At the end of June, my Trakehner, Kroni, lost both front shoes and quite a bit of hoof wall. It launched us on a hoof growing experiment and a prolonged stretch of having him barefoot.
He lives out 24/7 and it really wasn’t feasible to try to put shoes on him if he was going to keep pulling them off and damaging the horn. It was a slow painful period for him: although I used hoof boots and Durasole to ease the transition for him, even after 10 weeks his soles were tender and on any surface other than grass, his steps were tentative.
About three weeks ago, his front feet had grown out enough that my farrier and I decided to put shoes back on. The effect was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. After the first few steps he decided that he was comfortable again and he started to stride out! I had been keeping his rides slow and fairly local with the hoof boots and he was excited to start hacking out. For the first time in weeks he wanted to trot!
Interesting — to me — is how much the shape of his hoof has changed. Before he lost his shoes, his hooves had become a bit long in the toe and too oblong. Now his front feet are rounder and shorter. I’ve seen some real improvements in how he moves. He’s not tripping any more and he is using himself better. Of course, it’s very possible that it is entirely a benefit of his new feet — after 10 weeks of light riding his hocks may just feel better (when his hocks hurt he gets heavy on his forehand).
Here’s the rub. I tried so many different remedies to encourage his hoof growth that I’m not sure what really made a difference. I have completely violated the scientific principal of changing one element at a time because I really needed his feet to grow.
What did I change? First, I started him on a new hoof supplement, Formula 4 Feet. Then I started rubbing his coronary band with Wonderhuf. Then I made a new paddock on higher and drier ground. Then I changed his ration balancer from Enrich 12 to Enrich 30.
On reflection, I think the two most important changes were the new paddock, which kept his feet dry and the Enrich 32. I had switched him to the lower protein ration balancer earlier in the year and I’m convinced that the hay I was feeding wasn’t high enough in quality and he lacked protein. I suppose I will need to conduct my experiment in reverse: I can start removing one element at a time and see whether it changes the quality of his hooves. The problem is, it takes a long time to see a difference and I don’t want to be in the same quandary again.