neato barefoot progress

Murray has been barefoot for three weeks now, which I had fervently hoped would be long enough to see some changes in his footsies, but logically expected that no real progress would be evident. But lo!  Progress there is.

When his shoes first came off, Murray was footy (tender, sensitive) on the gravel of our barn’s driveway, which is unsurprising. (I’m footy on that fucking gravel.) He’s now able to walk from his stall to the arena without any noticeable limping or guarding. Murray was also lame at the trot in the round pen during his second turnout, even though the ground was softened by recent rain. But just this week in our indoor he pranced around pretty happily and without a hitch at liberty (though a little gimpy on the lunge line).

So without further ado, here are some feet. Maybe I’ll start scaling these to the same hoof size in the future so it’s easier to see the differences.


Murray’s left-front is his most typical TB-ish foot. It wants to be flat and heel-less. It also has a slightly uneven hair line — something I’ve been trained to look at from the Rockley blog! But just three weeks in (see below, going left to right) the frog is a little wider and the bars are moving out to the side. It looks like there might even be more expanding to come. Maybe the heel is moving back a skosh also? Hard to tell since the views aren’t identical.

um apparently my phone also started taking pictures in different aspect ratios in the last three weeks…

The right front is the freaky foot. I’m not sure it’s clubby upright-ness is really clear here. My farrier actually doesn’t worry about this foot because, in her words, she’s figured it out. It’s the LF that causes us problems.

changes in the RF are way more dramatic!

There is some good shit happening to this foot which is SO EXCITING. This is the foot I really wanted to see progress with in this whole barefoot experiment. What I see is the old frog sloughing, and LOTS of expansion of the bars to make room for the new frog. My recent, detailed explorations of the Rockley blog shows that many feet seem to take on this pattern — the spaces around the frog widen quite a bit to make space for the new frog as it comes in.  This could also be the angle of the pics, but it looks like the heel might be moving forward too?! That could be nice.

Oh and that crackola in the middle of the frog is really deep. Actually all of the creases of the foot were threatening thrush. The central crack/crease is longer and deeper than it was before, but I think that’s actually because it’s growing out/forward, not because it’s growing up into the foot. We’ll see though.

right hind

Nothing too exciting about the right hind — although it’s the least lame foot on flexions, per the vet back in August.

It looks like there might be some widening of the frog on the right hind, and definite widening and growth of the bars.

Left hind is also somewhat unremarkable. I like the shape of these feet, though now that I’m looking at them in detail I can see that the heels are a little underrun and could do with more strength. The frog is expanding a bit, and the bars are getting more definition too. So that’s cool!

blurry pic feat. purple clicker!

Murray doesn’t yet have a heel-first landing, but that’s okay. It’s less toe first, an d I’m sure with time we’ll get there. Luckily for us, I think this kid is going to be getting turnout starting next week (dear lord jeepers please let the pastures dry out enough for turnout), and all that movement should (if my understanding is correct) help him develop some palmar hoof strength.

And if you find this all as weirdly compelling and obsessable as I do, you can find lots more at Nic Barker’s super Rockley Farm Blog.

9 thoughts on “neato barefoot progress”

  1. I do find it all so facinating. I’m not a ‘barefoot’ trimming freak but have lived with/owned a lot of horses and as it turned out, none of them had or needed shoes. I really wanted to understand why. What I discovered after a few years of obsessive research (I actually compiled/printed and segmented information into booklets based on approach) that a horse’s foot is designed to indeed be a functioning foot. That said, lifestyle and diet I found were key. No extremes in the diet like sugars. Movement is huge because increased blood flow occurs when the foot expands and contracts with each step acting like a pump. With increased circulation comes improved cell growth (not to mention the hoof just getting tougher to the surface it is exposed to). Oiy. Sorry!! I could go on far too long! 😛 Anyhow, great to see good things happening with Murray!


    1. I would definitely call myself a barefoot freak, though I’ve not yet had the opportunity to test it out! This lameness was the perfect chance for me to exercise my crazy without too much judgment from my peers (clicker training, barefoot, what next?! standing on my horse bareback without a helmet?). I simply cannot shake the evolutionary function of the foot. And while it isn’t necessarily what we use horses for today, I also think that we can do a fair bit better than “the wild” in terms of nutrition, medication, and understanding. I’m very excited to see how this experiment plays out!


  2. I read that blog a bit in the beginning. I wish they had been close enough (aka continental USA) for me to send Carlos to when we found out he had Navicular.. tho in the end I dunno if it would have helped, but maybe it could have prolonged his life… or maybe if only we had time machines and I could have sent him away for rehabilitation when he was younger and sounder and prolonged his life that way. Sigh.


  3. I am so obsessed with barefoot transformations. I think they’re the coolest thing ever. Really hoping Opie gets his shoes pulled this cycle or the next, and I can be back in the barefoot game again!


  4. Isn’t it incredible how quickly they change?? Fighting the thrush hard core is the quickest way to see positive changes and get heel first landings. When I was spraying the bottom of Chrome’s feet daily with salt water he never had thrush and his frogs and grooves looked amazing. Murray’s feet are looking much better already. I can’t wait to see what they look like in another couple of weeks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s