Dear Dr. Teskey,
My name is Mona Elston and I am ready to have my horse nerved this Tuesday. After a year of “corrective” or “therapeutic” shoeing, my horse is still lame. The thought of nerving him makes me sick to my stomach (especially after I read your article “Bringing the Sparkle Back in Crystal’s Life”. My reason for nerving him is to get him out of pain and give him some quality of life– I have another horse I can ride. I am just tired of seeing him in pain. I bought him when he was 5 ½, he is now 7 and he was lame 30 days after I bought him. I suspect they gave him a “30 day” injection in the bursa before they dumped him because the x-rays showed that the navicular disease had been there for some time. I don’t have horse property so I have to board him so I am trying to do the best that I can do for him. Is there any way I can call you for a phone consultation and if so, what is your fee? I am at my wit’s end.
Thank you very very much. I have canceled the nerving and I will try pulling Ziggy’s shoes and putting on the Old Macs and find a certified barefoot trimmer. It can’t do any more harm and if nothing else, I am hoping it will help. Nerving is definitely not the answer.
Thank God I found your website and learned more about the nerving procedure. It sounds like I dodged a bullet.
Thank you for your time,
Good for you, Mona. I believe you'll have good success, and learn some very cool things over the next few months. Knowledge is empowering and you and your horses will be better for it.
Hi Dr. Teskey,
I have a twelve year old quarter
horse 16.2hh. I bought this horse when he was
seven months old. A month after I bought him he fractured his coffin bone in
his right front foot. After about a year of stall rest I began hand walking
him. He recovered fully.
My Vet at the time suggested because he had suffered from a fractured coffin bone to keep shoes on his front feet.
Well I’ve done that his whole life. I really, really want to go barefoot BUT I’m afraid he will fracture his coffin bone again. We all know at 12yrs of age he wouldn’t recover like he did when he was only eight months old. I’m “afraid” to take the shoes off.
I don’t know where to find a good bare foot farrier that can help me? What do you think?
I ride only for pleasure- mostly weekend about two hours per day. His paddock is flat and free from rocks. He is kept outside 24/7 with excellent shelter free choice hay and water. He’s on a mineral supplement with beat pulp. He is in excellent health.
It is getting harder to keep the shoes on. I want to do what’s best for my horse.
Dear Dr. Teskey:
I believe I have an interesting case, and wondered if you could answer some questions for me.
SURGICAL FUSION AND RINGBONE. This past May, a vet school performed arthrodesis on my upper level dressage gelding for high ringbone. Prior to having the surgery, it was clear that he would not be sound without the surgery, so I felt I had no choice except to go ahead with the fusion. He now has a plate and 6 screws placed in his pastern. Up until the time he came up lame, he had been shod regularly.
Up until recently, I was comforted by studies that I found online, and by the confidence of the ortho surgeon at the school that horses that are fused have a high % chance of returning to the level of work they were at prior to the injury. These papers reported that the pastern is a low motion joint, with little to no movement, so fusion would not affect the gait, so I felt sure that my horse's beautiful movement would not be affected by fusing that joint. That was the least of my concerns -- it was surviving the surgery, the cast and getting through post surgical recovery and stall rest without further injury. Which did! My horse has an incredible and strong spirit and was the world's best patient! My concern is this:
My additional concern is about return to movement:
I spoke to the surgeon about my concerns, and he once again assured me that my horse is going to have his full range of movement and be as good as he was prior to the lameness. He said that it is too early to expect him to be moving well; to expect periodic lameness, that there is a lot of soft tissue inflammation which will cause him to be a bit choppy, and not show suspension. That naturally he is being guarded with himself because of the insult to his limb. My vet feels that there is every reason to feel confident that my horse will return to his former capabilities; that he in fact is way ahead in his recovery than most horses would be. (This horse is tough btw). Now while I do see daily improvement with respect to strength and balance - still, when I ride those few steps of trot, I think OH MY GOD, this isn't the same horse.
My question is: If that joint is fused, can a horse regain his suspension and thrust off the ground, his spring? Can I hope for a return to dressage training? This horse was a fabulous and flamboyant mover and I'd only imported him a couple of years ago. He really has made incredible strides in his recovery and the surgeon is VERY optimistic. But as I said, these recent reports have me alarmed that, although I think he'll be sound, he won't have the impulsion and suspension he had before the fusion.
