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Transitioning an OTTB to Barefoot & Maybe Trimming Myself Eventually?

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    Transitioning an OTTB to Barefoot & Maybe Trimming Myself Eventually?

    I'm certain this is something that has been discussed before, so if you want to simply link to an old post--that works for me! I tried searching but maybe I don't really know the best way to utilize that function.

    But the title really says it all. I have an 11-year old OTTB who I've had since he was 6. I did barefoot for about 6 months, then switched barns and farriers and he's had front shoes on ever since.

    I moved him home last fall and had to switch farriers (old farrier didn't travel out this far), and I'm not sure I'm in love with my new farrier. But I live in the middle of nowhere and it's hard to get a "real" farrier to come out for a set of front shoes and a trim on my other horse.


    In my desperation/frustration, I'm considering trying barefoot and trimming myself while having a professional come out occasionally to check on things. I know a handful of folks who this has worked really well for. Plus, I like the idea of barefoot for lots of the reasons that everyone else does as well.

    So my questions are:
    Are there many success stories of OTTBs with thin soles and 'pancake' feet (overrun heels and tendency for long toes) transitioning to barefoot?

    What resources does anyone who trims themselves use?

    How long did it take for your horse to transition to barefoot?

    Any other advice for the situation? Either barefoot or farrier woes?

    Thank you!!

    FWIW he's on basically 24/7 turnout and is sound on grass and my arena footing when he does lose a shoe. Tender on rocks. Somewhat chippy and shelly. We do low/mid level dressage and usually go to a few shows each year.

    #2
    I don't want to burst your bubble, but if this horse has hoof health issues now I would be really afraid of doing him yourself and the fact that you will be trying to transition him to barefoot adds a whole other level.

    I am not saying it can't be done or that you can't do him yourself, but things can go very wrong , very fast when you are not experienced and your horse has issues to start.

    My horses are barefoot and I try to have all my horses barefoot if I can, but I have had 2 that just couldn't and I was so happy to have a farrier who could take care of them correctly.

    I would do all I could to find a good farrier first and then maybe go from there. Ask local vets, other horse owners in your area ( look at their horses feet first) or any trainers, boarding / training barns nearby for farriers they use.

    Comment

      Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by candyappy View Post
      I don't want to burst your bubble, but if this horse has hoof health issues now I would be really afraid of doing him yourself and the fact that you will be trying to transition him to barefoot adds a whole other level.

      I am not saying it can't be done or that you can't do him yourself, but things can go very wrong , very fast when you are not experienced and your horse has issues to start.

      My horses are barefoot and I try to have all my horses barefoot if I can, but I have had 2 that just couldn't and I was so happy to have a farrier who could take care of them correctly.

      I would do all I could to find a good farrier first and then maybe go from there. Ask local vets, other horse owners in your area ( look at their horses feet first) or any trainers, boarding / training barns nearby for farriers they use.
      His feet and angles are actually really nice right now. I just meant those issues are what tends to happen if he gets too long in the 6 weeks. And the chippy/shelly stuff seems to have a lot to do with how wet of a season it is--it has ebbed and flowed over time. And he does have thin soles. Those things may never be able to be fixed. You are 100% correct there.

      I will definitely try to keep looking as well.

      Comment


        #4
        You might be able to do this if you get some good hoof boots right at the start. Use them for all rides out of the arena.

        Long toes and run under heels are often an artefact of wearing shoes and can be best treated by going barefoot and rasping frequently.

        Flat feet are another matter and if the sole is too close to the ground the horse will feel pebbles much more than one with an arched sole.

        If your horse cannot be comfortable on pasture or in an arena barefoot, there is more going on.

        Many maybe most horses that live on pasture or soft paddocks are not really comfortable trail riding on gravel because they don't have a chance to build up hoof on their home footing. However, many maybe most horses are perfectly comfortable on pasture and arena footing.

        So needing boots is normal. Get some.

        Comment


          #5
          We did it by having their hooves done by a farrier that I completely trust and then us just trimming back to what he did.

          When I say us. I mean hubby with tools that we bought.

          Hubby is big and oh so much stronger than me. He does one horse. It takes a lot out of him. He said it is not easy.
          It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

          Comment


            #6
            It's hard work for sure. Hard to build up the muscle if you only do two horses.

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
              You might be able to do this if you get some good hoof boots right at the start. Use them for all rides out of the arena.

