Friday, November 4, 2011

Hoof Casts and More On Hoof Wall Rasping

So far, the results of Lilly's hoof casts have been amazing. She's been wearing them for just over a week and they're still holding on tight, despite a little bit of wear on the sole area of Lilly's hoof. I've been keeping up with the cast maintenance by cutting off any little pieces that have come loose in order to eliminate them being snagged or torn. I want them to last as long as possible!

Lilly seems very comfortable in them. She has to walk across a gravel drive to get to her pasture, and although I used a shovel to create a walkway for her and eliminate as many stones as I could, she would still take a number of short, ouchie steps. Now that she's wearing the casts, she confidently walks across the drive with no obvious discomfort. While I haven't seen her running around in her pasture, she isn't spending her days standing in the sandy corner sleeping. I'm hoping that since she's more comfortable, she is also walking in a more proper, heel first manner... grow soles, grow!

Speaking of hooves, in my post about Lilly's most recent trim, there was some discussion about rasping hoof walls vs not rasping hoof walls. Just like with anything else horse related, there are a lot of different opinions on the subject. I think everyone has such a varied opinion because our horses are all so different. They're all on different terrain, have different nutritional requirements, and live in different environments. All of these variables can lead to different problems and the hooves can show different results even when the same techniques are used. Since each horse is different, what works for one horse might be completely wrong for another.

What works for my horse is rasping her hoof walls and this post is about my horse and her specific problem. I've seen the results first hand, and there are a number of reasons why it works for her. I went straight to the source (my trimmer and my trimmer's mentor) to get the details, specifics, and reasons. Their direct quotes are in italics.

First, the most important thing to keep in mind where my horse is concerned, is that she is in a period of "hoof rehab". If she was a normal horse, one who is lucky enough to have nearly perfect hooves, there would be no reason to touch the hoof wall with a rasp, except maybe to round the toes.

Looking at the big picture, we need to rasp her hoof wall to bring the hooves back into symmetry and establish a good pastern angle. In order to do that, we have to pull back her toes, which are way too long and way too forward. By bringing back the toes, we help bring the breakover back over the coffin bone, eliminating how hard the coffin bone has to work against her inner sole, and placing Lilly's weight back in the center of her hoof where it belongs. There is an ideal center pivot point in every foot. Working the outer wall will help to re-establish that balance point.

Generally speaking, most farriers and trimmers will rasp the hoof wall to remove flares. Flares are, of course, a sign of hoof imbalance, but they're removed so the new hoof growth doesn't follow the same deviated path, also becoming flared.

And what is a long toe, really? A flare...

Following the same logic, rasping the hoof wall will remove "growth road blocks" (the growth rings) which jam the hairline, potentially slow down the growth of the hoof, and make it easier for the new growth to deviate from the ideal path of growth.

Relieving stress from the hairline is important because that's one of the main arteries, which feeds the foot its nutrients. If the hairline is jammed, the artery is constricted, thus slowing down the blood flow. We try to relieve that when and where it's necessary; plus, doing so also allows the jammed hoof wall to 'drop out' of the hairline, thus helping to re-establish that good blood flow.

Keeping in mind that the lamina grows from the hairline and the hoof wall grows from the lamina (from the inside out), then rasping the hoof wall is not a dangerous thing to do. If for some reason the hoof wall is thinned too much, the lamina will replace the wall from the inside out.

Once Lilly has established the kind of hooves I dream about (similar to her back hooves!), there won't be a need to do much work on her hoof wall. Until that time, for all the benefits mentioned above, it is absolutely necessary for her, and is producing noticeable results.

I am interested in opinions, ideas, comments, or accusations that I recently busted out of the crazy house. Hooves continue to fascinate me and I enjoy learning from all of you.


  1. So glad the hoof casts have made Miss Lilly all comfy.

  2. Well, you know I'm a fan of your new trimmer!

    I got carried away on the rasping comments and failed to mention how interesting I thought the casting was and the reason for it. I'm glad to hear it seems to be helping Lilly. I will definitely store that info into my brain.

  3. So glad to hear the casts are working for her! Yay!