Ex racehorse flat feet- any barefoot rehab success stories?

McGrools

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Hi guys, just bought a little flat racer with terrible flat feet, he is a bit of a pity buy. He came with front shoes on 2 weeks ago straight out of training and has raced a lot this year, so i’m hoping this he has coped ok despite the feet.
Anyway he has been out in the field for 2 weeks now and i’m getting ready to pull the shoes and spend the winter trying to grow him some better feet. But it isnt going to be easy. I expect him to be very ouchy when i take the shoes off.
i will get some pics when the shoes do come off and keep a diary of the progress.
in the meantime does anyone have any success stories of excracers to give me hope that it us doable ?

many thanks xx
 
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Two of my liveries have both taken on ex-polo ponies who they are re-habbing and as part of that are transitioning to barefoot!

I transitioned both of my cobs from shod to barefoot last year.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to make sure that you have a farrier who is totally on-board with your decision to transition to barefoot.

The problem with a lot of farriers is that they will do a "pasture" trim which is fine for a horse that is turned out on "resting" pasture (such as a retired horse or one being turned away) but NOT a "barefoot" trim which is a totally different kettle of fish and will enable the horse to be ridden and be in work comfortably. There is a huge difference!! IME the vast majority of farriers you ask for a "barefoot trim" have firstly no idea what that is and no concept that "less is more" and start hacking away at the frog, thus leaving the horse without any protection and makes them very sore if taken out onto hard ground.

Warning: you may end up ditching your current farrier!! We are having to do it at my yard right now!! The acid test is if you ask your farrier for a "mustang roll" and they look like they have no idea what the heck you are talking about then you deffo need to get one who does!

The other option of course is to use a suitably qualified Barefoot Trimmer. There are some dotted around and depending on your area you should be able to find one. Do check their qualifications and affiliation as you would with any other equine professional who is treating your horses. They are known as Equine Podiatrists" and will be affiliated to a professional body, they will ask you to trot your horse up so they can see how it moves before they attempt to trim (when did you see any farrier do that??), and will be able to advise you about management/diet and any supplements that might be helpful. Also they will advise you about fitting boots if that is needed and will be able to give you an idea of what sort of boots might suit your horse best. It is important for barefoot horses to walk over different surfaces - it is actually more labour-intensive on owners to have a barefoot horse!! You will need to allow time to rehab and part of this process in the early days will be walking out in hand. There is also pasture management to consider and you may need to consider putting down some sand and/or different surfaces.

There is a FB group called "Barefoot Horse Owners UK" which was my mainstay last autumn when I was transitioning my two. There is a lot of very good advice available on there - a lot of professionals like Farriers and Equine Podiatrists (EP)'s contribute to that group, it really is worth while being on it.

Good luck! You WILL get there! Bear in mind that this is the most difficult time of the year to transition as the hooves will naturally be more porous now; by next summer you should be well on your way as the hooves should harden up nicely in the dryer summer months.
 
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McGrools

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Thankyou for the in depth reply. I have done a few bf rehabs myself but they have all been horses with a good foot to start with, i am happy to just rasp the toe back gently and do plenty hand walking up and down our smooth tarmac lane. I want to crack on now as he deserves a good winter away from ridden work after his tough few years in racing.
this one does look like a challenge though as his feet are very tiny and he is very fine. He looks like he is on
stilts bless him xx
 

Pinkvboots

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I did a bare foot rehab on my very flat foot thin soled arab it took about 7 months to get him slightly comfy without boots and pads, the problem I had his not great on the road so walking on tarmac was difficult.

That was about 2 years ago and have since put front shoes back on and now his lame so considering doing another one now, I had him x rayed about 4 weeks ago and the soles have got much better we just have balance issues in the foot.

If I manage to get him sound I won't shoe him again his 17 and I just think although he struggles over some surfaces at times his better without shoes in general.

I do think with the right diet boots and determination it can be done let us know how you go.
 

paddy555

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I don't think there is a good or bad time to take shoes off but `I do warn people that if you are going to do it now to make sure you are in an area that is not prone to freezing and to make sure you have plan B at the ready in case the ground in your turnout field does freeze. Frozen rutted ground is h*ll for newly deshod horses with poor feet. (and even some with reasonable feet)
 

McGrools

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Thankyou Pinkvboots.
I’m sure he would need to be shod for ridden work, he is just too dainty. i’m hoping that i can improve the shape of his foot with a good stint of barefoot over the winter to just give him a head start. He is only 6 and i’m in no rush at all x
But i expect like your boy he will struggle and i will need masses of determination to keep going xx
 

McGrools

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I don't think there is a good or bad time to take shoes off but `I do warn people that if you are going to do it now to make sure you are in an area that is not prone to freezing and to make sure you have plan B at the ready in case the ground in your turnout field does freeze. Frozen rutted ground is h*ll for newly deshod horses with poor feet. (and even some with reasonable feet)
Thanks Paddy, yes he would have to come in if it freezes, we have done well with the weather so far. Hear’s hoping it doesnt deteriorate too soon xx
 

I'm Dun

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I've just done mine. He had horrific feet. For the first few weeks he was booted a lot, then got to the stage where it was boots on for work. I have had him 4 months and he did his first hack without boots last weekend. He'd have been a bit futher along but hes just had two months off due to life circumstances.