Can you give me your thoughts on arthrodesis and loss of movement in that joint - how will that affect a good moving dressage horse? Can you give me your thoughts on the road Iʼm traveling to recover a good foot, on the proper boots to be using and whether or not they might have a detrimental affect on my horseʼs fused joint?
Thanks so much!
I was wondering if after having my horses feet trimmed is it possible his feet were tender? He was very hesitant to walk toward where the farrier did his feet and then, no matter what we tried, we just couldnʼt get him to lunge. He just stood there and refused to budge.
If the owners are not committed to using a natural approach for their horse,
we aren't going to be of help. Folks need to make up their minds and make a
committment if we are to be successful with them and their horses. Don't take
others' decisions personally. All you can do is your best, and say what you
mean/mean what you say to clients. You know you are a good hoof care provider
regardless of what others say or do. Keep your chin up.
Of course it would also be interesting to look at hoof/horse pictures you've got, regardless of whether the horse will be treated appropriately or not:)
I'm sure we could learn something along the way,
I read your two previous questions about ringbone, however my horse seems a bit different, and I thought I’d see what you think.
I have an 18 year old, 15.2hh, “bull-dog” Quarter Horse gelding. I have ridden and driven him for the past 7 years, and the last 5 years we were competing in competitive trail driving over distances of 25 to 50 miles. The actual events were on soft ground, but 90% of our conditioning was done over paved roads. He has extremely nice and healthy hooves, which are large and in good proportion with his very stocky body. Through our competitive years and pavement driving, he wore steel shoes on all 4 feet, with borium for traction, and rubber pads for cushion. He never took a lame step a day in his life – ever, and his feet remained healthy. Two years ago, about 2 months before a 50 mile event, he suddenly was very lame on a front leg. Flexion tests and x-rays showed arthritis in his pastern. Two weeks rest, bute, and then hit the roads again. We successfully completed the event, with the event vet finding a small hint of lameness at the end, barely noticeable.
In the spring, we started conditioning again with plans of a 100
mile event in late spring. We drove on the roads for about a month, and he was
lame again. More x-rays were taken, and his official diagnosis was ringbone,
and the changes just from fall to spring were noticeable. The vet said to quit
using borium, or have my farrier flatten out the borium, instead of making them
small and steep. The vet said his competition days were over, and that he would
probably only be very light riding sound, and would progressively get worse as
the years went on. We tried Adequan, and Legend, with no change. So, I retired
him, pulled his shoes, and if I’m going to use him I give him bute the day
before, the day of, and the day after. If I don’t use bute, he’s moderately
I hate the idea of him being a pasture pet at only 18. I took him out recently and he’s so tender on the road and gravel, and will trot very hesitantly. I’m starting to think that he’d be better off with shoes, seeing as then his feet aren’t actually on the roads, so it will lessen his lameness. I’ve read a lot about corrective shoeing for ringbone, and am starting to think that barefoot is actually harming him instead of helping. He’s trimmed every 4-6 weeks.
Thanks for reading this – I know it’s long!
You need to keep up your research. All your answers are out there on the internet.
It's vitally important you get some hoof boots for your horse, as well...always, always have boots on hand before taking shoes off a horse.
The lameness you see is the direct result of previous hoof care/management/shoeing. All of a sudden your horse is feeling the damage. Horses that are never shod and trimmed properly do not end up with these common problems. Use of borium is especially damaging as it sends even more fierce vibrations up in to the horse's legs with every step.
Read www.hoofrehab.com in addition to others that come up when you do a search for "barefoot horse".
