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Archives: Questions asked/answered. You may find the answer to your question here.



Hoof Injuries


Horse Shoeing

Hoof Angles



         I am sorry to have to remove the "submit your question" box, but due to spammers using this to deluge the site with spam, I have no option but to shut down this option. I apologize for the inconvenience.



Q: Hi. My 10 yr old Arab mare has been diagnosed with a coffin bone fracture, confirmed with radiograph results. She has been on stall rest for 4 weeks and has a modified shoe with clips. She is getting anxious in the stall and we are wondering how much time is typical for stall confinement? Also, what is the general prognosis for recovery? The fracture is not in the joint.

A: Hello,

I am sorry to hear of your horse's coffin bone fracture. As much as I would like to be able to provide definitive answers to your questions concerning stall time and a prognosis for recovery, I believe that the best resources for the answers to your questions will come from the veterinarian and farrier who have worked with you in treating your horse; or if not them, then whomever is now responsible for monitoring her recovery. They will have access to the radiographs and to the horse and will be in the best position to determine how she is recovering and to what extent she can resume normal activities.

Your questions are not insignificant and  you deserve answers. They demonstrate your concern for your mare's well-being. Therefore I suggest that you contact your veterinarian and see if they have a suggestion as to how to relieve your mare's anxiousness. Perhaps she can be led out for some very light exercise; but this is something your veterinarian should decide.

The time factor is something that depends on the injury (its location and severity among other things) and while stall confinement can be difficult, it may be necessary in order to prevent the horse from hindering her own recovery.

Please do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian with these types of questions. They should be happy to answer them and be willing to make sure to include you in your horse's recovery program. The more information you have, the better your understanding of what your mare's recovery is going to entail and that says a lot about how serious you are when it comes to your horse's well-being.

I wish you the best of luck in guiding your mare to a successful recovery.

Please feel free to contact me if you have additional questions and/or concerns.

Q: What problem is a horse said to have when he takes loud rasping breaths while exercising?  

A: The following link may provide the answer to your question.


Thank you for your question.

Q:  Great pastern bone is not lining up with the other bones which is making the horse lame. Is there anyway to fix it?

A: I would think that the first step is for the horse to undergo a thorough examination by both farrier and equine vet. Only after this examination, which most likely will include radiographs of the affected area, will they be able to offer the best possible course of action. In order to fix the problem, I believe you first have to determine the cause.

The corrective action required in order to realign the bones will depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to, the horse's age, conformation, overall physical condition and any medical/physical conditions that may be predisposing to this condition.

Possible solutions will depend on the cause of the misalignment. Is the problem the result of improper hoof care, physical injury, or conformation? Trimming, corrective shoeing, bracing, and surgery are possible solutions. However, the facts of your horse's particular situation will determine what course of action is best for your horse.

My suggestion is to seek the consultation of an experienced farrier and a knowledgeable equine vet. These folks should be the professionals to provide you with the information you need to make the best decision regarding the care for your horse.

I hope you will be able to find the necessary professional help that will get your horse back on its feet. One possible resource would be a veterinary school, should one be within range.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: I was told, that a horses legs never get any longer than the day they were born, Please settle this question for me. Thank you.

A: The information at the following link may help clarify this issue for you. Also, you may wish to use the search term "equine bone growth" on Google to elicit more information concerning the growth of the bones in a horse's leg.


Thank you for your question.

Q: "My 3yr old at the start of a race was stepped on his hoof by the horse next to him ..."

A: Hello, I have made two attempts to send a reply to the email address in your message and both times it has been returned with the following message: This is the mail system at host outbound.vnet-inc.com. I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
be delivered to one or more recipients. Operation timed out.

I am posting just the beginning of your message so as to omit your email address but I did want you to know that I had made an attempt to reply to your request as soon as possible.

I am sorry to hear of your horse's injury. It is good news that he is no longer lame.

I assume that you have had the abscess treated by your farrier and/or veterinarian and they have determined that the abscess is no longer active and your horse has recovered from the injury. I would think that getting an okay from both vet and farrier would be a primary condition before considering going back to racing.

Also, your farrier should be able to tell if your horse is going to require any special treatment that will aid in his complete recovery.

The crack at the coronary band should be examined by your farrier. He, or she as the case may be, should be able to tell you if the crack is nothing to worry about (as in the case of certain horizontal cracks) or if the crack (vertical and active) requires further attention.

I'm sorry I cannot be more specific, but I think my best advice will be for you to contact your farrier and have them examine your horse. There are just too many options to consider without being able to examine your horse.

The best part is that your horse is not lame, which would seem to indicate that your treatment and care for your horse has allowed him to work through this injury. Hopefully, your farrier and/or vet will give you the assurances you need in order to get back onto the race track.

You have my very best wishes for a complete recovery and successful return to the track.

Q: I'm writing in again about my paint gelding who has a problem with being shod.
We had a friend who was at our place and she worked with the paint several times. She took the hoof pick and gently tapped the bottom of his foot. He still had a problem though. He pulled all his hooves away and was kind of dancing around. The paint is 11 years old and has been shod before, however we've only had him about a year. We bought him with his shoes on, and then took them off for the winter. So this was the first time we had seen him shod. We know he has some type of spur growth in his right front knee but there is nothing you can tell that is wrong with his other legs.

A: Hi,

You may wish to consider talking to the previous owner to see if they can shed some light on this problem. They should be able to tell you if the horse has some injury that is affecting his behavior regarding his feet.  Hopefully, they can provide the contact information for their farrier so you can talk with him/her and find out if your horse's problems are new or old. The farrier may also be able to provide you with any shoeing records kept regarding how his feet were trimmed/shod.

Perhaps the previous owners will provide the name of their vet who may have some enlightening information regarding your horse's medical condition. And of course, a complete physical examination may prove helpful.

I would suggest locating a farrier who has the patience and experience with working with horses, that for whatever reasons, exhibit a change in behavior as to how they stand while having their feet trimmed/shod. Horses that suddenly exhibit a radical change in how they stand for the farrier, usually think they have a good reason for doing so and therefore convincing them otherwise sometimes requires a good bit of patience and effort on the part of the owner, farrier and horse. Plus, this farrier with their knowledge and experience may be able to assist in determining if there is a physical reason for the problem.

 An eleven year old horse should not have any problems standing quietly to have his feet worked on. A knowledgeable/experienced farrier is where I would think you will find the best chance of determining just what is causing your horse to behave in this manner. And this person is most likely the one who is going to be able to help you convince your horse that this process is not going to cause him harm.

The American Farrier's Association website has a webpage for locating farriers.


Another good source for locating an experienced farrier is a farrier/horseshoeing school.

Searching the Internet ("finding a farrier" or "horseshoeing schools") brings up a number of resources to explore.

I am sorry that I cannot be more specific, but without being able to examine/observe him, I think the best advice I can give is to have a farrier, hopefully yours is willing and capable, out to observe and examine your horse in order to help you come up with a training program that will help your horse accept the hoof care that he requires without presenting a danger to himself or others.

Please let me know how this works out and feel free to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.

Q: I have a paint gelding who doesn't allow the farrier to pound the nails for shoes into his feet. He prances around, tries to pull his feet back, etc. He is fine with getting his feet trimmed and allows his feet to be picked up just fine. He has trouble with all 4 legs while pounding in the nails for the shoes. The horse is well broke and his very gentle, except during the process of getting new shoes on. He had no shoes on all winter and was just getting new ones. Any ideas?

A: Hello,

It sounds like your horse has been shod before and without any problems.

If this is the case and it is just now that the only part of the shoeing process that bothers him is the nailing, and with all four feet, then I would suggest starting with a thorough examination of his feet/legs in order to eliminate any injury as a reason for his behavior.

And, yes I, too, would find it hard to believe that there was some ailment/injury that affected all four feet, all at once that you would not be aware of already. However, one has to start somewhere and the obvious is as good a place as any. I would suggest an examination using hoof testers on all four feet to see if there is a common area of increased sensitivity in his feet. Also, don't forget his back, hips and shoulders, as possible sources of problems.

Okay, so you can find no physical reason for the horse to all of a sudden not stand quietly for the nailing. He willingly picks his feet up, stands quietly for the trimming and is well broke and very gentle except when it comes time to hammer in the nails.

If this is not the first time he has had nails hammered into his feet and the previous times he tolerated this without a problem, then perhaps the problem is not with the horse, but with the farrier and how he is holding your gelding's leg/foot during the nailing process.

Is the farrier holding the leg/hoof the same way for nailing as when for the trimming?

