Shoe removal

Posted: April 28th, 2008, by Melanie Merrow

boomer12.jpgThis is my initial trim and shoe removal on a 10 year old quarter horse mare. The mare is outside 90% of the time in a nice large pasture with a small herd of other mares. She is fed a diet of quality grass hay and 1 pound of high fat/high fiber processed feed. She has had shoes on for the past year due to very large hoof cracks. The owner was told the shoes would fix these cracks but to date those cracks are still present. The past farrier gouged out a v in the hoof wall above the crack to stop it but the crack has continued past this gouge, going deeper into the white line. The last re set on these shoes was 10 weeks ago, back when we had snow so she had snow pads on and corks on the heels.

Once the shoes and pads were removed I walked the horse for a few minutes to see how she was moving. She was moving better so I continued with a set up trim. The sole had 1/8″ dead, black chalky material that I scraped away with a hoof pick. Her hooves were flared all the way around with very forward bars and heels as well as a thin contracted frog.


boomer6.jpgHeel contraction has everything to do with good frog to ground contact. These hooves had no ground contract, even with the shoes removed the frog is 1″ above the ground. After the trim her frog will have 100% ground contact and with her weight brought back she will be able to de-contract over time.


I hate toe cracks like this as they take frequent trims to keep the pressure off of the toe and a long period of time to grow out. The toe clip on the shoe sure was not really protecting the crack, it may even be the cause of the black thrush in the crack. I used tea tree oil and a wire brush to clean out the crack as the thrush will continue to eat away at the hoof wall.


Tall heels and no frog to ground contact with added corks bringing the total heel height to about 4″. Straight heel to toe angles will cause hooves to flare out at the quarters. The hoof is designed to have a swoop from heel to toe to be able to flex to absorb impact and push off an average of 2000 lbs per inch of ground contact. This horse has a very small digital cushion due to lack of use. With movement and tim, along with a natural trim she will have wonderful hooves.


A natural trim is designed to allow the horse to wear properly. This can include some chipping and self trimming which is all part of the process. The beveled toe helps to allow the horse to wear the toe more rounded, it also helps to keep the horses break over where it should be aiding in gait and natural movement. Imagine trying to compete in track and field with 4″ stiletto’s…ouch.

In case you are wondering, the shiny thing in the background of the last photo is the emblem from a Weatherbeta horse blanket.