My husband gave my 5 yr. old mare an
IM injection of Banamine in the neck as she was showing early signs of colic and
we were leaving to join family. 3 days later she is experiencing discomfort on
her left side, she drags her left leg and does not want to turn her head to her
back in either direction. My husband and I both noticed swelling in the area where
the shot was administered and it felt a little warm. I checked her thoroughly
and found no other causes for her discomfort so Iʼm assuming she has had a
reaction to the injection of banamine. What caused this? What do I need to do
to care for her? This is not the first time my husband has given an injection
of banamine to this mare but this is the first time she has had such a
Finding a good trimmer/hoof care provider is more likely than finding a DVM to help you. I am embarrassed for my profession to say you don't need a traditional veterinarian at this point, as they are much more likely to harm your horse with antiquated and useless therapies, injections, shoes, surgeries. A trimmer will have infinitely more success with you and your horse. You just need to find one! My best advice is to steer clear of veterinarians that are not open to your horse "having his feet back". Think about it, it's all the previous management and treatment/shoeing that has brought your horse to this end. Using more "special" shoeing techniques will simply make your horse worse and get them further from health.
Run a search for "barefoot trimmer list" on your computer and you'll get lots of hits. Ask around. Word of mouth is likely a good bet, too.
Don't let the vets and farriers bully you or strike FEAR in to you. Your horse can absolutely heal. Just give him the basic ingredients and enjoy the ride.
Dr. Tom T.
Sounds like you're off to a good start there. Trimming these hooves is a challenge, and I'd say in general that people tend to try and remove too much of that heel in the long run. A little at a time is a good idea. You'll reach a point where it seems the horse won't put up with any more depending on the amount of exercise. If you visit some of the yahoo hoof trimming groups you can find lots of information from previous posts. Go to yahoo.com and search in the "yahoo groups" for "trimming".
Hi Dr. T,
I came across your name regarding a question someone had about a horse and thought perhaps I could ask you one of my own. I am looking to purchase a particular 4 year old buckskin mare potentially to do amateur barrel racing. The only fault physically in her is that her right front hoof is slightly turned out. It does not affect her gait and she is still incredibly sound and sure-footed, however I am not sure if it would be safe for her heath to begin training her for barrels as they are quick turns and sudden stops. Do you have any information on this topic? The current owner assures me that this condition is not due to an injury of any sorts, but that she was born this way. Thank you so much,
I would venture to say you'd have no problems with this horse as long as you don't attempt to correct her conformation with special shoeing or too radical of trimming. The horse knows exactly where her hooves are and will compensate no problem. I have horses myself with severe limb conformation problems and they perform at a high level with no interferences. Ones I have tried to "fix" or use "therapeutic" shoes they start to have problems they didn't have before.
That being said, you don't want to allow the conformation to get worse, and through consistent and respectful trimming and balancing the hooves the way they are, and not giving in to flaring and imbalances, you can keep the horse going just fine. Many vets and farriers will attempt to "scare" an owner into special procedures and/or shoeing in cases like this, and for the greatest percentage of the cases, it's totally unwarranted and unnecessary. They simply don't know and understand how it all works, and this ignorance gets passed on to the owner.
A small conformational problem isn't a career-ending thing for a horse. Ride and be happy.
I just read your response to a sidebone question. I have an 11 year old warmblood with perfect feet, never had a shoe on him. He is out 12 to 14 hours every day of his life. Worked lightly as a dressage horse. Came up lame and x-rays shows extensive sidebone. My vet described it as the most she’s ever seen in 15 yrs. Her suggestion is to put shoes on him, your article says not to shoe. I am so confused. Any suggestions?
I'm curious, why would your veterinarian want to prescribe shoes for sidebone? What exactly is the expected "therapy" going to be from shoeing? She may also say it isn't completely curable, which is also a misconception.
My guess is that your horse does not have "perfect feet”. Something in the past has contributed to the formation of the extra bone. This is usually repeated trauma and/or concussion and/or inadequate movement. I realize there's lots of horses that don't get the kind of turn out time you give your horse, but it's STILL not enough. Full time turnout is the only way to go to maintain optimum health and attempt rehabilitation. Time spent more confined leads to improper and repetitive movements which have likely contributed to the sidebone/hoof problems.
My best suggestion would be to continue your research into natural hoof and horse care. It'll be quite a wonderful adventure in the end.
Dr. Tomas Teskey,
While searching the internet in hopes of finding the miracle shoe for Navicular, I ran across your article: Treating Navicular Syndrome.
This is the second horse I have purchased that has been diagnosed as Navicular. In my first search the future was always doom and gloom. So I donated the horse to a camp for troubled children after informing them of his diagnosed problem. The Farrier nor Vet seemed to offer any help.
