Performance Hoof Care - Tim C Mockford, Equine Podiatrist
FAQ's - FAQ's - FAQ's - FAQ's - FAQ's - FAQ's - FAQ's - FAQ's - FAQ'
When would you engage an Equine Podiatrist ?
  • If your horse is lame and not responding to conventional treatment
  • If you suspects your horses feet are not as healthy as they could be
  • If your horse keeps losing shoes
  • If your horse is shoeless, but uncomfortable
  • If you want to discuss the transition from shod to shoeless
  • If you are an owner-trimmer and would like your horses feet checked occasionally
  • If you are aiming for shoeless high performance (endurance, hunting, eventing etc)
  • If you or your vet want a second opinion from a highly trained specialist
  • If you are considering buying a horse and want an assessment of their feet
How often will my horse need to be trimmed ?
Every horse is different but in the early stages of the transition, visits will normally be every 4 weeks as both balance and the new pattern of growth is established. Once achieved, this can normally be extended to 6 weeks. However, this will depend on the 'growth to wear' ratio of your horses feet. This will, in turn, be dictated by the genetics of the foot and the discipline / level of work your horse is in
My horses feet are to bad to go shoeless, aren’t they ?
In the majority of cases, these are actually the horses who can most benefit from going shoeless. If the feet are damaged / weakened to such an extent, they will only deteriorate further with continued shoeing. The rehabilitation may be more challenging but if the owner has the time and commitment they will be able to make a huge difference
Isn’t this just another ‘Trim’ ?
Put simply no, Equine Podiatry is a totally new concept which takes the treatment of the equine foot to new levels. Rather than using pre-determined angles or norms, we use external landmarks which enable us to place the hoof and foot in functional equilibrium or 'true balance'
I do a lot of road work and therefore my horses feet will wear away won’t they ?
This is a very common misconception. Road work can be very beneficial for your horse’s feet as long as the structures are healthy. There are very few horses that wear away there feet quicker than they grow. A hoof that is correctly balanced will receive even stimulus. Even those who ride for a few hours each day on the road will not wear their feet down too quickly
I do a lot of jumping and require studs. How will I get that extra grip required without shoes?
Metal on grass or tarmac is actually a very bad combination in terms of traction. The reason that studs are needed is because the metal shoe does not provide the required traction. A foot without the shoe provides the most effective traction. Dirt trapped in the collateral grooves will 'grip' the ground surface and provide better balance, stability, traction and stopping power
How long will it take to rehabilitate my horse after removing the shoes ?
The answer is it 'depends' It depends on the genetic 'foot print' that your horse has, the level of damage / deterioration caused by the shoeing, your environment, the nutritional and conditioning regimes and finally your commitment as an owner. If you are prepared to apply the hard work and effort that this requires you will see results more quickly. Removing the shoes is a long term investment, not a short term 'quick-fix'. Time is the 5th dimension of balance !
Can my horse perform any discipline shoeless ?
There are many horses competing at high level disciplines i.e. racing, 3 day eventing, endurance etc without shoes. We will be able to advise you on what you will be able to achieve with your horse. Remember that each horse is an individual. Your horse may never have a foot underneath it that is capable of 30 mile shoeless endurance ride over rough terrain, you have to work with the feet that you have
Shoeing my horse is expensive. Is Shoeless cheaper ?
In the beginning of the rehabilitation process you may well require more frequent visits and you may also need to purchase additional items to help with the transition i.e. hoof boots, therapeutic pads and topicals' to treat foot infections. This may seem costly but you are investing in the long-term health of your horses feet. Once your horse has been rehabilitated the visits may be less frequent and therefore the cost will reduce
Are white hooves weaker than black hooves ?
No! Colour has no bearing on how strong or healthy a horse’s feet are. Genetics and proper hoof care will determine how good your horse’s feet can be
My horse has a poor hoof wall which splits and cracks all the time which means I can’t remove his shoes doesn't it ?
The lack of poor horn growth could be due to a number of reasons i.e. poor nutrition, bad environment, imbalance or an underlying infection, but the more likely cause is lack of a healthy inner wall which is caused by the restrictive nature of the shoe. Extreme and rapid changes in moisture levels of the hoof can also lead to a rupturing in the keratin bonds in the horn 
Will my horse have to go through a period of lameness before he is sound shoeless ?
When the shoes are removed your horse may be more sensitive to the ground and may walk differently than before. This is because they are feeling pressure on structures that have previously not been in contact with the ground and may well be weakened or atrophied. This neural stimulus is know as proprioception, this indication of 'footiness' should not be confused with pain or lameness. The key is to gradually expose you horse to more challenging terrains whilst minimising the risk of trauma through pin-point pressure
Is there anything I need to consider before deciding to take my horses shoes off ?
  • Which is more important, the discipline or welfare of the horse ?
  • Are you willing to gain the knowledge to properly care for your horses feet ?
  • Are you able to take an active role in conditioning your horses feet for your chosen discipline ?
  • Do you have the commitment to allow the passage of time and conditioning to improve your horses feet ?
What Can I expect from a typical 'Consultation' ?
In order for both you and your horse to get the most out of your consultation please allow at least 2 hours for the first visit (follow up visits will become shorter as the hoof moves towards true balance)
We will need a clean, level area (preferably well lit and under cover) in which the horses can be examined. We will also need a suitable area where the horse can be walked / trotted up
During a full consultation, the individual structures of the hoof will be assessed to establish the overall health of the feet and identify any problems that need to be addressed. Results will be recorded on our ‘Spectrum of Usability’ Evaluation Form
If appropriate, the HPT Method™ or High Performance Trim will be applied. This ‘balances’ the foot by using external ‘landmarks’ to support optimum function of the corresponding internal structures
We will then compile a written Consultation report which will include detailed photographs and structural measurements for each foot, this will allow us to create a calendar of events to monitor the ongoing progress of your horse
Finally, we will evaluate the horses environment, exercise and nutritional regimes and then provide a list of recommendations and a detailed conditioning routine which is specifically designed to help your horse attain optimum health of the feet
Note: Please do not exercise your horse prior to a visit as this will increase circulation to the foot which can make some structures appear larger than normal
If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact me
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