I have been working very hard on Billy’s feet since I got him in may of 2011. He was a yearling when I brought him home and had never had his feet done. They didn’t look too bad, in fact they looked great considering they hadn’t been trimmed before. I knew that his heels were a bit long and so put in a lot of time to help him become confident about me handling his feet so I could start working on them.
It was after I was able to do some trimming and could pick them up and clean them every day that I realized he had very interesting soles. They were thick. So thick that I couldn’t even see the bars at all. His frogs were also incredibly thick and very spongy. They were healthy there just seemed to be TOO MUCH of everything.
I continued to trim and trim every couple of weeks to get those heels down. Then I realized that in order to get them any where close to where they needed to be I was going to have to dig out some of that sole. Many people told me not to touch it, but it was rapidly becoming a problem. As the weather got warm and we were able to head out for walks, that added sole was causing Billy to go lame. Finally he couldn’t walk on hard ground at all. Once I hobbled him into the sandy arena he could really tear it up, but to walk on the hard ground was impossible. When I would pick up his feet they were HEAVY. I have never felt such a heavy hoof on a yearling regular horse. They felt more like draft horse feet.
Something else I had noticed is that whenever Billy came to a full stop he would always put one of his hind feet up under his body. He would NOT stand with his hind feet side by side. If I posed him that way for pictures he could only hold it for a second or two and then would step one foot under himself. This was a sign that things were off balance in his feet which was causing him to be off balance in his hips, back and shoulders!
I ended up enlisting the help of a barefoot farrier that just does it on the side and for friends. He talked to me about Billy’s feet and then just had to see them for himself. After much sweating and digging and more sweating, he was able to carve out some of that impacted sole. That sole was as hard as marble. It took all his hand strength to get it out. I wasn’t able to even put a scratch in the sole with my hoof knife OR my nippers. It was the most interesting thing I’ve seen in horse hooves!
This set Billy on the long road to having concave hooves. I ended up purchasing a concave rasp that is for the rasping of the sole so I can better manage the extra amount of callus that he develops. Now that I have a handle on it I only have to rasp lightly now and then, mostly around the edge of his sole to help keep them concave.
I do have to trim off a large amount of frog every time I trim him as his frogs grow very quickly. In just a few weeks the frogs will have outgrown the sole by more than a 1/4 of an inch, sometimes even 1/2 an inch, which means that Billy is walking only on his frogs. This is very uncomfortable for him so I keep up on it.
This goes to show that trimming every horse the same way sometimes doesn’t work. I had been taught when keeping a horse barefoot one must never touch the sole or the frog, but to allow the sole to develop a nice callus and the frog to grow nice and spongy to act as the pump for the foot. But in Billy’s case if I don’t trim both of these often, he is dead lame and unable to play. Even though I have to trim these for him, he is sound as can be, even on the rocks.
This is another way that we must look at the horse in front of us and then adapt to what it is they need from us.