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Q: How long does bruising take to heal?  The bruising is at toe because of poor trimming.  My TB eventer wears 4 shoes.  We've had difficulty finding a good farrier in our area.  He has 2 odd front feet - one underrun heal which never grows and one heal that grows well.  Last trim his toes were too long and heals too low, so the farrier tells me the toes were bruised by the breakover.  The white line was pink at toe when trimmed - does color indicate how fresh the bruise is?  We now have a 3/8 wedge on the underrun heal which brings him up to the correct angle.  Is this too much to start with on the first change?  Other farriers have only extended shoe behind hoof slightly, saying that would help grow more heal, which it doesn't.  Right now the horse is also lame from a strain on the front leg (when he threw a shoe) so it's hard to tell when the bruising is better.  Any advice on proper angles and wedges would be welcomed or I could send pictures of his feet at present time.  Thanks.

A: Because the time it takes for a bruise to heal depends on a number of factors, it is not really possible to be very specific. The cause, location, severity and treatment of the bruise can all affect the recovery time needed. The first thing is to determine the cause of the bruise, so that it may be eliminated, thereby preventing the situation from continuing/worsening as well as interfering with the healing process.

It sounds like you have identified the cause as being directly related to the quality of hoof care provided by the last farrier to work on your horse. You may wish to consider using the American Farrier’s Association “Find a Farrier” resource to locate a farrier in your area: http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/index.php

There may be a state farrier association that could provide a recommendation as well as your vet may be able to suggest someone whose work they recommend. You may wish to explore the possibility of using the Internet to locate a Thoroughbred Association near you that you could query for the name of a qualified farrier. I used the search term Thoroughbred Association and found numerous links to chapters in both Canada and the United States.

A description of, “one underrun heal which never grows and one heal that grows well” may indicate either a really poor trimming job by a farrier and/or a horse with particular hoof problems that prevent the feet from ever looking identical. A farrier should be able to tell you if the feet are just not being trimmed correctly or if there is another problem that needs to be addressed.

Last trim his toes were too long and heals too low, so the farrier tells me the toes were bruised by the breakover.  The white line was pink at toe when trimmed - does color indicate how fresh the bruise is?

Color is not always the best way to determine the “freshness” of a bruise, especially one in the white line. An examination that may include the use of hoof testers may be a better indication as to the severity and degree to which the bruise has healed. Treatment should always begin at the first sign of soreness and continue long enough for the bruise to completely heal. The color will not be absorbed back into the hoof wall or white line and will remain until it is trimmed out as the hoof grows out.

We now have a 3/8 wedge on the underrun heal which brings him up to the correct angle.  Is this too much to start with on the first change? Not in my opinion. I would return him to his correct angles as fast as possible.

It sounds like you have identified the main problem, which is the need for quality hoof care. The long toe/low heel situation when caused by improper trimming should be avoided at all costs. If the cause of the mismatched front feet is due to human error, then the problem should go away once the horse’s feet are brought back into balance. If the problem is related to a physical or conformation problem, then a farrier should be able to trim/shoe the horse accordingly.

I would suggest if you have not already done so, that you keep a shoeing record of some type so that you will know exactly hoof lengths and angles will keep your horse sound. Once your horse has been trimmed/shod correctly, this information will allow you to tell any farrier exactly how you want your horse’s feet trimmed and/or shod as well as help you identify if he is not being trimmed to your specifications. There is some information on this webpage that you may find helpful. http://www.antelopepress.com/hs_record.htm

Other farriers have only extended shoe behind hoof slightly, saying that would help grow more heal, which it doesn't.  It is much easier to remove too much heel from a hoof than it is to bring the heel back to its correct angle. There are a number of different techniques used to help bring a horse’s heels back into their proper state. Each case has to be evaluated according to the individual situation. This is something that requires an examination of the horse and consulting with the owner in order to develop a workable plan to return the horse to a sound condition.

