In which we look at the ground, do math, and work on fixing Fiddle's feet

We've shod the Dragon pretty much the same way
since Mel took over in March 2016.

And yet, she now routinely yanks off her front shoes. Gahhh.

But wait.  Is that really true?

AND she also completely destroyed a front boot last weekend

I have notes dating back to 2006 when I first got Fiddle, detailing the angles at which we keep her feet, the size, brand, and modifications we do to each shoe, her activity level between shoeing appointments, noting any injuries or other abberations.

This foot has been bare for 2 weeks -- she yanked the shoe off while Mel was away on vacation 

She used to hang onto shoes forever, only losing them when the nailheads would wear completely off and the shoes would simply fall off, leaving nails still in her foot. 

Now, she pulls front shoes off routinely.

Clearly something has changed.

Swamp foot.  She had a small abscess in her frog, it's fine now.

We started doing math:

  • She learned to walk MUCH BIGGER -- and gained strength as well -- while she was out on the Cross-State Ride in late May.  Basically, she added a new gait to her repertoire.
  • She also started wearing out the toes of her front shoes (see the top photo) on the Cross-State.  That wear pattern is relatively new.
  • This summer, we had to change the brand of steel shoe we were using, because the farrier supply place we've all patronized since the early 14th century closed down, and getting our hands on the preferred brand became a major hassle.
  • The Dragon isn't a young horse anymore, and the arthritic changes in her stifles and hocks affects the way she moves.

Same front foot, new shoe applied

In other words, things have changed.

We needed to figure out how to help her move more comfortably, and how to keep those dang shoes on.

"Do you have any mud?" Mel asked me.

Uhm.  Not much, actually!  But we do have a little bit of damp dirt.

I'm pretty sure these are "walking" feet (Mel will correct me if I'm wrong, I hope!)
The rear foot lands almost inside the print for the front foot --
this is why she pulls off shoes and destroys boots.

Trotting footprints prior to putting on new rear shoes.  Rear foot in front of front,
with a fair amount of overlap.

We don't want to change all the variables at once, but we can make a few common-sense changes to help her move more comfortably and keep the shoes on.

We rolled her front toes even more than usual, to speed the breakover of her front feet.  Now she can easily lift those front feet out of the way just a little quicker.

We also changed the angle of her trim just a little--from 54* to 56*.  Her angles have always been between 53* and 55*, so this change is really very small--but potentially significant.

These are the new rear shoes, with just a tiny roll on the outside rim
of the toe, to encourage her to place her rear feet wider than the fronts.

Fiddle has always traveled "wide behind" at the trot and relatively "straight behind" at the walk in the past, but we noticed that she is tracking narrower lately, probably as a result of those slightly-arthritic stifles.  This was one of the changes that led me to retire her from endurance, by the way.

To help her return comfortably to the wide-behind movement, Mel added a bit more shoe support to the inside of each foot, and rolled the outside rim of the toe just a little bit.  This has always been her natural way of going, and we want to support her to return to this movement.

Post-shoeing, at the walk:  the rear footfall is now significantly wider and further forward.

Trotting:  wider, with the rear foot further from center than before.  Her strides are still gigantic.

We will try, for this shoeing cycle, leaving the plastic pads off.  It's been several years since we've tried this, and the "cup" of her sole has improved dramatically since then.  November is the best time to try new stuff, because nobody is going to work too hard when the weather is gooey.

Front feet: finished.

I'll probably ride her out tomorrow (unless the weather is still soggy, I guess), and I will report back!


  1. Well. That's all interesting. Willie's feet look better this shoeing round (done a week ago), still in wedges but not stood up so much. He did finish a 50 with the long feet and steep angle, and he felt fine and I didn't notice anything unusual. That previous steep shoeing, and this last one just a week ago, while lunging in a circle, he way oversteps at the walk. He does not at all at the trot (he's short strided) (and of course I can't remember the last two years, when his feet looked perfect, if he did that).
    What does it all mean!?!?!?

    1. Mel might be able to tell you, but I can't. I'm gonna guess that the steep angles will lead to shorter strides. Fee's strides are so long that we had to lengthen the "mud" area in order to get prints from all four feet, especially at the trot!

      I did send Mel several videos of Fee walking and trotting so she could think about options while she was still far away...if you post some vids to Facebook, I can tag her?

  2. I was staring at the photo with your two Winter blankets thrown over the stall walls and was wondering why they are so perfectly clean. My two are so muddy you cannot tell what color they should be. And the horse...

    1. It's been a very dry autumn thus far, not much rain and not much mud!

  3. I am so jealous of your lack of mud... it has felt like mud season has never ended this year in western PA.

    I've had a pair of Standardbred crosses and one off track Standardbred that have all over reached. We've had good luck with making the fronts break over faster to get them out of the way faster. Fortunately they've all had granite tough feet, so I don't shoe, but the over reach isn't exactly comfortable for them. Keeping the front toes shorter makes a difference, and now I only hear the clicking of the over step when they're a week or so out from being due for a trim.

    Hopefully the shorter front toes will help keep Fiddle comfortable and stop her ripping off her shoes and boots.


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