If youd see him initially you'd have thought it was impossible, but by this time next year I expect him to be rock crunching
 

McGrools

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I've just done mine. He had horrific feet. For the first few weeks he was booted a lot, then got to the stage where it was boots on for work. I have had him 4 months and he did his first hack without boots last weekend. He'd have been a bit futher along but hes just had two months off due to life circumstances.

If youd see him initially you'd have thought it was impossible, but by this time next year I expect him to be rock crunching

Fabulous well done! I expect a similar senario. Its just going to take a lot of patience on my part. Not my strong point! 🤣
 

lynz88

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Mine is a TB and was barefoot back home in Canada. About 10 weeks ago, after about 7 years in shoes, took him barefoot as a last ditch effort before retirement (he's got a lot of issues). I made major feed changes about a month prior - he has had sore days but has generally coped well. When we transitioned, the farrier didn't take anything off except to just lightly tidy the feet. Farrier came out last week (a bit late in the cycle but got stuck in quarantine) and didn't take much off but what he did take off has made my guy sore and back to square 1 (we had to or else his frogs wouldn't begin to work properly and we also had a huge callous that was distorting the frog on one of the hinds though farrier did try to keep what he could).

When I took shoes off, all I did was handwalk on pavement 4x per week - starting with only 5 mins and then doubling as/when he was feeling more comfortable. I am also on chalk and his paddock is a good 10 min walk out so also challenges his feet every day. After about a month I was up to hand walking 45 mins or so and was comfortable enough for me to start long lining (his feet are so messed up that I don't want him to work and put additional strains on joints - we have 4 different angles though his hinds are starting to equalize. His front looks like he has one high heel angle (even though this foot is actually the definition of perfect) and one flip flop angle which makes him unsound at anything beyond a walk). He has had days where he is more comfortable than others but that is to be expected. I am thinking of getting him some boots to give him a bit of a helping hand but his feet have changed SO much in the past 10 weeks or so that I would have a collection by now.....but now that I'm starting to get a little more consistency in his feet, am considering investing.
 
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I'm Dun

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Mine is a TB and was barefoot back home in Canada. About 10 weeks ago, after about 7 years in shoes, took him barefoot as a last ditch effort before retirement (he's got a lot of issues). I made major feed changes about a month prior - he has had sore days but has generally coped well. When we transitioned, the farrier didn't take anything off except to just lightly tidy the feet. Farrier came out last week (a bit late in the cycle but got stuck in quarantine) and didn't take much off but what he did take off has made my guy sore and back to square 1 (we had to or else his frogs wouldn't begin to work properly and we also had a huge callous that was distorting the frog on one of the hinds though farrier did try to keep what he could).

When I took shoes off, all I did was handwalk on pavement 4x per week - starting with only 5 mins and then doubling as/when he was feeling more comfortable. I am also on chalk and his paddock is a good 10 min walk out so also challenges his feet every day. After about a month I was up to hand walking 45 mins or so and was comfortable enough for me to start long lining (his feet are so messed up that I don't want him to work and put additional strains on joints - we have 4 different angles though his hinds are starting to equalize. His front looks like he has one high heel angle (even though this foot is actually the definition of perfect) and one flip flop angle which makes him unsound at anything beyond a walk). He has had days where he is more comfortable than others but that is to be expected. I am thinking of getting him some boots to give him a bit of a helping hand but his feet have changed SO much in the past 10 weeks or so that I would have a collection by now.....but now that I'm starting to get a little more consistency in his feet, am considering investing.
Id be looking for a really good barefoot trimmer. The horse shouldnt be worse after a trim, it sounds like the callus should have been left alone, but hard to tell that from a couple of lines.

I'd also invest in boots and pads ASAP. Every sore step he takes is a detriment to his rehab. Its very common to start in something cheap and forgiving like cavellos and then upgrade as the feet change. Theres a good market for second hand hoof boots, so you dont lose much.
 

lynz88

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Id be looking for a really good barefoot trimmer. The horse shouldnt be worse after a trim, it sounds like the callus should have been left alone, but hard to tell that from a couple of lines.

I'd also invest in boots and pads ASAP. Every sore step he takes is a detriment to his rehab. Its very common to start in something cheap and forgiving like cavellos and then upgrade as the feet change. Theres a good market for second hand hoof boots, so you dont lose much.
Normally I would agree with all of these - especially the removal of the giant callous as that is protection for the sole (I wish I had a before and after photo of the frog distortion from the callus vs now) however, I think it's a lot easier to say when it isn't possible to see. The farrier I have now has been the best from a lot of them and I'm not keen to switch if I'm honest. Upon shoe removal, he did very little (seen farriers whack off a load of foot, sole, and frog) and even though mine is sore, took off as little as he could to make sure he would get correct contact with the ground. I've also not been impressed by barefoot trimmers - I have seen many trimmers do a lot worse to horses than what has happened with mine!