In order to make a long story short. Can you tell me of anyone within a reasonable distance from Dickson, TN zip code 37055 that might possibly help me and my mare?
Check out EasyCare for their page that helps you locate people to help, as well as Pete Ramey's website Hoof Rehab. Many of the other natural hoof care websites also have lists of people that are knowledgeable. You can also check out The Horses Hoof, Bare Foot Horse websites.
Keep up your research. You're on the right track now!
Hello Dr. Tom,
I'm fairly new to horses, (5 years only) and constant changing…
My horse has just learned today that he can open yet another door. This time into the feed room. He and the donkey helped themselves to what appears to be about
a feed bucket full of crushed oats. Of course I am now concerned about grain founder. Can anything be given to them to help the body rid itself of any overage??
Hopefully you have all ready called for some veterinary help on this. It could be a bad problem. It isn't something I can help you with much over the email. There is a pretty standard protocol for treatment that is successful that should have been in place. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. This generally involves giving the horse laxatives to help the gut rid the grain quickly. I also believe in exercising them at a walk and trot until they begin to pass the grain. If your horse is showing lameness now, it's too late for the preventative treatment. If he’s doing OK you may be out of the woods.
I recently read an article that you wrote about Navicular, and found it very interesting.
I own an 11yr old Quarter Horse that was diagnosed with Navicular in Feb. We put wedge shoes on him and he has been completely sound for the past few months. I know that with wedge shoes they put more pressure on the front of his foot. My concern is that it is eventually going to cause more damage than good.
I have retired him from showing, and moved him to a barn where he can be out in the pasture all day. I wanted to see how he would do if we pulled his shoes, so I had them pulled 2 days ago. The first day he had a real hard time getting around. He seems to be feeling a little better today though. I am hoping he keeps improving.
I am against having him nerved. I want to know if he is in a lot of pain, and how fast he is declining. I have read so many different articles, and they all say the same thing (put corrective shoeing on them). I was just thinking he might do better barefoot. I was just wondering if you had any suggestions on how to keep him healthy, happy, and sound?
Are there any supplements you could suggest?
You're on the right track. Funny how the traditional "treatment" of navicular pain/lameness hasn't changed, and yet all those horses never get better.
Check out Hoof Rehab, and do more searches on the computer for navicular and barefoot trimming. You'll also do a great favor to the horse by getting a couple of hoof boots and comfort pads for those front feet. Visit EasyCare Inc. to learn more. The Old Mac G2 hoof boot they have work really well. You only need to use them intermittently/when riding. Also, having someone experienced in natural hoof care is pretty important. There is a list on the EasyCare site and other sites where you can hopefully find someone close to you to help.
Keep your chin up,
Hello Dr. Teskey-
I recently acquired a 6 yr old gelding as a rescue whom I was told had a shoulder injury from being a rope horse. After bringing him home I learned through an extensive veterinary work up and X-Rays that he has navicular bursitis with bone loss. He is very tender, especially in his right front foot. I have a natural hoof care practitioner who has been working with him since March of this year. He does not seem to be making much progress to this point, in fact this week seems slightly more sore and is walking with a noticeable head bob, which had started to become much less noticeable. We have him in Easyboot Epics with Comfort Pads, but I am worried that he is not getting any better. He is also getting Isoxsuprine and one bute tablet each day. My farrier is wonderful and is trying everything she can and is even working with him for free as a case study.
Can you tell me if there is a time when you know that this method will not work? I want what is best for this horse, he is beautiful and has an absolutely one of a kind gentle soul, however, I can hardly stand to see him continuing to live in pain.
I would appreciate your insight!!
Most natural hoof care folks will tell you that at least one, and often times TWO years will pass as a horse gets steadily better. If you think about how long it took for them to develop their deformed hooves, you can better understand that it will often take just as long to get them back to health. Sometimes longer (it's harder to fix something versus preventing it from getting broken in the first place). You've only barely begun the process.