              Long toes and run under heels are often an artefact of wearing shoes and can be best treated by going barefoot and rasping frequently.

              Flat feet are another matter and if the sole is too close to the ground the horse will feel pebbles much more than one with an arched sole.

              If your horse cannot be comfortable on pasture or in an arena barefoot, there is more going on.

              Many maybe most horses that live on pasture or soft paddocks are not really comfortable trail riding on gravel because they don't have a chance to build up hoof on their home footing. However, many maybe most horses are perfectly comfortable on pasture and arena footing.

              So needing boots is normal. Get some.
              What boots do you recommend?

              He is comfortable barefoot on soft surfaces (grass, stall, arena).

              Comment


                #8
                I'll be a voice of dissension.

                Many moons ago, the real Buck suffered a catastrophic injury that left him with a club foot. After several months of healing passed, he had on/off lamenesses on that leg. As customary, I began keeping a diary and noticed a pattern. He would be lame until the farrier showed up, lamer still for a week after, then sound for 2-3 weeks, progressively lame until the farrier showed up again and the cycle repeated itself.

                Turned out it was his heel height on his clubby foot. The taller the heels got, the more he hurt. When the farrier showed up, he whacked them off, and he hurt until they grew back. Then there was a 3 week "sweet spot" where he was happy, until the heels grew too tall.

                So I decided, why shouldn't he be happy all the time? So I took up the rasp myself, hired a pro to come out and teach me, and learned how to keep him at his sweet spot. Its been 10 years now, and Buck is 40, still bounding around.

                I am not a farrier. The below is ONLY my opinion. Take free advice for what its worth:

                Pancake feet and underrun heels are the best candidate for a beginner to learn on. Why? Because "backing up the toes", "bringing back the heels" and "mustang rolling" are simultaneously the easiest concepts for a beginner to grasp, and, in broad strokes, the most beneficial to a horse with this kind of foot.

                Beginners have no idea how physically demanding it is to rasp a hoof. As mentioned earlier, the muscles required to do this efficiently are simply impossible to build with one equine every few days/weeks. It takes a real workout to properly trim a hoof that's 4-6 weeks into its trim cycle.

                BUT, otoh, it only takes a few strokes every few days to take a whisper off the length, a whisper to pull the heels back, and whisper to roll the edges. And, amazingly, that is exactly what many horses would benefit from... a couple of strokes once every 4-6 days. Few have the pockets to have their farriers out to "whisper off" a few strokes once a week, so these horses that would benefit most, go without.

                OP: imho, don't be afraid to take up the rasp. Like riding, its a learning process, but once you've got it, you've got it. ***BUT*** Do not go it alone. Have your farrier or hoof care professional *show you how to use the tools*. If you do not know how to look for imbalances, read the foot at least a little bit, even how to hold the rasp properly, you can do more damage than good. Do not be a youtube hero. Talk to your farrier, get a lesson (or three, I took 6 months of lessons).

                After that, go boldly. Trimming my own horses was one of the best life decisions I have ever made, as it gave me a huge appreciation for mechanics, environment, nutrition, and the power to micro adjust when needed.

                Be warned, once you start trimming, you will never be able to "unsee" issues. Knowing how to read a foot is both a blessing and a curse. Its like being able to see subtle lamenesses, it's enough knowledge to drive you nuts.

                OTOH, I love when I see an issue, and can say to myself "yep, lets fix that today".

                Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                Comment


                  #9
                  If you care even a little bit about this horse, don't do it.

                  Horses are shod for one or more of these three reasons: correction, protection, traction. Whether your horse needs shoes is a question for a professional. If you don't like your farrier, get an opinion from your vet and another farrier recommendation.

                  You can't just read a book, go trim a horse, slap on some boots, and expect things to go swimmingly.

                  You could do real damage to this horse.

                  Most horses brought barefoot by amateurs suffer. A lot. For a long time. Frankly, a lot of horses done by BF trimmers suffer too because often horses NEED shoes and a BF trimmer is blind to the fact that this horse doesn't live in the wild and does need to be written.

                  And the barefoot folks on these and other forums are happy to support and coach the owner for YEARS through the "transition" All while the horse still suffers.

                  This is a hot topic for me because I hate to see horses suffer for an owner's "Quest for Barefoot Glory".

                  Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by B-burg Dressage View Post

                    What boots do you recommend?

