Saturday, October 17, 2009

Heel Bevel Seems to be Helping Contracted Hoofs

Copied from my post on Horse City Hoof Forum

For the last 8 weeks I have been using the trim described in Pete Ramey's "Under the Horse" Disk Three. I'm on about a 1 1/2 week trim cycle rotating a toe rocker one trim with a "hoof bevel" the next trim as described by Ramey on his DVD. For the first time I feel like I'm actually seeing significant progress with his badly contracted heels. Previously, efforts to bring the heel back and down seemed to trigger more rapidly growing heel. Treating wildly for thrush seemed to help a little and the contraction would open a teency bit, then slam shut again.

I am hesitantly excited. His heels are opening and this seems to be a steady, consistent trend. His heels are staying down and not springing back up over night. I am also using a much, much stronger bevel all the way around the hoof and I think I am starting to manage an actual bit of quarter relief.

Here are my notes from "Under the Horse" where Ramey talks about the heel bevel, or "floating the heel":

Most horses that aren't all they should be in the back of the foot go to a toe first landing, ripping the toe wall. They don't have the structures to dissipate energy. You can't fix the situation without getting them heel first. You can't start to get the heel down without thinning the sole. This cycle is why so many horses are locked into pathology. A trick to break the pattern is to trim the heel parallel to the internal structures. Create a landing zone in the back of the heel that the horse can land on.

If the heels are overgrown, what plane to cut on? The plane that floats over the collateral groove parallel to the coffin bone. Hold the rasp and trim parallel to the collateral groove, parallel to internal structures. This will set up a better landing zone. People worry that quarter will be longer than the heel but think of the hoof in motion, greatest impact is parallel to the internal structures. It will not land on a sharp corner that will underrun the heel.

I (Ramey) always float rasp 3/4 of an inch above the bottom of the collateral groove. Allows landing platform more parallel to internal structures. This is a self-erasing method. If not adequate sole, it looks like a bevel. If adequate sole, sill seem like no bevel.

Right Heel 9-08

Right Heel 10-17-09

Right Half-Moon 9-08

Right Half-Moon 10-17-09

Right Solar Right 9-08

Right Solar Right 10-17-09

Right Oblique 9-08

Right Oblique 10-17-09

Red hoofs are very different, showing "high/low" syndrome. His left hoof is the "low hoof" and the walls, especially the medial wall, have been significantly inside the vertical. This shape really serves to hold contraction in and keeps the hoof mechanism from fully engaging. Still, the left heel contraction is also opening slowly yet surely.

Left Heel 9-08

Left Heel 10-09

Left Half-Moon 9-08

Left Heel Half-Moon 10-09

Left Solar 9-08

Left Solar 10-09

Left Oblique 9-08

Left Oblique 10-09

Red - sick of my crazed, obsessive photo taking. Did I mention how much I love my new camera?

Red back in 9-08.

Where we started - Red's last farrier's pasture trim about 1-07. This was when I started trimming myself.

RF heel on ground 5-08

RF heel on ground 10-09

LF heel on ground 10-09

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lyra's Front Right Hoof is Giving Me "Fits"

(this is a copy of a post I just made in the Hoof Forum.  Thought I'd post it here too)

Last May I got Lyra and her feet were a mess. Especially her front right hoof - the capsule was very distorted with severe medial/lateral imbalances. The hoof itself had twisted into a wry hoof. Bars seemed invisible but were actually so huge they just flowed into the quarters and toe of the hoof. This first photo shows the hoof in May of 2008 and in Oct. 2008. The rest of the photos were from today (Sunday). I'm stuck, a crack has returned, my balance is off and I'm having a hard time reading the hoof again. All ideas will be much appreciated. 

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday Resource: White Lightning

This is a HUGE weapon in the battle against thrush.  White Lightning is a form of chlorine dioxide that is marketed by Grand Circuit.  It is vicious with fungus, yeast, and bacteria but does not harm healthy tissue.  How cool is that?  

According to an article by Howard Alliger (President of Fronteir Pharmaceuticals), chlorine dixide is used by the food industry and might be added to products like OJ to prevent spoilage.  It is used to bleach pulp for paper and in water treatment plants.  It is not toxic to the environment.  This widely used form of chorine is remarkable because, according to Alinger, it is rare to find an effective disinfectant that is also non-toxic.  Here is another article that describes in detail how this stuff ravages bacteria and fungus.

