"Chance" Gets a New Chance
by Chuck Mills, CA
December 2005

I was recently called to check a horse a bit of a drive from me that was lame in his right front foot. This horse had been barefoot his whole life and was now in his late teens. Tom was new to horses while his wife had grown up around them. Tom purchased Chance to start riding, a good choice, Chance was sound, seasoned and dependable and needed more exercise then he was getting.

When Tom went to buy Chance, the owners insisted that Chance needed shoes because the ground was too rocky and he wouldn't hold up. Well he was shod and after a short time went dead lame in his right front. He progressively got worse, until his was darn near unable to put any weight on his right front. He put so much of his weight on his left front that if he hadn't been barefoot for all those years he probably would have foundered. The shoes were pulled but he just could not put weight on his right front. His left front began spreading to support the weight and when I saw him the left was probably close to two sizes bigger then his right.

I trimmed the right front by only removing the chalky sole and the excess horn and took the bars down some. I also took the heels down to the plane of the live sole. The toe callus was nearly non-existent, so that was left alone. The left front was spread very wide, and the toe callus was large and tick. I removed the chalky sole and trimmed the heels down a smidge and the bars down to near the sole. The front of the foot I left alone except to take the horn down to just about a sixteenth above the live sole. The callus was in good shape, I determined this by a light pass of the knife and saw that the consistency was fine grained and held together. I trim pretty conservatively, so when I finished, the left front was longer then it would normally be. However the callus was thick and in good shape so I left it to help support the weight of the horse. The next trim that would all be coming out, and the hoof would then look normal. When Chance walked, his limp was noticeably less. Going up hill was much easier then before.

I got a call from Tom three days later, and he informed that me that Chance was now dragging him around the barn area, and eating every scrap of hay he could get. The other horse owners couldn't believe he was the same horse. Needless to say, Tom and his wife were extremely happy, and now I get the honor of trimming the rest their horses. I love this stuff; helping horses is both rewarding and humbling.

May the Horse be with you,
Chuck Mills

Note: Photos are provided for reference and educational purposes only, and are not meant to indicate guidelines for trimming. Every horse should be trimmed as an individual. Opinions vary as to what constitutes "correct" but keep in mind - there are NO PERFECT FEET, not even in the wild. Owners are cautioned to seek professional help for the trimming of their own horse's feet. Owner trimming of pathological feet is not advised. Photos may not be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any way.

©2006 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

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