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Stretch - Missouri Fox Trotter

See his January 16, 2006 Update Page

September 9th, 2005

This Fox Trotter is a teenaged gelding with a very unusual gait anomaly.

When the current owner originally saw him, he was being ridden by an experienced rider, and his right rear leg was so weak that he literally started to fall down. Her thought was to wonder why anyone would buy such an unsound horse.

She was later coaxed into riding him and she discovered the reason... he loves to go, has a wonderful forward personality and makes the best of whatever is on his schedule for the day. While he can easily be ridden by a novice or infrequent rider, he still has lots of spirit and a great desire to enjoy being with his rider and the trail before him.

Like the other horses owned by the same person, he had stretched growth rings, contracted and under run heels on his front feet .

The shoes were removed from this horse with two weeks of wear on them. This meant that the walls were too short to do much with, aside from reshaping them by adding a slight bevel.

He's in a stall with a paddock that is bedded in rice hulls and gets ridden or ponied weekly in Epic boots.

The shoes were removed from this horse with two weeks of wear on them. This meant that the walls were too short to do much with, aside from reshaping them by adding a slight bevel.

He's on a 2 week retrim schedule until we get his feet balanced.

Feb. 2009 - In Hindsight...

I should have left the shoes on this horse and his 3 buddies at least 3 or 4 more weeks - it would have accelerated the transition by several months.

At the time, most of the folks wanting to try barefoot would only risk it on super pathological horses (last resort cases), broodmares, babies and horses that had successfully been barefoot before. Part of me was afraid that she'd change her mind if I asked to wait, so... and learn. Maybe If I admit my mistakes others will learn from them!

This horse is still barefoot and is very sound. His owner and her best friend keep him and his two companions trimmed.

Shod rear feet

This horses great attitude can hamper us when we are trying to resolve problems because he won't tell us when something is wrong. Instead he manages to deal with everything.

In this case, "dealing" meant moving very erratically on his right rear.

My favorite quote these days is "when your best tool is a hammer, all of your problems look like they need to be fixed with a nail!", and so I see this fellow having obvious movement problems and I **really** want to fix them. I may not be able to.

He doesn't appear to use his right rear foot evenly. He seems to land on his inside heel and shift his weight to his outside toe, swiveling his foot as he moves.


Below and above: Right Rear foot



Setup Trim

I neglected to take a good set of "before" pictures of this guys feet once I pulled the shoes. Again, these feet were short to begin with so the changes I made were small ones. I encourage other trimmers to not try to make dramatic changes because it's always been a mistake when I've done it.

The pictures below show one foot trimmed to compare the newly unshod and trimmed feet. I transcribed a construction line to help me consider the probable location of a growth ring (see Arab for more information on this) to help me understand where the quarters wound be relaxing, and I rounded his toes.

My experience with gaited horses is that they often will roll their own toes naturally (see Cobre, a Paso)

but I like to see what occurs with the foot shape following the growth ring and adapt to their preferred foot shape over time.

Left and above: Front feet with the left un trimmed and unshod and the right trimmed.

Below: Front left sole

Most of these 4 horses (the Arab, TB, Fox Trotter and Tennessee Walker) feet had either longer straighter walls on the inside (that's common) but several feet showed longer walls in other areas as well.

This fellows Front Left wall shows an outward distortion which is an indication that that wall was too long relative to the sole. We are beginning to see a bit of white line separation.

Rather than rasp straight down to remove flare, I undercut the flared area with a a 45 to 90 degree bevel.

He still toes out in front, and that is probably just his conformation.

Above and right: Front feet

Above and right: Rear feet and the right rear foot that moved so oddly.



Several Weeks Later... October 27th

I've been doing these guys (Ace, Grandar, Rio and Stretch) every few weeks and taking lots of pictures and... the saying "watched pot never boils" comes to mind!

These four horses all had the whole walls rasped excessively at the toe and in the quarters so their wall wore down much faster than we'd like it to. In the ideal world, this fellow would have grown at least 1/4 in of sturdy wall (note the movement of nail holes down the wall) however its broken or worn off almost as fast as it touches the ground. What we're seeing in each case is getting much better... their walls are thicker, and they are starting to get a scoop in the quarters naturally as the weaker wall wears away.

Their heels are all getting stronger, their coronets all are smooth, and their frogs are extremely tough. These guys are all bedded on rice hulls which may be why their soles aren't looking more calloused. They had been extremely thin due to excessive rasping and paring when shod, and are now getting much more durable.

In Stretches case, there had been a lot of inflammation above the coronet band, what looks like a precursor to bony changes, and that seems to be going away.

Another significant change is that he's using his hindquarters much better that he did before.


November 15th, 2005

After 2 months of looking at thin-soled feet like the picture on the right, Stretches owner called me out a week early because she notices some white line separation.

What I saw when I got there delighted me... there was separation - which I hate to see get started - but there was also a sole that was shedding to reveal the naturally beautiful sole that only a horse can put on the bottom of his hoof., pictured below.

This is a hoof just beginning to get nice... it'll get much better once the white line is tightened and as concavity continues to build. The heels are still not the greatest, but this foot has de contracted VERY nicely and in two months, his heels have come back to a much nicer location.

Folks, no knife on the planet can make a sole look this good. And again, pretty is as pretty does... Stretches owner says he's moving MUCH better. Stretch, you made my day!

Front Left Solar View


November 22nd, 2005

When I left Stretch last week, his front left sole looks wonderful, but his front right still had a lump of hard sole and bar on the outside.

This is the hardest part of my job... Its really tempting to take this ugly piece of sole and bar out, but it was still hard and very well attached, and Stretch was extremely sound with it in place, so I had to leave it alone. I knew it would be ready to shed next week, when I was scheduled to trim his neighbors.

I keep trying to come up with good analogies for leaving unshed sole and bar in place like this, and the best analogy I can come up with is scabs that form over wounds... if you peel them off too early, you delay healing and leave the "wound" vulnerable to damage or infection.

When the foot no longer needs this matter for support, it turns all of it - bar and sole - to a substance with the consistency of bar soap.

When I sat down with this foot on the 22nd, I immediately noticed the powdery surface of the lumpy sole and squealed my delight. Kathleen chuckled and commented that she saved the sole for me to shed. Pressing my knife to it, testing the surface, it started flaking off in large lumps.

Stretch now has four very sound and naturally concave feet!

Above: Front right before the sole shed

Above, the front right after we finished trimming. It isn't a sterile looking foot, there is still a thin layer of sole that could be manually shed out if I applied a little elbow grease, but when I take more than the hoof is prepared to give up easily, I remove my markers for balance.

If hard sole or bar becomes active - weight bearing before the wall bears weight - as a result of a trim, I lower it until it welcomes slightly passive. Otherwise I leave it alone. I shape and balance their heels and walls, but I leave most of the work on the sole to them.

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