Taking the plunge...going barefoot: just checking a few things

HeresHoping

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Beloved Barefooters

I follow your posts avidly (and read the Rockley Blog, etc). When the gurt big doofus in my avatar broke, I took his shoes off. I gave him as little sugar as possible in the form of A&P's Fast Fibre, Dengie HiFi Molasses Free, micronized Linseed and some Brewers Yeast. I didn't invest heavily in supplements because he was broken and out at grass. I nevertheless marvelled at the changes in his feet. His underrun heels with sulci as deep as the Grand Canyon grew backwards; his hoof-pastern angles improved no end. I gave my farrier Paddington Bear stares when she tried to remove the flare from his near hind - he had torn that suspensory, as well as crushing his lumbo-sacral joint. She didn't. The flare grew and then worked itself off again. His front feet, always odd sizes thanks to some strange farriery grew to be even. In fact, his feet grew like billy-o. BUT. He was out at grass. When he wasn't out at grass, he was standing on pea gravel or walking over concrete.

I'm writing about my little Connie. She's an ex broodmare ( from age 6) and has been back in work since September 2013. She's 15 this year. We do some low level stuff - compete up to elementary in unaffiliated stressage, do the odd showjumping round at about 3' (1m in new money), and will hopefully pop around an 80cm BE some time soon. We might even chase after the Zetland come October for a couple of hours on a Saturday.

I want to take her shoes off. I think I know enough but I'm having a bit of a wobble. We don't have pea gravel or miles of concrete. We do have good roads and tracks.

She has 'good' feet, the farrier says. But I don't like the way she's standing any more. In fact, I've noticed a change over the last three shoeings (I didn't own her then, I was just her jockey). Her heels are starting to get under-run, the heel first landing is not so obvious, and she's turning her off-fore out very slightly. She's not lame. I've owned her outright since 23 December and she was shod about 6 weeks ago. I was ticked off that the farrier came to shoe her for the first time and didn't even trot her up to see how she moved. I was even more ticked off when she came out of the stable with hot feet the next morning - never happened before. I just think she'd benefit from being allowed to grow her own.

So, my questions:

1 Is now the wrong time to do this (spring grass and all)? She's worked 5 - 6 times per week (usually) - schooling 3 days, hacking on roads and off for the other three, plenty of roadwork). She's out during the day in a 7 acre field with 4 others and a herd of sheep so the grass doesn't really get an opportunity to grow at the rate of knots. Some of the field is scrub. She's in at night and has a net of wrapped hay (didn't quite make haylage status, I think it was rescued from the wet).

2 I feed A&P FF - just under 1 stubbs scoop spread over 2 feeds - the minimum she can have to get all the pre- and pro-biotics and vits to support her system. She did have Dengie HiFi Molasses-free in that, but she doesn't really like it. I feed about 250g micronized linseed in the winter if she needs it. This year she hasn't because whilst I moved up here, she wasn't doing very much work. She's a (very) good doer. Should I stick with this, or drop it?

3 I'm just about to order some Progressive Earth Pro Hoof. Do I need to order anything else? Salt? Magnesium Chloride? She's also on Riaflex (thanks, AdorableAlice, for the heads up) because she's not a spring chicken, exactly.

4 Her feet are due to be done on 18 March. If I take her shoes off, am I supposed to not work her and do a load of in-hand work for 10 minutes at a time with gradual build up over different surfaces (which I don't exactly have), or can I just boot her up and get on with it?

I know I should look on Phoenix and I will, but I'd be so very grateful if you could let me have some sort of steer.

Thank you so much.
 

HufflyPuffly

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Ok I'm in the same boat as you in that I'm new to this and am wobbling about all over the show!

1. It could be hard if she's very sugar sensitive with the spring grass, but then winter is hard as it's muddy then hard with frost which can hinder progress and then summer can be tricky if you have a full schedule and need to take things slower etc. So I think crack on there will always be problems to overcome and no 'perfect' time..

