Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Follow Up Thoughts on Feet

Thank you for all the good thoughts/comments.  I think most of my internal struggle stems from the fact that up until a few months ago Prair was happily barefoot through all seasons in all of her work. 

She was bare as a pregnant mommy...
bare in full dressage training with limited turnout...
bare with me jumping with lots of soft turnout, etc...

so I'm frustrated that she's *this* uncomfortable *this* quickly.  If I didn't have knowledge of her being successfully bare with minimal thought or consideration on my part, it would be much simpler for me to say "eek, not working, shoes please."

Left Front from 7.2012
But because I know how good her feet can be and how good they were for the first year I owned her I feel more responsible for changing them with the few months of front shoes.  That being said, I had a slight panic attack about the transition and my ability to get it under control and texted my farrier.  He's headed out of town for a couple of weeks and if I need shoes back on I wanted to be able to get him out before he leaves.  He's holding an appointment for me on Thursday morning which (currently) I'm leaning towards taking.

My thoughts are this (though my thoughts are subject to change and keep flip flopping approximately every 60-90 minutes).  Prairie moved to the big, gorgeous, totally wonderful pasture last Wednesday.  Last Friday I ripped her shoes off and sent her back out into the sugary, lovely greenness.  I'm am reasonably certain that I underestimated the effect of the rich grasses.

I could pull her off the pasture and put her back on a dry lot and I think I'd have more success in eliminating her soreness.  I'm oddly reluctant to do this because the big, pretty, grassy pastures are only open a few months of the year and I also place a lot of value on her being able to run/play/roam over a larger area during the day.  All of the dry gravel paddocks are smaller and Prair spent a good chunk of the winter cooped up in one trying to avoid fungus.

So currently I'm trying to balance my priorities of allowing for large, lovely turnout (with buddies) vs pulling Prairie back into a dry gravel lot with my concern over the (relatively) quick deterioration of her strong happy feet.

Added to this is the continued disapproval of some of those around me and the general thought that uncomfortable bare is worse than unsupported with shoes (this stemming from the slow creep forward of Prair's foot in shoes).

I also recognize that putting shoes on doesn't halt the effects of the green grass, but rather just masks them which isn't necessarily the perfect answer either.


Headed to the barn now with fingers crossed for some tangible improvement.  I think if Prair is at the same level of soreness I will tack shoes back on for now and perhaps consider a transition when she would be on the dry gravel lot anyway.  Who knows.

What I do know is that my pretty-new-didn't-actually-need-them-boots are supposed to be delivered on Thursday.  No idea where the saddle currently is, hopefully on its way back too...


  1. Could she benefit from a muzzle maybe? We get incredibly rich grass here and hue has to have a muzzle on much to my dismay. But we don't have a dry lot option at my farm. Hope Prair starts feeling better.

  2. If it really is as simple as transitioning her to a dry lot to help improve her toesies, maybe a week or two in one of those paddocks will be enough to be able to put her back out in the green pasture. I'm a big fan of rolling pasture and room to run, but if she's sore when she walks, it probably doesn't matter if she has the room to run. Hopefully there is some improvement. Don't let the negativity get you down, you know what's best for your horse, no one else!

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head with this one - "I also recognize that putting shoes on doesn't halt the effects of the green grass, but rather just masks them which isn't necessarily the perfect answer either."

    Her feet aren't going to heal with shoes on. If it were me, I would pull her off the grass or look into the magnesium to help her process the grass in a less damaging way.

  4. When we were briefly considering Carlos ability to retire and the fact we would need to pull his shoes indefinitely forever my farrier pointed out that the transition back is ugly and takes time, to the point that he knew I would feel sorry for the horse and call my farrier back to put the shoes back on, but for a successful transition back I would need to ignore his initial discomfort for the long haul of barefoot. That being said, not all horses can be happy without shoes, and their feet change, and needs change. The fact that you hem and haw over such a decision means you truly care about the outcome and Prair. You'll figure it out.

  5. We all have a magical threshold of time that we can handle our horse being sore from this type of transition. When I went barefoot, I mentally committed to 6 months and if he was still sore I'd abort mission. Kate who commented yesterday gave it 3 months, and put shoes on. Its very hard to have your horse be uncomfortable but its also hard to be second-guessing yourself.

    The real question is, can you transition her living arrangement situation? Say, dry lot half day then grass pasture half day? Might cost a bit more at the stabling for a month but maybe that would help.

  6. Like other's have said the transition back to bare is hard. From what I have learned, I'd take her off the pasture for most of the day. Give her three hours of turnout in the afternoon if you really want her to be able to roam for a bit. In the morning, the grass has a much higher sugar content from the dew and morning sun. Take her off any high sugar/starch grains (if she's on any). It's really the sugar/starch that is your enemy. Put her on a low sugar grain or a ration balancer so that she still gets needed proteins and vitamins. Taking her off grain will probably require an increase in hay. Take her off alfalfa (also tends to add to foot soreness) and then give it time. Lots of time. You can also use some sole hardening remedies to help speed up the process. I like Thrush Off. It really seems to harden the sole quickly and does not have carcinogens like other formulas. Finally, get a pair of front hoof boots. I use cavallo sport boots with the gel insert pads. I find them super easy to put on/take off and to clean. You can even jump in them. Just make sure to follow the instructions and break them in if you decide to give them a go. Otherwise, I'd put shoes back on if you really want to show for the rest of the season, and then transition back to bare in the fall when you can more conveniently give her time off. Just my $.02. Good luck I know how much sore feet can suck and how much stress it causes!
    Adventures In Colt Starting


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