                    He is comfortable barefoot on soft surfaces (grass, stall, arena).
                    I really like my Scoot Boots. They are fussy to size correctly but we galloping everywhere in them now. However these do require a foot in decent proportions already. They aren't therapeutic boots.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The boots that work are the boots that fit him best. Right now there are a ton of options. IMHO, you do need to trim on a very regular basis to be able to use boots through a whole cycle. Boots do not fit well if flared or long-toed hooves.

                      My mare goes well in Renegades. When this set wears out, I may try a Scoot boot or FlexHoof boot...since I use them for every ride (gravel-y) arena footing), I would appreciate something a bit quicker/easier to put on with less velcro but if not, Renegades it will be.

                      Susan

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Are there many success stories of OTTBs with thin soles and 'pancake' feet (overrun heels and tendency for long toes) transitioning to barefoot?

                        Not an OTTB, but my horse had the wide/flat feet for years and also had shoes for years..... until a series of bad shoeing angles gave my horse sidebone, ring bone and an unlevel coffin bone to which the remedial period per the vet was to go barefoot to help correct the angles and we decided to stay barefoot because the few farriers in our area really don't give adequate trims.

                        That being said, there are a few that do need shoes for whatever reason, but it is really important to have a balanced trim under that shoe or your horse could end up with issues like mine did. Honestly, If I had found a farrier who actually produced a nice trim, then I may have went with shoes again, but having my horse develop issues due to bad trimming and shoeing really scared me off from shoes done by the farriers at the time. And now that I know more about angles and hoof balance, some of the trims I've seen by farriers is quite surprising to me...

                        What resources does anyone who trims themselves use?

                        I have a farrier that showed me how to look for imbalances and correct them using the tools. He still does my horse's hooves and I do little 'fix ups' in between. I occasionally do a trim if he is unable to make it out for whatever reason. I've also bought books to help with visualizing the imbalances as I felt one horse is not enough to really understand how doing X and Y can alter the hooves.

                        I definitely recommend having someone show you hands-on, as it can be somewhat difficult to understand how to do certain things without being shown and feeling it. And it is very true what buck22 said about more knowledge being a curse haha! You start noticing, so many things.

                        How long did it take for your horse to transition to barefoot?

                        A very long time (several years) BUT that is because it took a long time for me to learn and alter his diet appropriately, which really DOES matter as I will explain later. My horse also had a few setbacks along the way. Any setbacks such as laminitis or poor hoof quality in growth (anything that stretches the white line) will bring you back a year since it takes about a year to grow out the whole hoof. The stretching of the whiteline will essentially pull at the sole and flatten the sole more, leading to a horse with already flat soles being sore. You need quality growth (from a good diet), well-balanced frequent trims to help maintain proper angles and external help for transitioning (boots).

                        That being said, it does take a significant amount of time being that it still takes about 1 year for the whole hoof to grow out, especially if you are not only dealing with trimming, but also bad quality hoof growth. If your horse is flat soled to begin with, then make sure to prepare (below), so that he won't be very sore while adjusting. A bit of soreness is to be expected, but you want to make sure that it doesn't get worse than that.

                        Any other advice for the situation? Either barefoot or farrier woes?

                        A ton:

                        1) Before taking the shoes off, I highly highly recommend balancing your horse's diet to his hay (per a hay test), making sure he has enough protein, vitamins and minerals. Perhaps even working with a equine nutritionist unaffiliated with a company if you aren't comfortable balancing nutrition yourself.

                        Specifically, I've found that reducing or removing Iron in the diet, then upping copper and zinc to a 1:4 ratio has helped my horses tremendously. Copper at a minimum of 100mg per day and Zinc at a minimum of 400mg per day. So many track horses are fed Iron supplements and horses don't quite rid of Iron like we do, unless they bleed internally or externally. Nutritional anemia is relatively rare for horses and more likely, anemia is a result of bleeding, such as ulcers or conditions that destroy red blood cells, such as immune system disorders, metabolic disorders and infections etc. Excess Iron is often available at a much higher ratio over Copper in many feeds and then you can find it in mineral blocks. hay and water, which all add up. Iron, Zinc and Copper are a few minerals that will compete with each other for binding to a transporter molecule (absorption), so excess iron can interfere with adequate absorption of zinc, and thus copper. That's important because your horse needs enough copper to have strong hoof wall connection and zinc helps synthesize keratin, the protein in your horse's hooves. Without adequate amounts, the white line may stretch more, thus maintaining the flat sole (pancake feet), which you do not want.

