Friday 27 May 2011

Celery in practice, hoof balance and "The hooves are wearing too short!"

My new found love of celery as a trimming aid means that I am tending to leave even long hooves alone to see how they react to our tracks.  
These are Saffy's hooves on the day she arrived (I had asked for her to be left untrimmed - she had been shod before and you can see the old nail holes).
The same foot a couple of weeks later.  The long hoof wall wore away very quickly - within days.  If she were going to a show I would tidy up the hoof wall with a rasp but functionally she has done a superb trimming job for herself.  
And this is how the loading of a hoof changes once the hoof wall is no longer too long.  On the day she arrived, she is balancing on hoof wall - peripherally loading her hooves, exactly as she would in a shoe.
Today, loading not just hoof wall but the frog as well and look at what a difference that has made to her overall hoof balance.    Its a good demonstration, I think, of why its so much easier for horses to have good medio-lateral balance (ie balance which is correct for their own limb) out of shoes AND once the hoof which is loading correctly.

It also illustrates why some people take their horses shoes off only to worry that the hoof is "wearing away" or "wearing too short" once the horse works on hard surfaces.  That overly long hoof wall, which is so useful if you want to re-shoe a horse, is actually not what the horse or the hoof want to be loading.
As soon as you put that sort of hoof on a hard surface, the excess wall will chip away until you have a hoof which is loading in a more biomechanically effective, correct way.  The frogs also improve dramatically with stimulus.
The problem is that if you are used to a shod hoof, this  - the same foot 2 weeks later - looks incredibly short.  

Its actually getting much closer to what the horse needs and is a much more effective hoof than it was 2 weeks ago.   She is extremely comfortable on this new foot, as well, which is critically important.

Again, you could pretty it up with a rasp but functionally, she has already done most of what she needs to get that hoof working properly for her.  

Of course, if horses don't work on harder surfaces, that's when trimming can be necessary but I think its interesting to see how little we sometimes need to interfere :-)


jenj said...

Nic, is this the result of just being on the track, or is she also being worked on elsewhere? If she's working elsewhere, on what surfaces, and what's her work schedule like?

Dom said...

I was JUST discussing this with my trimmer today.

Nic Barker said...

Jen, the self-trimming happened within the first couple of days she was here, so was entirely the result of the tracks. She is now in other work but wasn't at that stage.

Kate Williams said...

Having visited Saffy today I cannot believe the huge difference in just 2 weeks. Not only is she striding out more with her left fore but her right fore foot fall is greatly improved. Amazing for such a short amount of time with you guys. She is much happier moving forward under saddle and doesn't fell as choppy as she used to. I can't wait to see how she changes in the next couple of months.

Nic Barker said...

I'll put her footage up tomorrow for you :-) Great to see you yesterday!