Please remember!

The information presented on this blog represents "learning in progress" on my part, a horse owner, who was not satisfied with professional farriers and took matters in my own hands. As far as I am aware at the time of the post, the information presented is correct, but may change with me understanding more about hooves, in which case I will edit or remove the post. In order to follow my learning and understand everything about Molly's hoof, you need to start reading at the bottom.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gus, Molly's companion

Molly's story is incomplete without talking about her buddy, friend and playmate, Gus. Gus is also 8 years old and most of the time it is nor 100% clear who exactly is the boss amongst those two horses.

I realized some time ago that I would have had the unique opportunity to study the changes in hooves when a horse is translocated from the desert (Southern Texas, where Gus was born and raised) to moderate climate, where he lives now. I have only a very incomplete record, but some quite illustrative pictures of the changes in his hooves such a move brought about. I will post them when I get a chance.

new tools

I bought two tools, that are supposed to help me with balancing my horses feet.

One is from here:

And the other one from here:

Here are some pictures.

I must say that this Equine balancer tool is not fool proof either, but it does help visualizing where the hoof is high relative to the axis of the leg than just sighting down the leg, holding it by the cannon bone. So I don't regret buying that tool.

The other one is basically a horseshoe equipped with a dorsal hoof angle measurement feature. This one is also quite helpful as it allows to assess the surface plane of the hoof.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Relaxed posture

Took some pictures today.

This is why I like feeding from the nibblenet above ground: Molly can stand in a relaxed posture, without having to spread her legs. If Molly eats hay from the ground, and even when she grazes, she puts most of the time her FR back and her FL forward. This has contributed to her hooves to become asymmetric. Though it is unclear what is cause and what is consequence.

At night, Molly wears the Equine Fusions with the therapeutic pads to help her to land comfortably on her heels. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

a Wyoming Mustang hoof

notice how there is no sole above wall level around the foot

Monday, September 10, 2012


I know these x rays are not very good, for several reasons. Most importantly, they were taken when the foot was "loaded", meaning the opposite front was lifted up. This is not usually done when taking x rays, so these may not be very interpretable.

FR - dorsal view

FL - dorsal view

FL - lateral view

FR - lateral view

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Horrible hooves in January 2011

I must emphasize, this was the result of a "professional" trimmer, not me!

this black spot in the toe is where Molly had a CONSTANT, chronic bruise, that once in a while developed in an abscess

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I spent some time analyzing Molly's FR x-ray. In particular I have tried to see where the break over is with respect to the tip of the frog. I did not have a precise marker on the x ray but I did have that head of the drawing pin, that I assumed to be 8mm wide. Based on that I have measured the distance between frog apex (drawing pin) and break over. It is exactly 1 inch, which corresponds exactly to Gene Ovniceks finding:

"The distance from the apex of the frog to the point of break-over ranged from 1 inch in small feet to 1 1/2 inches in the largest feet. No correlation between environment and point of break-over was noted."

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Molly's parents and foal pictures

Dandy's Irish Echo, Molly's mom

Gucci Only, Molly's dad

Molly 2 years old

Molly yearling

Molly yearling

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Molly's story

Molly is a 2004 AQHA mare. Her full name is: 


I bought Molly in September 2007, as a 3.5 year old. She was wearing shoes on her front feet then. 

I knew nothing about hooves back then, sadly. Molly had 4 "normal" looking ones. That is all I can remember. I also do not have any real hoof pictures from that time. But I do have some pictures where some clues about her hooves can be gleaned. 

So for example these ones:

Add caption

These are pictures extracted from a movie from one of my first rides on Molly at my place in October 2007. What I would like readers to notice is the way the front hooves seem to impact the ground:

The front right (first picture) shows Molly landing on her lateral toe. Her leg seems fairly straight but her lateral toe seems long.

The front left (second picture) shows Molly landing more or less flat. The leg seems also fairly straight, her medial wall/toe seems slightly high/long.

Another picture that provides some clues as to the condition Molly was in in 2007 is this one. Molly still has shoes, she is at my place for less than a week:

This is also a good picture to judge the ground my horses live on. It is a rather unique setting here, we live in the Indiana Dunes and my turnout is basically an sand dune that got stabilized by an Oak forest. The ground is very sandy. We have no rocks whatsoever on the ground. However, in the hard winters that we do have from late November to late March, the ground does get very hard and the sand and snow produce frozen structures that behave a little like rocks. 

This picture is an example of the terrain in the winter:

My horses never had any problems walking in the winter even though the ground can get very hard.

So looking at these pictures tell me that Molly had a "pre-existing condition" when I bought her in 2007. 

1) she landed differently on her front right and front left
2) her hooves were high on the medial side, giving the appearance of a toed-in conformation. 

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), these things did not show up in any lameness whatsoever and so all I did with her hooves is schedule a farrier appointment every 6-8 weeks. I should mention that Molly never one day again since her first farrier appointment here with me wore any shoes anymore. 

Oct 2007 - Oct 2008 Molly was trimmed by a regular farrier. As far as I can say he did a decent job. Only problem with him was that my horses were sore for 3-4 days after trimming. I did not like that and so I switched trimmers in Oct 2008. I hired a young girl, who just came out of farrier school and had worked with one of the best farriers in my area (who himself did not want to come out to me due to too many clients already). She explained to me that the farrier I used to have trimmed too much sole and she would not do that. 

Long story short, in  January 2011 I noticed my horses feet had really changed for the worse. Over the last year, both horses had developed frequent abscesses. From looking at my pictures, they mostly burst on the medial side of the hoof, also suggesting that there was too much pressure medially. They both had developed huge bars and really a lot of excess sole and Molly's FR had contracted.

This is when I started to learn how to trim myself.

Meet Molly

The most beautiful horse in the world, and the one who lead me down the path to natural hoof care, something I would have never expected in a lifetime to be involved with. But I have become so immersed and interested in the hooves, it is hard to believe.