Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rx; Shoes Forever?

Can't live with em', can't live without em'.

Especially if you are a thoroughbred named Yankee Wonder. Forever a battle with my problem child.

From day one we had issues keeping shoes on his pretty shitty horse toes. Thrown shoe after thrown shoes after thrown shoe. Sometimes I imagined him as a dainty gay unicorn running through the pastures going "FUCK YOU SHOES BAI" and flicking his toes around, trying to make me hate him. The situation steadily improved as he got older and with the move to MO (change in farriers/change in turnout??) I was able to keep shoes on for the majority of his existence.

Then we moved back to OH.

I haven't been able to keep a shoe on him for more than 2 weeks at a time. His RF is absolutely shitwrecked at this point, having tossed the shoe 6 times in 3 months. Half the time I would find them in his stall sheared clean off with the nails still in his foot. HOW. His LH and RH also magically, mysteriously and spectacularly threw shoes 3 times. Making the grand total in the 13 weeks we've been back NINE FUCKING TIMES. Keep in mind its $20 to nail a shoe back on. Every. Damn. Time.

Once, he tossed his RF twice in one week.

I was beginning to wonder whose fault it was....Yankee's, Ohio pasture or my farrier. lord knows he was making half his profit from me.

I still don't know, but after the last time Yankee jacked his RF up beyond salvation and we ended up yanking his shoes for the next 6 weeks.

I almost had a mini panic attack with the farrier about this decision.

The one time we pulled his shoes was when we first brought him home- his feet crumbled like sugar in water and he was lame for 3 months. That  shitshow took almost 2 years to recover from. We tried again 2 years ago and after 11 days he was lame as a one footed duck. Rx; SHOES FOREVER.

....Unless you can't keep them on and now you're back to square one, 8 years later. We weighed the pros and cons and decided that besides acrylic (aka $$$) the best option was to go barefoot, hope the softer fall ground pads his feet and see if he can regrow some hoof wall. Huge huge huge huge did I say HUGE, risk, considering his past success barefoot.

In addition, if he does well, we will keep him bare all winter and hope we can get his SEVERELY contracted feet to spread out a bit. His heels are...just the worst. In general his feet are just the worst in every way possible besides the fact they aren't rotting from the inside out.

This looks 10x better than before the trim too...

Deep clefts, soft walls, cracks, long/sloping and contracted heels should make my horse dead lame all the time but he's done well with shoes up until this point. Minus his horrible bouts with thrush every spring that wreak havoc on our lives, I am always mildly impressed that my typical horsebeast's OTTB feet don't create more problems than they do. Started him on a new hoof supplement 6 months ago, & you can see the newest  growth from the coronet down to the red arrows.. I'm not 100% sure if thats good growth or bad, but it looks thicker than the lower part of his hoof.

To say I'm anxious about this decision is a massive understatement. I might lay awake at night fretting about the soundness of my baby and if he will be gucci enough to be ridden in the next 6 weeks with no shoes on his toes. The other half of me is like,

Show season isn't happening for us, so I am chalking 2014 up to a loss along with 2011-13. Womp womp.

Luckily, my farrier is on call for me and the first instance we think this is a bad idea, he will come put the acrylic shoes on and Yankee will have all winter to recoup.


Both the meese getting their pedicures
 In addition to THAT horse, Bacardi has been increasingly getting more footsore in the front. Of course. When it initially started 3 weeks ago I thought it was from our trail ride, but he only got worse riding in the back field. The biggest change I noticed was in his trot...went from lofty and massive to short and choppy. I guess tufts of grass and hard ground make my delicate OTTB fall apart.

Luckily, his feet are dimes. Cuppy, big, and hard as rocks. He's been barefoot since he came off the track and I really wanted to keep him that way, but alas. As with Yankee, farrier and I debated and think that shoes are the best right now in order to keep in training with the facilities we have available to me right now. If he gets better, then that was the problem and thats the solution. If not, back to the drawing board.

It was HILARIOUS to watch B getting his shoes. He kept staring at his feet while farrier nailed the shoes on with a very quizzical and concerend look. Afterwards, he stood spread eagle and picked each foot up and just held it there, holding them up like,

I didn't even know horses had that kind of thought process, but I swear, that's what his brain was doing.

Trying to put all my worry aside on this particular incident and compartmentalize my anxiety about starting my adult job/commute tomorrow & all the issues that go along with that. I can't even explain the level of worry about not being able to ride everyday. Its like, I need a job to ride, but can't ride with a job. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

A separate issue will be keeping the baby hydrated while I'm slaving away at work. I will be gone from 7 am to 6 pm ALWAYS and they will no longer get lunch hay or water checks. Bacardi not only drinks an epic amount per day (3-4 buckets easily), he is also is a hay vacuum. I've never seen a horse his size slam down 3 flakes faster than he can. To remedy the situation at first I was goign to hang three buckets, but that was too much work. I opted for a muck tub full of water.

