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Barefoot Questions. Tripping/Lameness

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Barefoot Questions. Tripping/Lameness
  • I want to start out by saying that I am of course going to get the opinion of a farrier on this, but today on my trail ride with my horse, she was having a hard time.  She is barefoot, and she's young and distractable so I can't say she was paying the most attention to the trail, but she was tripping all over the trail today.  At one point she fell to her knees while navigating rocks.  At the end of the ride I noticed that her hooves were chipped and looking on the long side, and may have been contributing to the problem.  (She had tripped several times on the ride)

    I asked her former owner who she typically calls to have her hooves trimmed and her owner informed me that the last time that she had my horse trimmed and it rained (as it predicted to do) my horse was lame for about 3 weeks.  

    Is this typical for a barefoot horse?  Please excuse me if this is an ignorant question, I've never had a barefoot horse before and her hooves are extremely healthy, so I would love to keep her barefoot if possible.  But I will of course put shoes on her if this is a problem.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.  
    (I gave A her head on the trail to navigate so she wouldn't trip, but she was only interested in where she was walking sometimes.  She's still young and there was much to be seen, we had wild hogs to the left, deer ahead of us ...)
  • Not sure where you are in TX. I am in the Hill Country which is in some places the rockiest &nbsp';p'lace on earth. [>:] 
    3 and a half of my five are barefoot. My 3 year old is the klutzy-est horse ever. We have had some completely hilarious clumsy episodes.  He is just a youngster and still figuring out how to get everything in sync on a ride. My farrier likes to leave a little more when we are riding more.

  • She was lame for 3 weeks after it rained?  Is she on pasture?  Rain can give grass a bit of a growth spurt and could impact potential bouts of laminitis that might lead to lameness/soreness.
    All of my horses are barefoot - only Apache the draft cross is clumsy and his is obviously do to inattention and not picking up his feet properly because it always happens when he is being a looky-loo and not watching where he is going.  When he does that he needs to be actively ridden (not just plodded a long but made to work and move around things, etc) to "wake him up" so he can focus.  Otherwise he is sound on rock and everything.
    My mare can be ouchy on stone and she will insist on walking to the side off the trail if we reach a rocky area or else delicately pics her way through.  Thankfully where we ride there is rarely any rock and I will have hoof boots ordered for her front feet before we go on any other trails that are potentially rockier. 
    But it won't hurt to have your farrier check.  If the soles are thin (or have been thinned using a knife) it can make an otherwise healthy horse ouchy for a bit.  Make sure the farrier is leaving the sole alone and not thinning and have him make sure there is not an absess or anything coming through that could cause soreness. 
  • She has a pasture and a stall.  She's stalled at night and turned out at day.  There aren't many rocks in the pasture, if there are any at all.  Thinking about it now, other than the occasional pebble, I truly do not think that there are.  

    My mare is a baby still and I did notice that during this trail ride she was paying much more attention and only stumbled once, on the same trail.  I think it was definitely that she was not paying attention yesterday while her toes are getting long as well.  

    Her former owner mentioned today that the last time she was trimmed she was trimmed a little short and in my experience whenever this has happened to horses I've known they have always been ouchie, so maybe she had a stone bruise.  

    I do know that she needs to be ridden and I wish I could ride her more.  She's about an hour away and I'm doing my best.  I'm also working on being the leader on the ground as well.  We together are a work in progress.  This is my first barefoot horse so I'm to exactly what I need to be doing, looking out for or worried about.  

