Liam got his hooves done, and it reminded just how important these things are. He is lucky to have a trimmer like Jeff, who pays attention to the way Liam’s hooves land on the ground as he walks, as well as all the angles of his hooves, and who can adjust the “ideal trim” to be a “functional trim” to accommodate Liam’s partly fused ankle. Liam quite obviously approves of Jeff.
I learned how important it is to have a good hoof trimmer early on in my relationship with Liam. Right off the track he had typical thoroughbred feet, and without a trim that supported the way his ankle moved, he had a very hard time.
Here he is in his racing plates. As you can see, his heel is very long and under-run, putting the weight bearing part of his hoof out in front of him instead of underneath his weight. There is also almost no real distinction between the bottom of his hoof and his heel, it is all just smooshed together. Also notice how long his toe is (the front of the hoof, from where the hair ends to the ground).
Here’s the back hooves with racing plates still on. Notice how the hairline is almost on the ground?
Compare that to the way his hooves looks now, this picture showing him standing before he was trimmed. This shows the natural growth and wear of his feet over the last 7 weeks since he was trimmed. He needs to be evened up, but you can still see how healthy the shape of his feet are, the smoothness of the hooves (no chips or cracks!), and how his weight is fully supported on the bottom of his hoof, with a clear distinction between the bottom of the hoof and the back of the heel, and the base of support is under his leg instead of out in front of it.
You can also see from the fronts of his feet how he naturally keeps the toes worn back, this is again before the trim, his body is able to move better and more naturally with the break over point further back on his hooves. See how he’s worn the front of both hooves flat? This makes sense, since the range of movement in his ankle is very limited, with a long toe the ankle is forced to bend more as his weight rolls over his toe with each step, and when it can’t, it stresses the joint and makes him trip.
With the short toe and flat front of the toe, he can more easily roll over the front of the toe with each step, helping him move more evenly and saving his ankle from further damage. Quite a difference from his racing feet! After Jeff trims the feet, they won’t look so squared off in front, but it is easier to see in the before-trim pictures.
He has been barefoot for almost 4 years now, and he is ridden almost daily, currently mostly in the arena, but over the past years he was almost exclusively road and trail ridden for a while. The bare hooves offer great traction both on roads and on grass or dirt trails. Once the hooves adjust to being bare, they handle hard or rocky surfaces just fine. And, you never have to worry about them throwing a shoe! It’s not for everyone, but if you find yourself in a situation where you have the option, I would recommend giving bare hooves a try!