 Bacardi gets ALL THE WATER. I also put his hay in a slow feed net. Might slow him from mach5 to about 40 miles an hour, but its better than giving him it on the floor and him being hungry for 8 hours out of the day in stead of 11.

I might end up hiring the neighbor girl to give them lunch hay because I hate think about empty horse tummies.

So I solved that tiny problem, for now, hopefully.

I shall now retreat to my bed to curl up in fear about the future and all the drastic life changes.


  1. Slow feeders are awesome. Until your horse becomes angry at the slowness of their food delivery and rips their feeders to pieces. Anywho, hope your boys do ok with all the changes!

  2. I must be slow, didn't realize you were in Ohio! I'm in SE Michigan if you are anywhere nearby. :) Hopefully all those hooves just need to get used to the change in location.

  3. Need a job to ride, can't ride with a job. Yep. It sucks. Sleep is what got sacrificed for me; hope you can find a way to fit the rides in!

  4. See if you can find some cheap hoof boots on ebay for Yanks. They'll really help transition his tootsies with less soreness and chipping. Hopefully you can go all winter with him barefoot and have a strong hoof to nail shoes back into next spring. Stupid Thoroughbred feet.

  5. iI try not to give unsolicted advice, but this is a product I highly highly recommend:
    It protects the hoof from crumbling/cracking, etc. while allowing the wall to grow and the foot to function like it's supposed to. It's been a lifesaver for many horses who are transitioning to barefoot or who can't maintain enough wall to keep their shoes on. Not trying to push or influence your decisions (you know your horse best, after all) but I know it's something a lot of horse owners aren't even aware of. It can't be thrown like a shoe or boot, which is very helpful for chronic shoe-pullers.

  6. Keratex and Double Strength Farrier's Formula are your friend, also if it wasn't for Riley's Cavallos, I would not have ridden him at all while he transitioned. It took nearly a full year for him to grow a better hoof, but swore by the boots to help keep his feet in safe condition (other than turnout)... I rode him in hunter paces, galloped, went through mud and he kept them on. You can typically find them used online, but if you measured him and I have the right size I'd loan you a pair!!!! I have two different sizes! I know Andrea swears by them too!

  7. Good luck barefoot....my old guy was the same and after 6 years - he was finally able to go shoe free and has been ever since! You will fall into a routine that works...hang in there.

  8. Good luck! Foot problems are the worst! I'm feeling ya :(

  9. keratex will be a helpful tool and the transition probably will depend on the footing they are able to be on. Having nice dry fluffy stalls can help if they are exposed to moisture during the day... anything to help the hooves harden and to keep the heels/sole dry while they adjust.

    Also, I forget what you are feeding right now but diet can have a huge impact on their immediate comfort.

    Good luck! I think it's worth it. :)

  10. I hear you on the job thing! Need money but now have no time to ride... booo!

    I've used muck buckets to water in! They are great but don't ever let it get empty because he will have it destroyed immediately. Slow feed hay nets are a lifesaver too.

    I'm sorry about the hooves. It sounds like his feet are just falling apart and they NEED a break from shoes. Everyone at my barn takes shoes off every winter so their hooves can repair, but they don't ride much in the winter and definitely don't compete. :/ I like the advice the others are giving. He needs something to help him with the transition. Boots work great (especially with magic cushion). The shoes are a bandaid. They only hide what's going on with his feet. I really hope he can make the transition so his hooves can get back to normal. The new growth looks great to me as far as I can tell from the picture. :) Also cutting all sugar out of his diet will help too. Some people suggest cutting soy too but I've never tried that. I use salt water to help prevent thrush and harden the hooves. I just put salt in a spray bottle, fill with water, shake it up and thoroughly soak the bottom of the hooves, making sure to get all of the dirt out of the grooves. You will be amazed the difference it makes. If I think of anything else that might help I'll let you know. Keeping my fingers crossed he feels better!!

    P.S. It could be the angle of the picture, but to me Yankee's toe looks way too long... does your farrier know about barefoot trimming or does he just trim the wall flat like prepping for a shoe? A knowledgeable trimmer can help with the transition process. If your farrier is trimming for shoes, even on barefoot horses, that could be why Bacardi has gotten sore. If he's been fine barefoot this whole time it's probably the trimming... but it could be the feed too. What was he eating before you got him? Anyway sorry for rambling and sorry if I sound opinionated! I don't mean too, I just want the transition to be successful for Yankee so you don't have to worry anymore.