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Exposing The Truth About Horrible Thoroughbred Feet!!

Sept 2005

Dear Linda,

BC is doing just fine. He is completely sound and his hooves are really hard.

I had him in a Laurel Bruun Dressage Clinic last weekend and she had great things to say about his movement. She said he has great potential to do well in dressage because he has spring; he is elastic.

She went on to explain that the big horses can have a big stride, but they don't have the elastic look that only some horses have, like BC. That really gave me a boost.

All the work on his feet will be very worthwhile if he can easily do well when performing.


What's the big deal about that letter? Well, the horse she's referring to has "Horrible Thoroughbred Feet" . AND he's barefoot!

Thoroughbred Feet?

Many people assume that Thoroughbreds have horrible feet, and that having horrible feet is due to poor breeding practices. I want to challenge that assumption.

Consider this; a horses feet account for far less than 1% of the whole horse, right? So, how can TB breeders get 99.5% of that magnificent animal so damned RIGHT and get the only the feet WRONG?

I don't understand! These big majestic animals are marvels of animal husbandry... they have been bred for centuries for strength, agility, stamina, athleticism - and great looks! They aren't all Einstein's' in the brains department, but they are very sensitive and responsive.

So how do all of those many thousands of silly breeders manage to breed "bad" into just the feet???

What's particularly perplexing is why those same horrible TB feet become so wonderfully hard and durable once given a chance to shed their metal shoes... Yes, that's right, I connected the phrases "horrible TB feet" and "wonderfully hard and durable", because this is what happens when the shoes are taken off and the feet are trimmed and balanced by a knowledgeable barefoot trimmer / farrier.

"Better Off Barefoot" applies to thoroughbreds more than it applies to any other breed!

Five of the horses I trim today are thoroughbreds that "absolutely have to be shod" . One of them had "walls the consistency of a mushroom" when shod; he walked out of his shoes at 4 to 6 weeks. Four of these TB's are literally Gravel Crunchers when trail ridden on tough terrain barefoot, and the fifth is pasture sound barefoot, and working sound in boots after recovering from shedding a false sole a few weeks back.

All these Bad Footed TB's needed was a chance to develop a good foot without a shoe attached to it.

BC's History

BC's owner, June, called after checking me out through her network of barefoot trimmers. By the time I met BC, June had moved him to a very nice barn where most of the other horses were shod. BC hadn't been trimmed in many months; he was sound, but his feet were extremely ragged! So ragged that the barn owner was concerned because his feet appeared to be far too short.

June reassured me over the phone that while his feet looked extremely short, he was always sound after a trim.

When I saw his feet, they were every bit as short as June had said. "Everyone's afraid that he'll be walking on bloody stumps after a trim" she confided. I gulped!


According to his owner:

"I was told that BC sprained his left front suspensory ligament on the track and was rehabbed. He returned to the track and sprained the same ligament again.

This time he was pin-fired and rehabbed. When returned to the track after the second sprain, he did not do well. No-one noticed that he had an enlarged right sesamoid, on the right rear, which was probably the cause, as he would try to keep weight off the right rear when running. "

"When I got him from the United Pegasus Rescue in Southern California, he had an obvious clubbed left front foot, but they said he was sound. He had been adopted and returned three times. He was in shoes, with the left front on a pad with the shoe.

He was very reluctant to allow his feet to be lifted or cleaned and I had to work with his feet just tilted up so that I could clean them. He also had a limp at any speed faster than a walk.

"I tried many different farrier's over the next year with no success. BC continued to get harder to handle with each shoeing. Then I would have to call the vet to tranquilize him for the farrier. The situation just escalated."

"Not knowing what to do, I spoke to the folks at United Pegasus Rescue and barefoot trimming was suggested. That was a few years ago and it was very new. Since then I have worked with a regular shoer, Lynn Seeley, Phil Morare and now Linda Cowles. Once Lynn pulled his shoes, BC was calm and quiet when being worked on."

" Linda Cowles can testify to how quiet he was with her, even the first trim. His left front is no longer club shaped and the right rear sesamoid is no longer enlarged and tender. This proves what improvements proper balance can make. "

"Something funny: BC is wary about people he doesn't know and, like many TBs, will back off if you are assertive with him. "

"A well known farrier offered to help by catching BC one time and ended up chasing him around his paddock for 45 minutes.

Lynn Seeley watched all this and then went into the paddock, stood still for a minute, and walked right up to BC and trimmed his feet without even a halter on. A horse knows when you are helping him and doing things that make him feel good. "


June reassured me that his feet looked extremely short, but BC is always sound after a trim. Prior to the trim, his feet *were* short! And he's a big guy - that makes his feet look even shorter! But I watched him walk on these broken walled feet and he looked fine.




Sometimes I'm extremely pleased with how a foot looks after a setup trim, and other times I simply feel relieved when a horse walks away sound. I'm getting used to the feeling of dissatisfaction with how a horses foot may look at this stage, because I now understand that all I'm doing is setting up the foot to become fit again.

In the case of this fellow, the owner was not concerned about him becoming tender in spite of the fact that he had very little wall, but I asked her to bear with my conservative tendencies until I knew how he would respond. He's a very big guy with lots of past injurries, and I didn't want to hurt him.

The best part of this trim was when we walked outside and this big guy trotted across a gravel drive sounder than most shod horses could.


Re trim September 24, 2005

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