Right now the horse is also lame from a strain on the front leg (when he threw a shoe) so it's hard to tell when the bruising is better. I would think that it would be prudent to treat the bruise until it no longer bothers the horse. As I mentioned earlier, the color will not be absorbed back into the hoof wall or white line and will remain until it is trimmed out as the hoof grows out.

Proper angles and wedges. These will have to be determined by a farrier after an examination of the horse. They are dependant on the horse’s conformation and will vary from horse to horse.

I could send pictures of his feet at present time. I'll be happy to look at pictures of your horse’s feet: My email address is: farrier@antelopepress.com

I hope I’ve been able to answer your questions satisfactorily. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: What is a name for horseshoer that people used in early times, and what do they call horseshoers nowadays?

A: Blacksmith (Smithy) is a word used to describe someone who took care of horse’s feet in “early times.”

While this particular term is still used today in some parts of the world with regard to the modern-day horseshoer, the term “Farrier” has gained acceptance as one who makes, repairs and fits horseshoes.

Thanks for asking this question. 

Q: My horse has been shod twice with what appears to small shoes, can this be causing stiffness and favoring front left foot? 

A: Fitting a horse with the improper size shoe can cause long-term permanent damage to the horse. Stiffness and favoring can certainly be signs of a foot shod with a too small shoe.

However, as I’m sure you are aware, there are numerous other possibilities that may cause similar symptoms, including, but not limited to, the trim itself.

That being said, there is no excuse for a horse to be fitted with shoes that do not fit its feet. Fitting a horse with shoes that are too small for its feet is unacceptable … period.

If you feel that your horse’s shoes are too small for its feet, then you need to bring this to the immediate attention of your farrier and if he/she is not able to adequately address your concerns, then you need to find another farrier who will.

This is a good example of why every horse should have a record of how its feet are being trimmed/shod. If you know the toe lengths, heel lengths and hoof angles that your horse needs its feet to be trimmed to, along with its shoe type and size, then if you suspect that something has changed, you have a very simple way to verify your suspicions. Plus, it makes it simple to show a new farrier exactly how your horse’s feet need to be trimmed and shod (if necessary) in order to keep it sound.

If your horse exhibits signs of stiffness and/or favoring or any of its feet, this is reason enough to have a farrier re-examine the horse. If the fault lies in an improperly fitted shoe, it needs to be removed at once and the hoof fitted with the proper size shoe.

The best way to determine this is to have a qualified farrier examine the horse.

It is good to see that you are paying close attention to your horse’s feet and how they are being trimmed and shod. There are a number of books on the market (they may also be available in or through your local library) that have been written for the horse owner wishing to learn more about the whole business of trimming and shoeing their horses. You can see some titles here: (http://www.antelopepress.com/Blacksmith's%20Page.htm#Suggested%20Reading)

If you’d like to see a sample record book, either to use or as a model for developing one of your own, please follow this link: http://www.antelopepress.com/horseshoe_record_book.htm

I hope I’ve been able to answer question to your satisfaction. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. Best of luck to your and your horse.

 

Q: I’m doing my nvq2 and need to know how to recognize when a horse needs re-shoeing.  Have you any information or pictures or do you know of any sights I could use.

A: When to trim/re-shoe a horse depends primarily on how fast the horse grows hoof. The average domesticated horse gets neither the exercise nor experiences the lifestyle necessary for their feet to maintain the proper conditions without regular hoof care. When you put a horseshoe on a foot you further reduce the wearing off of the hoof that would occur if allowed to be barefoot; however, even barefoot horses need regular trimming to keep them in balance.

A horse owner should always keep a written record of their horse’s ideal hoof lengths and hoof angles so that they can tell with a few simple measurements if their horse’s feet are getting too long in the toe and if the hoof angle is not within the horse’s tolerable range. A record will also establish a time frame that allows the horse owner to schedule farrier appointments that keep the horse trimmed/shod on a regular basis.