Once in a while a farrier may adjust their stance because of some problem he, or she as the case may be, is experiencing. A sore back, hip or something similar.

A slight deviation in the farrier's stance resulting in pulling the leg outward can cause the horse a great deal of discomfort.

Something you might try is to pick up his feet as you would for normal hoof cleaning and as he stands there quietly, use the hoof pick to tap (GENTLY) on his shoes to see if this bothers him. Maybe he had a bad experience the last time he was shod and is remembering that event. I don't necessarily mean that the nailing hurt him per se, but if the overall experience was not pleasant, someone/everyone got excited for example, he may be anticipating such things happening again.

Of course, you only want to try this if you are comfortable handling your horse's feet and even then one has to always be extremely aware that horses can move incredibly fast should they feel the need.

If your horse lets you tap on his feet without showing any discomfort, then perhaps he just needs a little retraining to show him once again that the nailing process is not going to be hurtful.

To be honest, if you think about it, that really is a hard sell. "I am going to take this very sharp nail and hammer it into your foot … and it is not going to hurt one tiny bit!" But, that is the truth and the way it should work out.

If you think that a little retraining is in order, then every day when you pick up his feet to clean them out with your hoof pick, a little gentle tapping should lead to acclimating him to the nailing process. Depending on his reactions, you can over time increase the force of the tapping (common sense should prevail … no sledgehammers) until he just gives you the "look" and accepts this as just another one of those strange things humans do to horses.

For a horse to change his mind about something like this and do so on all four feet, well, I would start with a review of the last time he was shod OR when the shoes were removed, and see if something there is the source of the problem. If he had an unhappy experience then, this may be a carryover of that time.

If nothing there stands out, then if it were me, I would pick up his feet and see if there is any problem with them just being tapped. If so, is it any tapping with the horse showing a bit of fear which might indicate a previous experience problem, or is it just when the tapping becomes more like the nailing? If the latter, then retraining, slowly and progressively, on a daily basis might be the solution.

Training a horse to stand quietly for his feet to be worked on may take a considerable bit of time and effort, but this good work can all be undone in a split-second of poor emotional control by someone working on his feet.

Now if this is the first time he has had shoes nailed on, then maybe he just needs to go through the "tapping" training to get him used to what to expect as part of the process.

In conclusion, I would suggest checking your Paint for any physical reasons that would explain his change in behavior. Then consider if there is a farrier-related problem that needs to be adjusted. Try a little bottom-of-the hoof tapping and see if maybe he just forgot this part and if a little re-training will resolve the problem.

If you still cannot figure out his reluctance, then perhaps a vet examination by a vet who works with horses and their feet, would be in order.

I hope I have been able to offer a few ides for thought. Please let me know how this turns out as I am curious as to why your well-mannered Paint experienced this change in his behavior.

Best of luck to you … and your horse.

Q:  I have a mare who has always had strong, hard feet, albeit with a few minor cracks. Yesterday (Friday) the farrier came out and she had a huge hunk missing in her left front hoof. It was about 2" in length with a 1" width and about a 1/2 cm deep. No soft tissue has been exposed. I looked at her other feet and her right front foot seems to be on the same path. On the right foot, her whole hoof wall isn't separating its just looks like its cracking underneath allowing dirt and debris to wedge up making it bigger. I rode her this Tuesday and was surprised to see these big chips. Is she lacking in vitamins? The pasture is mostly grass with a few buried boulders, something she knocked it on?? What is causing this? Thanks

A: Hi,

This is a tough question to answer without being able to examine your mare's feet. I will try to offer a few things to consider that may lead you toward finding a solution to her hoof problems.

Vitamins as part of a balanced diet are big part of promoting and maintaining healthy hoof growth, so if she is lacking in this area, then this could be a contributing factor to less than optimum hoof conditioning. Therefore, ensuring a nutritious feeding regimen should encourage strong, healthy hooves.

Winter pasture is sometimes overly wet or dry and too much moisture or lack of, can cause the hoof wall to become more susceptible to chipping. This is especially true if the hooves are allowed to grow out more than normal as can occur during the winter off-time for the horse.

A well-trimmed, properly balanced hoof encourages strong healthy hooves which are better prepared to withstand chipping and cracking. Of course, should a horse step on a rock "just right" then sometimes a chip is unavoidable. In this case the farrier will do all they can to mitigate the circumstances while allowing the hoof to grow out over time.

Large chunks of missing hoof wall however, often indicate a problem that needs to be addressed by both you and your farrier. It may mean recognizing any environmental problems associated with moisture or ground conditions; or perhaps as you mentioned, her nutritional needs require adjusting; it may be necessary to have her feet trimmed more often; and for certain, it is absolutely necessary for her feet to be properly balanced.

The condition you describe that is occurring on her right hoof should be addressed by your farrier. Any separation occurring in the hoof structures is an indicator of something going on there that needs to be addressed by the farrier before it turns into a larger problem. The best case scenario is that this, too, can be corrected through proper trimming, although, it will depend on how long and how severe the separation is and for how long the condition that allowed for this to happen has been in place. Your farrier should be able to tell if there is any infection/bacterial growth present that requires further attention.

So in conclusion, I think the best I can suggest is that while chipped hooves are not all that uncommon, large chunks and separation of the hoof wall should be cause for concern (as you are) and your farrier should be able to offer you a plan not only to help protect the damaged hooves while they grow out, but he/she should be able to assist you in developing a hoof care program that will hopefully put sound feet under your mare once again.

Taking care of horse's feet is all part of the farrier's job description. It is not unreasonable to expect straightforward, logical answers to your questions from the person entrusted with your mare's hoof care. If a farrier comes upon a situation that they do not feel comfortable in handling, then most often they will be happy to help find someone to assist them or you in resolving the situation. There is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion from another farrier if you are not comfortable with the current situation.

I think you are correct and I applaud you for being concerned about your mare's hooves. I hope your farrier will listen to your questions and provide the necessary care for your horse and provide you with the peace of mind that everything is being done that can be done to get your horse's hooves back into top condition. If not, then they leave you with no choice but to look for someone who can.

I am sorry I cannot be more specific, but to do so would require being able to examine your mare and discuss with you all those things that go into a proper hoof care program.

I wish you, your farrier and most of all, your mare, the very best in resolving her hoof problems.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Q : What problem is a horse said to have when he takes loud rasping breaths while exercising?  

A: The following links may provide the answer to your question.






Thank you for your question.

Q: How to remove a horse shoe.

A: I commend you on wanting to become more involved with your horse’s hoof care program. The more you know and are able to do will be of great benefit to your horse.

However, one thing to always remember is that no matter how well-behaved your horse is, horses get distracted easily and kick even faster, so anytime you work around horses' feet, you have to be aware of the danger involved.

Before trying to remove or replace a horseshoe, you should seek out professional assistance. Most farriers are more than willing to help an owner learn how to remove a shoe. It not only takes the horse out of a potentially dangerous situation, but removing a loose or damaged shoe may  prevent further damage to the hoof thereby protecting it until the farrier can replace the shoe.

There is a very informative article on removing a horseshoe located at the following website. http://horsecare.stablemade.com/articles2/shoe_off.htm

You may also wish to check out the shoeing related books written for horse owners located at:


My suggestion is to find a farrier willing to help you learn how to safely remove a shoe and if you are serious about learning to trim and shoe your horse, schedule the time to attend a class that will teach you the techniques necessary to successfully trim and shoe your horse and manage all your horse’s hoof care needs.

Best of luck to you.

Q: What problem is a horse said to have when he takes loud rasping breaths while exercising?  

A: The following links may provide the answer to your question.






Thank you for your question.

Q: How many centimeters does a HORN (on a horse) grow a month? 

A: Assuming we are not talking about a Unicorn, but hoof growth instead, the amount of hoof growth is dependant upon a number of different variables ranging from the age of the horse to its overall health. Additionally, the quality of its feed, the amount of exercise and environmental conditions will have an impact on hoof growth.

That being said, the figures most often quoted for the average hoof growth is between 1/4 to 3/8 inch per month. (Sorry, I don't have the conversion to centimeters right at hand).

Additional information on hoof growth can be found online by searching for "hoof growth rates."

Thank you for your question.

Q: I need to know four ways you can tell if a horse needs re-shoeing.

 A: Here are four possible indications your horse needs the attention of a farrier.

  1. Hoof growth has taken the hooves out of balance.
  2. Hoof wall is overgrowing the horseshoe.
  3. Loose/lost shoes/lost and/or missing nails.
  4. Excessive wear of horseshoes.

