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  1. #1
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    Default NEED ADVICE! Sudden and worsening lameness. Farrier says not abscess!

    Hi All,

    I have owned my horse for a year and a half and in that time he has had no soundness issues. He was thoroughly vet checked and passed with flying colors. The chiropractor also performed flexion tests in the past two months and said he is sound. I ride 3-5x per week, alternating between dressage, trail, and light jumping (not more than once per week). Yesterday, when I turned him out I noticed a mild soreness in his front right leg, but it was only visible at the trot. He was hesitant to move forward, which is unusual for him.

    I am trying to transition him to being completely barefoot (he has been barefoot behind for the past year), due to extensive research and the recommendation my farrier. We pulled his shoes three weeks ago, and aside from an even, very slight soreness for the first two days, he has been very comfortable and sound in normal work.

    After he turned up lame yesterday, I immediately called the farrier, assuming he had a sole bruise or abscess in his newly barefoot, extra sensitive hoof. However, after the farrier hoof tested tonight, the results came back slightly positive for soreness in both front heels (normal for a newly barefoot horse). My farrier says there is no indication of an abscess or bruising.

    When I hand-walked him and checked on him today, he seemed about 20% worse than yesterday. Whereas before the lameness was only evident at the trot, he walked out of his stall visibly lame today. Normally, such a quick onset of the lameness/soreness would make me think abscess, but my the hoof test seems to indicate that there is no abscess. I would also suspect soreness due to being barefoot, but since the pain is unilateral rather than bilateral, this seems less likely.

    I am extremely concerned/confused. I am open to putting shoes back on, but would prefer letting him be barefoot due to the long-term health advantages. I've also read that taking shoes off can reveal lameness that was previously masked by shoes. I have no idea how true this is, but I worry that putting shoes back on will only continue to hide a deeper, more serious leg issue. If there was a serious issue, though, wouldn't my vet, chiropractor, trainer, or myself have noticed before this point?

    Should I call the vet out immediately or does this kind of thing seem normal during the barefoot "transitioning" period? If it's not an abscess or a bruised hoof, what else could it be? I don't want to overreact to something simple, but I also don't want my horse to suffer by waiting too long.

    Thank you for your help!!! Any advice is appreciated.

    ***Farrier watched horse lounge this morning and said that the soreness appears to be due to being without shoes, not to a leg issue/injury. He also said the soreness was in left leg today, not right (as I had previously observed). My options are:

    A) Call the vet anyway, just to be safe.
    B) Continue down the barefoot path for a couple of weeks and see if he makes improvement. Hand-walking and bute only.
    C) Put shoes back on and call it a failed experiment.
    Last edited by blame_the_champagne; Jan. 10, 2013 at 12:17 PM.



  2. #2
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    Shoes will not "mask" a leg lameness. They can, however, bring relief to a sore-footed horse.

    Abscesses do not always reveal themselves to the hoof testers.

    I vote for the vet. If an abscess is not brewing, put the shoes back no and see what happens.


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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhoover View Post
    However, after the farrier hoof tested tonight, the results came back slightly positive for soreness in both front heels

    ...

    but since the pain is unilateral rather than bilateral....
    Actually, the pain is BILATERAL, meaning both fronts.

    Unilateral would've meant only 1 foot ("uni" meaning one)
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  4. #4
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    Given the recent series of events, I would still be suspicious of a bruise or abscess, particularly if the ground is frozen where you are. This is a brutal time of year in the northern latitudes to suddenly decide barefoot is the way to go.

    While you're waiting for the dust to settle (and serial exams are probably what I would be doing at this point, but it also couldn't hurt to soak and/or pack and/or poultice the foot, whatever you prefer) maybe get a pair of hoof boots to see if this protection allows him to be more comfortable. If they give him relief, those are an option while you try going barefoot, or you can always put shoes back on and try again in the forgiving mud of springtime.

    would prefer letting him be barefoot due to the long-term health advantages
    What long-term health advantages? Not all horses can tolerate barefoot as a lifestyle option, although it is certainly a worthy thing to try if the feet and the job the horse has are suitable. It is no long term health advantage for a horse to be sore-footed and miserable.
    Last edited by deltawave; Jan. 10, 2013 at 08:45 AM.
    Click here before you buy.


