Friday, August 16, 2013

Getting My Ducks in a Row - Uno


Quite how Uno's feet degenerated into their current mess is distressing to me. He's always been a "bar" overachiever, but his feet got away from me without me realising that they had. During his last trim less than two weeks ago, it dawned on me that nearly the entire back of his front feet was now bar material ("bar pooling") and the seat of the corns had vanished underneath it. His feet were solid blocks of dense material. No concavity. No sole shedding. Just blobs of hard stuff.

My problem is that he grows a lot of toe, but very little heel, so it's a balancing act to try and not take anything off the back, while keeping the front under control. As a result, he tends towards spatula feet at the best of times.

I don't like to get too aggressive with sole trimming - which is probably also part of the problem - I suddenly realised it had all built up and it was time to get serious about getting it back under control. Not pretty.

Yesterday morning I put his front feet in boots and filled them with water (... and then went and fetched a third boot when I noticed the water trickling out of a hole in the toe of the boot). I topped up the water again last night when I fed.

So he wore his water boots for 24 hours and this morning I set to doing a hack-job on his feet. It's scary digging around in there like that, and I imagine he'll be a little footsore until things even out, but I think I got the job done. Sorta.

(Note I took the following photos with my iPhone so there may be some distortion due to it being close up. I know his heels aren't super-healthy, but don't believe they are quite that contracted.)

Left front, post-hack job. Talk about dubbed toe. :(
Right front, post-hack job. Not quite as extreme...

I don't love these feet, but need to avoid his toes getting long to protect his suspensories from over stretch
(Yellow outlines show the area of bar that I removed) The soaking in boots actually made it possible for me to peel the bar material away, sliver by sliver with my hoof knife. Towards the end it got harder and harder to tell what was bar material and what wasn't. I suspect I could have taken more off, but chickened out.

He had what appeared to be slight bruising either side of his frog near the front. 

I also spent some time opening up the central sulci (in his case, deep slits) to let air in and get No Thrush powder down in there. And did the same with the space between heels and frog.

Left heel: example of what happens when Uno decides to wriggle at the exactly the wrong moment as I'm nipping. The good thing is, even though this was only two weeks ago, by the end of this morning's trim, the rest of the heel had been rasped down to match the missing part (see next photo).

Towards the end of the trim, after I'd liberally powdered his feet, I noticed a black crack near the front of the frog on the right. Gentle poking with the hoof pick cause it to chunk off, so I got busy pulling off sole and revealed quite a bit of new sole on that right side. Like I said, normally I wouldn't touch this stuff - just let it come out on its own, but clearly in Uno's case, his dry, rock-like feet had opted to retain everything, resulting in flat, solid feet.

So the hour and 15 mins spent chiselling away at his two front feet seems to have been relatively successful. Certainly he wasn't lame at the walk and didn't show any discomfort while I was performing the hack-job. I'm hoping that the lessening of bar material will cause his feet to be able to flex more and in turn be healthier. And if I can eliminate the thrush in his heels, hopefully he'll start to land heel-first and grow more heel.

I may repeat this soaking again in a week and see if more sole material seems inclined to come off.

And if I can find somewhere non-smoky to ride this weekend, I'd like to take him out and see how he feels - hopefully more willing to move out once I get boots on.


  1. That's one of the things I struggle with on trimming Mimi -- her overabundance of bar material. The fact her hooves are so small means everything tends to compact in there, so it's really hard to differentiate what is bar and what is everything else.

  2. He's always grown lots of bar and I've always been quite happy to trim it away. But I suspect it crept until I didn't realise what I was missing trimming.

    His tendency to abscess now and again is almost certainly due to overlaid bar - I see the tell-tale black line sandwiched between sole and bar material. The trick is teaching myself to be more aggressive at removing the parts that I view as 'structural sole', but in reality are bar overgrowth.

    I had another go the other day - left his boots on overnight after our ride and pared away at excess sole. So far so good.

    Now I just have to get the impetus to ride him, to get him to pound along and grow more foot, so I can trim more of it off.