Q:  I think that my horses have been trimmed way too short, I have two horses and both  of them seem to be very tender on all four feet. What can I do to help ease their tenderness and how long will their hooves remain tender?

A: The first thing would be to call the farrier immediately upon your horses showing signs of lameness so that the cause of problem can be determined.

If your horses have been trimmed too short, then the farrier should offer (at no charge) to make your horses comfortable (while bringing their feet back into a balanced state) until their feet have had a chance to grow out. This may require re-trimming, pads, slip-on shoes or pads and shoes. The exact solution will depend on each horse's situation.

If your horses are in pain, then your vet would be the one to decide if medication to relieve the pain is something to consider.

If the farrier is unavailable, then my first suggestion would be to contact another farrier if for no other reason than you have sore horses and it appears the problem is with their feet.

Before you can address the problem, you need to know exactly what is causing your horses to be sore. Once that has been determined you can work on getting them sound again. Are they only trimmed too short or is there an additional problem with the feet being unbalanced beyond the shortness of the trim?

Trimmed too short can mean the hoof wall was cut short, the frog was over-trimmed, the sole was pared too deep, or any combination of these things.

Generally, a horse trimmed too short will be sore until its hooves have had a chance to grow out enough to provide the required protection. The length of time will depend on what part of the trim was incorrectly administered, how severely the injury is, as well as what and how soon corrective measures are applied.

Making the horses comfortable until they have had a chance to recover can include putting them on soft ground, not working them until they are sound, and depending on just how short they are, placing/taping pads (leather, plastic, cardboard) on their feet, or using slip-on shoes/boots to provide the extra cushioning until their feet grow out.

The "just turn them out for a couple of days and then call me" suggestion is a sure sign that you need to find someone else to seek advice from concerning your horse's hoof care. Your horses hurt now and that should be any farrier's concern.

Therefore, I suggest you use a common sense approach in making your horses as comfortable as possible until such time as a farrier can definitively define the problem and assist you in alleviating their pain. Then the farrier should take the necessary steps to correct the situation. In the meantime, you may wish to try slip-on shoes/boots, but something to consider is that if the farrier trimmed the some part of the hoof too short, then what is the possibility that the rest of the job was not done correctly?

Making the horses comfortable is first, then fixing the problems should follow immediately. Perhaps having a written record of your horse's hoof lengths and hoof angles (once they have been trimmed correctly), will help in preventing this situation from reoccurring.

I wish you the best and your horses a speedy recovery. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Q: How long does it take for an abscess to heal?

A: This is one of those questions where the answer begins with, " It depends."

It depends on the seriousness of the infection, the location, the cause and how soon and how aggressively the abscess has been treated. It also depends on how well the horse responds to the treatment. This could be days for initial signs of improvement to months for a complete recovery if the abscess has been allowed to grow unchecked for a long time before treatment begins.

Abscesses need to be diagnosed and treatment begun immediately thereafter. The root cause has to be addressed at the same time in order for the treatment to be effective.

Therefore, I would suggest that you contact both your vet and farrier at the first indication that an abscess may be present. Quite often it will require the attention of both these individuals, working together with you, in order to get your horse back on its feet.

I appreciate your asking this question.

 Q: How much does a horse's hoof grow each month?

A: Hi,

The amount of hoof growth is dependant upon a number of different variables ranging from the age of the horse to its overall health. Additionally, the quality of its feed, the amount of exercise and environmental conditions will have an impact on hoof growth.

That being said, the figures most often quoted for the average hoof growth is between 1/4 to 3/8 inch per month.

Additional information on hoof growth can be found online by searching for "hoof growth rates."

Thank you for your question.

Q: I was wondering if you can help me find information on the proper way of trimming and shoeing a Rocky Mountain Horse?
Thank you,

A: Hello,

 While it is possible for someone other than a trained farrier to trim and shoe a horse correctly (many, many horse owners and others do just that … and do it really well),  this process does require training on the part of the individual.

It is through this training that one comes to realize that each horse needs to be evaluated independently in order to determine the correct trimming and shoeing parameters for a particular horse.

You may wish to check out the following websites for information relating to horse owners and trimming/shoeing information.



http://www.dougbutler.com/      (Textbook)

Also, you may wish to contact the horseshoeing/farrier association nearest you and see if there is a farrier nearby that would be willing to help you learn the correct procedure used to trim/shoe your Rocky Mountain Horse.

Best of luck to you and serious congratulations are in order for you wanting to learn how to do this yourself!

Q: How many centimeters does a horn grow every month?

A: Hoof growth rate averages about 6.35 mm to 9.52 mm per month. Please bear in mind that there are numerous factors that can influence how fast or slow a hoof will grow.

If you are not referring to hoof growth, then perhaps a search of the Internet (horn growth, perhaps) will help you find the answer to your question.

Thank you.

Q: Is there anyway I can sharpen my horse nippers?

 A: Yes. However, I would recommend either sending them back to the manufacturer for re-sharpening or you may wish to use a commercial sharpening service. A search of the Internet may prove helpful in locating a source for re-sharpening hoof nippers

Doing it yourself is a possibility, but this is a job where the proper skills and knowing what you are doing means the difference between a job well done and reducing a good pair of nippers to a pair of so-so pull-offs and having to buy new nippers in the end.

This task is more difficult than it appears (to me, anyway) and is almost on par with re-sharpening rasps … it has been my experience to let the professionals handle this job and not take a chance on permanently ruining a good tool.

Thank you for the question.

Q: What do I do if I quick my horse?

 A: If by "quick" you mean driving a nail into the sensitive parts of the hoof, then first you have to convince the horse that it is best to let you remove the nail while being very careful to avoid any reactionary movements (kicks, bites, stomps) by the horse.

Treatment for the point of the injury should be as you would for any puncture wound. Your vet should be able to help you with a detailed treatment plan.

Once you have removed the offending nail, and the horse has had a chance to regain its composure, it may be prudent to skip that hole in the shoe and use another instead.

You may wish to evaluate the reason for the mistake, adjusting the shape and/or fit of the shoe if necessary and reviewing your nailing technique before continuing.

It might be a good idea to watch that hoof for any signs of infection and/or abscess.

Once you and the horse have recovered from the incident, then it will be a matter of regaining the horse's confidence in your ability to hammer on his foot without causing harm.

Thank you for your question, and if it is not just a rhetorical one, this type of injury does need proper care and judicious observation.

Q: I have had my horse for less than a year, and yesterday I was lounging her before I was going to ride her...and she tripped on her right rear foot...at first I didn't think anything of it, thinking maybe she was not paying attention, and accidentally tripped, and she wasn't limping, so I asked her to canter, and she wouldn't use her back foot. I stopped her and checked her out, and made sure that nothing was sore, or tender...and at the front of her  pastern she is sorta tender, but not really...and nothing was hot, so I got an older wiser horse person who was there to take a look at her before I did anything else, and I lounged her again and she would not put weight on her foot while she cantered, but is perfectly content to walk and trot. And then she tripped again...and after that she started limping...so I put a cold water hose on it for 10-15 minutes, and then put frozen pees on it for another 10-15 minutes...and wrapped it, gave her some buteless-bute and put her up in a small foaling yard, so she did not have enough room to run around. This morning she is still limping, and sore, but she bares weight on it with no pain whatsoever...it is only when she is walking fast that you can detect a limp and even then it is very subtle...and she is still not using her foot when she canters. I called my vet, and she seems to think that she might be getting ready to abscess, but this has not been gradual...and other horses that I have worked with gradually get sore, and then they abscess...but this just happened yesterday...She was completely sound beforehand...I am so confused!!

 A: Hello,

I can see where you might be confused, what with the horse behaving as she is and your vet's possible diagnosis that she might be "getting ready to abscess."

While it is neigh on impossible to accurately diagnose over the internet, my initial thought is that since the horse's symptoms came on suddenly, after she, "tripped on her right rear foot," then that would be where I would begin looking for the source of the problem.

Being "sorta tender" at the front of her pastern right after the tripping might indicate that she actually interfered with herself and the injury may have been the result of one foot striking the other. Then again, she may have just taken a "bad" step and injured herself in doing so. You may wish to consider x-rays if you feel this would be helpful in diagnosing the problem.

Your treatments sound right on target and it is good that you called the vet right away. I hope she was able to offer some form of assistance besides the "she may be getting ready to abscess." I am not real sure exactly what she means, but hopefully, her counseling included a way to prevent this from happening. I always thought that abscesses were either there or not and while they may appear as the result of an injury, pre-treating involved treating the injury so as to preclude the formation of a abscess.

