Healthy Hooves for a Healthy Horse

Hooray! Ty has officially been a part of The Well Horse program for two months now! & a busy two months it’s been! Since August, we’ve been working to optimize many outlets in Ty’s health. From nutrition to muscle tension, and everything in between, Ty is on the mend. With this, I’m excited to share about Ty’s hoof care as it proceeds with one condition- He must remain barefoot.

Why Barefoot?

Safety First

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Innately, Ty is a quiet, kind, and respectful horse. He’s a try-er and a thinker. However, Ty’s baseline sympathetic nervous responses are heightened. In other words, Ty tends to get wide-eyed and bushy tailed in the presence of stimuli. Through physical therapy and horsemanship we work to address Ty’s tendency to react in flight mode before processing/digesting information. That, however, is a blog post for another day! The relevancy here rests in handler safety. Until Ty becomes more predictable and less reactive, he will need to make do without metal on his toes.

Optimizing Biomechanics from the Ground Up

Barefoot Thoroughbred. This juxtaposition gives the breed a bad reputation in that they often need shoeing support. However, Ty will make do and very likely come out better off. While Ty doesn’t have the world’s strongest feet, he has thick enough wall and a good cup to his sole. In keeping him barefoot, we hope to influence a gait directed solely through Ty’s structure and inherent biomechanics. Bringing him back to his natural way of going will potentially relieve strain on his SI and lumbar, areas that Ty holds static when he moves. Leaving the gelding barefoot will also aid blood flow down his back legs, an important aspect to keeping his joints lubricated and ligaments/tendons strong as he prepares to turn 12 in January.

Maintaining Barefoot Ty

Trimming for the Win

Keeping Ty soundly barefoot is possible only with quality trimming. A farrier who trims well will have an educated eye in conformation, movement, and biomechanics. He will look at the foot not in order to clean it up, but in order to optimize the horse’s angles and viable structure.


Ty’s trims involve bringing back his toe and beveling (rounding) the edge of the wall in order to promote thickened growth. Like most thoroughbreds, Ty lacks support in his quarters and heel. This leads to an exhausted/squished digital cushion. To deal with this, the farrier balances Ty’s hoof and trims to leave as much support as possible, setting the wall up for stronger growth. This trimming method promotes growing stronger hoof, setting it up to maintain corrected angles later.

Nutrition for Hooves

In order to keep Ty’s feet growing throughout the winter, we’ve designed his diet to fortify his nutritional needs. As vitamins, minerals, and well balanced amino acids become scarce in winter pasture and often in winter hay, we need to supplement for hoof health. Ty will remain on Tribute Equine Nutrition’s Essential K throughout this winter. He will also eat alfalfa hay because this forage supplies balanced & bio-available amino acids necessary for hoof growth.

We’ve recently added Tough as Nails to Ty’s diet. This hoof supplement contains biotin, balanced amino acids, and organic minerals such as zinc & copper to encourage growth. The calcium in the formula also promotes hoof growth by cross-linking proteins. Iodine *the MVP through mud season* acts as a systemic anti-fungal, which can help prevent white line disease and general sole fungus.

Collectively, diet matters in respect to hoof health. Offering horses enough quality protein, bio-available vitamins & minerals, and dietary energy will reflect in how the hooves hold up through the winter. 

Clearing Fungus from the Ground Up

Thick, strong soles= Pain free soles

Keeping soles strong through the winter can be a challenge. As mud season prevails, fungus begins to reside on the horse’s sole and frog. This fungus eats away at tissue, exposing more sensitive structures and and weakening the hoof surface. To fight this, we can use topical sealants, tougheners, and anti-fungal/bacterials to maintain a strong sole.


To prepare Ty’s soles for the mud, we paint them daily, switching between a 7% iodine solution & venice turpentine. Over the paint, we sprinkle crystallized copper sulfate. This combination works to kill fungus & bacteria on the surface, toughen the sole, and seal it from excess moisture. This results in a thoroughbred who walks confidently across pavement and work without discomfort!



Special thanks to Rood & Riddle Podiatry for trimming Ty and supporting his journey towards being a forever well horse! 

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