2. Erm not sure on this one, I think if it's working and is low starch/ low sugar then carry on?

3. Ask Progressive Earth (Mel) she was super helpful to me (messaged her on facebook) about what I should supplement mine with. The newly barefoot one is on the Pro Laminea + (as she's cushings), the one in full work is on Pro Platinum + and the baby Pro Hoof, all with added salt.

Added question what is the Riaflex for?

4. I'm going with let the horse guide you, we pretty much booted up and went for it (though I have been advised to go slower on the barefoot facebook page).

Hopefully someone much more experianced will come along with better answers!

To add we don't have perfect surfaces either but my lame in shoes horse is now sound in boots and on the smooth and my other two are pretty much self trimming, we've managed without and with me not really knowing what I'm doing :D.
 
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Mole1

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If you've noticed a change over the past few shoeings and not happy why don't you change your farrier?

I'd do this and then take off just the backs for a few rounds of shoeing (with a different farrier) and if she copes well, take the fronts off and just boot on the fronts when necessary.

By that time also her feet and body will have got used to the spring/summer grass and you'll be heading into autumn which is a better time to take fronts off (riding slightly less and the ground getting a bit softer)
 

FfionWinnie

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Just go for it. There's always reasons not to but the main one to do it is you will be happy with the changes even if you did go back to shoes.

Either get boots (personally I prefer second hand because the chances are you wont settle with the first ones you buy and you can usually sell on for what you pay for them) and crack on. Just because they should fit, doesn't mean they will, and you don't always know that until you've made them second hand so more likely to lose money by that's just my opinion and I've done well buying sale or second hand boots in the past. I like renegades or easyboot epics / gloves if they are likely to fit. Anything that the top of the boot touches the pastern has rubbed on mine.

Or don't bother with boots and build it up slowly. You can still ride on softer surfaces as usual, so it really depends what you want to do. I've done both ways and I prefer now to gradually increase the smooth Tarmac work and not bother with boots. If you have a school it will be easier for you to keep the horse going while the feet transition.

My latest one is about ten months in now, she has a whole new hoof capsule and is mostly rock crunching unless I want to hack for a couple of hours every day on hard ground, she might get a little footy towards the end of that week, but nothing awful.
 

LittleBlackMule

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1) Nope, no time is the wrong time.

2) FF is okay, though personally I think Agrobs Weisencobs or Muesli is better.

3) Should be fine on that.

4) Sounds good to me.
 

ester

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1 Is now the wrong time to do this (spring grass and all)? She's worked 5 - 6 times per week (usually) - schooling 3 days, hacking on roads and off for the other three, plenty of roadwork). She's out during the day in a 7 acre field with 4 others and a herd of sheep so the grass doesn't really get an opportunity to grow at the rate of knots. Some of the field is scrub. She's in at night and has a net of wrapped hay (didn't quite make haylage status, I think it was rescued from the wet).
2 I feed A&P FF - just under 1 stubbs scoop spread over 2 feeds - the minimum she can have to get all the pre- and pro-biotics and vits to support her system. She did have Dengie HiFi Molasses-free in that, but she doesn't really like it. I feed about 250g micronized linseed in the winter if she needs it. This year she hasn't because whilst I moved up here, she wasn't doing very much work. She's a (very) good doer. Should I stick with this, or drop it?

3 I'm just about to order some Progressive Earth Pro Hoof. Do I need to order anything else? Salt? Magnesium Chloride? She's also on Riaflex (thanks, AdorableAlice, for the heads up) because she's not a spring chicken, exactly.

4 Her feet are due to be done on 18 March. If I take her shoes off, am I supposed to not work her and do a load of in-hand work for 10 minutes at a time with gradual build up over different surfaces (which I don't exactly have), or can I just boot her up and get on with it?

I know I should look on Phoenix and I will, but I'd be so very grateful if you could let me have some sort of steer.