You may wish to contact your farrier as he or she, as the case may be, may be able to offer a more specific diagnosis after examining and observing your horse. After all, horse's feet and injuries to them are what they deal with on a daily basis. That, and farriers often work with vets in diagnosing and treating hoof injuries. The farrier most likely will be able to determine if there is an abscess present.

The fact that she won't use her foot at a canter would seem to indicate that perhaps the injury is trauma related. I think you should trust your judgment and proceed accordingly.

If you want a second opinion from another vet and/or farrier, by all means get one. Both of these professionals should be able to discuss your horse's situation with you and be able to explain what is happening in such a way as to ally your concerns. This is part of their job.

What it comes down to is, if you think more should be done to assist you in diagnosing your horse's problem, again, trust your judgment and seek out professional help. I would suggest that you not be afraid to voice your concerns to both your vet or farrier.

As I'm sure you are aware, the most important thing is to find the source of the injury so that you can begin treatment that will allow your horse a speedy recovery.

Please feel free to contact me again if I can be of further assistance.


Q: When do horseshoes need to be replaced. 

A: Horseshoes need to be replaced when they are no longer able to perform their function satisfactorily.

This may be due to excessive wear at the nail holes and/or excessive wear on the shoe itself.

If the wear pattern of the shoe becomes an issue as to adversely influencing the breakover of the hoof, then it needs to be replaced.

If the reason for using the horseshoe changes, then the horseshoes may need to be removed, replaced or changed to meet the new requirements of the horse.

Horseshoes wear out at different rates depending on a number of things such as the type of material the shoe is made of, what kind of work the horse has been doing, as well as the hardness of the ground surface.

Of course, the rate of hoof growth is a material factor in deciding when horseshoes need to be reset or replaced, but I'm assuming your question pertains only to the horseshoe itself.

If in doubt, you should contact your farrier who will be able to tell you if the shoes need to be replaced.

Thank you for asking this question.

 Q: I have had the same farrier for 2 1/2 years, never a problem. After the last trim my horse walked off from the trimming just fine. The next afternoon (about 24 hours later) my horse was in agony. Her eyes were big, the veins on her face stuck out, and she walked like a wooden soldier - obviously hurting with every step. I gave her bute and kept her in her stall till the next afternoon and she improved daily. Here's the thing, in the same 36 hour period (add about 12 hours before the trimming) she was put out in a new pasture.
 The hooves did look short, but I'm no expert. Others have suggested the new grass made her founder (first time ever for this 14 year old horse). I have no idea what to think was the cause.
  My horse improved with every day and in one week was moving normally. But it was a nightmare to see her in so much pain. How do I know what caused it?
  My farrier is good and I've never heard of anyone complaining, but I know no one is perfect every time either. The founder idea scares me because that means, apparently, my horse will probably founder again (as I've never heard of a horse foundering only once...).
  Any idea how I can possibly tell if the trim was too short or if my horse foundered??? Would really appreciate another opinion. Thank You

 A: Hello,

While it is possible for any horse to founder regardless of it's age, it has been my experience that founder rarely, if ever, will just go away if left untreated.

A horse that is foundering needs immediate treatment, as this situation will progress rapidly with the horse becoming increasingly more lame over a very short period of time.

That your horse recovered so quickly and was moving normally in a weeks time would suggest that the painful condition she experienced was most likely the result of a bad trim.

While it is impossible to make a definitive diagnosis without being able to examine the horse,  the symptoms you describe are common when a horse has been trimmed too short.

Regarding her hooves looking short; I suggest that the next time her feet are trimmed, you ask the farrier for the hoof lengths and hoof angles she is trimmed to in order to balance her feet. Also, I suggest that every horse owner trust their judgment whenever they think something has changed with their horse.

I would suggest keeping a shoeing record of her hoof lengths and hoof angles just so you know if she is being trimmed consistently as well as being able to tell any farrier exactly how long/short her feet need to be trimmed in order for her to remain sound.

Everyone should know exactly how their horse’s hooves need to be trimmed (and shod if necessary) in order for the horse’s feet to be balanced.

 The important thing is that once you know exactly how your horse’s feet need to be trimmed in order to be balanced, then this information makes it easier to be sure her feet are trimmed correctly. You can measure them yourself just to be sure, but if you ask your farrier to trim her feet to specific lengths and angles, and you are there, you can see for yourself as he measures each hoof for the correct settings. It does not add any measurable time to the appointment, but does wonders for your peace of mind, and most importantly, provides your horse with the consistency of a balanced trim.

 A very short word or two concerning hoof lengths and hoof angles. These are specific to each horse. You cannot look for, feel for, imagine or conjure up by any known method, the correct hoof lengths and hoof angles. Herein is the Catch 22 … the horse has to be trimmed correctly in order to arrive at the correct settings. This requires a farrier capable of examining a horse and being able to trim the hooves to the correct hoof lengths and hoof angles for that horse. Then you take the measurements and by knowing them, you are able to provide consistency as well as being able to show any farrier just how you want your horse trimmed.

 You might find the information at this webpage, http://www.antelopepress.com/hs_record.htm to be helpful. The little record book is not necessary; you can make up your own. I only came up with this as a simple way for horse owners to keep this information handy. What I do think is important is that the horse owner to have a way to verify as well as show any farrier how your horse’s feet need to be trimmed in order to keep him sound.

 The part about taking these measurements yourself are located toward the bottom of the page.

 PLEASE, only attempt this if you and your horse are comfortable with you working around his feet. Even then, one must be aware at all times that this is very hazardous work. The least little distraction may result in severe injuries to you and/or the horse.

While the object is to never have your horse founder, it can happen and if it does, then it should be your farrier, your vet and your goal to make sure that it only happens once. If a horse founders twice, then either the reason for the first time was misdiagnosed, the horse foundered for a different reason or the situation that precipitated the first occasion was allowed to be repeated. While it may be true that once a horse has foundered it might be more susceptible to foundering again, the easiest way to prevent a reoccurrence is to avoid the conditions that preceded the first occurrence.

Something else you may wish to consider is taking measurements of her feet now that she is not lame. At least you know at this length she shouldn't be lame.

While no one is perfect and mistakes will be made, the very first thing you want to do if your horse comes up lame immediately after a farrier has worked on her feet is to CALL the farrier. They should return at once and help you in determining the cause of your horse's lameness. If the cause of the problem is related to the farrier's work, then the farrier should make every effort to resolve the situation. And this includes any pads or shoes or other devices necessary to relieve the horse's pain and suffering as well as accepting responsibility for costs associated with getting your horse back on its feet. "She'll be okay in a couple of days" is not an acceptable response.

It is very good news that your horse has recovered from this injury. I hope you have discussed this with your farrier as most farriers will want to know if they have caused a problem for your horse and will do all they can to make sure it does not happen again.

Q: My Daughters 23 yr. old Arab gelding has just recently gone lame on his front feet,
she uses him for 4-H and has been riding him everyday recently preparing for fair and he was fine until about 4 days ago. Our farrier seems to think his soles are dropping. How can I tell if that is the problem or if it is just too much protein? I would really like to solve this problem and see if she can use him for fair but she is supposed to be going next Wednesday.

A: Hello,

My first thought would be to be sure that his lameness is not being caused by the amount of work he is doing in preparation for the fair. I'm sure you have considered his age, overall physical condition and the ground surface he is being worked on. Also whether or not he is  barefoot or wearing shoes.

Dropped soles will protrude below the ground surface of the hoof wall. A true dropped sole is most often associated with chronic founder and the rotation downward of the coffin bone. If your horse has experienced chronic founder problems, then I would suggest contacting your vet as well as a farrier experienced in treating laminitis/founder.

If a farrier is going to make a diagnosis that identifies dropping soles as a problem, then I would assume that he or she will be making every effort to treat the situation before it becomes worse.

If founder is involved, it is most likely that your horse will have gotten progressively worse in the time between your email and my response. If this is the case, then a call to the vet would definetily be in order.

If however, you think that perhaps his soles are sore from working on a hard surface or a too short trim, or anything other than laminitis/founder, then adding some extra protection to his feet might be something you could consider. Your farrier should be able to help you with this, although you may wish to consider a pair of slip-on shoes or boots. If this is not an option, then shoeing the horse with pads may add enough extra protection to allow your horse to recover in time for the fair.

Of course, this will depend on just how sore he is as well as if there is bruising to the soles that may require a longer recovery period.

