Hoofcare & Information for Barefoot Soundness

Linda Cowles Hoof Care - Serving the greater SF Bay Area and Northern California

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August 2007

This horse (the name has been changed) was an "A" Circuit jumper who competed regularly until his premature retirement due to a chronic lameness problem. He would become progressively more lame on the front right, spraining the lateral and medial ligaments, would be laid up, rehabbed, then returned to competition. At 10-12 years old, he was a handsome and well bred warmblood. His owners were serious competitors.

The right regional vets were consulted about his lameness, the best farrier services were engaged. Saddle fitters, body workers and chiropractors were utilized. Money was spent on saddles, blankets, bridles and all of the gear associated with competing aggressively. He was pampered and managed, he was trained, conditioned, transported and heavily insured.

None of it helped.

Final Injury

A barn accident resulted in his re-spraining the ligaments, and his owners finally gave up. He was given to one of my clients as an alternate to euthanasia. This client was convinced that he could be rehabbed him into a sound horse if we took him barefoot.

I was sure we would find Thrush in the left front frog to explain why he repeatedly sprained the right front in spite of the fact that he lived in an expensive and well managed facility. His shoeing was costly even for a show barn.




When I saw him the first time, his stance and movement supported my suspicions about thrush. We took the body pictures above when he was relaxing; he would stand more or less square if asked, but this was his preferred stance. The first picture is with shoes, the second was barefoot after a conservative setup trim.

Note that in the picture to the left, his weight is on his injured right front. This stance allows the horse to remove pressure from uncomfortable heels, frogs and the structures located above them. It also increases the stress on the deep flexor tendon, sesamoids and navicular area.

Front Feet - Before

Rear Feet - Before



After The Shoes Came Off

The setup trim was nothing special; I pulled the shoes and pads (pads on the front only), cleaned up the frogs, beveled the heels and walls.

This big guy had a bit of deep digital descent, but it wasn't bad. He had nice walls and good concavity, and when I beveled the heels slightly, he had a nice heel purchase.



Right Front - The "Bad Hoof" With Sprained Lateral & Medial Ligaments

The hoof that kept spraining was really a nice foot. He had an acceptable digital cushion and while the heels were slightly contracted, it wasn't bad. He had some fungus in the foot, but no real thrush.

Left Front - The "Good Foot"

The "good" foot was another story, and after seeing the frog on the Left Front, it was apparent why this guy kept spraining the Right Front hoof. He had deep thrush that went down into the frog corium, and extended up between his heel bulbs into the tissue above the digital cushion. These pictures were taken after the frog was trimmed.


The Hind Feet

The left hind frog looked fine, and the right hind frog was as bad as the




The Left Hind - Diagonally Opposite The Sprained Front Right


The Right Hind

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Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
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