Thank you so much.
1)
No, Frank had his off 4 years ago this month :p, he was out of work at the time, although we did run a track round our 3 acres at the time but would have done that anyway with no work going on!

2)
If she is happy on the FF then it that is fine.
3) pro hoof will have everything you need. Personally I think joint supps do sod all because I don't believe they are absorbed and if they magically are I can't see how they make it to any effective joints. Frank doesn't have one at 23, just the linseed and I am just trialling him on some boswellia as he gets a bit stiff on one hind.
4) boot her up and get on with it. But if you can do some short amounts on the road that would be good for her feet and build up from there. It is also possible she might be completely fine and not need booting but usually it will take a while for her feet to catch up with the work. Once we had finished in hand working (I was starting with a lame pony) I used to hop off and take our boots off on the way home and hang them off my saddle.
If you have shoes taken off do not allow feet to be trimmed.
Be aware that at the 6 odd week mark she might get a bit more sensitive.

Re boots they usually change size after a bit (Frank didn't but that is very unusual) but boots working well do depend on a good fit. It is probably a good idea to start with something a bit forgiving and adjustable to start. There are lots of places for advice on what will work well these days, Equine podiatry supplies, cannock chase, hoofbootique.

There are also plenty about 2nd hand on some of the fb hoof boot groups/ebay/preloved. Because we have been dealing with our first ever abscess (trod on a flint and pierced his sole hunting) I have acquired some cavallo simples and cavallo sports for £40 and £50 the pair each. Mostly because I could pads, socks, plastic bags in the boots that I couldn't do with the gloves. I still think the gloves are best though for riding in.
 
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Cheeky Chestnut

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Go for it, I honestly believe my old man is still bouncing happily about at 25 despite having been diagnosed with arthritis at 15 because I took his back shoes off 10 years ago and his fronts have been off for about 5yrs now.

His deviations have grown what they needs and he moves straight, and he is sound over all surfaces and really good grip on slippy or rough terrain :)
 

Boulty

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Hey there.

Sounds like you're asking all the right questions to make this work. Feedwise I wouldn't try to change too much all at once (as then you never figure out which of the many things you've messed with has worked!). As an aside some horses get on with fastfibre, some don't due to some of the preservatives etc it has in it. I'd stick with it for now and see how you go (I would however reduce the amount a little if you can in order to add in maybe a handful of linseed in as it has a lot of beneficial properties). Alternatives to the fastfibre if you have problems down the line would be things like unmolassed sugarbeet (eg speedibeet, purabeet, alfabeet), agrobs weisencobs (basically big grass cubes that you soak, very similar consistency to fastfibre but longer soak time) or coolstance copra (perhaps a bit too hight in calories if she's s real good doer though). Prohoof is a very good starting point (as are the forageplus and equivita ranges) and if your grazing and hay is typical of most of the UK you may find that's all you need. (If hay and grazing is from same sources year on year then somewhere down the line you could consider having your mineral levels tested but see how you go with off the peg stuff first) Can't remember exact levels in Pro Hoof off top of head but I've always given extra mag ox (esp at this time of year) alongside every mineral balancer I've ever used (to give at least 50g total per day is what I use but the stuff mine eats best is the cheap stuff for cattle so purity isn't great)

You may find you struggle a little at this time of year with footiness yes (however any damage would still be being done if she was shod, you'd just notice it less!). You may even find she needs to come off the grass for part of the day / that you need a grazing muzzle (or if you're as unlucky as I was at my last yard then both!), something you'll have to play by ear really depending on how she is.

