Help! Hooves Have Holes

Today I’d like to talk to you all about hooves.

Or more accurately, today I’d like you all to talk to me about hooves.

Addy has pulled enough shoes lately that the bottoms of her hooves are starting to get a little weak and crumbly, and we’re starting to get a few cracks. She is not tender, sore, ouchie, sensitive, or otherwise in any sort of pain that I can determine- and I’ve poked, prodded, scraped, massaged, and gotten all up in her business. She’s super chill, but I’m pretty sure she would’ve given at least a little reaction if something fishy was going on. I’m glad she’s not hurting, but it means that I’d really like to take care of her feet before they reach that point.

I’ve talked to Owner Lady and right now our course of action is to use the super-duper herbal hoof ointment that she has to lock in moisture and keep it from getting any worse (it’s homemade and seriously better than any of the chemical-y stuffs. I’ll see if I can grab the recipe to share with y’all.) until we can get the farrier out to take a closer look later this week. We’re waiting for his professional opinion, but one of the options might be to take off her shoes and let her feet grow back without any nail holes for a couple months. That would be a bit of a bummer since we would have to keep the jumps lower and probably slow or stop showing for a while, but I’d much rather her have healthy strong feet. Shows are just a fun perk.

Healthy strong feet = healthy strong horse = happy horse = happy me. It’s simple math.

So today my question is for you: what have you done when your pony’s feet have started showing signs of weakness? Any home remedies that have worked wonders? Anything diet related?

Seriously, any hoof-related knowledge you may have, please share!

And in case you missed our mugs over the weekend, here is one of the 17,478 selfies I took with my girl yesterday because she was being such a snuggly little cuddlebear.

It’s not a true horse selfie unless you have glorious pit-stains.

19 thoughts on “Help! Hooves Have Holes

  1. The Exquisite Equine 06/08/2015 / 8:45 am

    Sooooooo we all know I have pretty strong opinions about barefeet. So I am just going to leave a few things here, and you can do whatever you want with them ;).
    A healthy hoof starts from the inside out. A proper copper to zinc ratio is very important, along with a good diet to begin with.
    Barefoot feet can be used the same way as shod feet. Shannon Peters keeps her GP horses barefoot!
    Based on the way shoes promote wall separation, a shod hoof is generally weaker than a barefoot hoof.
    The more contact the frog has with the ground, the more blood/nutrients pumped through the hoof, therefore the healthier the hoof.
    If you find a good barefoot trimmer (because they are NOT all created equal!!!), barefoot feet are so much healthier and stronger (I am forced to say that is my opinion, but I can back that up with science, evidence, and experience LOL).

    Liked by 1 person

    • hellomylivia 06/08/2015 / 8:56 am

      I was really hoping you would chime in! I just re-read your posts on “The Horse’s Hoof” as a refresher. I know that our farrier has kept some other horses in the barn barefoot, and they’ve all seemed very sound and happy with what he’s done. I’m definitely curious to see what he recommends for Addy’s feet- but it’s very good to know that barefoot doesn’t necessarily mean we wouldn’t get to jump high! I just kinda assumed. Shows how much I know, right? I’m definitely going to take a look at some of the links you shared on your blog too. And check out Addy’s feed to see what kind of copper and zinc she’s getting. Thank you thank you thank you for the info!!


      • The Exquisite Equine 06/08/2015 / 8:57 am

        No problem! Text me anytime. And feel free to send photos. If I don’t know the answer, I have lots of AWESOME barefoot friends and resources :). It really is such a great, helpful community!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. CallyJumps 06/08/2015 / 9:11 am

    I’ll chime in as someone with a horse with terrible feet, who is mostly a lawn ornament when unshod, despite our best efforts and excellent farrier care. Firstly I’ll say that no matter how good your care and your footing and your supplements, THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO OVERCOME GENETICS. If the horse genetically has something going on, you can work to improve it, and deal with it, but I cannot, for example, fix the fact that my horse’s feet want to grow out not down.

