What do the bars do?Remember that the coffin bone is shaped like a half moon and that it sits in the front of the foot. Therefore the coffin bone is responsible for the shape of the front of the foot. Since the back of the foot is composed of soft tissue, what is in the back of the foot to help the hoof hold it's shape? The bars. They give the back of the foot the arch structure that the coffin bone gives to the front of the hoof.
What are the bars made of?It might be easier to think of the bars being half-wall and half-sole. They need to be stiff enough to hold the structure, but not so stiff that they don't have any give at all. Remember, the bars and the walls aren't quite the same thing, but even more importantly the bars and the sole aren't the same thing at all.
How do you manage the bars?There is some confusion about this, even the barefoot schools don't agree on this. For example, Pete Ramey recommends leaving the bars alone.
Quick aside about Pete Ramey's trim: I think Pete Ramey is great. He has done fantastic things for the barefoot movement. If you want to learn about hooves start with Pete Ramey. But know that he teaches a very conservative trim. His trim is a great place to start and a good way to maintain healthy hooves, but if your horses have some issues you'll need to branch out after you've learned the basics from him.
But you need to trim the bars! Bars are tricksy little things that if given free rein will go crazy and grow over the rest of the hoof. Literally. Bar is much stiffer and stronger than sole, if it grows over the sole it will actually reduce hoof function by not allowing the hoof to flex as it should; if it grows too far it will actually cause the corium to stop growing sole!
So how do you spot it?You develop an eye.
Take this foot for instance:
How about this hoof?
|Photo from a barefoot trimmer|
|Photo from a farrier|
Fortunately I happen to have a horse that doesn't have bar material growing over the sole.
|Coriander's right fore, with some hay and poo for funsies|
|Gwen's left hind|
I am really enjoying these posts. The bars are always what throws me and now I see why. Thanks for the info, I will be looking at my horses' feet with fresh perspective.ReplyDelete
I really had to look at these photos for a while and then the lightbulb went off in my brain. I know so little about feet and I have been loving your posts!ReplyDelete
Very useful info - like the photos.ReplyDelete
I've gotta say, I can see it really well in the first picture, but I'm having a more difficult time seeing it in the barefoot trimmer horses. In the picture of Gwen's foot, is it the lighter colored areas?ReplyDelete
I'm not sure I could recognize it on my own horse's feet, but gosh darn it, I'm going to look!
Wonderful! I love learning about this subject.ReplyDelete
I have a great farrier who saved my horse's life four years ago--all of my other horses are also trimmed by him and they all go barefoot on our basalt trails--all year. They don't even have to wear boots. He talks about all these things as he works, but it goes over my head. I have a hard time seeing it. Thank you for breaking it down with pictures!!!!
Wow. I never even thought of the bars. And, yes, I can see the difference now! How do you trim them?? And can the overgrowth be reversed? Am I jumping ahead?? :-) I can't wait to see my guy's feet tomorrow!!ReplyDelete
Wow, that's a tough one. I'm still not sure I'd recognize it in my own horse's feet. I really had no idea the bars could do that. I've heard of people refering to over grown bars before but I really didn't know this was what they were talking about.ReplyDelete
Interesting. I need to go examine my horse's hooves now! I'm with Wolfie. How do you trim them to prevent them from getting overgrown or fix the overgrowth?ReplyDelete
Hi everybody, hopefully my second post on bars will answer some of your questions. You can always send me an email at radal16 AT hotmail.com if you have more questions.ReplyDelete
I'm not seeing it. Is it that on the overgrown bars the frog appears recessed? Especially around the tip?ReplyDelete
On which photo?Delete
No photo in particular.Delete
I just can't tell the difference between overgrown bars and normal ones. Especially on the second photo.
How can i tell if my horses bars are overgrown and what can i do to remove the excess if they are?
Can you send me a photo? I'll mark it up for you. radal16 AT hotmail.comDelete
Can I send you a pic of my friend's pony's feet? I've noticed several problems, I just want to see if you see the same things? I don't have a lot of experience, so I really don't want her to fire her farrier on my word aloneReplyDelete
Yes you can, smazourek AT outlook.com.Delete
Hate to jump in in the middle/tail in of this, but... I have a wonderful trimmer who studied under Pete Ramey (we even went to one of his clinics and he trimmed my mare, he agrees with my trimmer, they dont think my mare has navicular). I went in search of her after my mare was diagnosed with navicular syndrom. We have come a long way and have made great progress, but we still come up lame every so often. We have another odd problem too with strange grooves that run from the apex of her frog to the tip of her hoof. Would you mind if I sent you pictures and you gave me some feedback?ReplyDelete
Yes you can, smazourek AT outlook.com, but you should know that I don't agree with Pete Ramey about the bars. I'm happy to give my opinion and then you can take what you like from it.Delete