                        When you have found that balance, you will notice tighter wall connection coming in around 3-4 months (give or take) after the diet change. I took a while playing around with nutrition at the beginning. I knew next to nothing about equine nutrition when I started, so was very minimal in the changes I did. I would see some positive changes, then would back off and those changes wouldn't go the mile, for lack of a better saying. We have high iron in our soil around here, so when I finally removed iron from the diet and upped copper and zinc to counter balance iron, it made a big change to my horse's hooves. My horse used to be quite sensitive on rocks/ hard surfaces and never had much concavity. However, after changing the diet a number of years ago, my horse does actually have concavity and has rock crushing hooves now!

                        2) frequent trims (3-5 weeks, depending) the first 6 months at least to help keep angles and bring back heel.

                        3) Hoof boots for helping your horse adjust and preventing his soles from becoming sore throughout the transitioning period.

                        4) Sole hardeners and Sole guard for the transitioning period, used regularly.

                        5) This last one I would do after your horse is showing some positive change and not when he is sore. I think some routine road work or walking on a rock driveway etc is helpful for promoting harder soles.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          My OTTB with “typical TB feet” who I bought fully expecting to keep shod forever because of thin soles, shelly walls, and flat feet (not to mention a clubby LF and hi/lo) - oh and for fun, a navicular dx - is the soundest she has ever been now, barefoot.

                          Im also in the process of rehabbing an ISH with, again “too bad he seems to have inherited the feet from the TB” feet: underrun, thin soled, brittle disasters. Plus one of the the worst cases of thrush in the central sulcus I have ever seen. 6 months in and we have finally filled in a crevice that could swallow a hoofpick on his fronts.

                          I learned to trim on the OTTB mare. My farrier taught me the basics and from there I sought out help from other farriers and trimmers with experience doing barefoot rehab. There are some amazing people out there who are willing to help via distance and some tip top resources. I’d highly recommend connecting with the Daisy Haven School of Integrative Hoofcare and chatting with Daisy about her online beginning trimming course.

                          In my (limited) experience and (more broad) understanding, MOST horses can be successfully managed without shoes - BUT that doesn’t mean you can just yank the shoes off and call it a day. You’ll have some miserable horses with that method.

                          You should be prepared to analyze and adjust diet, which is a piece of the puzzle many folks miss when transitioning.

                          You should also be prepared for the fact that your horse might need a lot of support for his feet for some time as you transition - maybe forever, depending on the cause of his thin soles. Some horses develop a reduced capacity to grow sole as a result of chronic low level laminitis, or stress and demineralization of coffin bone. That doesn’t mean you can’t help your horse grow a better foot - you can! But you may need to do a few or several cycles of composite shoes with pads/packing or hoof casting to help build vertical depth and protect the internal structures from damage. This could perhaps be done in boots with pads but it’s a lot more labour intensive on your part! (Ask me how I know ) Your horse may always need boots over tougher terrain, depending on the options you have for conditioning his feet.

                          If I were you I’d invest in a set of farrier view radiographs so you can understand exactly what’s going on inside the feet, and connect with an experienced barefoot rehab farrier or trimmer.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            You have to really want to learn and put the effort in to both learn and keep up with your horse's feet.

                            I started years ago with my trimmer continuing to come every four weeks, but I would trim weekly in between. She would tell me what she saw as a result of my trims and how to adjust. I would, and still do, send her pics from time to time. I also took one of Ida Hammer's in-person trimming/anatomy courses.

                            Really, really helpful are the two webinars and a podcast that Dr. Robert Bowker did recently discussing how to trim long toes and under run heels.

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsnJ...rhT3A&index=60

                            ​​​​​​
                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3qj...rhT3A&index=57

                            https://thehumblehoof.libsyn.com/lon...-robert-bowker​​​​​​

                            You can upload pics to this FaceBook group to get feedback on your trims: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HoofTrimmers

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I'm having the same experience as kashmere with both of my TB's. I'm not convinced of the crappy TB foot anymore. I learned to trim them both myself as well as my pony who is IR. I've been rehabbing her as she rotated in the past (feedlot find) and she is currently doing fantastic.

