Thursday, October 30, 2008

Draft Hoof

This is a picture I took a few years ago at our state fair of a Percheron's foot.

Normal people take lovely pictures of the horse's head, or body shots showing the sheer size of these gorgeous animals.

But not me! I take a picture of the bottoms of the hooves. An area very few of us ever even notice, which is why they often look like this. No one complains, not even the horse. And the horse has every right to be really pissed about being forced to live with this crappy shoeing job!

Drafts can be big, naughty, combersome animals to trim and/or shoe so their hooves usually aren't maintained on the most frequent basis, not the mention the cost, unless owners work on their own draft horses. Which is often the case because after all, they are just draft horses, it's not like they ride them or anything. Right?

This horse is suffering from severe flare, causing separation of the white line and opening his hooves up to potential cases of white line disease and/or abscessing. The flare should have been addressed with the trim. It hasn't been addressed with the trim, so this hoof, with it's $200 or $300 dollar shoeing job (for all fours) is in exactly the same predicament as any long-term neglected hoof would be.

Flaring also allows the soles to become flat and tender so you can see in the picture the pad that is added to protect the sole and frog. This pad and shoe takes the entire bottom of the hoof out of function. The frog atrophies like any other body part that isn't being used. Draft horses can have just as wonderful and shapely hooves as any other horse. Owners of drafts just need to educate themselves about how to make that happen. Their horses could move and pull with much more athletism if their feet were more normally shaped.

One of the worst cases of flare in draft horses that I've ever seen is on the Percherons owned by the Preifert Fence Panel company. Boy, if you get to chance to see their hooves in a picture or in person...yikes! I happened to see a picture of these horses in the Capital Press paper and I cut it out, it was so horrible. The team of horses were pulling a wagon at break-neck speed as part of the opening ceremony for last year's Bishop Mule Festival. I could not believe they could keep from tripping over the duck billed hooves. It was an awful sight. No horses should have to live with feet like that, especially working horses.

I just wanted to point this out to you. If you are interested and you happen to be walking past the pretty draft horses at the fair, notice the hooves. This should shock you just as much as when you see a horse that hasn’t had any hoofcare in years. Spencer’s hooves are a good example of extreme neglect. (

If this doesn’t shock you, let me know, I can help you learn why it should.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hoof Stands

If your back tends to tire when it’s time to pick pooh from your Hanoverian’s hooves, or if you need a stand when you clip around the coronet band while preening your Palomino, nothing will come in handier than a hoof stand!

For anyone who is considering the purchase of a hoof stand, I can’t recommend it enough. The benefits are nearly endless.

It will save your back during daily hoofcare, and when cleaning and prepping hooves for competition.

It will keep your horse comfortable while you work on his hooves so there is less fidgeting.

Your hoofcare professional will appreciate your horse being familiar with quietly leaving his hoof in/on the stand.

If you’re considering learning to trim your horse’s hooves yourself because you don’t live near any competent hoofcare professionals, you’re going to need one of these babies eventually.

In my opinion, though, not all hoof stands are worth purchasing. I figured I’d save you some money and frustration by sharing my thoughts about two of the most popular hoof stands on the market today. The Hoof Jack and the Hoof it – Hoof Stand.

I’ve always used the Hoof Jack.

Its cloth cradle is comfortable for the horse and offers enough flexibility that you can maneuver the hoof as you need to work on it. The posts are rubber instead of steel. The stands, cradles and post come in different sizes. The stand is shipped to you with a DVD on how to properly use it. Best of all the Hoof Jack is light weight.

You do need to remove the cradle from the stand when you need to change over to the post. To do that you have to unscrew a wingnut, but that’s not a big deal and after some practice, changing from cradle to post takes about 2 seconds. I sometimes will prop the hoof on one end of the cradle if I’m being too lazy to change out to the post, but that does wear out your cradle faster. All parts are replaceable.

I’ve also used the Hoof it Hoof Stand.

While the Hoof It Stand is less expensive than the Hoof Jack, and you can make it work for you, it is not as convenient to use as it might seem. Raising and lowering the post within the cradle can be frustrating and the post has to really be pushed into the cradle or the hoof sits on top of the post and rocks around when you’re working on the bottom of the hoof.

