Long toe, Underrun Heels; Mare Transitions from Shoes to Barefoot

Lady presented with a history of hoof issues that lasted several years. She was always tender and ouchy, especially after a trim and especially on anything hard. Her owner had attempted to transition her to barefoot a few years earlier, but lacked sufficient support from the trimmer at the time. Because of overwhelming pressure from those around her, the owner decided to put shoes and pads on her horse. She noted instant relief. Over the course of the next 2 years, Lady’s hooves grew longer in the toe, more underrun, and narrower throughout. She moved around okay, unless she threw a shoe (which happened a lot!). Then she was completely out of commission until the farrier could come back out.

When I met Lady, she had recently lost another shoe and her owner was frustrated with the shape of her hooves and how underrun her heels were becoming. Her owner admitted that Lady was a bit of a grouchy mare and she didn’t think she would ever be able to be ridden, she just wanted her to be more comfortable! We evaluated a lot of things in Lady’s life–including her diet, exercise, and spinal health/overall comfort. Lady was overweight and had some history of metabolic type issues (she had tested negative for Cushing’s earlier that year, but her blood sugar and insulin had not been checked). At the first visit, I removed the remaining shoe/pad and she was initially trimmed very lightly. She was then adjusted and light trims were performed at short intervals for the next 2 visits. During this same time, the owner began to do some light exercise (hand walking) over varied terrain and Lady was put on a diet. Over the winter Lady was moved to a new barn where a diet would be easier and she quickly lost the weight she needed to lose.

She is now ridden lightly and continues to improve every month. Her hooves are rounder and considerably less underrun. They are still in the process of building a thick callus, a process that often takes at least a year. She is well on her way to healthy hooves! What is really fun to me is the difference in personality I saw in this mare. She transformed from a rather stoic and admittedly “grouchy” mare to a very sweet personable horse that is extremely willing to please. The following pictures speak for themselves! A tremendous difference in only a few short months.

front hooves 08-30-2015

Note long toes and underrun heels. Her frog was narrow and atrophied, but thankfully not infected.

front hooves 9-22-2015

Heels are still underrun but already shaping up.

front hooves 10-20-15

Frog is opening up, hoof is more round and heels are straightening up!

front_hooves 5-2-16

Her hooves still need to build more callus and sole depth but her heels are much less underrun and the toe is shortening nicely.