Barefoot Jumper

Posted: September 7th, 2009, by joastler

dreads-027-copy.jpgThis mare was 5 weeks into her shoeing cycle when the photo was taken as the owner kept a 5-6 cycle with the same farrier for he past three years. The mare suddenly came up lame due to the tremendous forces created over a long period of time inside the hoof capsule. Small amounts of damage over the past year as the heels grew taller and taller. I think the farrier was trying to improve the broken back coffin bone angle by allowing the heels to grow. This not only caused pressure on the navicular bone, but it has thrown the entire balance of the hoof forward. I believe it is a mistake to allow any horse to grow heels like this, but tradition rules and theses types of heels can be found in most barns. I hope to show the damage these tall heels really do and to show owners what to look out for.


This hoof is very unbalanced with very tall heels and a tipped coffin bone, putting extreme pressures on the navicular bone with each step. This was a well needed, major trim on this mare as you can see the angle changes and relaxing of the ligaments and tendons. The natural way I deal with a tipped coffine bone is to lower the heels to get frog to ground contact and support under the bone. Then bring the break over back under the tip of the coffin bone to allow the hoof to function naturally. Some time is needed for healing and I advised the owner to not ride the horse for the next 5-8 weeks.

Bringing the heels back and down to natural heights the frog has already started to de-contract by widening. The horse has a very flat sole but the frog shows no signs of pain or thrush and has a good white line connection.

The mare was lame at the walk before my trim but walked off a bit better after the trim. With that much damage to the inside of the hoof, it does take time for the coffin bone to be realigned and for the navicular bone to heal. Many farriers would of put on shoes with wedge pads but choosing the natural trimming methods, the horse will be kept bare foot during the healing.

Second trim


5 weeks after my first trim on this mare. You can still see the old nails holes before the trim but they are almost grown out. This mare blew out a large abscess 4-5 months ago and that is growing out down the hoof wall. The hairline has started to relax and the weight is back on the heels with good frog to ground contact. The mare was moving much better and was eating and playing in the pasture. Her pastern and coffin bone angles are starting to be back to normal, but she still needs some time off and lots of movement to grow a new healthy hoof.


I am sorry for the blurry picture, it is always a challenge to get clear shots while holding a hoof. The overall weight bearing surface is still forward for this horse but I am keeping the weight off slightly until she is moving more comfortable. Navicluar damage can take months to heal and it very painful at the heels so we are taking it slowly to change her angles.

These heels have grown a lot in the past five weeks, and she would of been due at 4 weeks but the hoof is starting to have a more natural and healthy shape. The heels and frog are plumping up as this mare gets all the movement she wants being in a large pasture. Using her tendons and body has helped speed up the healing process with the added circulation and the mare is now sound at the walk but still shows a 1-2 degree lameness at the trot. A huge improvement from the day we started.

Oct 31 2008 was my third trim on this mare, she is now trotting off sound and the owner has started to ride her again. No shoes or pads, no stall rest or confinement and the mare has fully recovered! I have no pictures of the last trim due to my batteries running out but I am hopeful Jay-B’s owner will send me an update once they have settled into their new farm.