While there are several chlorine dioxide products currently being used to successfully treat thrush, I have found White Lightning very easy to use and after a year of application, it has been absolutely safe for Red's hoofs.  Here is my routine:

1.  Gather hoof soaking boots, White Lightning, measuring cup, white vinegar, scissors, duct tape, and super clingy saran wrap.

2.  Get Red in his booties.  

3.  Cut several lengths of duct tape - about 20 inches long.  Stick these to tie post.

4.  Mix 2 oz. White Lightning with 2 oz. vinegar.  This triggers the process that releases the chlorine dioxide gas.  Pour mixture into one boot.  

5.  Wrap saran wrap around boot and up cannon bone.

6.  Secure with duct tape at bottom (boot) and top (cannon bone).

7.  Repeat with other hoof.

8.  Wait about 45 mintues while the gas does its magic.

I take care to keep the mixture off of my clothes - it will bleach fabric.  When done, I simply pour the mixture into the ground.  Please visit Linda Cowle's Healthy Hoof for sone of the most helpful thrush treatment instructions I've found online.  She has a great photo "how to" section regarding White Lightning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Resource Wednesday: Online Hoof Trimming Forums

These are my absolute favorite and most used resources.  You will find a  great group of folks post online, ranging from those just thinking about barefoot, to beginners, to highly skilled professionals.  All are committed to helping each other.  

I find the Horsecity Hoof Forum  easy to negotiate because of the integration of photos within each thread.  I also appreciate the way participants will download your photos, review your trim, draw balanced trim lines and re-post the photos within your thread.  This becomes a mini, personalalized trim clinic. 

Other wonderful trimming forums with skilled, committed participants are the Barefoot Horse Care Forum and the Whole Horse Health Forum.  Thanks to the internet, skilled consultation is at your fingertips!

 Please visit, learn, and share your own experience.  Hope to see you there. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Trimming Challenge: Deep Sulcus Thrush #1 Enemy of Heel-First Landing

(note:  this picture is of Red's hoof after his last farrier trim in August, 2007.  You see the flat, pathological form of a "pasture trim".  This is NOT a healthy hoof capsule and is NOT the results of any style of "barefoot trim"!)

I used to wonder why Red's frogs were so thin and sort of tattered looking.  I cleaned them every day.  There was none of that black gooey, stinky gunk that I remember meant it was time to treat for thrush.  I asked my farrier - he said he didn't see anything like thrush.  I asked my vet - she said she didn't see any thrush.  Still, something just wasn't right.  Then on a barefoot trimming website,  I saw  a frog that looked exactly like Red's frogs.  It was illustrating a discussion on deep sulcus thrush.  HA!  I knew it!  (If your horse's hoofs look ANYTHING like Red's in this photo from Aug. 2007, you have LOTS of troubles in addition to thrush, these pictures are what inspired me to learn to trim myself).

If your horse is having a hard time with transition,
has contracted heels that just don't want to open, continues to resist heel-first landings no matter what you do, chances are that you have a nasty case of deep sulcus thrush to deal with.  

There are some outstanding online articles that will help you find the most helpful form of treatment for your horse.  I have found white lightening, "Pete's Goo" (a 50/50 mix of antifungal cream with 1% clotrimazole and triple antibiotic - both available at Dollar Tree Stores), and apple cidar vinegar soaks to be very helpful for Red.  Here are some resources that I have found helpful:

  1. Linda Cowles at Healthy Hoof (extremely comprehensive)
  2. Ove Lund at the Swedish Hoof School
  3. Pete Ramey: Caring for the Frog
Once you settle on a treatment program, BE VIGILANT!!!!!!  While it is important to utilize a trim that engages the frog, if the frog has hidden thrush your horse will only grow more heel to keep away from the pain.  Here is a thread on the Whole Horse Health Forum discussing the management of thrush and bringing down the heels.

Good luck!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thinking About Going Barefoot?

                                                                                                                                   Red's FR Hoof 12-08

Earth'N'Hoof just a "makeover" and with this new "face" comes new intentions (or old intentions, restated).  One of the many aspects of providing a healthy life for Red and Lyra has been learning about how to care for their feet.  This blog is meant to record that journey.  I've noticed several blog authors setting a posting schedule to organize their writing.  Gonna give this a try.