    That said, if she’s not already on some kind of hoof supplement, look in to them. They’re generally not expensive, and a lot of multi-purpose supplements have something already in them for it. (Mine is on Reitsport so I get good joint stuff as well.) Topical stuff is kind of OK (I’ve used Keratex before) but I’ve not had the same good results as with feed through stuff and regular good maintenance.

    Secondly, talk to the farrier about your options, and maybe your vet, and maybe have them chat if it’s a real problem. I know after mine bruised her coffin bone, my farrier wouldn’t even touch her feet til he’d talked to the vet at Morven who did her MRI, and they figured out the plan to work for her. Let good professionals use their knowledge to do their jobs, but be sure to let them know what you’re seeing/doing. See if changing to side clips or something might help, or bell boots if she doesn’t already wear them 24/7. If she needs to stay shod for support and even working, I know barnmates that have done a cycle or two in glue-ons, (which are pricey and a pain and don’t do well in mud) if your farrier can do them.


    • hellomylivia 06/08/2015 / 9:16 am

      Thank you for this! I’m thinking that a hoof supplement might be good for her- her hooves seem to grow pretty normally and for the most part they’re healthy, but clearly they need a little more help than we thought they did. I’m waiting anxiously to see what the farrier says, and I’m hoping to be at the barn next time he’s there so I can point out my concerns (usually he’s there during the work day, but this seems like a worthy use of a vacation day haha). And I hadn’t even thought of bell boots! That would be a nice cheap way to help her out.
      Thank you for the advice!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • CallyJumps 06/08/2015 / 9:33 am

        Before mine was on Reitsport, she was on GrandHoof, and I was happy with that. I know folks also like Farriers Forumla. Neither are particularly expensive per month.

        And bell boots area great starting point if she’s actually stepping on the front shoes to pull them off; I actually prefer the el cheapo $10 gum pull-ons. (just stockpile, because she’ll loose those, too!)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Karen M 06/08/2015 / 9:31 am

    Any hoof supplement would probably be a good route to try. Basically anything with biotin is supposed to help strengthen hooves. Beyond that, your vet and farrier will be your best resources for what to do.


    • hellomylivia 06/08/2015 / 10:25 am

      Currently on the SmartPak site comparing hoof supplements 🙂 Very eagerly looking forward to hearing from the farrier!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nicole Sharpe 06/08/2015 / 10:40 am

    Sometimes things that aren’t direct hoof supplements can help too. For example, a cob/quarter pony at my barn had terrible feet until she started on Omega Horse Shine for show season. Something about the flax and good oils really helped her feet strengthen up and regain their elasticity. There are also other feeding things to consider — some green grass is good (high in biotin and zinc, I think?) but too much can promote lamina separation which leads to weaker feet overall. Too much sugar in sweet feed also leads to weaker feet, and lots of people give more sugar in grain than is needed. A barefoot blog I love suggests using oats (better) or barley (not too bad) to avoid too much sugar in the blood, and not ignoring the importance of magnesium in hoof quality. It’s the Rockley Barefoot Blog if you care to look it up.

    Another thing that I THINK may have merit is to avoid using quarter clips for a few cycles. Murray has never had quarter clips and has pulled one shoe in 12 months. Even last year when he was pulling a shoe every cycle I think the lack of clips really contributed to the shoes coming off clean and not leaving big ugly cracks.

    I have worried and fretted a lot about feet, but mostly over hoof shape and not quality. Good luck!