Regardless, I would suggest that if a farrier thinks your horse's soles are dropping, then treatment should being immediately as this is not something that will fix itself by ignoring the condition.

You may have to search for a farrier who has experience in treating horse's with this type problem. Your vet may be able to direct you to such a farrier as quite often treatment will involve both vet and farrier working together.

If the farrier is unable to offer more in the way of a diagnosis, then I would suggest getting a second opinion from another farrier and/or your vet.

I hope your Arab is on the road to recovery by the time you read this.

Best of luck and I hope you, your daughter and your horse have a great time at the fair.

Q: I just bought a 8yo Quarterhorse for barrel racing.  We wasn't lame the 2 times I rode him before I purchased him, and he passed a vet check before I brought him home.  The people selling him did trim his feet about 5 days before I bought him.  Now after having him for 1 week, he is completely lame on both front feet.  I saw another vet who did x-rays, and only a small amount of calcifications were seen on the back of the pastern bone.  Nothing near the joints themselves.  It was felt that his feet were likely trimmed too short.  I then had a farriet see him and put shoes with pads on him.  He is better, but still not 100% after 3 days.  The farrier thought he should be better by now if it was just that his hooves were too short.  Any opinions on how long it may take to heal from this?

A: I am sorry to hear of your horse’s lameness problems. Trimming hooves too short is an all to common problem that should never happen.

It is great that you had your horse rechecked by both vet and farrier. The shoes and pads should be providing extra protection and support.

If this is a case of his feet being trimmed too short, then the recovery time is pretty much going to depend on how fast his feet grow and how sore and possibly bruised his feet are as a result being trimmed too short.

He should be allowed to recover without being worked until he is fully recovered.  Sometimes three days is all it takes, but if he was trimmed really short it may take a good bit longer … days to weeks.

I am sorry that I cannot offer a specific schedule, but I’m afraid that there is no real definite answer to your question, as it pretty much depends on the horse, how short he was trimmed, if there is any bruising, and how quickly his feet grow out.

Best of luck to you and your horse for a speedy recovery.

Q: How can the mismanagement of a horses tendon injury affect the prognosis?

A: Any injury to the tendons should be considered serious and treated as such.

As with any injury, possible consequences of failure to provide the proper care may result in/or interfere with, and/or prolong the healing process. It also opens the way for possible further deterioration of the original injury, as well as raising the risk of overcompensation  injuries. Plus, there is always the risk that an improperly treated injury may result in some form of permanent damage.

If one is not satisfied with the current level of care, then perhaps seeking additional professional assistance … a second or even third opinion … would be a viable option.

Thank you for your question.

Q: My horses hoof is cracking both up and down and also across.

A: There are two basic types of hoof cracks: superficial and deep. The best advice I can give based on your description, is for you to have your horse examined by a farrier who will be able to determine exactly the type of crack and offer a plan to correct the situation.

Vertical cracks can be of either type and if they are of the deep variety, treatment should begin immediately, otherwise the situation will most likely deteriorate. If the cracks are of the superficial nature, then your farrier can help you mitigate their effects.

The important thing is to find out exactly what is causing your horse’s hoof to crack.

The horizontal cracks tend to be more of an after the fact type problem. They may be the result of an injury to the bottom of the hoof or trauma to the hoof itself or to the coronary band. In my experience, once the horizontal crack shows up, the inciting event is most likely over and the crack needs to be monitored as it gets closer to the ground surface where it may cause the hoof to break off unevenly or interfere with the nailing on of a shoe.

Again, your farrier needs to examine the horse and help you arrive at the proper course of action. Cracks can be very debilitating to a horse and your prompt attention to the matter is going to be very instrumental in its continued well-being.

It is good that you are watching your horse’s feet and even better that you recognize there may be a problem. The best way to keep your horse’s feet in good condition is through a well executed hoof care program designed by both you and your farrier.

Q: MY horse had an injury on Jan 15 2007 where his hoof was almost severed.  We took him to the vet and they kept it clean and free from infection but as it healed he began walking on the back of his hoof so the vet put a splint and a special wedge to try an get him to put more weight on the front of the hoof.  The horse went the other way and he is walking of the back of his hoof and now the hoof is completely turned up.  The vet now thinks that he is actually growing another hoof and the turned up one may fall off eventually.  I have never heard of this.  Have you ever heard of anything like this.  “Easy” the horse is not in any pain anymore and seems to walk around and even run on the back part of his foot.  It is hard and not just callous material.  It looks totally deformed right now but we have not put him down because he is fat and happy and doesn't seem to be in any pain.  I guess my question to you is if you have ever seen anything or heard of anything similar to this?

A: I’m really sorry to hear of your horse’s hoof injury. The best new is that he is as you put it, “fat and happy and doesn’t seem to be in a any pain.”

I really don’t think I can say that I have seen anything quite like you have described, although, it is really hard to be sure without being able to see the situation first hand.

"The vet now thinks that he is actually growing another hoof and the turned up one may fall off eventually.  I have never heard of this.  Have you ever heard of anything like this." Not really. association to see if they can offer a referral to a farrier who has experience with injuries of this nature. I would suggest that a farrier who has treated injuries of this nature will be able to help you in determining possible corrective actions.

You might consider x-rays of the hoof in order to assist you in determining just what is happening.

If you are looking for second opinions as to what to expect with this type injury and your horse’s particular reaction and recovery to it, you may wish to consider contacting a farrier/horseshoeing school and/or a veterinary school to see if they would not be interested in working with you as part of their educational programming.

I wish you and your horse the best of luck in dealing with this very difficult situation. Please feel free to contact me if there is any way I can be of assistance.

Q: My horse has a fracture of the extensor process of the p3 on her hoof.  Can we put a bar shoe on her to help it.  I know we can operate but she is 20 years old and we cant afford the operation on a old horse.  Thank you.

A: Hello,

 I’m sorry to hear that your mare has a fracture like this. There are a number of variables that have to be considered before coming up with a plan to treat this injury.

You need to know what fractured, the location of the fracture and exactly how severe is the fracture. This information will guide whoever helps you in deciding on the best course of action for you and your horse. Usually farrier and vet work together on injuries of this nature.

Your vet and farrier would be the first people I would consult. If they are unable to provide you with the information you seek then I see no problem in asking for second opinions.

In order to be able to recommend any type of shoe/treatment, I’m afraid I would have to be able to examine your mare before offering a particular course of action. I would also want to work closely with your vet and together develop a treatment plan that may or may not include surgery.

That being said, you might wish to contact the folks who manufacture what they claim is a shoe designed specifically for treating injuries to the P3. Their contact information is at the bottom of their webpage. I have no personal knowledge of this product and therefore am unable to offer anything more that their posted information.

The EDSS P3 Fracture Kit


Here are a couple of websites with additional information concerning similar injuries/treatments.



The choice of shoe/treatment needs to be carefully selected and it will need to be applied properly in order for it to have the desired affect.

If you are in need of a farrier, perhaps you could contact the state farrier association, or the American Farrier’s Association at: http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/index.php

Additionally, if there is a horseshoeing school or vet school within range, they may be able to offer a referral or even be willing to treat your horse as part of their educational course.

I am sorry that I cannot be more specific, but it would not be fair to your horse or to you for me to suggest a particular type of shoe (such as a bar shoe, which may in fact prove helpful), without being able to examine the horse and x-rays of the injured hoof.

I wish you the very best of luck in finding a satisfactory treatment for your mare. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q:How do you know what kind of horseshoe to use and why? ex: eggbar, borium

A: Knowledge and experience. Knowledge from education such as attending horseshoeing schools, mentoring and apprenticeship. Experience garnered through one’s education and work experience that begins from day one and continues throughout a career.

Eggbar shoes (shaped like an egg) are often used in treating horses with flexor tendon trouble; low, sloping heels, founder and navicular disease.

Borium is a traction increasing substance that should be applied with great care, forethought and understanding of the possible consequences of applying this material.

If you would like more information on this subject, you might wish to visit the American Farrier’s Association webpage or your local library for additional material concerning horseshoes, and horseshoeing in general.

Thank you for your query.

