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.



Mikey said...

Speechless for a sec there. Uh yeah, that shocks me. I leaned in and said to myself "WTF is THAT?"
Big time flares, over the shoe. Craphola shoe job if I'm seeing this picture right. Wow. I'll be going back and looking at this again.
Somewhere... I had some pics of the Budweiser Clyde's feet. They came to town and that's the first thing I asked, lol, can you pick up a foot? (they wouldn't let me do it myself, of course) and they did and I took pics, and I tell ya, it was nice work. Really good job.
What you posted here. NOT a good job. What happened to fitting the shoe to the foot? Did this person even try????
And if that flare grew over the shoe and it needs to be reshod, DO IT ALREADY. Holy cow. Not to mention it looks like the shoe and hoof were painted black recently, so you can't tell me someone didn't see it.
Just flabbergasted...

Mikey said...

Ok, I went back and blew up the pic. Now I'm REALLY SPEECHLESS.

firecoach said...

Wow great blog. Being FHoTD reader I did not realize you had your own blog. I actually found it from the barefoothorsecare list.
My husband and I went to the Draft Horse Show in Sandpoint Idaho. We had seats on the bottom front row. All I could look at were the feet as they went thundering by. I did see quite a few barefoot horses with nicely trimmed feet. Most had those big shoes on particularily the Percherons. The mules have it the best. 99% of them were barefoot and in nice shape. My poor husband would talk about how nice the horse looked, but I would say, but look at his feet/shoes/trim ect. Ok,so now I guess I have a foot fetish.

Tina said...

We're planning on trimming our Percherons this weekend. I'll try to get pics to of what a working draft hoof can and SHOULD look like!

In my opinion, hooves in the draft show world are as bad or worse than the soring and such of the Walker world.

Why do people continue to do this, and why do judges continue to reward it?


Cheri' said...

I want to know whats the deal with scotch bottoms on working and showing drafts. I asked once, at the Ocala Draft show, and was told, the hoof is encouraged to grow out wide and flat for more base and better traction. But that doesn't make sense to me. Especially when some were bondo'd in places to fill the gaps where the hoof wall didn't meet the shoe. It just looks more brittle. And it's weird.

Wouldn't a well formed hoof with a nice sole and cushy frog get better traction?

Pat said...


What we do to draft horse hooves is unforgiveable.

As far as I know, the term Scotch Bottom shoes means only that the shoe is tapered to match the angle of the hoof. Shoe shoes can be either scotch bottoms or have regular vertical edges. Some farriers prefer the scotch bottoms because they are attempting to increase the size of the hoof and if they do that with a vertical edge shoe, the horse can step on the shoe with the other foot and tear it off.

They think that a draft with huge hooves, is a better performer. But that’s simply not true and it’s just another example of how we humans see something good, a big healthy hoof on a horse and go right to the “more is better” logic. If the judges like something they see, slow cantering Western Pleasure horses, we fill find a way to make those horses move so slow they are practically standing still.

Increasing the size of the hoof simply means causing flare and causing flare means stretching the white line until it separates and the horse is left to deal with an oversized hoof with the break too far forward and a great place for white line infection to set in under the shoe in that opened up white line.

It’s just nuts to me!

hdanis said...

Please...the hoof wall is not what the horse is supposed to be supported's the frog/heel that supports the coffin bone, and everything else above it....look at my belgians/perchs that are bare and soon as you peripheral load them, cause have issues. No shoes, no problems

Pat said...

You've got it right! I wish more draft horse owners understood that!

Pat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat said...

Well, I wish all horse owners understood that. Some do though and more and more are getting it! Even folks who, a year ago, would have told you no horse should be ridden without shoes, is going barefoot or booted!

But I do have to say that it's not just the frog an heel that supports the horse's weight. It's the entire hoof, all components are there for a reason, to support the horse's weight.

nancybinca said...

I see that this blog entry is a few years old, but hope someone is still monitoring it. I'm wondering if it's possible to restore a show draft's hooves to normal from the "duck feet" they've been given for show purposes (hooves flared and squared off). Is there any hope?

nancybinca said...

I see that this blog entry is a few years old, but hope someone is still monitoring it. I'm wondering if it's possible to restore a show draft's hooves to normal from the "duck feet" they've been given for show purposes (hooves flared and squared off). Is there any hope?

Pat said...

Yes Nancy, all kind of hope and it should be done for the horse. Thank you!

Pat said...

We are also on facebook now by same name and have a website:

nancybinca said...

Thanks, Pat. Glad to know there is hope (I don't even have the horse yet, but am working on it). Has anyone done a photo documentary on a restoration like this?