.  The difference in the width of Nimo's feet and the boot is 3/16 of an inch.  That is a pretty small amount on a hoof the size of Nimo's.  On a tiny hoof, 3/16 of an inch is probably a big deal.  On Nimo's hoof, it's basically a margin of error (3%).  It would mean taking an additional 1.5/16" off of each side of the hoof.  So I decided to just trim the back quarters of Nimo's feet to 5 15/16" and leave the rest of the hoof alone as it really hadn't changed significantly from when I'd trimmed it.  Then, I found a nice blunt object and proceeded to pound the size 4 Easyboot Epic onto one of Nimo's hind feet.  And I gasped in amazement.  I could instantly tell the boot fit really well.  It was the first time I was seeing a hoof boot that looked right on his hoof.  So I put the other one on and it looked really good too.

Behold the vision of properly fitting boots!
Nimo was quite tolerant of all the wrangling I had to do to get the boots on, so I decided to test the initial fit by walking and trotting Nimo on the gravel around the barn.  I had been going to go out to the arena because it was dark but another boarder had just spotted a large coyote, so I thought keeping close to the barn was a good idea:)  Anyway, Nimo walked and trotted quite well, with none of the stomping and fussing that he had displayed when wearing the size 5 Epics over a year ago.

The next step would be to go on a real ride to see how the boots held up.  Luckily, I had planned to go camping with Nimo at Graves Mountain in a few days, and those extreme trails would be a perfect proving ground for the boots.  To find out how the boots worked, stay tuned for my next post:)


  1. Haha I feel your pain. I self trim my guy too and I ended up going the same route - grasping the hooves to fit the boots. It's not a huge change or drastic reshaping of the hoof....just enough to keep booting from becoming a huge pita!

    1. I'm glad I'm not alone:). I keep hoping 3-D printers will eventually be able to print custom hoof boots, but until that happens, I think I'm going to have to live with the reality that sometimes a minor adjustment is going to be necessary because a boot that fits more precisely is going to be better than one that is just in the ballpark.

  2. Oh I've totally also trimmed to get the hoof to fit in a boot...which is part of the reason why I only boot leading up to and during competition. I'm most definitely not completely alterating the shape of the hooves, just backing toes a little more than I normally would (Lily likes slightly longer toes on her fronts for barefoot. The bane of TB feet...) and rasp some flares that I would usually leave alone (like the lateral flare on her RF; I have to work it down gradually over the course of a few trims to get boots to fit better on that hoof. I normally don't touch it bc I figure if she always has that flare, it's bc she needs it. Hence why I also don't go and whack it off all at once either.) I know a few other endurance bloggers do this too, so you are most definitely not alone! :)

    Can't wait to read about the boot trial + camping trip at Graves Mountain!