How you go about her workload depends both on how she copes and if you're willing to have a period of maybe not doing as much whilst she adjusts. If you have the time to spend then I'd start with inhand work in the arena and on smooth(ish) roads and once you're happy she's comfortable then start ridden work in walk, move to trot when comfortable and then build back up to canter in arena and on grass. If you don't have the time to spend building things up then you could try boots if crossing surfaces she's not happy with yet. I'm not the biggest fan as I feel they do alter their movement and also my horse mainly self trims so needs to be out on the roads without but preferable to horse being sore. I did use some back end of last summer to get him up and down our awful drive though when he was really struggling (and yes I did literally take them off at the top, do my ride and then put them back on again to come back!)... turned out he has PPID but that's a story in itself!

Goof luck anyhow

PS If you're not happy with your farrier may be worth seeing who in the area is a bit more open minded or indeed to look into if there's any trimmer reccomendations
 

HeresHoping

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Thank you so very much for your advice and information. I wasn't responsible for her farriery until I bought her in December, so in effect I had changed farrier. I wasn't happy with this one, either.

I shall measure her feet.and have a look at available second hand boots. We have a sand school so can work in that. Do you boot up all round or just the fronts?

Roadwork - how much to start off with, please? Around the block takes about 45 minutes just walking here.

Thank you again.

L
 

FfionWinnie

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Hopefully you will only need boots for the front.

My Irish cob had her shoes taken off and walked away like nothing was different. She's only had one footy period and that was when I moved her onto hardcore living 24/7 plus worked her too as no school but she needs exercised daily as she has a muscle myopathy. Needed boots for a couple of weeks til her feet caught up with the increased workload.

Assuming she is comfortable I would start at ten mins on the road without boots and increase gradually.
 

ester

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Usually just fronts will be fine :) the thing is with bare feet they are quite good at telling you if you have done things too quickly and need to go back a step and tbh it does depend a bit what her feet look like now, always happy to see pics ;)
 

HeresHoping

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Thank you so very much. I took pics. They are dreadful and on my 'phone and some were so out of focus they weren't worth posting. I am posting what is vaguely in focus here as a record more than anything. Photobucket is also being a complete pain.

My poor little girl, she has looked a bit camped under behind in the last couple of weeks, so has obviously had sore heels. She also has some fairly significant lines on her front feet, but not on her back feet. She's not sore to hoof testers, nor does she have any raging pulses that I can find. She is still far too porky even though their field is so very stressed with too many sheep and 6 horses on it (7.5 acres) and occasionally I have thought she's a bit cresty. I will be soaking her haylage (included in our livery, hay practically impossible to source at the moment) from today.

I asked the farrier NOT to trim frogs or do anything, but of course he did. I am kicking myself for not putting my foot down but as he was dreadful to get hold of and clearly knew he wasn't coming again, I floundered. My mistake. I didn't take before pics, either, so sorry again, there.

Day 1 Near Fore Side On


Day 1 NF Sole


Day 1 NF Heel


Day 1 Off Fore


Day 1 Off Fore Heel


Day 1 Near Hind Sole



Day 1 Off Hind Heel


Day 1 Off Hind Sole


Day 1 Off Hind
 

FfionWinnie

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You really need to put your phone/camera on the ground, and make sure it's straight on to the side of the hoof to get an accurate representation of the angles, also make sure it's not tilting forward or back. It's not easy but it gets easier the more you take. With the shots of her heel you need to take them looking straight down the foot so you can see both sides of the sole and the bottom of the frog and assess the balance.
 

HeresHoping

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You really need to put your phone/camera on the ground, and make sure it's straight on to the side of the hoof to get an accurate representation of the angles, also make sure it's not tilting forward or back. It's not easy but it gets easier the more you take. With the shots of her heel you need to take them looking straight down the foot so you can see both sides of the sole and the bottom of the frog and assess the balance.
Thank you for the tips. I said they were rubbish. I'm taking the proper camera down today - my phone is an ewawoowoo job that likes to switch its camera off no soon as you have the foot in focus. And crap at photos without the appropriate light - no flash.
 

FfionWinnie

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Not rubbish I just know from personal experience they won't be what you want/need to look back on as a comparison once you've done a few more sets and by then it will be too late to get these ones.
 
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