I have been trimming hooves for about 17 years now. For quite a few years I trimmed for others and did a lot of traveling to do so. I saw so many different kind of problems from club feet to foundered feet. With a small sprinkling of nice in feet mixed in. I had so many minis for many years, that I had to trim at least 5 of my own a day to keep ahead of schedule. That was when I had a trimming schedule of 6-8 weeks. I was a busy girl! (and am paying for that now with some arthritis and tendonitis...)
I feel like there is SO MUCH to learn about hoof trimming. There seems to always be new thoughts and ideas about what needs to happen to help horses have the best feet they can. Shoes, barefoot, hoof boots and those that believe hoof boots mean they have failed their horse. I heard this just the other day from a Facebook friend.
I'll share my thoughts and would love to hear yours as well!
I trim my ponies every week to week and a half. It wasn't until I started following this strict regime that I started to see some BIG changes in Zorro's extremely flat feet with under run heels and Sky's clubbed front foot. By sticking to this schedule I now know exactly what I'm going to find when I pick up a hoof to start working on it and also know exactly what I'm going to do with said hoof.
About 2 years ago I found David Landreville on Facebook and started closely watching what he was doing. I would ask him questions on his wall as well as message him. It's hard to help someone when you can't put hands on the horse's hooves AND watch how said person goes about trimming. He didn't know a thing about me and my history, not that would have mattered too much because even had I shared my history with him he still wouldn't know HOW I hold my tools, do I keep them sharp, do I understand how they work? (and I'll share that I didn't really have an understanding of how my rasp works when I first started working with him!)
I was lucky enough to attend a clinic he taught this spring, and I took Zorro, so he could have some hands on help from David. His feet were really starting to take a turn for the worse and I knew it was all my fault because I am the ONLY person who has ever trimmed his feet. I just didn't know what to do about it.
If you have followed my blog for very long you'll know that I used to watch and read what Crazy Lady Linda (of TACT Trimming) shared about trimming. Her methods would have ended up laming Zorro had I kept following her. I am so glad I have a simple understanding of feet so I knew when to walk away from her method. I cringe for all the horses out there she is "helping."
So I thought I would share a collage of Zorro's feet. The photo on the left is from May 2019. His feet were so flat it was difficult to rasp them without taking sole. If I didn't run the rasp over the entire bottom of his foot his sole would have protruded past the hoof wall. What this means is his soles were extremely thin. Not only that but he had ZERO heel buttress and the backs of his hooves were very unhealthy. Simply put, you HAVE to address the frog and the back of the foot to grow a healthy foot. To never touch either will result in thrush and under run heels as well as crushed heel bulbs and heel buttresses.
The photo the right was taken just last week, December of 2019. He has been living on sand and gravel, on the track system. (He also lived on a track system with the photo on the left but there wasn't much gravel out there and zero sand.) I have been trimming him every week to week and half since May, with a few missed trims in there, but never going longer than 3 weeks. Now he has concavity, his heel buttress is healthier as is his frog. The soft tissue is stronger and thicker on the back of his foot as well.
I use my rasp to round the back of the frog. I will turn it sideways to get down into the central sulcus but I also use my hoof knife in there, to keep it open and clean.
Here is his right front foot. This is the foot that I always called his Ugly foot. This foot has turned in quite dramatically since he was about 8 months old. He would roll the inner edge of the hoof, smashing the hoof wall when he was younger. It was always super flat and with a very forward and crushed heel.
This foot has concavity for the first time in his 4 years! I am so thrilled with how this foot has looked this summer!
We have a long way to go with this foot but we have some so far. This is why I suggest taking lots of photos if you trim your own. You can check your work and will see things that you may miss when looking right at the foot! It's also a great way to see that things ARE actually changing when you feel that they may not be. You can see how much soft tissue Zorro has developed on this hoof when looking at the side shot. Now if that heel buttress would move back this would be quite a pretty foot!
As for booting. This is how I look at it. I work hard to help my ponies have beautiful feet. I don't want that to be changed by them wearing something oddly out on the road, wearing off too much toe or getting a rock bruise that will cause them to walk differently and change the hoof. So I boot them. I also believe that good boots will provide shock relief and that is extremely important to me as well! So I don't think that booting means I've failed my ponies at all. Booting is a way I can further protect them and offer them the best I can!
I look forward to what you've been doing with your pony's feet!