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Do you have a relationship with your horses' feet?

I have been managing Prevost's feet from almost a year now. Since Prevost was on stall rest for practically all of last year, his feet became very week and I was starting to lose some confidence in my abilities.

Of course I do not trim as a professional, but rather have taken it on as my own personal challenge to become a better horse person and to hopefully better serve my clients and their horses they bring to me for training. I have been educating myself through clinics, books and hands on with my local barefoot trimmer. It has taken me quite a while to finally take the plunge and manage my horses feet, but I have learned so much thus far, and I am so happy I made this decision.

One thing I have learned is that all four feet are completely different! I try and trim Prevost every four weeks, but usually will touch him up somewhere in between. I feel like if I had to describe each foot to you, they would all have a separate description. One thing they all have in common though, is the need to balance and maintenance the growth over time and make sure I stay on top of any thrush or deep sulcus cracks if they are present.

The foot I feel like I struggled with the most over the last year was his right hind. Don't get me wrong, stall rest affected all of his feet - heals started to run under and toes were getting too long. But his right hind made me sick to look at, and I felt like I hardly had anything to rasp or work with.

I am so glad I have taken pictures over this long process. I started documenting at the end of July 2017 (I wish I would have started sooner!) and up until now. The changes are HUGE and I am so glad I didn't give up and can say I have done the work here by asking questions, reading constantly, and learning from other's hoof problem cases.

I wanted to share with you my pictures - from left to right,

July 26, 2017 - August 18, 2017 - January 22, 2018

Now I still have some work to do, to get this hoof where I would like it, but we have made some real progress over the last 6 months. There is more concavity to the foot and I feel it is starting to support the leg much better. Prevost's right hind is the leg that does most of the work, though. Prevost prefers to rest his opposite hind most of the time and will weight this right hind instead. He also reaches father underneath himself with this leg and will take his left lead canter as a first choice rather than the right.

So there is another challenge, to become more aware of the body imbalances. As a rider, we should be aware of these tendencies to encourage our horses to use their bodies equally left to right. Just the same as humans, right handed or left handed, horses are the same way. And without thinking about it, would you use your non dominant side to lift an object, or do any regular daily task? Probably not. The way a horse uses his body will directly impact/affect the way their hooves grow.

Will Prevost ever get 'perfect' hooves? I don't think so, but I would encourage you to pay attention. Start asking your farrier questions, start taking your own pictures after each trim. Educate yourself on what a balanced hoof should look like and what kind of nutrition helps support a healthy hoof (that's a whole new blog post!) You will be doing your horse a favor!

If you want some articles to read, check out Pete Ramey - Hoof Rehab webpage. TONS of good info!

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