                              I picked up a copy of Pete Ramey's Under the Horse videos https://www.hoofrehabstore.com/under-the-horse/ and have signed up for Daisy Bicking's trimming course to continue my education https://www.integrativehoofschool.co...rimming-course

                              Learning to trim is great but is only a small part of the equation. You can't trim your way to a healthy foot. That all comes from diet. A diet low in starch/sugar, test hay and balance the diet from that. Also keeping copper/zinc ratios in line with the iron in the diet. This helps the horse grow a stronger hoof wall with a strong laminar connection. My old TB had the typical pancake feet with LT/LH. He's not completely where I want him yet but he's come so far. He was once crippled in turnout barefoot. Right now he still needs boots for riding but is a happy camper in turnout barefoot. My younger TB is completely sound barefoot but I still boot him for trail rides just because it makes me feel better. Using boots and pads in the beginning will help a lot. I also use Hoof Armor on my old man every trim to make him a little more comfortable and it has worked great for him.

                              Good luck! I'm so glad I did it.

                              eta: I also second the links shared by Snowdenfarm Dr Bowker is a wonderful resource of information.
                              Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
                              Quiet Miracle 2010 16.1h OTTB Bay Gelding
                              "Once you go off track, you never go back!"

                              Comment


                                #16
                                I'm sure she's around here somewhere, but ChocoMare can help point you in the right direction. She definitely helped me. Progressive Hoof Care Practitioners, Pete Ramey's articles, those are two places I'd start.

                                I don't talk about this much here for fear of being cast as a crazy barefooter (which I'm not), but I will say I've been trimming my own for about two years. It's been exceptionally educational and challenging (in a good way). And no, my horse is not lame and never has been.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Kyrabee View Post
                                  The boots that work are the boots that fit him best. Right now there are a ton of options. IMHO, you do need to trim on a very regular basis to be able to use boots through a whole cycle. Boots do not fit well if flared or long-toed hooves.

                                  My mare goes well in Renegades. When this set wears out, I may try a Scoot boot or FlexHoof boot...since I use them for every ride (gravel-y) arena footing), I would appreciate something a bit quicker/easier to put on with less velcro but if not, Renegades it will be.

                                  Susan
                                  I had Renegades previous to my Scoots and also liked them. But Maresy snubs off the toes on her front feet and we ate through 3 pairs in 4 years! The wear seems less so far on the Scoots. My Renegades had good performance while they were new. Apparently no other horse in the world eats through Renegades toes this fast.

                                  Now that we've got Scoots I've been putting the old Renegades on the back when Maresy says she needs them. But they aren't quite the right shape for her hinds. So using the old Renegades with fraying wires on back, we've had some spectacular boot failures. We cantered up a hill last weekend and ended up with one hind boot gone and one flapping off her pastern. She was unconcerned.

                                  However I never had massive failures like this when I was using properly maintained Renegades on her front hooves, properly sized. So I have to keep reminding myself that this is all due to user error.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                                    I'm sure she's around here somewhere, but ChocoMare can help point you in the right direction. She definitely helped me. Progressive Hoof Care Practitioners, Pete Ramey's articles, those are two places I'd start.
                                    ChocoMare helped me a lot too, especially in the beginning
                                    Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
                                    Quiet Miracle 2010 16.1h OTTB Bay Gelding
                                    "Once you go off track, you never go back!"

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                                      #19
                                      In the past, when I had more time, less money, and fewer reliable farrier options, I trimmed my horses myself. I used the ELPO method.

                                      ​​​​​The main things I noted:

                                      1) it's hard work. Especially when you do it very infrequently. Assume you'll only be able to do one horse in one day, and be somewhat sore in the shoulders the next day.

                                      2) You'll probably find that you play it a little "safer" on your trims, and don't trim as short as your farrier does. Which is fine, but you should also count on your trims only lasting 3-4 weeks, rather than 6 to 8 weeks.

                                      I maintained 3 or 4 horses, one with a pair of club feet, for several years this way, with very good results. I had a farrier out maybe three or four times in that period, mostly to give myself a rest for a few weeks.

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                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by BoyleHeightsKid View Post

                                        Learning to trim is great but is only a small part of the equation. You can't trim your way to a healthy foot.
                                        Agree, which is why I don't obsess about the trim, as I think adequate nutrition and movement are way more important than the trim. In fact, given enough movement there's actually no need to trim at all, because the horse will take care of that himself.

                                        I still trim some of mine due to time constraints, because it takes a few minutes to take off the extra hoof with the nippers vs hours to take off the same amount of hoof on the trail, but there are a lot of additional benefits to the latter so I do as much of that as I can. Right now I have 2 horses and a mini I trim, and 2 that self trim, but I'm hoping to get to the point where they all self trim most of the time.



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