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  1. #1
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    Question What's this business I keep hearing about hooves being "too hard"?

    Over the past several months, the notion of hooves becoming "too hard" or "too dry" has come up here and in real life as well.

    Given that the real life example was with someone I know who is a die-hard "barefoot or bust" fanatic, I am wondering if this is an emerging tenet from the "BUA" realm. Or is it something I just never heard of until recently?

    Living in a high desert climate, my horses hooves are uber hard for a good portion of the year, to the detriment only of the farrier's tools.

    One of my farriers did once show me a photo of a hoof that was dried out such that it resembled a bit of gnarly, petrified tree root, but I think that horse had some serious issues going on (perhaps made to stand in lighter fluid for weeks at a time?).

    Who is promoting the idea that hard, dry hooves are a bad thing, and why?


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  2. #2
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    Nov. 22, 2007
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    Ever read the label on a can of hoof moisturizer?



  3. #3
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    Dry hooves makes the farriers have to work too hard.



  4. #4
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    Half round nippers and a toeing knife make the job easy. What is hard is convincing horse owners to throw away the Rain Maker.


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  5. #5
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    I hear it from owners of horse who are shod to distortion so they have cracking around the nail holes. They seem to think the cracks are from dryness vs the reality of flared crappy wall not holding up to being nailed into.


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  6. #6
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    I'm just kidding... husband does farrier work and he always complains about how hard the feet are in the middle of the summer on some of the harder hooved ones. Our old Morgan mare's feet turn to solid rock in the middle of a hot dry summer. She's never been unsound a day in her life.


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  7. #7
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    It's called BS. Hard, dry hooves ARE a good thing.

    FWIW, my horse is trimmed by a barefoot trimmer and she has never said anything like that. She loves that my horse's hooves are rock-hard, even if that means she has to sharpen her knives in the middle of a trim. Sometimes she has me soak his hooves in water right before he's trimmed to make things easier for her, but other than that she *wants* them to be hard and dry.



  8. #8
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    Feb. 16, 2003
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    I am going to say that the complainers are folks with little or no hand strength and dull Farrier tools. They complain to the horse owner, who then starts to believe that hard hooves are "bad".

    I don't live in the desert, so no experience with how hard those hooves get. We did use our horses on the dirt roads a lot as kids, so hooves DID get darned hard, and those animals were pretty sound for all our activities. Hard hooves WERE desirable, though we did whine when we needed to trim or smooth hooves up with our VERY DULL old tools. Sometimes we soaked hooves by making a muddy place and tying horse to stand there for a bit, which can make hoof material softer for a short time to get them trimmed.

    However frequent wetting and drying of hooves, is hard on them, can lead to cracking, so is not a good idea.

    I LIKE a horse with hard hooves, which is desirable to me. Farrier has sharp tools, no issues with getting hooves trimmed or cleaned out for shoeing. Horses can go barefoot easily, but we put a lot of miles on them or need them having traction, so they are kept shod most of the time. Some have been shod for years, hooves are well shaped, no issues from being shod that long.

    Just like other many good horse keeping ideas, the hard hooves is going to now going to be taught as being a BAD thing for equines. I figure horses are doomed for the long term, with poor management practices getting all the headlines.



  9. #9
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    DH has been known to make his old Morgan mare stand in the mud the night before he trims her feet! Then he's proud of her rock hard feet the rest of the time. She used to go all over the hills without ever having shoes; tough old mare.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowboymom View Post
    DH has been known to make his old Morgan mare stand in the mud the night before he trims her feet! Then he's proud of her rock hard feet the rest of the time. She used to go all over the hills without ever having shoes; tough old mare.
    Well one good soaking every six weeks is no big deal. Hope she had some foals to pass on her good hoof genetics! I like a horse with hooves like that!!

    Our breed is known for their good hooves, staying sound for long working lives, one reason my Farrier husband got them to use. It's true! But we need the traction under them, so they are usually shod, and they do keep their shoes on well.



  11. #11
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    Feb. 18, 2006
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    Most farriers love soft feet 'cause they are easier to trim both on the tools and the farrier. Most farriers hate soft feet because they are bad for the horse and cause a lot of headaches for the farrier. Most if not all farriers prefer the feet at least moderately hard. Especially on a working/performance horse. ymmv
    Given that the real life example was with someone I know who is a die-hard "barefoot or bust" fanatic, I am wondering if this is an emerging tenet from the "BUA" realm.
    I don't know if it is just emerging or not. Even F. Strasser used to say(I don't know if she still does or not) that horses need to get their feet in water once a day.
    Who is promoting the idea that hard, dry hooves are a bad thing, and why?
    Well, if its not the farriers, and its not the 'moderates' on the barefoot side of the equation, then that really only leaves one group. And, you'll just have to find one of their gurus or perhaps even a disciple, to find out why.
    Last edited by Rick Burten; Mar. 15, 2013 at 09:23 PM.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Burten View Post
    Well, if its not the farriers, and its not the 'modeerates' on the barefoot side of the equation, then that really only leaves one group. And, you'll just have to find one of their gurus or perhaps even a disciple, to find out why.
    I can honestly say I've never heard a trimmer say that feet can be "too hard." If anything that is considered much healthier than overly soft. Granted I was taught by the more moderate trim style folks so I dunno about the radical ones.