The isoxsuprine shouldn't be used. It's been shown not to make any difference for a horse with hoof problems, and it can have toxic side effects. Perhaps your veterinarian isn't aware of recent studies showing it doesn't help improve blood flow to the hooves. I would also discontinue the use of the Bute. Again, it's been shown to actually inhibit healing and proper function in the hoof.
There are many other aspects to a successful hoof rehab program, such as nutrition, lifestyle (MOVEMENT), herd psychology. There are many websites that are excellent in discussing these. How the horse is trimmed is not the most important part of the program, so the actual trimmer is not the most important person involved. In fact the trimmer should be out of a job if you provide enough of the other ingredients.
This may well be one of the hardest things you'll try to
tackle regarding horses, but most times it's a hell of good learning process
and satisfying in the end.
Dr. Tom T.
Hi Dr. Tom,
New vet is coming out to x-ray tomorrow (not sure how many views we will need??). Most swelling is in lower pastern. He puts weight on the toe for balance when he moves but is really working his hind end to take the weight off. I did see him standing fairly square this noon time and resting one hind leg. He took several naps in the sun.
Vet does not seem optimistic if he has fractured. I'm thinking a coffin bone I can work with, higher up fracture may be a different story (harder to immobilize and yet allow him to keep active. Terrified of colic/laminitis in other hooves). Plumbing is working and he's drinking well, plenty of hay/grass available for him. We'll see tomorrow.
Thanks so much, and any additional info would be great.
You won't "need" any casting or special shoeing for a fracture. On the contrary, it's even MORE important to keep the hoof unshod in a situation of a fracture, to allow at least a bit better circulation, and therefore healing, to take place. I've also rehabilitated fractures of the pastern and higher without any wraps or "special" shoes. The hoof capsule itself, even if it's damaged itself, will act as the best bandage and shoe for the horse. Millions of years in the making made sure the horse could heal as fast as possible. Without us adding more problems like casts and shoes, etc.
I was cleaning off my desk and came across your article "The Unfettered Hoof," which I had previously read but had not looked at for some time. You may not recall, but we have talked about my decision to go barefoot some time back, and I have appreciated your thoughts and advice. I was
particularly struck this time by your discussion on the fact that a shod horse who loses a shoe goes immediately lame. Here is an example of the difference between a shod and barefoot horse in this respect:
I am one of the joint masters of our local formal hunt, and have been hunting and whipping in to our hunt for about ten years. About four years ago I made the decision to pull the shoes off all my hunt and polo horses. This has been quite successful.
I use boots when I am whipping in at some of our most rocky fixtures, because when whipping in I don't have the luxury of letting my horse slow down and pick his way across the rocky areas. Often we have to go full out over country we can not see because of the grassy cover. Nevertheless, most of the time it would not be necessary to use them.
As you may know, 2007 is the Centennial of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, the MFHA. As part of that celebration, the MFHA organized a series of 'performance trials' across the country, whereby several hunts would bring their best hounds to a particular hunt fixture, mix the hounds together, hunt them under a single huntsman, and they would be judged and graded by mounted judges. The hunting is usually very fast and hard, and the whips are called on to ride fast and hard to help manage the hounds.
At the trial held at our hunt, in late march, I was whipping in as usual along with a young lady, a protégé who I taught to ride and hunt. She and I were the only two who were barefoot (but in boots). To my knowledge everyone of the local and visiting hunters were barefoot.
About half way through the first day, I noticed I had lost one of my boots. Later I learned that Madeleine had likewise lost one of hers. Since both our mounts were still going sound and there was a strong need for us to continue, we did.
Throughout the day several of the shod horses also lost shoes. Every one of them had to immediately retire. Madeleine and I finished the hunt with no problems.
It seems to me this is a complete vindication of the benefit of going barefoot.
Thanks so much for relating this experience and insight. Best wishes to you all for continued success with the horses.
Thank you. Take care,
Dr. Tom T.
Hi Dr. Tom,
I have a major issue on home front this afternoon… 11yo TB rehab, been bare 3+ years and doing great... building concavity… never been off.
Raced around today in a new paddock (we just moved) and found a 1" stump to land on with his right front, puncture/cracked sole just below seat of corn, cracked sole along bar and then 1" further toward toe callous. No external damage. Very concerned that he has broken the bar internally.