Monday: Trimming Challenge Day (my horses sure give me plenty, no problem here)
Wednesday: Featured Resource Day
Saturday: Trimming - What I'm learning about
Sunday: Random Thoughts
No time like the present 
to start something new.

                       Same Hoof June, 2008

Getting Started with Barefoot Trimming - Online Education and Support

Maybe you live where you don't have access to a barefoot trimmer.  Could be you just aren't satisfied with your horse's level of soundness.  Maybe you are seeing your beloved partner becoming more and more impaired and treatment options are becoming increasingly extreme - nothing seems to be working.  Don't despair.  I believe the internet is an amazing resource and through the "net" you have access to an international commuunity of help, support and education.  Whether you are ready to pull the shoes, are thinking about it, or have been doing your own trimming for awhile and want to learn more, you will find assistance and inspiration.

Here are online resources that I have found absolutely invalueable in my quest towards healthy hoofs and heel-first landings . . . 

Online Barefoot Trimming Hoof Forums

Absolutely could not be doing this without the support and consultation of the many folks who so gracesously share their knowledge on these forums.  I have found the following three essential.  Please let me know of others.

If you are already trimming, you can upload photos and getting skilled consulation.  If you are just starting to think about barefoot as a possibility, you can get a "feel" for this approach to healthy hoofs and hear from lots of folks who are just beginning as well as others who are professionals in the field.  Even if you don't think going barefoot is for you or your horse, just give these forums a peek to see what is out there.  I'm so glad I did.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Linda Cowles Hoof Clinic, Humboldt, August 16, 2008

note: these are my notes - that means they may be full of misperceptions and only partially understood instruction. I can't recommend Linda's clinics highly enough. They are chock full of information, humor, and a deep intuitive understanding of how to grow a healthy hoof. Attend one if you can.

Linda Cowles Hoof Clinic, Humboldt County
August 16, 2008

I'm posting my notes from Linda's uber informative clinic (last August). If you read this and see where I mis-stated any information, please, please leave a comment so I can have a more accurate picture.

The notes are pretty rough and random, sorry!

  • Pacific Hoof Care Professionals
is a group developed to support professionals and non-professionals in acquiring skills over time.
  • When you are trimming, it is important to have a second set of eyes to help catch anything you might have missed.
Throughout the clinic Linda stressed DIET!!!!!!!!! One of the 1st things to consider in hoof care and rehabilitation is the effect of diet and carbohydrates on hoof and general systemic health. NO SUGAR. NO MOLASSES. She recommended an excellent class nutrition by Eleanor Kellon, VMD
available at Course Dates are here

Linda gave a simple example of the impact of diet - iron in water From Pete Ramey

Read Pete Ramey's "Feeding the Hoof" (

"During this course, when I looked back at my pasture and hay analysis from the past, it became clear that the lack of copper and zinc were the least of my problems. In my area, the grass, hay, water (and even the mineral blocks I was recommending) consistently have toxic levels of iron. [Excess iron cancels the absorption of copper and zinc- even if there is an “adequate” amount of those minerals available. Excess iron
has many effects, including predisposition to infection, a predisposition to arthritis and increased risk of tendon/ligament problems, liver disease and altered glucose metabolism – including insulin resistance and overt diabetes.
Eleanor Kellon, VMD"

A question
was asked about wry hoof - Linda replied that pain causes the horse to walk on the other side of the hoof to try to stop the hoof mechanism that is causing the pain. Over time this imbalance between sides begins to distort the hoof capsule. passive hoof doesn't touch all the way active weight bearing, the hoof is engaged Red - casting hoof, hoof mechanism is not engaged
  • Heel Buttresses - visualize butt cheeks
THRUSH Soundness starts with the frog. Linda shared several treatment options:

- industrial sanitizer, chlorine dioxide, like White Lightning but easier to use and much cheaper. Activates with citric acid. Use 1 - 3 times, next to days clean with soap and water.

Usnea Tincture - gives great relief (vodka kills properties of herb) use small amount and apply inside crevices in frog (Linda applied to tiny lines in back of hoof, once applied the wetness of the tincture clearly showed a network of tracks harboring or inviting thrush) Oxine

Pete's Goo

Apple Cider Vinegar
- 50/50

Gold Bond Dry cow teat medication To clean up the crack between hoof buttresses - use cardboard or rolled vet wrap to floss crack between bulbs. After treatment, cover with desitin.