However, if you push the post all the way down into the cradle, it’s a pain to get it out again. I have to switch back and forth from cradle to post continually in my job and I could not put up with that much frustration for long. Also, there is a clamp, rather than a screw to keep the post/cradle at the appropriate height and that clamp can be very difficult to open and close.

For someone who doesn’t change back and forth from the cradle to the post often, the savings might be worth it, but in all likelihood, if you buy one, you will eventually replace it with a Hoof Jack. Save yourself some money and just get the HJ first.

Also, I have to comment on other types of stands, especially homemade ones. Before you go that route, think about the stand and what “will” happen “when” the horse knocks the stand onto its side and drops her leg down onto the base. It WILL happen. I’d much rather have my horse whack her leg on a plastic/resin base than one made of an rusty old plow disc.

The super cheap, 3-legged metal stands (my first stand) is really tipsy and just not safe.

Metal posts are also dangerous and not comfortable for the horse. Another thing to think about is the outcome when the horse knocks you off balance and you land on the stand. Give me a rubber post any day!

Hope this helps you!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

2008 AHA Region V 50 Mile Championship

Diane Stevens and her "barefoot" Arabian mare, Elation, Won the 2008 AHA Region V 50 Mile Championship.

This is what she had to say:

Friends and family,
I wanted to pass along my mare Elation's Championship info. Elation and I won the 2008 AHA Region V 50 Mile Championship. Elation was also awarded the covanent Best Conditon Award! Elation had a blistering finish time of 4 hours 39 minutes and also finished with all A's on her vet card. She is a special mare....Thank you everyone for your support!

Diane and Elation

Look at those loooong legs!

Elation is beautiful! And she is shoeless! Diane trims her hooves, herself! Very cool!

Congratulations Diane and Elation!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Q & A Thin soles

Our vet suggested painting a mix of turpentine, formaldehyde and Betadine onto the soles of our stallions hooves. He is still tenderfooted. Is that a good idea or not? My instinct says it wouldn't do him much good, his soles are just thin. That's not going to get material to grow, and could hurt him instead? I just wanted your opinion before we really mess him up with something that shouldn't be done.

NOPE! That is not a good idea. You figured correctly.

It blows my mind that there are vets out there still prescribing this combination of caustic chemicals for horse's hooves. It seems that they feel like they're dealing with chunks of wood with a bone inside. Isn't there some sort of creed they swear to about harming living things?

It would seem that combinatons like that, turpentine and formaldehyde could harm living tissue. The Betadine would likely not be hurtful, I use mild iodine (1 to 2% at most) in my practice for treating thrush, and as a precautionary measure to keep thrush from invading tissue when I’ve had to trim away flappy frog material. (I DO NOT routinely cut away the outer layer of frog material which is the pradice of some farrier’s, because anytime you carve the outer – protective layer of a frog you open it up to harmful bacteria that can lead to thrush and other problems. And you will notice, over time the frog literally atrophies to a thin strip when it’s been cut away routinely. Apparently, it just gives up trying to bounce back to a nice wide healthy frog.

The combination of caustic agents that your vet is suggesting is an old horse-shoers’ trick to harden soles. But it can really backfire on many levels. And heck fire! You can always blame something else if the horse reacts negatively to it.

I’m just left to wonder why it would cause the soles to harden. Is the sole steeling itself to the agents that burn? And if it really does work, I wonder, do vets or farriers know why?

My dad used to tell me that he de-wormed his dogs with things like turpentine and chewing tobacco and my parents treated an assortment of animal related issues with used motor old. Why used? The only thing I can think of is that people were very conservative after the depression era. You wouldn’t have wasted new motor oil on the livestock!

Rule of thumb! If you wouldn’t put it on your dogs’ or cats’ paws, don’t put it on your horse’s hooves!

If your horse’s soles are still thin and tender, then his healthy angles likely haven't been established from coronet to the ground, which can take time. But if it's been awhile, another factor to pay close attention to is diet.