Dead lame, blood, the works. He allowed me to take a little bit of bar, not much. Soaked hoof, packed w/antiseptic, added foam pad/vetwrap and duct tape. When he lays down again I'm slapping a boot/pad on the good hoof. He's on bute/oral antibiotics. The vet I called in the area is not sure what to do. Anyone who has had experience w/this type injury/treatment tips would be greatly appreciated.
Good wound care is all you need to do at this point. Of course the boots with pads inside are a great idea, along with keeping the injured area clean. The systemic antibiotics are likely not needed if you're able to keep the localized area clean. An x-ray or other imaging might help determine if the coffin bone is intact. Fractures can and do happen. Don't lock the horse up. Keep them in the same area with their buddies, free to move about as they are willing and able. Generally about a month will allow these injuries to heal up. Left over lameness past this point may be indicative of a deeper problem.
Keep up the good nursing,
Dr. Tom T.
Dear Dr. Teskey,
I have two problems I hope you can give me insight on. The first is scratches possibly caused by the
use of hoof boots. The second is heel height and frog/digital
I emailed you last winter because my horse, who had been barefoot since Sept. 2006, was very hoof sore. At your suggestion, I used Easyboot Bares every time I rode him and used the thick comfort pads. He did well with the boots and pads at home but had severe problems on the 2 multi-day endurance rides we did.
The obvious problem was that the boots just didn't fit him well. At the ride in January, I poured at least 1/4 cup of grit, dirt and sand out of each boot at the end of the day. This was after using vet wrap, duct tape and plumber's putty. In addition to the dirt in the boots, the comfort pads had gotten folded in half horizontally underneath his sole and were ruined. Then, on top of all that, he got a bad case of scratches. I had only planned to do the first 2 days of the ride which was good because there was no way he could have done the third day. The scratches cleared up quickly (within a week) once we got home.
My second concern is that his frogs and contracted heels have not changed since I pulled his shoes last fall. As you suggested, I used the hoof boots all winter to cushion his tender feet and he did well here at home. My trimmer, who has trimmed lots of barefoot horses, but isn't really trained, won't lower the heels, saying the hoof angle has to match the pastern angle. I read quite a bit about trimming but still don't feel like I know much of anything. Unfortunately, there is no well trained hoof trimmer near me that I know of. I have a rasp and hoof stand and am quite willing to do what I can.
Even though the scratches are frustrating and I fear may end our endurance career, I am just as concerned about helping my horse's hooves to develop in a healthy direction. Other horses that he lives with are doing just fine barefoot and have large, healthy looking frogs. So, now I'm searching for what I need to do to help my horse get there too.
I really would appreciate any insight you can give!
Mostly it sounds like you need to ride barefoot more and condition the horse's hooves to do endurance barefoot, as I think you're right about the pastern wraps and the scratches. This can be serious, so I wouldn't keep using the tape and wrapping above the boot that was contributing to that problem. It also sounds like you've done too much/demanded too much of the horse early on. Conditioning on the right terrain (not gravel) as well as keeping the horse in a good environment are the most important things. Along with diet.
Decontraction of hooves is a mighty slow process, or doesn't
happen at all many times coming out of shoes, since it's the BONES that are misshapen.
Give it at least two years before deciding there will or won't be
Keep up the good work,
First thanks in advance for your help.
I have an 8 yr old gelding that presented acutely lame on the right fore about 1 month ago. We gave him stall rest for a few days before seeking vet care. After 1 week he saw the vet who first diagnosed an abscess and took x-rays. He was tender to the palpation area on RF leg at hoof/hair line.
After developing x-rays, vet called to say possible fracture to the pastern bone. Returned for more films.
Horse was continued on 24/7 stall rest and results of other films sent to NC State Vet School radiology dept for diagnosis.
said bony calcification between P2 & P3. They suggest steroid injection.
Can barefoot trim help this horse?
He has improved vastly but still gives on RF when circled but is much better at straight trot.
Certainly natural hoof care helps horses in general, because it respects their natural abilities to both heal and then perform. There is a good amount of information available now that demonstrates how well horses do when they get their hoof health back. I have treated many, many horses with fractures and calcifications/ringbone type changes and have always had some improvement in their condition.