Q: Hello - I have a 5yr TB that I bought in sept. from my trainer. at that time he was sound 100%. when my farrier shod him the first time he place a 1 degree pad on his front right because he is completely without heel. time went by without any problems and the next time he was shod he put a 2 degree pad on. at this point my horse started to become lame after a trail ride or a long lesson. the lameness would only last a day or two, but it was constantly appearing. I became concerned. I thought that he may have had an old racetrack injury because the tendons on the cannon bone of this leg were twice the size of his other leg. so i thought that this was an old injury that had started to bother him. so i took him to my vet for xrays and a lameness exam. we took that front right shoe off and after the xrays my vet showed me that his tendons are larger because they have to compensate for the lack of heel and the changing of his position. when i put the wedges on - 2 degree to be specific - he was sore from the change. so my vet showed me that his coffin bone was actually wearing down on the outside of the bone, looked like swiss cheese on the xray. So with instructions for my farrier from my vet, which was not something he wanted to hear, I then placed a third degree wedge on him and needless to say 6 wks later he is even more sensitive and lame 75% of the time with very light riding. my question for you is should i go back and start over with the first degree wedge and give him more time before moving up? or should i just let him continue with the third degree and hope that eventually he "gets use to it" ? in my mind i am worried about the weakness in that coffin bone and my vets theory is that after two rounds of shoeing with the third degree then she wants to rexray the leg and see if the bone is filling in with scar tissue. so what do you think?

A: Hello,

I’m truly sorry to hear of your horse’s lameness problems.

Your situation does not appear to be getting better, on the contrary, it seems things are going the other way.

Reading your query, there are a few things that I would like clarified before trying to provide a useful reply.

I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask so I may better understand the situation.

If it would be convenient, I would appreciate it if you could contact me at farrier@antelopepress.com.

Thank you



Q: We decided to allow our two horses, age 4, to be barefoot instead of shod. I did not see how a nail through a hoof was an improvement on mother nature. However, this is the second time, after a trim, my mare is not walking easily. It seems to happen only after a trim. Is it possible she was trimmed too short again, or should I be looking at founder possibilities? Her condition is excellent by vet and farrier standards, both say her hoof health is very good. Am I being concerned for nothing, or should we look deeper into the situation?

A: Pretty much the only reason (aside from medical/correction) to put shoes on a horse is if going barefoot results in more hoof being worn off than is being replaced by natural growth. In other words, in most cases, if what you are asking a horse to do can be done without causing the hoof to wear off to the point of endangering the horse, then by all means, go barefoot.

Putting a nail through a hoof is not so much an attempt to improve upon Mother Nature as it is attempting to let a human ask more of the horse than the horse’s hoof is meant to endure in its natural state … carrying a rider on its back over rocky hill and dale for weeks on end to the extreme, for example.

Trimming your mare should not result in it becoming lame. If she was not lame before the trim, then she should not be afterwards. It is that simple. A balanced hoof does not result in a lame horse.

Is it possible she was trimmed too short? Absolutely! The easiest way I can think of to prevent this is for you to have and maintain a record of her trimming and shoeing. If you know the hoof lengths and hoof angles that keep her in a balanced state, then you can remind the farrier at each visit of these measurements and he or she can trim the horse to these settings and not use the, “ I’ve been doing this since me and Noah was on the Arc, and I’ll just trust my good eye … no, not that one … the other one,” method. While most farriers who have been doing this for a while are able to balance a horse’s feet just by virtue of their experience (and good eye), you’ll also see these same farriers check their work just to be sure.

Trimming a horse too short is a serious mistake on the farrier’s part and while once can happen to anyone, if this happens twice to a horse, the farrier needs to review and adjust how they are trimming your horse. Again, A balanced hoof does not result in a lame horse.

If the farrier is unwilling to listen to you and/or unable or address your concerns to your satisfaction, then you need to find a farrier who will.

If your mare is only sore after being trimmed and she recovers in a few days, and is not bothered again until the next trimming, then I would assume the problem is related to the trim rather than founder. You do say that her hoof health is good according to both your vet and farrier, so I’m assuming they are aware of the lameness problem and hopefully they would have examined her to eliminate this possibility.

That being said, founder is a really nasty problem and if you think there is any possibility of your horse foundering, then your vet/farrier should be contacted immediately.

I do not think your concern is for naught, after all, your horse is exhibiting signs that she is in distress and that is not to be ignored. And, it would appear that there is a direct correlation between the farrier visits and her lameness.

In my opinion, you are quite correct in being concerned and in trying to rectify the situation. The logical place to start is with the farrier. If the trimming is not the cause of her lameness, then the farrier should be able to tell you that. If the problem is not directly hoof related, then your vet should examine your mare and if necessary, coordinate with your farrier in developing a treatment program that will get your horse back on her feet.

I wish you the best of luck in resolving this so your mare does not have to suffer after her next trim. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Q: My horse has developed waxy stuff in between her teats and I don’t know what it is! my instructor has had a look but she isn’t that experienced in mares!
what is it n what should I do !?

A: Hello,

While this is not really in a farrier’s area of expertise, my first thought regarding the “waxy stuff between her teats,” is that your mare is exhibiting pre-foaling signs. I would recommend having her examined by your vet in order to clarify the situation.

You may find the information at these websites to be helpful:





If your mare is not pregnant, then I would suggest having her examined by your vet anyway as this is going to be the best way to find out the cause of the waxy deposits.

Sorry I cannot be more helpful, but I think your vet is the person you need to have out to examine your horse.

I’m sorry I cannot be more specific in helping to resolve your dilemma. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. Thank you and I wish you and your horse the very best.

Q: My horse has recently developed a problem being shod on both hinds, this incident occurring after her having a sore foot (may of been due to the farrier hammering the nail in the wrong part) although she can be shod on both front feet, she is a very gentle mare but I just can't understand this. Do you think it may be something to do with her pelvis or hooves etc (she had supposedly never done trotting races-(she is a French trotter)- when I bought her and has been brought on to event, she has been tense at times when ridden but there is no problem with her back, she was shod when I bought her also!)?

A: A sudden change in how a horse responds to having its feet handled is a very serious matter indeed. A thorough examination of the entire horse to see if there is any physical reason for the change is certainly in order. There are any number of reasons a horse may not want to lift its hind feet and you need to eliminate them as possible causes for her behavior. If there is a problem then this needs to be addressed immediately.

If the reason for the change is directly related to an incident that occurred during a trimming/shoeing appointment, then the farrier should make every effort to help the horse and the horse owner overcome the negative results.

As long it may take for a horse to become accustomed (trained!) to standing quietly while having its feet handled, trimmed and shod (if necessary), it can all be undone in a fraction of a second.

Who did what and why, is immaterial to the horse. All it knows is that this was an unpleasant experience and it is now afraid that it will happen again. You and your farrier must make sure that it doesn’t. If the farrier is unable or unwilling to help you with this, then you probably need to find another farrier.

If your horse’s problem stems from a nail being hammered into the “wrong” part of the hoof, then this could very well be the reason for her change in behavior. “Quicking” a horse would be akin to having a sliver driven under one of your nails … OUCH! If someone did this to you while clipping your nails, you know you are going to be just a bit jumpy when it came time to have your nails trimmed the next time.

Regardless of the reason, I would suggest that once you have determined that there is no physical reason for her change in attitude other than a bad experience with the farrier, it is never too soon to begin a rehabilitation program.

If you are not familiar with teaching a horse to stand quietly and pick up its feet for the farrier, you will need to ask for assistance in order to go at the problem in a competent manner. Either a farrier or trainer should be able to assist you with this. I would recommend starting a retraining program immediately and continue until the horse is no longer reluctant to allow her hind feet to be trimmed/shod without it being a problem.

Once a horse has had a bad experience with its hoof care program, it is imperative that you begin correcting any problems arising from the experience at once.

If this is a farrier-related problem, then the farrier end of it has to be addressed and fixed before the next rimming/shoeing. That is one part of the solution.

How long it takes to convince the horse that all is well and she is not going to be hurt the next time the farrier works on her feet is going to depend on exactly what caused the problem, as well as how the farrier responded to the situation.

How you go about this will also depend on your own skills and confidence in your abilities in working with your horse’s feet. If you have any doubts, please find a farrier to help you with this. Working around feet is extremely hazardous work and the risk of serious injury is too great to ignore.

One of the most important items, if not the most important item to bring to any part of the hoof care program is patience and understanding. This is especially true after the horse has had a bad experience that causes it to transform its behavior from good to bad.

In conclusion, I would suggest a thorough examination of the entire horse in order to find out if she has any problems not farrier/hoof related that need to be addressed. If you find something, then fixing it may correct your horse’s reluctance to have her hind feet trimmed/shod.

If the problem is farrier/hoof related, then it is up to you to determine if the farrier is going to be able to help you correct the problem. In a worse case scenario, you may have to find another farrier.

