Friday, September 6, 2013

Should a horse ever be sore after a trim?

I've been putting this off because this is a topic that will potentially make me very unpopular, but I just saw a horse that put it in the front of my mind. Last week I got a call from a kid who just got his first horse and wanted me to trim her, when I got out there I found out that all her hooves looked like this:


And all I could think was, "I'm never going to see this horse again."

Why would I think that? Because with a hoof like this I know there's a very good chance the horse will come away from the trim sore. Most horse owners will immediately fire any trimmer who leaves their horse sore.

"But wouldn't they be justified?" You may say, "surely a good trimmer wouldn't leave a horse sore after a trim?"

Here's the truth: Healing hurts. If you've ever had physical therapy you know this very well. If you've ever had someone massage knots out of your back or neck you know this as well. It hurts, and then you feel better.

Look at the hoof pictured, note the long walls, bars and lumpy sole. Overly long hoof walls will, through the force of the hoof impacting the ground, tear away from the coronet band little by little. Overly long bars will bruise the corium and press on the DDFT and navicular bone. Lumpy soles will also bruise the corium under the coffin bone. All of these things are painful.

Do you know how humans can eventually tune out the pain of wearing uncomfortable shoes but once you take the shoes off your feet hurt like heck? Over time horses can tune out the pain in their feet too, and once you take away the overgrowth damaging the hoof, guess what happens- their feet hurt like heck.

So here's the trimmer's dilemma: Do you do enough to let the hoof heal and risk the horse being sore, or do you do as little as possible to maintain the status quo and let the damage keep happening? Personally, I'll take the temporary soreness if it means that the hoof is healing.

If the trim is good but the horse is sore it means that healing is happening, if you wait a few days for the pain to go away you'll probably find that the horse is moving much better than they were before the trim. That's how rehabilitation works, sometimes you have to take a step back to make a leap forward. (If the trim is bad and the horse is sore that's a big problem, this is where the onus is on the owner to know a good trim from a bad one.)

Okay- back to the horse. She was initially very nervous, didn't want to pick up her feet and even nipped at me once. Obviously she didn't have pleasant associations with trims. Fortunately her attitude completely changed through the course of the trim and she became quite friendly towards me. I found evidence of damage on all of her feet though, bruising around the white line, bruising around the bars, bruising on the soles... they were a mess. Despite that it seems that she wasn't sore after the trim (I asked the owner to contact me if she was) which I think is because her feet were essentially pretty healthy underneath all that junk (note the round shape of the hoof and the nice wide heels).

Next up (eventually): Sound vs. "sound."

18 comments:

  1. ugh, this was good to read although I am not sure if my horse is sore because she had so much of what you described or my trim is just that bad. So with lumpy soles should you always clear out the lumps? That is what I am dealing with now after getting the bars tackled. Glad this mare wasn't sore afterwards!

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    1. It's better to smooth out anything that's really sticking out- you don't want the horse to have that "rock in your shoe" feeling from a lumpy sole. The trick is smoothing out the lumps without thinning the rest of the sole. Take it slow.

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  2. I'm hoping the owner wants to keep you working on this horse and that you'll post some after-trim photos.

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    1. My husband let my son play with my camera and the result was spit all over the lens that I haven't had time to clean off yet, so I didn't take many pictures for fear that they wouldn't come out. I'll see how she looks next trim.

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  3. I think the owner would be wise to keep you doing the trims on this mare. Eventually, her hooves will heal and she'll feel great.

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    1. Her feet weren't contracted so that's most of the battle won right there, the rest will heal pretty quickly now that the pressure is off.

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  4. Poor girl! Glad she's not too bad afterwards. Do you think that, doing a little at a time quite frequently (as in if you're doing your own horse), you can avoid some of the soreness that will result from that healing, or will you still probably end up with a horse that's a bit ouchy for a while?

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    1. The key to healing is to stay ahead of growth, so you might be able to ease the horse through if you trim quite frequently. Of course it also depends on how bad off the horse is, a really pathological hoof might be ouchy anyway.

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  5. Well, there is a world of difference between predictable soreness due to recognizable issues and soreness due to a botched trim or trimming aggressively when the back of the foot is weak.

    Do you have any thoughts on trimming the feet in parts when soreness looks possible? For example, the trimmer could address the bars and sole before taking down the wall or vice versa. This horse was lucky not to have a contracted foot, but a different horse might suffer enough soreness to compromise his landing or restrict movement.

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    1. There are plenty of ways to take it slow; depending on the hoof I could leave more wall, or taller heels, or longer toes until the hoof seems more stable. I always trim the bars though.

      On this horse, because of the amount of bruising present, I felt it was best to take her walls down to sole level and lower her heels to try to stop the damage. I warned the owner multiple times that she might be sore since she was so overgrown. I do NOT expect her to be sore again so long as she's kept on schedule- which I think her owner will do.

      Weak heels are a symptom, they are not the main problem. Why would a horse have weak heels? Because they aren't landing heel first. Why aren't they landing heel first? That's where the real problem is.

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    2. Hey smazourek,

      I got a link to your 2011 blog about 'Optimal Hooves' and in it you state this is the final in your series. I would like to read the entire series but I am not puter savvy and can't figure out how to pull them up. Can you pls tell me how to get your posts?

      thank you so much,

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    3. You should be able to find them all here: http://quartersforme.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html.
      You can also search using the Labels over on the right, click on "hooves."

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  6. All of my horses were sore after their last trim with the new farrier. At least on the rocky ground which they are not used too. They were fine on soft ground. Haven't necessarily fired said farrier, but watching this situation very closely.

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    1. Did he/she take off a lot of sole? That could make them sore. If the ground is harder than usual- like if you haven't seen rain in a while- that could also make them sore. Did you tell the farrier they were sore?

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  7. Well there momma ! Love the header to your blog, with your little carriage aside the fields! Made me chuckle and smile upon opening up your pages!

    I loved your simple/plain response at my place to my being missing (in action riding) so long. Made me feel loved.

    I have so much to catch up on in Bloggerville...but it is so much fun doing it, never a drag getting behind here!
    We have a newbie stable-girl at my place. A very impromptu thing. She is the sweetest ever . She has a HUGE learning curve ahead of her, I have found out. But she really wants to.

    I have recommended she read this post- as her mares hooves are beginning to look like this horses, that you've featured on this post. I set her up with my Barefoot specialist( cause i can't trim two horses, just my own) So, hopefully, she'll come read about the importance of proper and timely hoofcare!

    LOVE YA ALWAYS, and so happy for your new family...now to catch up on the latest from you!
    KK

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