Monday, September 26, 2016

Famous Amos - part two

I know everyone wanted pictures of Amos, but you will have to wait a few weeks.  This is the only photo I remembered to take and, as you can see, Amos was on a mission.  That is Levi to the left.

I do have some pictures of Amos' feet though.  This is what they looked like when I met him....


These shoes were reset just a couple of week before this photo was taken and you can see how long and distorted this hoof is.  This is fairly typical of a horse who has been shod his entire life.  The foot is long with weak heels, the toes are too long and the back of the foot is poorly developed.

Here is the other hoof after I had pulled the shoes....

After pulling the shoes, I did not touch the feet.  We left Amos barefoot and left the feet long so that he could wear them down naturally.  If I had trimmed them right off, I would most likely have made him sore.  I wanted his feet to wear down and toughen up naturally.

This photo was taken on 9/16/16.  I know it is a crappy photo, but you can still see that the foot is much shorter and already getting stronger.  If you compare with the above, you will see that the nail holes that were about an inch above the ground are nearly gone in this shot....

This was taken on 8/28/16 just after the shoe was pulled.  Notice how overgrown the hoof looks and how atrophied, narrow and poor the frog is....

Same view on 9/16/16, you can see that the foot has already widened a bit....

8/28/16  These next photos are, perhaps, the most telling set.  The heels and the frog should be at the same level.

You can see how much excess height the foot has and how the frog will never touch the ground.  This frog is terribly weak and contracted.  There is also a bad thrush infection in the central sulcus.  That crevice in the back should not exist, yet it is over and inch deep.  The sulcus thrush causes a lot of damage to the back of the foot and is very painful.  I can make this horse flinch just by pushing on this area with my thumb, imagine what walking on it would feel like.

9/16/16  This is what just a couple of weeks of no shoes has done for Amos....

It was at this point that Dave called me and told me that Amos was getting to be tender-footed and ouchy on stones, which came as no surprise.  The excess hoof had worn away and that weak, painful frog was finally starting to touch the ground.  This is a good thing as the frog cannot heal and grow without stimulation.  However, we did not want Amos to become lame and we did not want him to have to stop working.  Exercise is the best thing for these feet, but not if it makes him sore.

This is the Catch-22 conundrum of transitioning a horse from shoes to barefoot, especially an older horse who has never had the chance to properly develop the back of the hoof.  That frog is too weak to support the horse, yet the frog needs to work in order to grow healthy.  It has already improved with the added blood-flow provided by being barefoot and Dave has been diligently treating the thrush, which has also improved a great deal.

This is where shoes usually come in.  Most people would have shoes put on which would raise that frog off the ground and temporarily alleviate the pain.  The foot would grow taller and narrower, pinching the frog and making it sore so he would need new shoes and the foot would grow taller and narrower....eventually we would be right back where we started with that long, weak foot we saw in the first photo.

In order to break this cycle and still keep Amos sound, we opted to try Easyshoes on Amos and Levi.  The shoes offer most of the same benefits as the hoof boots without the hassle and frustrations of hoof boots.  Unlike steel shoes, the Easyshoes are flexible and allow the hoof to expand and contract as it should while also providing sole and frog stimulation.  They should encourage the frog to continue to develop while protecting it at the same time.  They are a good choice for transitioning a horse to barefoot.


We hope that Amos will be able to go happily barefoot at some point.  I believe that he has inherently decent feet that will improve given the chance.  However, there is always the question of how much the inner structures of the hooves can improve in a horse at this age.  Given the progress Amos made in just a couple of weeks out of shoes though, I think he stands a good chance of growing a healthy bare foot.


  1. Amos is one lucky boy. It hurts to even think about what poor "farriership" is doing to horses. Maybe you could open a school to re-train others? In your spare time, that is.

  2. Those are dramatic changes in 2 weeks!! Can't wait to see what the easyshoe does for him (and you of course).

  3. You can see that his previous shoeing wasn't done in the best of manners. His feet how a lot of changes and stressors on the outside of the hoof itself.
    I am so glad that we have a national certified farrier that is knowledgeable.
    However, if I go back to riding on the rocky trails that I used to, I will probably shoe my mule.
    We haven't had anyone shoed since Badger and I did Endurance Riding together.

    Good job!

  4. Even I can see the difference that this has made. I am glad Amos has had some good people come his way.

  5. Interesting shoes! I love your farrier posts.

  6. I took on a retired mare who was in her 20s and had shoes on year round forever. It took awhile, but we managed to get her barefoot. The back feet did well right away, and eventually she was able to go without shoes. She had been an event horse and was by far, my most educated dressage pony! Loved this post. You are working your magic again.