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  5. #5
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    This product will take care of the transition
    http://onlinestore.equicast.us/equicast-2.aspx
    Charlie Piccione
    Natural Performance Hoof Care



  6. #6
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    Here we go again. Barefoot dogma claims its next victim.

    Quote Originally Posted by jhoover View Post
    . . .I am trying to transition him to being completely barefoot (he has been barefoot behind for the past year), due to extensive research and the recommendation my farrier.
    The results other horses have barefoot do not apply to your horse. It is an individual thing.

    We pulled his shoes three weeks ago, and aside from an even, very slight soreness for the first two days,
    BIG RED FLAG. This is where you should have ended the experiment.

    However, after the farrier hoof tested tonight, the results came back slightly positive for soreness in both front heels (normal for a newly barefoot horse).
    The only time it is "NORMAL" for a newly barefoot horse to be sore is when somebody is willing to deny the obvious discomfort of the horse in order to "PRESERVE Barefoot Belief."

    My farrier says there is no indication of an abscess or bruising. When I hand-walked him and checked on him today, he seemed about 20% worse than yesterday. Whereas before the lameness was only evident at the trot, he walked out of his stall visibly lame today. Normally, such a quick onset of the lameness/soreness would make me think abscess, but my the hoof test seems to indicate that there is no abscess.
    What hoof test protocol did you use? Did you test the bars? Frog? Press heels together? Press bars and heels together? Is the horse landing toe first or heel first? How much does the sole yield to hoof testers? Did you use hoof testers BEFORE deciding whether or not to leave the shoes off the horse?

    I would also suspect soreness due to being barefoot, but since the pain is unilateral rather than bilateral, this seems less likely. I am extremely concerned/confused. I am open to putting shoes back on, but would prefer letting him be barefoot due to the long-term health advantages.
    There is no evidence to support any claims that barefoot provides any long term health advantage.

    Of the millions of autopsies done on horses over the past few centuries, how many do you think reported the "cause of death" = horseshoes?

    I've also read that taking shoes off can reveal lameness that was previously masked by shoes.
    With similar logic, taking a hot pie out of the oven without oven mitts can reveal burns that were previously masked . . .

    I have no idea how true this is, but I worry that putting shoes back on will only continue to hide a deeper, more serious leg issue.
    How would shoes hide a leg issue?

    When you put on a pair of shoes, does your central nervous system shut down?

    If there was a serious issue, though, wouldn't my vet, chiropractor, trainer, or myself have noticed before this point?
    Your vet is the only one with a medical degree. That implies a certain minimum level of accredited education in diagnostics. OTOH, your vet only sees the horse by appointment. So, how good is your vet at diagnosing sub-clinical lameness?


    Should I call the vet out immediately or does this kind of thing seem normal during the barefoot "transitioning" period?
    First apologize to your horse for putting the needs of the barefoot god above his needs. Then call your vet.

    If it's not an abscess or a bruised hoof, what else could it be?
    Sorry, my crystal ball is broken.

    I don't want to overreact to something simple, but I also don't want my horse to suffer by waiting too long.
    Too late. You already jumped off the barefoot cliff with the other lemmings.

    Thank you for your help!!! Any advice is appreciated.
    Learn from your mistakes. Your horse isn't the first victim of the "barefoot at all costs" movement. Unfortunately, he won't be the last.


    14 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
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    That just means one hurts more than the other not that only one hurts.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    What long-term health advantages? Not all horses can tolerate barefoot as a lifestyle option, although it is certainly a worthy thing to try if the feet and the job the horse has are suitable. It is no long term health advantage for a horse to be sore-footed and miserable.
    Hi Deltawave,

    Regarding our footing, we are in Southern California. The ground is never frozen in our area, our arena has nike footing for a nice, easy rehab process, and the weather is infrequently rainy/wet. I chose this season because my farrier recommended winter as a good time in our geographical location and also because of our light competition schedule.

    Regarding the long-term health advantages, I recommend looking it up online, checking out books from the library, and consulting with both your vet and farrier. I know it's an extremely hot button debate, but there's lots of great info out there in BOTH camps. Some long-term health advantages that I was most interested in include increased circulation (thermographic studies are especially interesting and helpful!), increased strength/integrity in hoof wall, and decreased concussion on joints, ligaments, and tendons.