  5. Courtney 06/08/2015 / 11:10 am

    Vintage has recently been getting chips and cracks, and she never used to. Basically what happened is a little crack slowly became a bigger crack because it was packed with debris, which was a perfect growth spot for bacteria, and the white line area is very soft and gets destroyed quickly, which leads to the weakness and breakage.
    My plan for her is to put her on a supplement (which I honestly think are all about the same, as long as they have biotin), and right now I clean the cracks really well and stuff this beeswax stuff I got into the cracks. It looks like a stick of deodorant, but it’s anti-bacterial so it kills infection, and the wax keeps out debris. The wax eventually rubs out though so you have to keep reapplying it. I can’t remember the name but I’ll look at it at home.
    Also, I really hate to say this, but I heard from my old farrier that additional moisture is actually the opposite of what you want to do. The moisture leads to soft feet which leads to more cracking. He had me using a moisture blocker, which I also can’t remember the name of, but it was basically like a clear hoof polish. I should probably get some and try it now on Vintage… I haven’t yet. When I did use it, she had perfect barefoot feet, but I don’t know if any of this is due to the blocker or just a coincidence.
    What you could do is take off her shoes and start using a hoof toughener on the bottom. You may be able to go completely barefoot! I’m a big fan of barefoot horses. I actually asked my farrier last time he was here if he thought I should put shoes on Vintage in an attempt to fix the cracking, but he said that would lead to all sorts of new problems. Best to go barefoot, if you can, but with some horses it isn’t possible.


    • hellomylivia 06/08/2015 / 12:07 pm

      Luckily the cracks aren’t big and don’t seem to be growing, but I’m definitely going to keep an eye on them. I’m glad you mentioned the moisture blocker! That makes a lot of sense. I’m going to take a closer look at the stuff we have available in the barn and see what the dealio is with them.


  6. heartofhope10 06/08/2015 / 2:56 pm

    I’m going to chime in again with the cheapo gummy bell boots–they are total lifesavers! I always buy two pair at a time, because my mare common rips them off, never to be found again. Feet are incredibly complex, and I hope you guys are well on your way to keeping her feet ‘pretty’ again!


    • hellomylivia 06/08/2015 / 3:21 pm

      DestructoDragonMare could probably really benefit from those gummy boots (and will likely go through a pair a week haha). Thanks for the happy thoughts! She’s a pretty sturdy trooper, I’m sure we’ll get her spiffed up in no time 🙂


  7. Holly 06/08/2015 / 7:45 pm

    2nd, 3rd, 8th the bell boots and some kind of supplement. At home Luce lives on sand and let me tell you – it is rough on feet. We swear by the entire line of Platinum Performance and I know they have a hoof one that some of the reiners in the barn use (when you have sliders on, feet have to be 110%). They’re awesome and extremely knowledgable (every animal member of my house has been on some type of product of theirs at one time or another, including the three-legged dog). I know they would be more than willing to no-pressure chat with you on the phone like they’ve done with us so many times in the past. Definitely something worth looking into.


    • hellomylivia 06/09/2015 / 7:57 am

      Thank you for the recommendation! It’s one thing to read reviews online and another to hear it from a real live person 🙂


  8. emma 06/09/2015 / 11:57 am

    good luck figuring it out ! i am very fortunate to have not needed to deal with hoof problems yet (and remain hopeful that these are lessons i’ll never have to learn haha) – but do share whatever ends up working for you!


    • hellomylivia 06/09/2015 / 12:55 pm

      I’ll absolutely share! I’m very grateful that so many other bloggers have been willing to share their knowledge with me 🙂


  9. Tracy - Fly On Over 06/10/2015 / 8:24 am

    Miles has craptastic feet (yes, that’s a scientific diagnosis, lol). He over-reaches at the walk and when I first got him, he pulled shoes all. the. time. Now, he wears bell boots during turnout and for every ride, which has helped tremendously.

    I also just started him on a hoof supplement (decided on Smart Hoof). I talked to Brena (Flying Solo) about her recommendations and she was super helpful.


    • hellomylivia 06/10/2015 / 8:25 am

      Almost every TB I’ve met seems to have something weird going on with their feet! Bell boots seem to be a super popular fix. Let me know how the Smart Hoof works out! Somehow reviews from people I know seem better than online reviews.


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