Today I'm going to write about Lola’s hooves, specifically the horizontal lines presented on the surface of her hoof wall. Often referred to as Fever Rings, Growth Rings, Hoof Rings and/or Ripples and what I call Event Lines, these lines on the hoof wall can have many origins. Nutritional changes, change in weather/season, climate extremes of wet or dry and times of sudden stress are just a few of the causes of these lines. In Lola’s case, I think her hooves were affected by all of the above. She was born in Florida, moved to Canada (guessing around the age of two), was in full race training, raced 4 times (at four), was pulled from the track and turned out with a group of horses for the first time. In October of last year she then traveled to Michigan to live with me. Each of these events, though not necessarily considered extreme to us, to Lola it was a struggle to balance her body.
Event Lines fascinate me and in other horses I have been able to trace specific lines down to the exact event that caused them. Lola’s is a bit harder as I do not know her complete history, but I can guess, having watched the line appear and start to grow down, that her largest line is from her transition from off the track to pasture, and then to me and that the remaining smaller lines further down the hoof are from her time on the track. I have drawn an arrow to the most noticeable line on her hoof with the top being the youngest “event” (about 6 months of growth from the top of the hoof).
A healthy hoof will be free of any ridges, rings or otherwise irregular surfaces and appear smooth. Hooves are made up of Tubules (think very small straws) that run from the top of the hoof to the ground. When a horse experiences an “event” these Tubules become bent, rippled or angled which means their strength is now compromised. Hooves are the foundation of your horse which is why it is important to recognize any defects or damage so we can then try to regulate or even hopefully eliminate what caused the damage in our horse’s hooves. As each larger ring reached the ground on Lola’s hooves a slight amount of separation presents itself. The particularly hard and uneven ground we have had here has further weakened this part of her hoof. She has one ring that is on the ground now as you can see in the picture of the bottom of her right front hoof. Other than an increased risk of the hoof chipping this is not affecting her soundness.
Being able to recognize these lines in your horses’ hooves is very important and I encourage you to keep a horse and hoof journal that includes any changes in your horses diet, lifestyle, illness or even week to week goings on. This way you have a reference to discern what was going on in your horse’s life at that time.
Lola is still working through being flat footed, but her retracted sole is starting to relax and with the support of wearing Scoot Boots she is comfortable on all surfaces. Under saddle Lola is progressing steadily. She very much enjoys having a job and spending time with me and is starting to relax down into a natural self-carriage. Lola and I will be traveling off the farm to trail ride and we will be attending our first Hunter Pace the end of April. Currently we are drudging through spring mud season!
Kallie Zeinstra has been involved with horses since she was born, began competing with her horses at the age of 9, and training professionally at 13. She is an avid barefoot enthusiast and spends her time assisting horses in their transition from shod to barefoot. Having worked with numerous breeds of horses in the last 20 years in Dressage, Western, English, Field Hunting, Mounted Archery, Eventing and Trail, she now spends her time transitioning Thoroughbreds off the track into new disciplines, training horses for clients and competing her OTTB Birdie and Percheron Baxter in Dressage and Eventing as well as Equine Therapy work with her Miniature horse Oliver. Kallie currently rides and competes her horses in Scoots in Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.