Once you have a plan to retrain your horse, then it will be up to you to follow through with patience, consistency and understanding.

Best of luck to you and your horse. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: My farrier pulled my horses shoes and scraped the sole of his left front hoof. There was immediately a strong, steady spray of blood that would not stop with direct hand pressure, but required a thick pressure dressing and having my horse stand with weight on his affected side. The farrier had no answers except a possible undetected abscess. The horse had not previously shown any indications of favoring that foot. Are there any possible explanations or future ways to avoid such a scary (for me anyway) situations?

A: I’m sorry your horse has had such a rough time of it. It is very unfortunate that he has to suffer through such an injury.

It is pretty much impossible for me to provide more than an educated guess as to what happened without having been there or being able to examine the wound.

It has been my experience that should an undetected abscess be suddenly opened by paring of the sole, at the most, there is discharge of pus and some blood, but not a strong, steady spray of blood as you have described. This sounds more like a mistake where the sole was pared much too aggressively, or perhaps the horse made a sudden movement, resulting in the knife cutting way too deep into the sensitive tissues of the hoof.

Of course, anything is possible, so I suppose the thing to do now is concentrate on doing all you can to help him recover from the injury.

You will want to treat this as you would any other serious injury. Now that there is an opening on the bottom of the sole, the risk of an infection establishing itself there is much greater and consequently, the possibility of an abscess forming has increased.

Abscesses can remain undetected for quite some time, although eventually, the horse is going to exhibit signs of lameness that usually increase rapidly as the infection gains a foothold.

It may sound a bit foolish, but the only way too avoid such an incident from repeating itself is for whoever is paring the sole to be very careful and not try to trim too much of the sole. It is that simple. Cut too deeply and you are going to hit blood … and lame the horse … and facilitate a recovery period.

Scary situation is right on the mark. Hopefully, the farrier is making every effort to help you and your horse recover from this injury. If you have any doubts about treating the injury, then I would not hesitate to have the vet out to suggest a treatment plan.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. I wish you and your horse a speedy recovery.

Q: My horse has an abscess in his left front hoof. But it has not yet come out the bottom or top of his hoof. How long does it usually take to correct itself?

A: An abscess will not usually correct itself. An abscess is a very serious event and needs to be seen by your farrier and quite possibly, your veterinarian

Here are links to a few articles on abscesses that you may find informative.


Please have your horse examined by your farrier and/or your veterinarian. Once your horse has been properly diagnosed,  a satisfactory course of treatment can be prescribed. 

I wish you the best of luck in getting your horse the medical treatment he needs in order to resolve this problem.

Q: Hi, My tall Warmblood has the high/low heel syndrome in the front.  I believe this due to his tendency to spread his legs (they are long) when he eats hay on the ground. The leg with the low heel is forward and it certainly looks like a lot of pressure on that foot.  I now try to feed his hay in a manger, feed a hoof supplement and trim trim trim the toe of the low heel (and set shoe back).  It's been partially successful, he is staying balanced longer, but there really hasn’t been much heel growth.  Five weeks into his shoeing the disparity of the angle can make him uneven at the walk (I ride dressage).  Okay here my question...The last few days I have noticed that my horse appears unbalance on the other hoof (not a club foot, pretty much a normal heel).  When he is standing he has some unusual movement in the leg, almost looks like he is over at the knee.  Its very subtle.  He was shoed less then a week ago and I thought then that my farrier could remove more heel on that side (my farrier and I go head to head often on this, he is very reluctant to lower the heel on the normal side, but I only want a tiny tiny bit trimmed off, so that at 5 weeks my horse doesn’t get short on that side).  Is it possible that the foot is unbalanced?  If yes, what error could cause this?  Also, I like my farrier very much, any thoughts on how I can tactfully address this with my farrier?

Thank you! Sarena

A: Hello Sarena,

“Is it possible that the foot is unbalanced?” I’d have to say that is a distinct possibility ... although not the only one.

“How I can tactfully address this with my farrier?” Over warm cookies and a glass of cold milk? Seriously, your farrier should be willing to listen to all your concerns, questions and/or suggestions with an open mind and be willing to explain his position in courteous and thoughtful manner ... whether he agrees with you or not. And, if not, then he should be able to explain why your ideas will not work. “Just because” or “I’ve been doing it this way for years” is not acceptable. This is your horse, you see him way more often than the farrier and your input is a vital part of a sound hoof care program. If your farrier will not listen to you, or is unable or unwilling to explain his reasoning for how he trims your horse’s feet, then you probably need to find another farrier.

Of course, you have to understand that time is money to a farrier and if your questions are going to add a significant amount of time to an appointment, you may wish to offer to compensate the farrier for this additional time. Have your questions written out and be prepared to take notes on the answers. If you approach this in a calm, professional manner, I would hope that your farrier would reciprocate in kind.

I would suggest that the first thing that you need to do is to establish the exact cause of the long-toe/low-heel situation. A set of radiographs (x-rays) may be helpful. A good horse vet is indispensable. Once you determine the cause, then a proper trimming regime can be established.

I would also suggest that you keep a written record of how your horse’s feet are being trimmed. This does not have to be complicated. You can make up your own form or use one of those available on the market.  Example:(http://www.antelopepress.com/Blacksmith's%20Page.htm)

The important thing is for you to know exactly how his feet are being trimmed at each appointment. This will allow you to see if any changes that are made regarding hoof lengths and hoof angles are producing the desired results. Once the correct hoof lengths and hoof angles have been established, then you can say, “This is exactly how I want his feet trimmed.”

If your farrier does not use a hoof gauge or ruler to measure the hoof, then ask them to show you how you can explain to another farrier how you want his feet trimmed. Sure, you want your farrier to be the only one to work on his feet, but what happens if you are out of town at a show or at your trainers and his feet need work? Or, heaven forbid, something happens to your farrier and he is unable work on your horse. You need to have some way of conveying this information to someone seeing your horse for the first time.

The correct hoof angles and hoof lengths for a particular horse are determined according to the conformation of that horse and not just some arbitrary numbers drawn out of thin air. It is sort of a Catch-22 situation. First the horse has to be trimmed correctly, then you have a valid set of numbers to work with … not the other way around.

You can take your own measurements (http://www.antelopepress.com/hs_record.htm#Hoof%20measurements%20and%20what%20good%20are%20they?)  if you are comfortable working around your horse’s feet.

Now, what you could do is take measurements every couple of weeks and see how his feet are growing and how this affects the way he travels. If you can tell your farrier that your horse’s gait changes dramatically when his feet reach a certain point, then you and the farrier may want to adjust your trimming schedule accordingly.

Trimming a horse that has naturally occurring long-toe/low-heel feet requires a farrier with the knowledge and experience in dealing with this type situation. These feet are not all that difficult in maintaining, however, they do require a certain skill level and understanding of the cause and the effect of different trimming techniques.

If you make a search on Google using the terms long toe low heel there are a number of links to articles discussing this phenomenon.

It is very important that you establish the reason for the long-toe/low-heel set-up with your horse’s feet. If it is a matter of trimming … then that is simple to fix. If, on the other hand, it is a conformation problem, then you need to find a farrier (and vet) who is capable of recognizing the problem for what it is and knowing how to correctly trim both front feet as well as establish a trimming schedule that keeps the horse balanced for the longest period of time.

In conclusion, first establish the cause of the problem. If it is simply a problem with the way the feet are being trimmed, then the answer is to correctly trim the feet (not so simple if the farrier in unable to do this).

If the problem is with the conformation of the horse, then the farrier working on your horse’s feet needs to understand the problem and be capable of trimming the feet (both fronts in this case) to balance the horse.

You may wish to increase your knowledge of the long-tow/low-heel syndrome in order to better converse with your farrier. It sounds like you have been working together on this problem for a while and have been making some progress. I think that is great and perhaps keeping a record of how your horse performs at various intervals in the trimming cycle will help better explain your concerns to your farrier. Being able to say that something happens at this time and under these conditions may make it easier to get your point across to your farrier.

I wish you, your farrier and your horse the best of luck in resolving this problem. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q:  Hello- I have a 5 year old Qtr. gelding. I was cantering him and all of a sudden he came up dead lame in front. I got off and checked his foot, I couldn't see anything. Led him back to the barn he seemed to get a little better but still held his foot up. I walked him some and he seemed a little better but still off. What could of happened??? Thanks Sandy.

