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Notes on Sept 2008  I did soooo much with Piper that I regret ... I hesitated to put this page up, but decided to because we all need to share our mistakes. We ALL make mistakes!

I hate reading this page, because now? I would do EVERYTHING differently!

Some of what went wrong was due to the fact that we didn't have good rehab boots, some of what happened with him was because I listened to the owners former farrier, but most of the unfortunate decisions we made were because none of us really knew better back then; we were just beginning to understand barefoot.

Four mistakes were:

  • I pulled his shoes too soon after they had been put on and he didn't have adequate sole to go barefoot without boots
  • I let another farrier talk me into pulling off a protective sole ridge that formed around the frog
  • We didn't have rehab boots ready for him when he did get tender
  • I was trying to figure out what a "conservative" trim was. I had learned to trim from a Strasser trimmer and sometimes lacked good judgement about how much to trim and how much to leave.

If I had a do-over today, I would pull his shoes at 5 to 8 weeks, or put EquiCast or rehab boots on these feet until the sole developed.

Another observation is that Piper resisted having his feet worked on - he pulled constantly. Now? That tells me that he really doesn't want me to trim him because there's nothing to trim... I'm listening, now.

Above: Piper before his trim. Note the high heels and long toe. Also, the coronet flares up in the quarters, than back down again in the heel region.

Above: Before the trim. From the rear, his heels are very contracted.

Above: as I trimmed Pipers front right foot, I noticed that the bar had completely surrounded the frog. I didn't pull out the camera until I'd removed much of the bar. The frog had been trimmed by his prior farrier

6/2005   Piper is a recently imported Dutch Warmblood trained to second level. His owner Lauri describes him as very willing and responsive, but slightly short strided. He's a perfect gentleman about everything except his feet. He had been good about having his shoes pulled, but was very resistant to having his feet worked with since. Lauri reported that he had been lifting his front right leg up intermittently, as if it ached. He didn't do this when he was shod.

I had the feeling that his front feet stung or tingled... it reminded me of having sensation restored to a leg that I'd sat on, folded under me, for too long.

Piper had been completely vet checked as sound prior to importing.


Piper has a very kind eye that gets a worried look as I reach for his foot. He was extremely resistant to having his feet worked on, and he repeatedly lunged into me during the setup trim. He was very worried about his feet.

Piper was very hard to handle, and his feet looked extremely constipated and tight, so we decided to work with him on a weekly basis until he had 4 good feet to stand on. The first day, I rolled the walls on all four feet as best I could, then focused on the front right hoof.

Piper was sound when shod and remained sound when the shoes were removed, but was a bit tender on rocks, which we expected. While he was sound, his owner and her trainer detected subtle imbalance and stiffness when he moved. Removing his shoes didn't change this, nor did trimming..

The Initial Trim

The first thing I noticed when I looked at his soles was that his bars completely surrounded the frog and covered the heel buttress on all four feet. The front right was seemed to be bothering him. I trimmed the bar from around the frog, getting it to the level of the sole.

After finishing his front right, I decided to handle the front left differently.

I decided not to remove the bar from the left foot; he was a real handful to manage, and I hate to tranquilize horses for trimming.

Instead, I set the hoof up to shed the bar better. I rolled the wall, took the heel down and pulled the heel buttress back to a balanced position. I had been able to get more heel off the front right foot that the left, but it was a concession to Pipers reluctance to be trimmed.

I then removed excess quarter wall length, shortening the wall in the quarter to the level of the sole with a rasp. This gave it the appearance of a conservative mustang type scoop, but would disappear quickly. .Relieving the wall pressure this way allows the quarter wall to drop into balance and encourages the hoof to release the retained bar.

This hoof is in transition and a mustang-like quarter wall scoop scoop is a characteristic of a very fit hoof.

I wasn't able to get the bar on the right front where I wanted it and hadn't touched the bar on the left front at all, but I had both front feet shaped (working from the top of the hoof) to help them shed bar better.

Piper was was sound and willing under saddle in shoes and out, but was short-strided. He has a nice shoulder and potentially has great scope... I think he'll turn out to be a great mover!

Above: Piper's "stinging feet" stance. He did this repeatedly during the first trim, and Lauri reports that he'd done it in pasture after having his shoes removed, and that he did it less often after being trimmed. We later discussed this with vet Dr. Kerry Ridgway, who felt it was very likely a stress related habit, like lip flapping.


Left: The bar came up easily in chunks; all I had to do was pry it a bit with my knife.

Right: These feet seemed to be sensitive because of the bar, so I trimmed bar on the front right, the hoof that appeared to bother him the most, even though he was resisting it.


Second Trim, 6/28/05

Wall and frog seem to grow dramatically in relation to the sole after a setup trim; they are growing - I can see it in the coronet band - but perhaps not as dramatically as it might appear from the sole and this is a good example of that happening. I had trimmed the wall on the foot to the left just slightly longer than the sole, and it has already "grown" enough to start flaring very slightly.

What happens is complex, but part of the transformation to a robust hoof occurs when the exposed sole, wall and bar fibers get "mashed" into a smooth, dense material - callous - as the horse uses a newly trimmed hoof. The hoof wall is growing, but it appears that the sole condenses into callous more than the wall edge.

After just 10 days, his heel bulbs and quarters have relaxed; I wish I'd measured so that we could track how fast his feet are de contracting!!

When I picked up the left front foot (below) I was thrilled to see that the bar was loosening naturally and would be easy to remove with bonsai trimmers

While this heel looks **much** more relaxed than before, it isn't as relaxed as the right front (see at the left) , which I'd trimmed the bar from.

I rolled his toes a bit more after removing the bar. The owner has encouraged me to do less more often, and will use soaking boots to help move these feet along.

Third Trim, 7/13/2005

I brought my rotary tool to clean up Pipers bars.

My plan was"

  • soak Pipers front feet for 20 minutes and take pictures
  • lunge him in sand for 5 minutes to get the hoof moving & loosen the bars; take pictures to verify the charges this makes in the hoof
  • trim bar, soak 20 minutes
  • lunge in sand & take final pictures

Attitude Change...

Pipers attitude towards trimming has improved dramatically over the past three weeks. Initially he lunged into my lap to avoid having his feet worked on, and for this trim he stood quietly with the lead over his back as I used the Dremil to fine tune his bars... a great transformation! I still wasn't able to work on his rear feet, and didn't know why. He was still slightly off and I suspected that he had something going on that made lifting his legs painful.

There is still some "run-amuck" bar covering the sole in the heel buttress area, and I want to smooth.

His feet are developing nicely, but don't have a lot of callous yet. He lives in a field that has lots of 3 to 6 inch rock in the soil, he has access to sand and walks on that occasionally. His owner rides him several times a week in a course sand arena. His owner and I soak his feet to help them remodel. Piper is in an almost ideal situation for rehabbing this type of foot.

Below: Pipers foot after soaking before the 3rd trim. Notice the fine layer of bar still covering the heel buttress. I haven't trimmed any sole on this horse; I only trimmed the bar that filled the sulcus The heels have spread nicely in the past three weeks; I believe they will spread faster now that we're starting to soak his feet.


Below: Pipers foot after soaking and lunging in sand (before the 3rd trim). Notice the fine layer of bar still covering the heel buttress on the left has loosened and has started to pop off the sole; this was a result of the combination of soaking and lunging.
Below: After the trim, re-soak and lunging, most of the bar is out of the buttress and the wall has been slightly beveled.

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Serving the greater SF Bay Area & Northern California
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