Additional signs that a call to the farrier is warranted include the hoof wall beginning to overgrow the outside edge of the shoe, the nail clinches appear loose as well as the shoe itself being loose on the foot. Horseshoes do not last forever, so when they show signs of developing a heavy wear pattern, it is another sign that it may be time to re-shoe the horse.

This website has  a good bit of information relating to hoof care and most everything equine related. http://www.equisearch.com/searchresults/?terms=hoof+care You may wish to check it out.

Good luck.

Q: I just purchased a 9 yr. old Arabian gelding - He is stumbling and the previous owner swears he never stumbled - Help!!!!!!!

A:  Stumbling is not only a nuisance, but it can be downright life-threatening to both horse and rider.

The first thing I would check is to be sure that your horse’s feet are properly trimmed. A horse with feet that are not balanced is more likely to experience changes to its gaits. The importance of a proper trim/shoeing cannot be overstated. A lot of the time a stumbling  problem is eliminated simply by having the horse trimmed/shod correctly. Your farrier will also most likely want to conduct a thorough examination of your horse to determine any obvious causes for your horse’s condition.

If it is practical, you might ask the previous owner for the name of his/her farrier so you can find out how the horse was being set up. If that farrier knows the hoof lengths and angles used on your horse, then it should be a simple matter of your farrier trimming the horse to those specifications. This is the main advantage of keeping a written record hoof settings.

Once trimming/shoeing problems have been ruled out, then there are any number of possible causes for a horse to stumble. I’ll list a few here:

I think it is worth mentioning again that you will want to be sure that your horse is properly trimmed. Even a ¼ inch difference in hoof length and/or a couple of degrees difference in the hoof angle can cause dramatic changes to the way a horse travels.

If a horse just begins to stumble out of the blue, then you really need to have a knowledgeable farrier examine your horse. Once you have been able to determine the reason for the stumbling, then you and your farrier should be able to develop a hoof care plan to get your horse back on its feet.

I wish you the best in resolving your horse’s problem.

Q: Breaking out.

A: I would like to congratulate you on taking the ultimate step (doing the work yourself) in providing your horse with quality hoof care. I really think that your horse will benefit from your efforts.

I’m going to assume that since you are doing your own trimming that you are keeping records of the toe and heel (angle) lengths. (For an example of the booklet I use, please click here). This is very important as you want to know if the changes you are making are producing the desired effects as well as making it simple to maintain consistency with your trimming program.

Just to be sure that we’re all on the same page regarding the terminology, I’m going to use the term “Medial” to describe the inside, “Lateral” to describe the outside and “she wings in her front right” to mean that she either is or has the potential to strike (interfere with) the inside of her left front leg with the inside of her right front hoof when she travels.

This is not to be confused with paddling, where the flight path of the affected hoof is in a circular motion to the outside.

First I’d look to the wear pattern of the hoof. If she is barefoot (most likely at 12 months) you should be able to determine if the hoof is wearing flat and level or low to one side or the other. On a shod horse, the same wear pattern will be evident on the ground surface of the shoe.

Feet that wing in, where the hoof deviates from a straight flight path and travels inside with the potential to strike the inside of the opposite limb usually stand in a toed-out position. A toed-in conformation usually results in a “paddling” motion.

An easy way to remember what side of the hoof to lower is that if the foot toes- in–lower the inside. If the hoof toes-out–lower the outside of the hoof. Whichever way the toe “points” is the side you want to lower, if in fact you determine that deviating from flat and level is what you need to do..

Also, please take note that you always want to use the least amount of correction necessary to do the job. This is especially important when working with young horses as their bones are still growing and as such are very susceptible to outside influences.

Additionally, one quarter inch should be the absolute maximum you want to deviate from flat and level.

I like to round the edges of the hoof/shoe on all horses as it helps minimize the severity of any contact should it occur. This is sometimes called, “safing”, “rounding off” or simply “cleaning up” the hoof/shoe. This simple act will sometimes make all the difference between it “just misses” and a debilitating injury.

