Barefoot horses are very often neglected when it comes to trimming such as the case for broodmares, seniors and those rarely ridden. And let’s not forget the youngster who really needs trimming all throughout its first two years to ensure proper growth and balance as well as getting him ready for his first shoes.
Regular and routine maintenance is just as important or you will end up with a lame and limping horse one day. Hoof cracks, chunks torn out of the hooves, curling up toes and the sides spreading out called “flares” must all be taken as seriously as the shoeing process. Excessive long toes can cause permanent damage to the hoof and soreness in the withers, hips and legs and severe cracks and splits. Each horse brought to the center is evaluated using our “6 Steps to Balancing the Hoof and Horse for Sound Shoeing” and can be back in shape within a few shoeings, if caught in time. As we go though the evaluation process with the farrier staff, each horse owner has a chance to learn as much as they want about the entire process. This provides much needed communication between owners and farriers! Surprising to most people, hoof cracks can be repaired for those barefoot horses, which wish to remain barefoot. Cracks that are completely through the hoof wall definitely need to be repaired. The hoof can easily become infected and you could lose the horse if not attended to immediately. Though a crack may look as thin as a pencil line on the outside of the hoof wall, it can become a major problem as the horse compounds more pressure and weight on it by merely walking.
You can see by using a hoof pick, we are cleaning out manure, sand and junk that was packed up into what started out being a hairline crack.
Here, the crack was made wider using a dremel tool in order to pick and clean it out further. The dremel tool will also help us to place the tiny holes in the hoof wall to prepare for the lacing.
Warning: Please DO NOT try using dremel or power tools on your horse’s feet, please consult your certified farrier
We carefully laced this crack with a wax-coated thread. This is not to hold the crack together, but to hold the bonding material in place. Think of it as re-barb being placed in concrete to provide a stronger hold. Fortunately, this horse is not afraid of what we are doing and the sounds around her because she is familiar with shoeing. This is the greatest asset we have going for us in these types of situations.
We are always experimenting with types of hoof bonding material. This particular one can be mixed, poured and smoothed by hand with no chemical or harmful odor and side effects. After applying the material, waiting for it to set and dry, the hoof was rasped and shaped, as a normal hoof would be.
The crack will eventually grow out, if you will allow your farrier to continue the maintenance on a 6-week basis. If not, sometimes all of the effort to correct something and the money spent will be wasted. These photos were taken of two different horses during tapings of Horseshoe’n Time.