Self-Trimming Experiment - Money Talkin

 

I've been galloping my racehorse, Money Talkin, since April, and though he gets regular hoof care - his last trim before these photos was on June 12, 2012 - his feet looked really funky by July 13th. Below left is a photo of his left front taken at his April trim (his right front looked the same, I just didn't take a photo of it, as there were no issues.) To the right is a photo of the same foot on July 15th. My theory is that the regular exercise, on hard ground, has really stimulated the foot to grow even healthier - though it might not appear that way to us humans.

Chance LF lateral 4-16-12 Chance LF lateral 7-15-12

Below are all photos of the right front

RF lateral July 13, 2012 July 13th - funky feet!!! After 3 years of looking good, suddenly they look like this! Clearly something is going on. After taking these photos, which showed chipping and other signs the hoof was trying to self trim, I decided to do an experiment and see what happened if I left his feet alone. My decision was also influenced the fact that he is always just the slightest bit ouchy on rocks after I trim him, despite the fact that I am not aggressive.
RF lateral July 19, 2012

July 19th. I not only exercise him on my "track", but he has access to 20 acres, including a big hill which rises 100 feet over a distance of 1,000 feet, and he is in a herd of 10 other horses. So he gets plenty of exercise. We were in a drought at this time, so the ground was dry and hard - hence the chipping.

It's clear that he's taken off quite a bit of his excess wall, but not all.

RF lateral September 14, 2012

September 14th. I managed to work too hard for too long (weeks) and ended up in the hospital at the beginning of August. I was only in for 4 days, but it took a solid month to get back to normal strength. These are the first photos since July.

Not only has he broken off the flared toe - backing his own toe - he has grown in an inch of new growth at a tighter angle!

Yes, his heels are flaring out - but I am going to wait to see what he does about it.

This experiment - as evidenced by the photos - shows that the hoof truly does only need some help to heal itself. In fact, at times it doesn't need any help!

Though the photos show feet that are not smooth and aesthetically pleasing, they show feet functioning as nature intended. And they show the feet of a horse who is very sound, and happily gallops on ground as hard as concrete.

To me, this is evidence that micro-managing the foot, by frequent trimming, actually prevents the hoof from changing as it needs to. Optimum hoof health is achieved by letting the foot have time to make needed changes and by truly listening to what the hoof is trying to tell us.

Beauty should be second to soundness and healthy function. If we focus on function, beauty will follow.

NOTE: As it has turned out I have still not trimmed Chance's feet! However they look good, and he is sounder than he's ever been. He finally has a true heel first landing and his trot is now quite light and floating.  Will try to get good photos to post. (It's muddy!)

 

Chance RF sole 9-14-12

 

This is Chance's sole on September 14, 2012.  Clearly untrimmed.  The frog is stretched and contracted.  The bars go all the way to the tip of the frog, and one heel is higher than the other. The sole is thick and lacking in concavity.

Compare this sole to the one below.

 
 Chance RF sole 10-30-10

 

This is Chance's RF sole on October 30, 2010 right after a trim.  The heels are low, the frog is wide, there is concavity.

 
Chance RF sole 3-9-13

 

This is Chance's foot today, March 9 2013.  It's not a great picture, it was muddy out and I was trying hard not to let him put his foot down while I messed with the camera.  

The last 3 months have been wet.  The horses do not have a place that is dry, they either are on wet grass, or in mud.  The wall height would most likely not be there if the ground was dry. Still it shows that a foot does not go crazy with growth.  It has been 6 MONTHS since the last trim.  CORRECTION - it's been 6 months since the last photo, he hasn't been trimmed since June 12, 2012 - NINE months ago.

Changes include (to my pleasant surprise!) a wider frog than in September.  The bars are a little further back, the sole is now concave, and the frog is no longer stretched.

 
Chance RF lateral 3-9-13

 

This is Chance's RF before I trimmed it today (3-9-13).  If you compare it to the September 14th lateral shot, the foot is actually shorter, despite the extra wall length.  AND is has more concavity - think about that for a minute.  The angle is now the same all the way down the hoof.  The heels are forward - but he was a TB in training through age 6 so it's hard to know if they will really ever come back.

 

Aside from being an interesting experiment - and one I would consider successful - these photos address a question that came to me recently.  "Do you have photos of completely rehabilitated feet?"

The answer is there is no such thing. There is not a moment when anyone can say, "Now the foot is completely better," in the sense that the work is now done.  The foot changes every day based on its environment, the trimming it receives, the movement the horse experiences, along with the diet the horse gets.  And there are perhaps factors we don't even know about. It can literally be fantastic today, not so great next month. The hoof is dynamic.

The bottom line is if your horse is sound on any kind of ground, then the foot is okay for that horse.  Striving for an "ideal" hoof is impractical and, in most cases, fruitless.  Consider yourself.  There is a human "ideal" as well.  Proportions which are determined to be perfect.  But there is most likely no completely perfect human being.  Certainly I am not.  Should we all cut away on ourselves (though this is actually being done!) until we are "perfect"?  No.  Let us just enjoy our lives. So too it is with horses' feet.  These feet are sound.  They are not "ideal" as determined by Man.  But they work for him.  He is sound and happy.  What more do we really need?  And his feet have clearly changed over time and will CONTINUE to change.

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