Bacteria and fungus have a use in the hoof - but out of control with sugars and system imbalance. Yeast and thrush are symptoms of underlying problem. Often this is diet. Need to consider diet and what is causing system imbalance

1. need to clean with soap, water, scrub brush - everyday. Linda uses Dawn.

HOOF RINGS You can read these - they show events in the life of the hoof. When the system is stressed, enzymes - lamina die and reattach. The hoof falls lower and lower in the hoof capsule. Too much sugar creates endotoxins in the gut. These loosen the lamina attachment. At corona - bump. Hoof wall constantly reattaches. The lamina excrete substance - "hoof putty" Linda called it, that helps reattach.

STRETCHED TOE A toe first landing - pulls out the toe wall and contributes to: laminar wedge, white line separation, and wall separation. Better feed and lower sugar = better walls. No grain hays - anything with berry on top higher in sugar

  • Linda uses mechanic's wheeled seat she gets at Pep Boys Tools
  • AB Dick hoof knives
  • AG 50/30 Corona Grape Pruner
  • Bonzai Bud Nipper
ASSESSMENT Dr. Kerry Ridgeway CD - Assessment Consider:
  1. Walk
  2. Back
  3. Hips
  4. winging out?
  5. toe first (look for puffs of dust in front of hoof)
  6. angle coming off hock
  7. hind goose stepping indicates problem
Pretend you are the horse, move like the horse, where would it hurt you? 1st Heels - reaps across to look at lines, hairline to hoof edge Next Remove flaps. Divide hoof in half. Use rasp to rasp central sulcus. 2. Balance Hoof coffin bone and sole juncture Magic Marker - choose growth line or width of rasp from hairline Wall Separation Inside - wall - 1 rasp width above line of sold and wall juncture Outside - most significant growth ring - down vertical lines at 10 and 2

TRIMMING FROM THE TOP Downward rasp stroke parallel to growth of hoof. Have hand on top straight line from elbow, handle, rasp swooping motion down and sideways to back of hoof. When there are thick wall flares, thin wall so it will wear Iron Free Hoof - Trim from the Top Kim Cassidy - Markers for Trimming from the Top mark rasp with arrow - goes away from center of hoof at wall and sole juncture mark line one rasp width from sole for trim guide when trimming, put fingers around wall at the tip, this protects the toe callous

THE BEVEL Indigo asked "Is the bevel the same as a mustang roll?"
Linda described 2 bevel cuts with the rasp. The 1st is done from the top and "backs up the hoof". The 2nd is done from the bottom and helps to keep loading pressure off of the white line. The "mustang roll" is when these two bevels are rounded into a smoothly rolled edge.
Moon sickle, callous, bump - no bump when break-over is in right place. When there is flare, gets stretched and burnishes - bump. Frogs shed 2x year increase in keratin production makes hoof wall grow faster

heel height = 1 rasp width above sole heel is flat - more or less flat
How far to bring the heel down? Can do anything as long as going in the right direction. If laminetic or foundered, adhesions might develop between check tendon and deep flexor tendon (can feel bump) dropping the heel will pull on adhesions. Use caution.

With navicular there are adhesions between deep flexor tendon and coffin bone With insufficient digital cushion, bringing hoof down too fast will create discomfort and contribute to toe first landings.

Consider The digital cushion, how well developed or how atrophied. The hoof will start to build coffin bone backwards, calcification develops to provide support that is not there from degenerated digital cushion.

Dr. Diane Isabel - Bowker's research partner, used Doppler radar to show that the horse peripherally loaded has 20 of the blood flow of horse that is solar loaded - no nutrition getting to the site. The concussion from shod walking = 60% more concussion shoe trotting 600% more concussion

Thrush pulls foot - mustang roll from 3 - 9 o'clock Toe back, forces horse to use back of foot soreness, thrush, etc. can make them sore fog sheds 2x year may be triggered by keratin stimulator hormone

Changes in coffin bone can result in short/long hoof wall and sole/hoof juncture will look perfect. Thin wall you want to go backwards and stop putting pressure on outside wall.

Thrush Treatment soak 3 days in row use Pete's goo Cracks must be open. Pressure on tissue under what appears to be healthy frog.