    However, I totally agree when you said, "It is no long term health advantage for a horse to be sore-footed and miserable." That is exactly why I would consider putting shoes back on. I do not believe there is one right way for every horse regarding shoes or barefoot. If my horse is uncomfortable, I will re-consider shoes. If my horse would be healthier in the long-run barefoot, I will consider barefoot.



  9. #9
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    OP - if I were in a similar situation, I would call my vet out so that he could (hopefully) rule out anything serious and then I would put front shoes back on.
    "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

    Check out Central Virginia Horse Rescue


    2 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
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    Gee I wish I had a barn full of lame horses with increased circulation.


    10 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Some horses just can't tolerate being barefoot. I usually let the horse tell me what works. Is it better for the horse? sure, but only if the horse is comfortable and can do it's job.

    If you don't want to put shoes on right away, consider putting hoof boots on the fronts, maybe also adding a pad.

    Cavallo boots are easy to put on and you can buy internal pads that cushion the feet even further.

    I currently have my TB barefoot but there are times when I've put shoes on him and times when I've used boots (very rocky trails).
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    Hi Tom Bloomer,

    I am totally open to shoes, as already stated. No need to come off as abrasive and attacking. Making someone feel stupid when they are asking for help is not a super effective tool. I believe that each horse is an individual with unique needs. If my horse needs shoes, I will put on shoes. My goal here is not to engage in a barefoot vs. shoes argument (obviously a volatile topic), but to see if anyone else has had a similar experience with a related issue. I am in constant communication with both my farrier and my vet (trusted and highly qualified professionals), but I would also love to hear from the horse community. Thanks!


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  13. #13
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    I think the goal of being barefoot is to NOT have lame horses...



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhoover View Post
    Some long-term health advantages that I was most interested in include increased circulation (thermographic studies are especially interesting and helpful!),
    Those studies have been debunked repeatedly.

    increased strength/integrity in hoof wall, and decreased concussion on joints, ligaments, and tendons.
    Actually there are impact and load studies done in vivo with hoof mounted accelerometers that show quite the opposite.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    That just means one hurts more than the other not that only one hurts.
    This. You know he is sore on BOTH fronts, as you say was revealed by the hoof testers. Therefore, he is sore on both. He cannot limp differently on each foot so that you may observe that both are sore. When the lameness is bilateral, one will often present more sore than the other becuase they simply have no choice but to use both front feet to walk.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    Actually, the pain is BILATERAL, meaning both fronts.

    Unilateral would've meant only 1 foot ("uni" meaning one)
    Yes, the hoof test revealed slight bilateral soreness, but he is walking/trotting with unilateral lameness in the right front leg only.

    As another person pointed out, though, this could mean that is just more sore on that foot (but sore overall on both). However, the hoof test did not reveal more soreness in the right over the left.



  17. #17
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    This is shaping up to be a good old-fashioned knock-down drag-out ballbuster barefoot train wreck.

    Yay!


    4 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhoover View Post
    Hi Tom Bloomer,

    I am totally open to shoes, as already stated. No need to come off as abrasive and attacking. Making someone feel stupid when they are asking for help is not a super effective tool. I believe that each horse is an individual with unique needs. If my horse needs shoes, I will put on shoes. My goal here is not to engage in a barefoot vs. shoes argument (obviously a volatile topic), but to see if anyone else has had a similar experience with a related issue. I am in constant communication with both my farrier and my vet (trusted and highly qualified professionals), but I would also love to hear from the horse community. Thanks!
    You should feel ashamed and stupid for putting your horse through needless suffering. The sooner you get past your arrogance, get over being the sucker who bought the sales pitch, own your mistakes, and deal with reality the better things will be for your horse.


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhoover View Post
    However, the hoof test did not reveal more soreness in the right over the left.
    And you know this how?

    If he reacted on ANY level on both feet, he is lame on both feet.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


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  20. #20
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    Until your horse can tell you "Gee, my right foot hurts more than my left foot, but they both hurt" you have no way of knowing which one hurts "more" - he tested positive for pain in both fronts with hoof testers, according to you, and that means its a bilateral lameness/soreness. Period.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


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