SPENCER (Set up trim 3/10/8 . Latest pictures and text added 14/12/9)
    AGE. 9 years
    BREED. Cob X Irish Draft
    ACTIVITIES. Hacking. Pleasure rides. Schooling and days out xc, going to the beach.
    HOOF CARE / HISTORY. Had lots of problems loosing shoes and then serious quarter cracks when taken barefoot. Never lame but it had been quite a battle keeping mud out of the deep cracks. Treating topically with hoof care products didn’t work

Gemma emailed one day after putting her fingers to the keyboard and wanted to share her and Spencer’s story. The many factors effecting performance and health of barefoot horses are endless. At the setup trim we assessed him with a holistic approach as we do for all new horses. He had really well developed back muscles and muscle tone showing us his saddle and rider were great
He had great movement with no signs of skeletal or muscular issues. There were no obvious signs in his hooves or elsewhere that his diet was a problem. ie. nothing to indicate an imbalance in Spencer The service we offered for Spencer was ‘a trim’ and to assess him over time. This case study demonstrates that ‘the trim’ can sometimes be very important.
These are Gemma’s words, over to you......

Gemma and Spencer
I just want to say again how pleased I am with how good the boys feet look, especially Spencer's considering every summer I have had him, his feet have looked shocking!  I have been trying to find some pictures to show how bad they were but the ones below were the best I could find, I purposely avoided taking pictures of his feet as I was so ashamed of how horrible they looked!    People would always tell me it was obvious barefoot wasn't suitable for him, at least not in the summer and I should consider shoeing him (though I initially took his shoes off for the summer to give his hooves a rest because after every set he had on came off after 2 weeks bringing half his hoof with them!)  I did sometimes think those people might be right but as he was never lame or footsore I decided to keep the shoes off.

I got Spencer as a 4 yr old in July 2004.  He was shod and had been all the time he had been in work at the dealers, though he had come over from Ireland, I think around April time, and not sure if he had been shod whilst over there at all.  I kept him shod the rest of the first summer I had him, and all through the winter.  

I noticed that when walking he seemed to slam his feet down quite hard , when hacking on the roads it made me think about the impact it would be having on his joints.  We had a lot of roadwork from the yard and whenever he was walking down hill he would slip quite badly with his hind feet and seemed to get increasingly nervous and tense.  On the flat he would also stumble quite often, to the point I started hacking him in knee boots as I was convinced one day he would fall right over.  

The following summer his feet were growing very quickly, each time he was shod, one or both front shoes would fall/be pulled off after about 2 weeks.  Having the lost shoe put back on meant more nail holes in his hoof, not to mention the damage often caused to the wall when the shoe had been pulled off.  Towards the end of the summer it was agreed to leave his shoes off for the winter to give his feet chance to recover before putting them back on in the spring.  (I had been reading up on forums about keeping a horse barefoot and decided if his shoes were coming off I would try and keep them off for good, though everyone on the yard told me he was too big/heavy a horse to be able to cope without shoes!!  Although I had read about natural hoof care I struggled to see how it could offer me anything more.)

Thankfully the transition period was very uncomplicated - in fact there wasn't really one to speak of.  Spencer was only in light work anyway at the time his shoes came off and he never struggled with any of the terrain he had to walk over, even the stony tracks around the yard.  He was never lame, footsore and I never even had to consider the prospect of using hoof boots.

During the summer months he was trimmed every 4 or 5 weeks to try and keep his feet from cracking so much and I would often rasp rough and jagged bits off between trims not to mention having to chop off the big flaps of hoof coming away at the quarters to stop grass and mud clogging up in the gap. I raised my concerns with my hoof care professional and the advice was to have him trimmed more often. Throughout the summer he was being trimmed every 4 weeks but this didn't lead to much improvement.   

I spent a small fortune on various lotions and potions to plaster on his hoofs to try and stop them drying out etc  (Until I started typing this I had totally forgotten about the large supply of half used Keratex products I still have laying now redundant in the garage somewhere!)’

I decided to take the opportunity to give a barefoot trimmer a try.  I spoke to friends locally whose horses were barefoot to see who they would recommend, and again consulted a few horse forums.  The same names cropped up again and again so I gave them a call and was happy to be told they could fit us in.  

That was around October 2008 and now, approaching the end of summer 2009 I am thrilled to be able to say that Spencer's feet look better than ever before, not a split in sight and my trusty old rasp lies redundant as there is never a need to 'tidy up' between trims. His diet has been the same for several years now so this can't have any bearing on the improvement - the only real change has been in the trim.  People who saw his feet at their worst are now amazed at the difference

I couldn’t see how one trim could be that much different from another to be honest, how wrong could I have been?  It took me a while to decide to change to a barefoot trim and I did a lot of reading around the subject, asked other people who they used and why, if they thought it was worthwhile.  Glad I made the decision.’

Fronts 14/12/9
Fronts 14/12/9
Right front 14/12/9
Left front 14/12/9

Above picture ^
Left Digger. Center Spencer. Right Bungle (great names or what!) out enjoying a day trip to a XC course

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