In addition to lowering the Lateral (outside) portion of the hoof, squaring the toe is another tool commonly used to “straighten” a wayward hoof. Unless there are some very unique and special circumstances surrounding your horse’s condition, I would simply use the natural center of her hoof as a starting point and “square” an equal amount to either side of that point. The square toe is basically just a guide to help the foot breakover in a straightforward fashion.

The trimming of the hoof should assist is getting the hoof to “point” straight ahead when it is placed on the ground and the square toe effect will make it easier for the hoof to breakover at the toe and begin its flight path in a straight line. With a young horse, this is usually enough to allow the bones to finish growing and to do so in a manner that results in greatly reducing, if not entirely eliminating the “winging out” problem.

I hope I’ve been able to answer your question satisfactorily. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

   

Q: Maybe you can help me with my horse. He started several weeks ago with being very slightly off on right fore.  Came and went and he seemed to work out of it.  I was checking his feet and noticed frog very ragged and both front heels seemed high- he definitely wasn't getting any frog ground contact with the right front.  Farrier was out last week for scheduled trim and reset shoes.  I mentioned heels seemed high-right more than left, so for him to see what he thought and do what he thought best.  Wasn't there for the trim, but next day horse was extremely sore at the trot in soft arena.  I looked at his feet and noticed deep       in center of frog that ran between heel bulbs.  Thought maybe he had thrush in there that caused more lameness now since farrier had obviously lowered heels and frog was getting better ground contact.  So I started Epsom salt soaks and applied thrush buster to area.  Kept him in for a few days and lameness improved.  Then turned him out in dry hard paddock and next day very lame right front at trot.  Had another farrier look at him a few days later,  he tested all nails-no obvious pain.  He said foot was trimmed too short, and shoe was too small and was sitting inside hoof at heel with no room for hoof expansion.  He removed shoe and replaced with properly fitting shoe with pad.  Said give it a few days to see if it helps.  Its only been 2 days (1 week 2 days since original trim)  but horse still very lame at trot.  Could this lameness be from too short trim.  Its been over a week since trim with no real improvement.  Vet has been called but can't see horse until next week.  Could lameness be from trimming heels too aggressively rather than bringing them down slowly?  Horse seems to painful in heels and heel bulbs on that foot look slightly swollen.  Thanks for any help. 
Ellen

A: Ellen,

I applaud you for you perseverance in working to get your horse back on its feet.

It is very possible for an improperly trimmed hoof  (too long heels for example) to result in lameness. If a hoof is not trimmed correctly, as it grows out, the imbalance will often become more pronounced, with lameness being the result.

I suggest that a written record of the hoof lengths and angles be kept for each horse and recorded every time the hooves are trimmed.

Hoof lengths and angles are not used to decide how to trim a horse’s hooves to a balanced state, but instead, once the horse’s feet are balanced, these numbers provide the horse owner and the farrier with an easy way to be sure the hooves are trimmed the same way every time, thereby maintaining consistency.

Once you know how your horse’s feet need to be trimmed in order for it to perform at its best, you now have a way to see if the heels or toes are getting too long or if they have been trimmed too short. Plus, I’m sure you can see the advantages in being able to tell a new farrier exactly what it takes to keep your horse sound as well as knowing what settings have been tried that may not have produced the desired results.

A shoeing record like this: http://www.antelopepress.com/horseshoe_record_book.htm

is simple to use, but whether you use it or make up one of your own, the important thing is for you to know what it takes to trim your horse to a balanced state.

If your farrier does not measure the toe lengths with a rule of some sort and does not use a hoof gauge ($17.00) to record the hoof angle, then ask them for an alternative method that will allow you to be sure the feet are being trimmed the same way each time and that will allow you to tell another farrier how to duplicate the results. This is information that you need to know and have on hand just for situations such as you are experiencing.

