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Emmett's Lost False Sole & Torn Bars

August 24, 2005

"... it looks like the bottom of his foot came off..."

8/2005    Emmett is a 12 year old TB who was rescued, lame, several years ago. Since then, he's developed a pattern of intermittent lameness', and his rescuer decided "He's just one of those horses that has to be shod." Unfortunately, he was lame when shod as well. Emmett is an unusually sweet horse, a nice mover whenever he's sound... and while he is an athletic, spirited TB, **anyone** can ride him. The $3k of training shows up when he's sound enough for dressage or light jumping. I would love to get him sound.

This was his pattern; his rescuer laid him up in pasture while lame, then sent him to full training when he was sound again. He'd come back lame after a brief period of work. This cycle repeated itself several times a year. The unsoundness always started not long after he had to go back to work.

I first trimmed Emmett in March '05 at a trainers; the trainer started riding him (dressage and low jumps) with wall flare that ringed his sole by over 3/4 inch... the resulting white line separation put an end to that training episode! I trimmed him and he went back into lay up.


In early June '05 I was contacted by a youth oriented charity, Patchworks Farms, that had received Emmett as a donation. They were told that he absolutely needed shoes, but were referred me to trim their other horses. Emmett's feet looked okay by that time, so they opted to trim him and see if he could hold up to light arena work barefoot. In early July 05 he was still sound for easy lesson work.

On August 20th, the organizations coordinator decided to take him on an easy trail ride. He pulled up lame at a mile out and was led back in.
When I went to trim him,I noticed immediately that the bar on his Front Right hoof had torn off. His sole was a dark brown/red color, and it looked like he had shed a false sole.

I wrote to, my favorite barefoot email support group, and asked for feedback. Several people replied that they had had the same thing happen, and also stated that the recovery process had been amazingly brief.


Emmett has been lame off and on for several years; he's had consistently good food, but was in a tough pasture with lots of rock and a mixture of pasture mates.

His health care has included the basics (shots and worming) but his Hoof care has been neglected as his is a rescue and at the bottom of the list when it comes to has been managed erratically as one of many rescues. He hadn't had foot care for well over a year when I first saw him.

Talking to his rescuer, I now suspect that he's had a reoccurring problem with solar abscesses. He would abscess, go sound, then shed the false sole. The newly exposed sole would becomes bruised before it can toughen up, leading to further abscessing.

If only we could read their minds...

August 31 Sound Again!

I went out to give Emmett more support around his heel using Super Fast epoxy and discovered that he was on his way to soundness! He favored his front right slightly, so I trimmed the torn bar a bit more and left him to continue healing.

September 7 - Back to work in Epics

Emmett's feet have continued to toughen up, and he is sound at a very easy trot in the arena. We fit him with Epics and initially made the mistake of free-lunging him - Whoopee!!!

The arena has been set up for lessons with caveletti and poles, and Emmett took off at a canter, launched into a few grand bucks and lapped the arena several times at a canter, jumping obstacles and looking 100% sound. He **definitely likes his new Epics! I asked the center coordinator to restrict his work to very easy lessons for the next week (no cantering or jumping).

We took the pictures below once we'd caught him and put him on a lunge line... notice the heel first landing...

Retrim, September 21st

Time got away from be, and before I knew it, 2 weeks had gone by. I went to check Emmett's feet and they had grown so fast it was hard to believe. He was now sound on the trail and in the arena, and was jumping caveletti with 12 year olds on his back... he looked awesome.

The foot that had shed it's sole still lacked any sole depth (read Pete Ramey's article on soles for more info, and there was still a jagged piece of bar that was a visual nuisance, but this horse was sound for the first time in almost 4 years.


December 14, 2005


From flat soled to concave - the Natural Way!!

I sometimes get a hard time from Strasser type trimmers for leaving feet looking "unfinished" and for not being aggressive enough with the bars and sole, and Emmett is testimony to the fact that the Less Is More technique really works.

Folks, it doesn't take a year to "Transition" to barefoot, all it takes is common sense.

Emmett has been unsound for several years - he has always had "lousy TB feet", and he just got the okay to start trail riding barefoot after only 4 months of conservative trimming. After the first week, he has been sound and under saddle as a lesson horse in Epics, and now? He doesn't need the boots.

I hadn't trimmed Emmett for a few months because his owner has been taking care of his maintenance trims, so when I picked his foot up to start my trim, I was thrilled to see how awesome his feet looked!!

He now has great concavity, his bars and heels are where they are suppose to be, and he's VERY sound!

Quite a change from the feet above, don't you think?!!

Further reading

Sub solar Bruising
Non-septic Pedal Osteitis - A Cause of Lameness and a Diagnosis? William Moyer, DVM; Timothy R. O'Brien, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVR; and Michael Walker, DVM, Dipl. ACVR.

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Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
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