    That's great information to know about the rain and laminitis jungle, thank you very much.  
  • If you want her barefoot, please try to find a good barefoot trimmer. jungle_cat is right when she says you don't want the trimmer using a knife on her sole - and most 'shoers' trim the sole. I have only had one shoer that actually knew how to trim a barefoot horse. Good luck with her. The tripping is likely just inexperience on her part.
  • They will trip with a long toe, which is why the barefooters use the mustang roll. If what's her name comes on she'll tell you all you ever need to know... What's that Canuk's name?  (probably going to edit that, huh?) [':D'] It's really late and I'm loopy. Anyway, I had a QH growing up and he was lame after every trim. I think it's because we waited too long between trims. If you put gravel/rocks around the water trough it will help condition their feet.
  • My gelding was a stumbler when I first started riding him, down on his knees once.  He still trips on rides occasionally as we ride in the hills and over uneven terrain a lot.  He's drafty and has a big front end so I think that predisposes him to trip when he hits an uneven surface.  I can collect him and get him off the forehand and he does much better so I tend to watch the trail and when I see bumpy spots coming up, "wake him up" and we do fine.
  • She tripped to her knees on the trail ride before our last, but on our ride Thursday she tripped much less.  Although her mind was all over the place, she was paying much more attention to where she was walking which I think contributed to her tripping less.  I'm going to work on making sure she paying attention to where she goes and always has enough head (although I do this anyway, I need to make sure that she realizes a long rein doesn't mean look EVERYWHERE it means look where you're going).  She hasn't been ridden in awhile and needs some tuning up.  
  • I just made an observation yesterday. My horse usually leads on trail rides. Occasionally Dan, who has always had sensitive feet lead the way and went through some rocky areas and didn't miss a step. However, Fancy, was stumbling all over the place which is not her normal self. Was Dan's Big White Butt blocking her view of the rocks ahead so she couldn't navigate as well? In addition, when she is not leading she is not as attentive and just lumbers along.
  • Ha, ha, I must the Canuk and its late here and feeling a bit loopy myself, lol! The reason she trips on the rocks is because they hurt her feet, simple as that. It is pain that causes the stumbling, even in the face of her being a distracted youngster, though I wouldn't rule out excercises to make her more aware of the ground and watching where she puts her feet on cue, until she learns to always be careful. She'll need a good balanced trim every 4 weeks and homework to get on top of the pathology instead of perpetuating it. You'll need to do your homework of fighting thrush and promoting movement to develop a stronger hoof. Pea gravel is an excellent developer (4" deep) spread around the water tank, doorways, gates, loafing areas. When you put a ruler across the bottom of the hoof and measure down to the bottom of the groove at the tip of the frog and you get anything less than a 1/2", then protection of boots and padding are must, 22/7 with time to dry out. P3 will not remediate from changes caused by inflammation, it will only destruct. So, boots are an important investment in her future hoof health. They will also greatly promote concavity and will find you "arrived" much sooner. Whether its laminitis, or long toe, the effect is similar. With laminitis, the white line around the sole gets darker than creamy yellow and looks inflamed, is letting the bone go down on thin sole. (white line stretches wider than 1/8" all the way around the hoof.) With a long toe, the torque at breakover pulls the toe oval shaped, thins the sole, stretches the white line in some places and lets the bone's nose down on the sole again. Both of these scenarios are great sources of pain and both of them mean that balance is needed in the trim and that there isn't enough concavity to protect the bone and boots are needed. Another source of pain is flare. The chipping is her self-trimming and trying to get rid of the overgrowth. The cracking is a more serious scenario of the chipping. Flares hurt! Like bending your finger nail backwards and walking on it. Disengaging the flare with a good maintained bevel will give immediate relief, even right away with the licking and chewing the second you set her hoof back down, not to mention the noticeable flow she has in her stride while walking away. Immediate relief. Always fight thrush. Nothing can build and develop if its being eaten away. Consider pea gravel (4" deep) in gateways, around the water trough, loafing areas...great developer. You want her to have rock crushing feets out there on the trail, then get her to do homework on rocks when she's not on the trail. (her homework) If she doesn't have a 1/2" of concavity or more, then she needs boots on the trail and most of the day if not on gravel. (boot during the day whether riding or not and off at night in the stall kinda of scenario) It will take a couple of months or more to grow a thick sole again, provided she has good balancing trims, keeping the bevel maintained, good nutrition to feed a stronger hoof, lots of movement in boots to promote concavity and protect. A slow introduction to grass in the spring and a muzzle if needed with a full compliment of hay at night. It could be that she is wearing the pathology of laminitic effects of past years on her feet. Horses can sit on the edge of founder for years. Regardless of all 3 pathologies, (laminitis, flare and flare forward) these measures mentioned above will have her walking away from it for evermore and laughing in the face of those rocks....barefoot. She's young. She doesn't have the serious/detrimental pathology that older horses have.....go for it...develop the hoof that will be rock crushing and laugh in the face of ANY nasties for the rest of her life. Hope this helps.....
  • The trimmer came out the other day and it turns out she has two stone bruises.  He recommended that I paint the bottom of her hooves with turpentine to help harden them up on a regular basis and thinks that she'll be fine.  

    She did come down pretty hard on those rocks, I'm not surprised.  
    I think her tripping on the trail is coming from inexperience, I give her a long rein so she can have her head and encourage her to pay attention.  We'll be working on it more.

    We'll see how it goes.  If she needs shoes I have no problems putting shoes on her.