A: Hello Sandy,

The majority of times I’ve seen a horse “pack” a hoof, it's because there has been some sort of puncture wound or severe bruising event. It is extremely important that the source of this injury be located quickly so treatment can begin as soon as possible. Packing a hoof is an indication of something gone seriously wrong.

If he recovers quickly enough to the point he is placing his foot on the ground within minutes, then he may have just taken a wrong step or found a sharp object to step on.

No matter what, I would suggest a through examination of the hoof, being mindful that if there is in fact a puncture and the object is still in the sole or frog, then jostling the object may elicit a violent reaction from the horse as it reacts to the sudden pain. Sometimes it can be difficult to locate an object, hole or crack in a sole or frog so it is helpful to gently but thoroughly clean the hoof first.

If you cannot find anything wrong with the hoof, then I would move up the leg paying particular attention to the various joints and tendons. Again, the first step is washing the leg to make it easier to find any foreign objects or injuries.

Here too, you have to be very gentle and careful when checking the joints for injuries. If the injury was serious enough for the horse to go dead lame and pack a hoof, then the pain had to be intense and should you hit that particular button, more than likely, the reaction is going to be sudden and intense.

Finally, an examination of the hoof is a must in cases like this. Unless you can locate the source of the injury and are comfortable in your ability to begin treatment, I would strongly suggest calling your farrier and or vet and scheduling an appointment as soon as possible.

Punctures and bruises to the hoof need to be diagnosed quickly and treatment begun immediately thereafter in order to relieve the horse’s pain and suffering.

If he has sprained or twisted a joint or injured a tendon or anything like this, then like any other injury, the quicker treatment begins, the sooner the horse will recover.

In conclusion, if you cannot find the cause of the injury yourself, then I strongly suggest contacting your farrier and or vet to help you in locating the source of your horse’s problem.

It is better to be safe than sorry when dealing with a packed hoof. Good luck in getting your horse back on his feet and please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: How long does it take for an abscess to heal?

A: There is no simple answer to this question. A lot will depend on how quickly the abscess is located and treatment begun. Other considerations include the condition of the horse, its surroundings and how well it reacts to the treatment prescribed by your farrier and/or vet. It is imperative that the abscess be taken seriously and treatment begun immediately. 

Here are links to a few articles that may provide you with some useful information concerning abscesses of the hoof.  


Additional information can be found by using the terms abscesses in hoof in a Google search. 

I hope this information helps resolve your situation. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. 

Q: I Have a horse witch arrived in Puerto Rico , San Juan in November, from Germany. The thirteen year old in the pastThree weeks has develop a lamenes in the front hands; particular the front left hand. Shoes were remove two weeks ago and foam pads were put on. the horse dose not respond to hoof test. he was treated as if it was the beaginig of Liminities.  He improvrd but in the past three days he has rergress.What should we due; everyone is confuesed in the treatmen for the horse.

A: Congratulations on the safe arrival of your horse. I’m sorry to hear that there is confusion with the diagnosis and treatment of his condition.

My first suggestion is to locate a farrier and/or a vet experienced with the treatment of hoof related conditions.

I would suggest contacting the local chapter of the American Farriers Association to see if there is a farrier near you who could help diagnose and treat your horse’s problems.


If possible, I would contact the previous owners in Germany to see if he has experienced problems of this nature before. You may also wish to contact the shipping company to see if there were any problems during his travels.

A thorough examination of the entire horse, not just the feet, would be in order. I would assume that after his journey, that there would have been an examination by a vet as to his condition upon arrival. This individual; may be able to provide information as to anything unusual that happened while the horse was en route.

Since there is confusion as to what is happening with your horse, I think you need to find a qualified farrier and a veterinarian who will be able to diagnose your horse’s problems.

Any hoof problem is serious and consequently, you do not want to delay in finding someone who can help determine the origin of the problem as well as develop a treatment that will get your horse back on his feet as soon as possible.

Finding a farrier would be your first step and hopefully, the American Farriers Association chapter located in Puerto Rico will be able to help you with this.

I’m sorry I cannot offer anything more specific, but your horse needs to have his problems diagnosed and treatment started immediately and there just is no way to do this without being able to examine him.

You have my best wishes for a speedy conclusion to your horse’s hoof problems. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: We have a single footer who when he is in gait hits his front feet with his back is there a secret to shoeing to help solve this problem?

A: Hello,

I’m sorry to hear of your horse’s interference problems. I’m afraid I’m not able to offer anything is the way of a definite fix as I’m sure you understand that one has to be able to observe the horse in order to determine a proper course of correction.


In the most basic of terms, after you are sure the horse is trimmed and balanced correctly (extremely important), either the fronts can be sped up or the hinds slowed down in order to provide the necessary clearance.


This can be done in any number of ways using different types of shoes, different weights or combinations of both, in order to gain the fraction of an inch needed to eliminate the problem. However, it all starts with the correct trim and then the correct shoes … and quite often, the farrier will take a shoe (s) and make small adjustments to it in order to correct this type problem.


Consequently, the best and most likely solution to this type of problem, and this is not in the least an uncommon problem, is to locate a farrier familiar with and experienced in trimming and shoeing single-footers. He or she, will understand what it will take in order to correct this problem without causing a different one to appear.


You may wish to look at these websites and perhaps even contact them directly as they are devoted to the welfare and care of the single-footer.





North American Single-Footing Horse Association

P.O. Box 3170

Carefree, Arizona 85377

(480) 488-7169

Email contact@singlefootinghorse.com


The North American Single-Footing Horse Association
PO Box 1079
Three Forks, MT 59752
(406) 285-6826


I’m am truly sorry that I cannot offer anything more specific. But, I hope I’ve been able to at least offer a different place to begin in your quest to resolve this issue. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.



Q: How does a horse need to stand when you measure it?

A: The horse needs to be on flat and level ground, squared up, standing evenly on all four feet.

You might wish to visit these websites where there is a more detailed discussion of the measuring of horses.



Here's hoping our horses measures up to all your expectations.

Q: Hi, my horse has been kicked in his lower leg. I would just like to know how to treat and how long he should take to recover?

A: Hello,

How to treat this injury and how long he will take to recover is going to depend on a variety of conditions, i.e. where was he kicked, how hard, which of those parts that make up his leg were damaged and how severe that damage is. Also, his physical condition and ability to recover will influence his reaction to the injury; additionally, how quickly you begin treatment and his reaction to it will affect the time it takes to get him back on his feet.

I’m sorry that I cannot be more specific, but answering your questions without being able to examine the horse is just not possible. My suggestion is to have your horse examined by a veterinarian so that the full extent of the injury can be determined and a plan to aid your horse in his recovery can be established.

Best of luck to you and your horse.

Q: I am looking to purchase a TB/Belgian cross Two days ago the farrier was out and trimmed him way too short, cut into the white line at the toe. It bled and he is very, very sore. The seller is going to clean and wrap it today as they were out of town when this happened.. I am wondering how long something like this can take to heal. Can any other problems arise from this?

A: Hello,

I’m sorry to hear of this horse’s hoof problems.

She is afraid it will abscess. Abscesses are always a possibility after any type of open wound to the hoof, but as long as the wound is thoroughly cleaned and kept clean while the injury heals, there is a very good possibility that an abscess can be avoided. A lot will, of course, depend on the severity of the injury and the ability of the treatment program to prevent an infection from gaining a foothold.

I am wondering how long something like this can take to heal. Again, this will depend on the severity of the injury. I would let the horse be the judge of when all is well. If he is sore, then I would guess the cut (s) were pretty deep. It may well require some additional protection to his foot (feet) in order to allow him to recover. I would guess his current owner is/has contacted another farrier in order to see if this would be necessary. I would be leery of finalizing any purchase until the horse demonstrates that it is fully recovered. A pre-purchase vet and farrier check would definitely seem to be called for. Additionally, you may wish to have a tryout time just to be sure he is not suffering from any problems relating to this injury. You will also want to be sure that he is not worked before his feet have had a chance to recover.

Can any other problems arise from this? If the only problem was that he was cut too short, and he is allowed to heal without being placed under stress caused by working him too soon, then I would think that a full recovery would be in the cards. However, without being onsite to examine him in person, I would suggest that you seek the services of a knowledgeable farrier and vet in order to be sure that no other problem relating to this injury has arisen. Of course, he may be a little leery of anyone trying to handle his feet after this, so you may wish to be sure that this episode has not affected his manners relating to having his feet handled.

Trying to work him before he is completely healed may have the effect of him becoming more sensitive than he normally would be, which is another reason not to rush his recovery.

Hopefully, his owner will take care of the problem and speed him on his recovery.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.


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