Good shout on the used boots. As I say, his feet have only just started to even out a bit. My chiro suggested scoots as she has hers barefoot as well and said from her experience and the shape of his feet, should fit him well but will be getting in touch with hoof boutique.
 

skint1

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There are 3 barefoot ex racers on my yard, one of whom is 25 and wore shoes til he was 23. I can't give you the details as they aren't my horses but in all cases they are doing well (and all wear hoof boots to hack)
 

ycbm

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Hi guys, just bought a little flat racer with terrible flat feet, he is a bit of a pity buy. He came with front shoes on 2 weeks ago straight out of training and has raced a lot this year, so i’m hoping this he has coped ok despite the feet.
Anyway he has been out in the field for 2 weeks now and i’m getting ready to pull the shoes and spend the winter trying to grow him some better feet. But it isnt going to be easy. I expect him to be very ouchy when i take the shoes off.
i will get some pics when the shoes do come off and keep a diary of the progress.
in the meantime does anyone have any success stories of excracers to give me hope that it us doable ?

many thanks xx

If his feet are flat that could be a lot to do with diet. What are you planning to feed him now he's out of racing?

I've had a few barefoot TBs, some do it easier than others. Flat thin soled feet are the hardest to do but it is possible, especially if you are prepared to boot to hack.
.
 

McGrools

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If his feet are flat that could be a lot to do with diet. What are you planning to feed him now he's out of racing?

I've had a few barefoot TBs, some do it easier than others. Flat thin soled feet are the hardest to do but it is possible, especially if you are prepared to boot to hack.
.
Hi. He is out at grass now, i have plenty and hoping its not too high in sugar now coming into winter. I’ve put him on equerry conditioning mash with pony nuts and the progressive earth pro hoof supplement. He has access to hay or haylage when in for a few hours but doesnt seem interested in it yet. As we get deeper into winter the hay or haylage will increase adlib. I have boots from my previous mare that i hope wont be too far off fitting him. But i intend to just hand walk for as long as needed. Prob a couple of months Xx
 

Circe

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I now have my tb barefoot. I have a fantastic farrier who had kept him sound in shoes, despite having thin soles and a small degree of pedal bone sinking. Xrays also showed bone spurs and pedal osteitis. This time last year he started to need bute for 3 days when he was shod, and began to get corns and abscess in his fronts. Finally, he pulled both front shoes off a couple of days after being shod, and I had a discussion with my farrier and we decided to give him a break from shoes. It sounds airy fairy, but I almost think that my horse was telling me he had enough of shoes.
I've always fed a low sugar/ starch diet. At first he was ouchy in his paddock on grass, and needed some days of bute to keep him comfortable, but now 6 months later he is sound on grass and in the sand arena. He is still sore looking on gravel, but I have just got him into scoot boots, and he is fantastic in them, so far i'm very impressed.
Kx
 

McGrools

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Good to hear thankyou Circe. I wish more owners would listen to their horses and give them breaks from shoes.
i see horses shod permanently that have absolutely no reason to be.
If a thin soled racer can do it, anybody can.
Thanks for your input x
 

sbloom

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There is a FB group called "Barefoot Horse Owners UK" which was my mainstay last autumn when I was transitioning my two. There is a lot of very good advice available on there - a lot of professionals like Farriers and Equine Podiatrists (EP)'s contribute to that group, it really is worth while being on it.
Isn't that the one run by Thunderbrooks (not that they're public about it)? If I'm wrong no worries but Barefoot For Whole Horse Health (I think, I'm currently booted off FB for some IT issues yesterday and praying I can get back onto my profile and page today!) is the one I usually recommend.

OP have you seen the Rockley Farm blog and FB page? If you haven't it's a good read.
 

lynz88

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I now have my tb barefoot. I have a fantastic farrier who had kept him sound in shoes, despite having thin soles and a small degree of pedal bone sinking. Xrays also showed bone spurs and pedal osteitis. This time last year he started to need bute for 3 days when he was shod, and began to get corns and abscess in his fronts. Finally, he pulled both front shoes off a couple of days after being shod, and I had a discussion with my farrier and we decided to give him a break from shoes. It sounds airy fairy, but I almost think that my horse was telling me he had enough of shoes.
I've always fed a low sugar/ starch diet. At first he was ouchy in his paddock on grass, and needed some days of bute to keep him comfortable, but now 6 months later he is sound on grass and in the sand arena. He is still sore looking on gravel, but I have just got him into scoot boots, and he is fantastic in them, so far i'm very impressed.
Kx
Similar experience to this except mine was on quite the sugar high until I removed a good chunk of it. It suddenly explained a lot of things!!
 
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