Friday, April 1, 2011

The bars: A word of caution

To preface this, I have to say that I almost didn't publish yesterday's post, there was quite the tug-of-war going on in my head about it. In the end I decided that the information was too important to withhold.

The first reason that I almost didn't publish it is because knowledge is power, but sometimes you can have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. One rule of thumb about trimming is that you do NOT cut into the sole. Overgrown bars aren't sole so they need to come off, but you need to be VERY, VERY CAREFUL how you do that. If you've got a hoof where the bars have completely overgrown the sole, you can pretty much bet there's only the thinnest sliver of sole material between the bar material and the corium. You need to slowly and methodically shave that bar material off the sole and remember that if you go too far you can hit corium and seriously wound your horse. If you are shaving that material down and your horse suddenly jerks their foot out of your hand, you need to stop. That was your horse telling you, "Hey, I just felt that!"

With Gwen's overgrown bars I've been taking a little bit off each week. I'm hoping that I can get rid of enough bar material that the corium will start growing sole again even if there's still some bar covering it. That way I won't have to worry about cutting too deep. I'll let you know how that goes.

The second reason I almost didn't publish yesterday's post is because so few people know what they're looking at. Chances are, if you see that your horse has overgrown bars and you say something to your hoof care provider you will either get blown off, scoffed at, or looked at like you've grown three heads. Lots of people think that IS sole. Use discretion when you talk with them about overgrown bars.

Here's one more photo to help you out on this issue. This is a closer view of Coriander's bar/sole junction. You can see a distinct dividing line between the two tissues and the pebbly texture of the sole. You can use this as a reference of what that connection should look like. I know I will.


  1. So the sole will start filling in as you continue to trim the bars back? Cool. I am now curious how long it will take Gwen to regain her hoof surface. I am sure you are keeping a picture diary.... :-)

  2. I make it a point NEVER to talk during my farrier's work. I ask questions and listen. And don't worry, I will not be out there trimming away the bars on my horses! lol. Some people have a gift, others don't. I DON'T, but I do like learning.

  3. Wolfie, I sure hope so. I really hope I don't have to go almost to the corium before the sole starts to grow. I have no idea how long it's going to take either. Fortunately she's perfectly sound right now, so I don't have to worry about that.

    Linda, it's funny, but when I'm working on my two I actually talk quite a bit, and it's just me and them! What I was trying to say is that there are some people you can question and have a good discussion with, and then there are those you can't...

  4. I like that you mentioned the "pebbly texture of the sole". That's very helpful. I was looking at Dee's foot and trying to decide what I was seeing, and had noted a slightly different texture to her sole compared with what looked to be the bars. So now I know it was indeed sole! I'm learning!

  5. I think farriers are like vets in that each one seems to have a different opinion. Because of that I learned a long time ago to be careful how I said anything. Ya gotta watch those egos if you want to keep them around. LOL

  6. Egos- that's exactly what I was getting at. Especially the male ones...

  7. smazourek,
    These hoof posts are great. Please continue offering them. You are writing about many of the things that I read and wonder about every time that I trim Harley. Like, just a couple trims ago I looked at his bars and realized that they had become laid over. I gently scraped away the laid over material and was surprised to find that the actual bars were much shorter than they originally appeared. Since then, his foot appears wider and his sole is exfoliating. So interesting!