Independent Case study from owner trimmer Yann Mathews. Yann started trimming under the support of a number of professional trimmers along with a library of books, DVD’s and a post or two on some of the hoof care forums :-)  Credit is due to Yann and Tess for their insight into trimming and whole horse care. We are very grateful for sharing your experiences and know they will help out lots more owners and horses.

AGE 15 Years
BREED Thoroughbred
ACTIVITIES Hacking and schooling
HOOF CARE / HISTORY When Tess was bought and vetted in late May 2006 the vet commented what good feet she had for a thoroughbred, although she had typically flat soles. She was 13 years old and had presumably been shod all her working life, but didn’t race so far as is known.
Unfortunately within a month or so of moving to her new home that started changing, the feet flared badly, but she remained completely sound throughout. The farrier was unable to offer much hope when the time came to reshoe her, so the decision was taken to try and follow the barefoot route to see if that would help. After she had her shoes pulled she was a little sore even on smooth concrete, so boots and pads were used to keep her comfortable when needed. This situation quickly improved and after 6 weeks she started carefully back into ridden work in boots and pads.

All photos and narrative courtesy of Yann

Yann and Tess. 
Chatsworth sponsored fun ride 2008



She soon began to grow a straighter wall, but otherwise progress was quite slow. After 6 months the flare was nearly grown out and she was beginning to develop some concavity in the soles. She was comfortable when the fields froze solid in the winter and comfortable enough to be ridden without boots on sand and grass.


The wet spring and summer of 2007 changed all that. With little warning the feet flared again, the soles lost concavity and Tess became much less comfortable. She also suffered episodes of heat and pulses in the feet. However since she wasn’t shod it was possible to trim her more often and keep the flare under a bit more control. Her routine was also changed and she spent time off the grass in the stable every day. Once autumn arrived the feet began to recover once again. A quality hoof supplement was also introduced to her diet.



Another winter and things were back on track again, she was even comfortable walking and trotting ridden on firm uneven surfaces without boots.



Another wet late spring and summer arrived in 2008 and despite limiting daytime turnout, maximising exercise and feeding the hoof supplement the feet still deteriorated again. However that deterioration has been more limited and Tess is still gradually improving her overall hoof structure, albeit slowly.

It’s clear that her hooves are caught in a seasonal cycle of improvement and deterioration and highlight the critical importance of the right diet on the health of hooves. Ideally she would live in an environment with little or no grass, but this is very difficult to achieve on the livery yard without compromising on other aspects of her care.

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