newsletter is a personal letter from me to you, a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.
goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting stories
helpful tips for your horse care, training, and riding.
Predicament: Morgan With Bad Feet
2006 Cherry Hill ©
I have read and studied much of
your work and have found your methods to have greatly improved the handling of
my horses and I'm getting excellent results.
have not studied the works of any farrier that I have found to be as knowledgeable
as Richard and I have a bit of an emergency.
am working with a Morgan gelding who is approximately 7 years old. Apparently
prior to my involvement he foundered for unknown (possibly grass) reasons a couple
of years ago. He does not wear shoes and his owner only rides him on trails a
few times a year.
Now that I have entered
the picture, I spent hours at the barn this weekend with him and not only do his
front feet appear to be too long, but they are rather splayed out and wide (almost
dishlike looking). He has also developed a small crack.
what I am MOST concerned about is that upon cleaning his front hooves, it became
immediately evident that he was in pain the minute I even touched his frog and
surrounding area. He also dislikes lifting his foot up (and having to balance
on the other). In the deep snow of Vermont he will race around without noticeable
effect. However, when leading him, his far side front appears to turn in as well
as his shoulder!
The vet and the farrier have
been consulted in the past when the 'splaying out' of his hoofs was noticed but
the farrier said that all he needed was a 'good trimming'. Obviously this has
not helped. The horses hoof appears to be coming apart in layers of cracks and
there also appear to be some rings (bands) around his hoof.
have read the descriptions of laminitis and founder and navicular disease and
fear that I am dealing with a vet/farrier that are, if you will forgive the term,
'backwoods Vermonter's' and know very little about corrective shoeing or even
diagnoses. The vet apparently gave the horse bute once a couple of years ago,
but there was no follow up. X-rays were inconclusive at the time.
special guy appears to be standing ON HIS FROG and his feet just growing wider
and longer. There is no heat or discernable swelling present, which is further
complicating my own self-diagnosis. I am reading that some of these problems can
be life threatening if not treated in a matter of hours and am gravely concerned
for this gelding. He is in obvious pain.
if there is ANYTHING that you can suggest that I point a vet or farrier to, or
am able to do myself, I would be eternally grateful for your help. His owner is
an older man who lives out of state and knows very little about his horses. He
apparently even rode this gelding a week after the vet had pronounced him 'foundered'
Thank you in advance,
with all hoof problems people write me about, it is impossible to know what the
best treatment for a horse will be without actually seeing him and examining his
feet firsthand. However, I can say that the chance for significant long-term improvement
in this case is very low without the active participation and cooperation of the
horse's owner and the assistance of a vet and a farrier knowledgeable in lameness.
Our book, Maximum
Hoof Power, explains in detail steps that horse owners and farriers can take
to prevent and deal with the problems the Morgan has.
That being said, I
can only tell you about some of the approaches I have taken in the past with hooves
that have the characteristics that you describe.
1. You wrote: "...upon
cleaning his front hooves, it became immediately evident that he was in pain the
minute I even touched his frog and surrounding area."
I have seen
this type of extreme sensitivity caused by severe cases of thrush. For treating
thrush I have had success using Sugardine,
an inexpensive treatment that you can make yourself. For severe cases of thrush
I have used the CVP pad described below in #3.
Extreme sensitivity on the
sole, especially just in front of the frog could be caused by lamintis. If this
were the diagnosis, I would only treat it with the cooperation and consultation
of a vet experienced with laminitis.
Sensitivity to pressure on the frog
could be caused by navicular inflamation. If this were the diagnosis, I would
only treat it with the cooperation and consultation of a vet experienced with
2. You wrote: "...his front feet appear to be too
long, but they are rather splayed out and wide (almost dishlike looking)..."
The splaying and separating could be caused from lack of regular trimming
or poor nutrition or both or something else. Dishing can be caused by founder
when compromised blood flow slows growth of the front of the hoof wall but not
at the heels.
For wide, splayed feet that are too weak to be reshaped merely
by trimming I have used shoes with large
side clips, usually between the second and third nail holes, to hold the hoof
together and reshape it as it grows out.
3. You wrote "... hoof appears
to be coming apart in layers of cracks and there also appear to be some rings
(bands) around his hoof... "
The rings on his hoof could be caused
from poor circulation caused by chronic laminitis. This is best diagnosed by a
good set of radiographs interpreted by a vet experienced with laminitis.
Poor quality hoof wall can be cause by genetics or by poor
nutrition or by a wet environment or by any combination of these. The nutritional
hoof supplement I use is Gateway SU-PER Farrier's Supplement.
with separating, deteriorating walls I have had success with the CVP
Gasket Pad (along with Farrier's Supplement), which is also good for severe
cases of thrush. I use the CVP pad with side clips as mentioned previously in
If I were you, I would begin by clearing the expense part of the treatment
with the owner - how much money and effort is he willing to spend on this horse
that he seldom rides? Once I felt comfortable with that part of the job I would
consult with the best lameness vets and farriers I could find who would be willing
to examine the horse.
Here are some resources to help find a qualified farrier
in your area:
is a lot of useful information on all types of hoofcare here: http://www.horseshoes.com/,
including a forum where you can get advice from farriers http://www.horseshoes.com/forums/
2006 Cherry Hill ©