Similar to the nutrition issues I had this past fall and winter, I'm embarrassed by how little I know about my own horse's hooves. I've had horses for a long time and have always left my horses' well being up to the professionals. Whether it be basic veterinary care, injuries and rehab, or hoof care, I've let them do their job and never really questioned whether things were being done right. I learned my lesson during Lilly's rehab, and now I'm learning another hard lesson about her hooves.
Some more background:
Back in June of 2009, I was heavy into training with Lilly. We were having a super year showing and I was taking dressage lessons to help us progress even more. During this time, the area on Lilly's leg where she had her ligament surgery so many years ago suddenly puffed out.
I started asking around and solicited the opinion of a PBHT II trimmer. She asked me to send her some pictures of Lilly's hooves so she could take a look. Here are a few of the pictures I sent her.
The PBHT trimmer said she said she wouldn't recommend wedge pads but thought Lilly needed more heel support. She suggested my farrier back up the toes and set the shoes back so that the heels of the shoe are in line with the heel bulbs. She said the growth pattern of her hoof at the heels suggested that her hooves had been growing forward like that for quite some time. She thought her pastern angles looked a little broken back and said fixing those issues might relieve her tendons. (Four months later is when she tore her ICL.)
I mentioned this to my farrier the next time he came out and he said he would put a larger shoe on her foot to give her more heel support. The problem with that is Lilly was already an avid shoe puller, so the larger shoe just ended up causing us more problems. We had the same issue when we put the bar shoe on recently while we tried to grow out that giant hole in her hoof from the giant abscess. She doesn't step on her shoes with her hind feet, she steps on them with her front feet, so rolling the toe to help her break over quicker doesn't help. The bell boots have only been mildly successful as well.
That's part of the reason she's inside during the day at the new barn. The more pasture time she has, the more frequently those shoes get torn off. We're also trying to limit the amount of moisture her hooves are exposed to, so she stays in until the dew dries and if it rains. All this seems to have helped tremendously with her shoe problems. That, and we've put her back in a size 00 shoe.
So I've had other farriers look at my horse, and the PBHT trimmer is the only one who seemed concerned at all. Now that I've done more research, I'm really surprised that my farrier has no ambition to do anything about her under run heels. He never even comments on them when he comes out... just pulls the shoe, trims her hoof, and slaps the shoe back on. From looking at pictures online, I'm simply amazed at how my horse's feet look, and not in a good way.
I found an interesting article on healthyhoof.com with the following picture and description:
Compare that hoof to Lilly's hoof:
So you guys are saying her shoes are too small? The heels of the shoes should be in line with her heel bulbs as the PBHT farrier says rather than way up underneath her hoof as they are now?
And are you guys saying that her heel actually starts here?
I guess before I worry about whether she can go barefoot, I should worry about getting her hooves where they need to be in shoes. Maybe then her transition to barefoot (if we decide to go that route) will go much smoother. Should I chastise my current farrier and tell him to get her hooves where they need to be, or should I look for a new farrier? It would feel strange to me to tell my farrier how he should be trimming and shoeing my horse... I would prefer that he actually did that on his own!
He's very highly recommended by a lot of horsepeople I know, and he apprenticed under one of the best farrier in my area. It's upsetting that he isn't being more proactive with Lilly's hoof care. :(