As beautiful as Warrior is, he has one serious flaw. He has soft soles and feet that are seriously off kilter. When he was rescued he had hoof wall abscesses which made him unridable. My first farrier Rob Hoffman was experienced in both shoeing and bare foot practice, he managed to keep Warrior fairly comfortable. He spent a good deal of time with me every six weeks determining how much progress we were making towards getting him to be ridable. He would never be good in a discipline but he could be enjoyed with light riding. This did not faze me a bit. Warrior was not needed as a riding horse at all. He was needed as a therapy horse to help me deal with my son’s death.
Because his front feet hurt the wait was often painfully slow. Warrior was treated to foot soaks and messages on a twice daily basis to relieve the pressure he suffered with. We had the veterinarian take x-rays to see if he suffered from rotation and thankfully that wasn’t the case. It took two months to finally see the abscess burst at the pastern on the left front. After that, the healing could finally begin and he could be ridden. Rob was honest with me and told me that shoes would never help the problem with Warrior’s feet. They would however hide the basic problem making him feel more comfortable for a time, but his hooves were so soft that he could become completely lame as a result. I heeded Rob’s advice and never put shoes on him.
I changed barns about 8 months later and the new barn had an excellent farrier. Unfortunately for Warrior he was really an excellent shoer. After six normal trims Warriors problems were getting worse. He hurt all the time. Of course I had read everything I could about hooves and although I did not have enough experience to fix his problems I knew SOMEONE did. We just had to find the right farrier to fix a club foot, that had to be uneven, as well as a hoof turned the wrong way around the frog!
I found a someone just over an hour away in Ocala, who deals with all kinds of founder and is a bare foot farrier. His name is Gordan Adair. Warrior has been trimmed by him for eight months now and the callous that had formed changing the axis of the foot is almost gone. Lifting his club foot you can see that the hoof around the frog has become a far more normal shape. The frog, although still not straight is definitely pointing more forward than sideways. Best of all, he feels better and I can ride him.
The problem of soft hooves has not resolved in spite of the hoof supplements. So we decided to give boots a try. I called the people at Easy Boots for help deciding which boot to purchase. They were terrific to work with. We decided after discussing Warrior’s issues and the type of ground we ride on that Epics with comfort pads would be the best. They are a form fitting lightweight boot.
He could walk over a crushed tar road with pebbles without pain! He loved his new shoes. Before long though, we were experiencing some problems. The first was rubbing at the heel, the second was a cut that formed at his pastern on the club foot, more because of the uneven hoof than the steep angle of it.
I phoned Easy Boot and was advised that I should try a different type of boot. We decided on OleMac g2’s with comfort pads. A great choice! These boots are easy to put on and do not come off no matter what you travel through. They are heavier than the Epics and cover the whole hoof but that doesn’t seem to bother Warrior a bit. They have drain holes to allow the water and mud to drain through and the comfort pads can be changed out as often as necessary. And I’m happy to report Warrior is very happy wearing them!
What is your experience with boots? Please write in the comments below and let me know.