Bars may grow high to protect frog. Need to debried surface, anaerobic bacteria will die when exposed to air. Do not want to force horse to use heel.

Frequently feel sole juncture. hold rasp 1/2 off coronet band.

The steeper the bevel, the skinnier the bottom is.

If inside toe gets long, the diagonal heel gets under run - think of slinky. Toe long = under run heel Wall is slipcover on top of sub structure.

On one horse, Linda did heels first because so they were so tall, = discomfort What is done 1st? what most obviously needs fixing.

If coronet is upright & hoof wall has waist, too long and bending watch diet More sugar, more skin problems

With laminal wedge can go 1 rasp width past edge of wedge.

When the hoof is higher on inside more bevel - thinner on inside, thin inside wall.

Additional tidbits from Linda's website

Coronet Band "Flare"

The final step was to use my rasp to smooth and bevel the edge of
the wall working from the top of the hoof. After an initial 45 degree
bevel that touched the white line, I inspected the mares coronet band
for upward flare caused by excessive wall length in the quarters, and
beveled the base of the wall immediately below it a little higher to
allow the wall to wear faster and thus relax down faster in that area.

Most of the coronet flair had relaxed down by the time I took pictures, as
can be seen by looking at the inside quarters of the front left hoof.

Underrun Heels

Underrun heels are easy to fix, particularly in the early stages. A heel is called "underrun"
when the horse stops walking on the bottom of the heel and begins to walk on the back of
the heel wall.

Many people feel that underrun heels are "too short" because, as they stretch towards the toes, the heels become progressively weaker and are flattened by the weight of the horse. This
flattening allows the heel bulbs to remain close to the ground where they need to be, but the
center of balance is transferred farther forward as a result.

Hoof wall is meant to bear vertical weight and resist lateral pressure. With underrun heels, we ask it to to bear lateral weight (as the horse begins to walk on the back of the hoof wall) and resist vertical pressure (when sheering occurs as the horse weights and un-weights each foot).

To "fix" an underrun heel, shorten the heel with a hoof knife by moving the heel buttress (the part of the hoof the horse should walk on) to the back of the foot where it belongs. Done correctly, an underrun heel can be fixed in four to six weeks.

Hooves are living tissue, very similar to skin or human nails.  The hoof wall is composed of tubules and lamina connected in a way that allows them to move as the hoof expands and
contracts, as the hoof is weighted and unweighted.

This flexible structure also allows the fibers to shift in a vertical direction. Irregular growth, wear or trimming results in curved growth rings and coronet bands.  A hoof *isn't* like a chunk of dried wood, unable to change.  The hoof actively attempts to shed worn out or unnecessary material, such as hoof wall that extends beyond the level of the sole, the old sole and worn out frog. 

Above: Flexible hoof wall
responds to pressure from excess
wall length in the "quarters"
by pressing wall tubules upward.
The curved "quarters"
in the above picture relax and
straighten within hours of removing
excess length. The downward
direction of the lines at the
rear of the hoof are telltale
signs that the heel is beginning
to collapse towards the front,
a condition called "underrun

The hoof wall that surrounds
the hoof capsule is still very
malleable and able to change.
In the picture of Nicks hoof
on the left , I drew lines showing
the distortion caused by the
wall being longer in the "quarters"
- the sides of the wall.

Domestic horses usually wear

the toe and heel faster than
the quarters because they don't
travel 20 to 30 miles over loose
dirt and rock like wild horses
do. Quarter flare is common
in barefoot horses with pasture
trims and shod horses. Horses
with Mustang type trims wear
this area more effectively because
their wall develops a gentle
scoop conformation in the quarters
that allows loose rock to escape
to the sides, which abrades
the wall in the quarters.

Excess wall length in the quarters

flares the wall outward at the
ground. It simultaneously exerts
upward pressure that can cause
a flare in the coronet band.
When the wall is trimmed to
the correct length in the quarters,
the flare in the wall and coronet
band smooth out in hours.

Another indication of excess
wall length is "white line
separation". As the wall
becomes too long, the weight
of the horse bends the wall
away from the hoof, tearing
or stretching the attachment,
the white line.

A good analogy would be a person

with long nails trying to use
the tips of their fingers to
support their weight. The long
nails aren't made to support
weight, so they bend. If a person
was forced to support their
weight on long nails, the nails
would bend and the bending would
pry the nail away from the cuticle.