I would think that if there was a problem with thrush, you would have smelled it long before your horse went lame considering the attention you pay to your horse’s hooves.

A sound horse should not become lame as the result of a trim. If your horse was only slightly off on the right fore before trimming, then it should not be extremely sore immediately afterwards.

If the hoof was trimmed too short, the shoe too small and then set inside the hoof at the heel, that farrier owes you and your horse an explanation. Any of those three conditions has the potential to cause serious lameness problems and can be easily avoided.

I assume the second farrier also checked the other foot in the pair to be sure that it was fitted properly with the correct size shoe.

 If your horse’s heels were too long it is entirely possible for that to be the reason it was slightly off before the first farrier worked on your horse. Now, if the heel has been trimmed too short, it is possible the bulbs are going to become bruised if their condition is not taken into account when the horse is being shod.

It comes back to having the hooves balanced. If the hoof has been trimmed so out of balance that correcting the problem through further trimming is not possible, then it is up to the farrier to correctly balance the horse using other methods. Flat pads can be used to provide additional protection for the heels and soles of the hoof, while wedge pads may be necessary to elevate the heels in order to raise them to their proper position. Having a record of your horse’s lengths and angles to refer to will make this much simpler.

If the heels were trimmed too short, there is a good chance that the horse will feel the effects in the tendons of that leg as they will become sore from being overstressed due to the improper hoof angle.

Usually, if a horse has been trimmed a little too short, the effects tend to disappear within a few days as soon as the hoof and sole have grown out enough provide the necessary protection. However, that assumes the trim was only a little too short and not too short and out of balance both.

The horse is not going to be able to recover until the feet once again are in balance. If your horse is experiencing soreness in the heels and/or bulbs, and not improving, then you might want to contact your vet and see if he or she can recommend a farrier they are comfortable working with and who they believe has the experience to correct your horse’s problems.

I hope I’ve been able to offer some assistance in your quest to resolve your horse’s lameness problems. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do.

Buz

Q: Last week my ferrier trimmed and reset the shoes on my horse.  Because the gelding had been overreaching, he increased the amount of heal on all four feet.  Now the gelding is not moving nearly as pretty-he is shorter strided and more knee action.  How soon before he can be trimmed again and take down the heals a little bit.  He is shown in hunter under saddle classes were movement is important.

A: Hello,

It is my opinion that anytime a horse is found to be trimmed not to the best advantage of the horse, the situation should be remedied at the earliest opportunity.

In other words, your horse needs to have his feet fixed as soon as your farrier can get there. Your case differs from the norm in that you have too much heel instead of the more common problem of not having enough heel. A few passes of the rasp are usually enough to remove a lot of heel. If it was a case of too much heel having been removed, a wedge pad might be in order.

Unless there are other considerations, it sounds like a simple case of removing the shoes, trimming the horse to a balanced state and nailing the shoes back on.

There is no need or good reason I can think of to delay in trimming the horse. You do not have to wait a set amount of time between trimmings.

Anytime a horse is shod, there is the possibility of it losing a shoe before the regularly scheduled appointment, whether it be the day after it was shod or later. More than likely, your farrier will have placed his nails in such a manner as to be able remove, fix the trim, and replace the shoes without causing any problems.

The important thing is to get the horse’s feet back to a balanced condition as soon as possible, because as much as his gait has changed, you have to figure it cannot be comfortable or healthy for his long-term good health.

I would suggest keeping a shoeing record of how he is being set up so that once he is trimmed and shod to your expectations, you will be able to have him trimmed the same way each time. It costs very little and only requires the time it takes to write down his hoof lengths and angles. So simple, yet keeping a written record lets you show any farrier exactly how you want your horse set up and when you do make a change, if it does not work out like you expected, then a record will help prevent trying those settings again sometime in the future.

Here is one example of a simple shoeing record: http://www.antelopepress.com/horseshoe_record_book.htm

Thank you for your question and I hope I’ve been able to help you with your problem.

Good luck in your show season.

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