    In my area that is wet and swampy, we deal with the over soft hooves a lot more than hard ones.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Well one good soaking every six weeks is no big deal. Hope she had some foals to pass on her good hoof genetics! I like a horse with hooves like that!!

    Our breed is known for their good hooves, staying sound for long working lives, one reason my Farrier husband got them to use. It's true! But we need the traction under them, so they are usually shod, and they do keep their shoes on well.
    She's outlived her only offspring, a filly she had 20 years ago... our mare is 33! She and my husband grew up together-he bought her for $100 when he was 14.

    We had a half Morgan once with pure white feet that were hard as quartz too-it was always fun to see people grumble about "white feet are always soft" and then try to get a hoof knife into his.


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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowboymom View Post
    She's outlived her only offspring, a filly she had 20 years ago... our mare is 33! She and my husband grew up together-he bought her for $100 when he was 14.

    We had a half Morgan once with pure white feet that were hard as quartz too-it was always fun to see people grumble about "white feet are always soft" and then try to get a hoof knife into his.
    Well darn on the genetics thing. Sounds like you folks pick horses with good features, starting with the hooves. We shop the same, start at the ground and work up.

    My good old Western mare had terrific hooves, only lame once with a cut hoof. I loved her being ready to go, anytime or anyplace, with her good feet and legs. She had darn hard hooves, which only got harder with use. Keeping her conditioned for showing all-around, entailed a lot of road miles for fitness, so she was hard as a rock, hooves and body. Needed that when we entered 15 to 20+ classes at a day show. Did need to get the tools to surgical sharp to work on her! She had an awful lot of miles on her with being used so much, wore out two trucks showing her, trail riding, Pony Club and lived to be 35. I think being used regular was a big help in living long. She never did catch when we tried to breed her, I would have liked a foal from her.

    Nice to hear about your old girl. Husband got a bargin in her! And I also never saw a difference in hardness of white or colored hooves on a good footed horse, they were all REALLY hard. Probably why Farriers buy the GOOD TOOLS, so it is easier to work on those hard hooves.



  15. #15
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    The one recent thread on here saying, "Help! My horse's hooves are too hard!" that person was being told by her farrier (and I think her vet IIRC) that the hooves were too hard. I don't think it's any one group, just people who clearly don't understand hooves.



  16. #16
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    We tried to get her bred to one of the old studs that the Jacksons in Montana had but they only did pasture breeding and she wouldn't cooperate. She would stand all day long for that half-Morgan gelding we had but she was a loyal mare and wouldn't tolerate the well bred perfectly matched STALLION that we hooked her up with!

    This is her last summer, she was standing kind of piled up but she was mad b/c we took the rest of the horses on a ride and she didn't get to go. She's still possessive of my husband.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater

    She's got that old heavy face too-I love it, no pretty araby morgany face on her: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...e=3&permPage=1


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  17. #17
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    This is funny, but she looks rather like my old horse! Similar shape blaze, same kind of coloring, proportionate sized hooves for her size and similar head shape!! Yep, no Araby heads for me. Mine wasn't bred Morgan, though they did list Remount stallions in her pedigree, so maybe there was some snuck in.

    I think your old girl is LOVELY.


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  18. #18
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    Sep. 13, 2002
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    My farrier and his assistant both commented yesterday on my horses and their dry, hard feet. But not a complaint. Just something along the lines of the hardest feet they'd worked on since...6 weeks ago when last at my place! I think it was a testament to good hoof care, good feed, and my $$ mud-free paddocks (I'm in the PNW, where most have mud and soft feet right now).

    My dad used to stand his mule and horse in a mud pit he made for that purpose while living on the dry side so he could trim their feet. And my farrier has talked about when he used to shoe in CA, he went through tools so much more frequently than here.



  19. #19
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    I guess I was assuming "hooves too hard" might be a fad because the first time I remember hearing about it was from a friend who is prone to jumping on all of the trendy, natural horse care bandwagons.

    It came up when I was helping her with a horse having an acute episode of laminitis, probably triggered by being trimmed too short with an electric grinder (I guess because they were too hard for the knives and rasp).

    The horse had big, beautiful hooves and apparently thick, hard soles as well. The friend was determined to find a way to soften his feet and didn't offer an explanation when I asked why. I believe it was some combination of the good feet, good fortune and me practicing veterinary medicine without a license that reversed his condition.

    PS: Years ago I had a half Morgan with those nice big feet and a big ol' head like that.



  20. #20
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    Ah! Is that why he picked up a blowtorch one day.

    And then he trimmed it.

    And then re-shod it.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



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