Archive for bars

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I have kept horses since 1976 and, like most people, depended on my farrier to care for their hooves for many years. In 1994, my two geldings, aged 21 and 11 years, were crippled by a new farrier we used after moving to Nevada. In order to rehabilitate them, I had to pay a journeyman farrier to travel 60 miles from Las Vegas to us every 2 months for more than a year. He was using a new trim, called “4 point” and based on early observations of wild horse feet. I moved to Arizona in 1997 and could not find a trimmer I could trust. In 1999, I read Jaime Jackson’s book, “The Natural Horse”. I then did a few phone consults with him and got his book, “The Horse Owner’s Guide To Natural Hoof Care”. I started trimming my two geldings myself. As time went by, I read other books, including Pete Ramey’s “Making Natural Hoof Care Work For You” and subscribed to The Horse’s Hoof magazine. One of my favorite websites is Pete Ramey’s, Hoof  Another one is .

In the past 13 years, I have had an additional 20 or so equines under my care, ranging from rescued wild mustangs to older domestic horses. Because I cannot travel, I have had to learn on my own, by reading books, magazines and visiting websites. I am also connected to some very knowledgable hoof care experts via Facebook. I do not claim to be an expert, but I sure seem to know a lot more than a lot of horse owners and even farriers do. This is sad, in light of all the information now readily available. Every horse that has come here has had serious hoof issues- improper or no trimming and thrush.

JERAS took in Penny, a 22 year old Arab/appy cross mare about 7 weeks ago. He former owner said her farrier told her Penny’s feet were fine and did not need trimming. Despite her feet looking great from ABOVE, the bottoms told a different story! I will share a few emails regarding Penny.

From: catherine ritlaw
Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 5:02 PM
Subject: Thank you for the great article re: bar trimming
  Thanks for the great article in the Horse’s Hoof. My sanctuary just took in this 22 year old Arab/Appy mare last month and the previous owner’s farrier said her feet were “fine- no trimming needed”…… I keep trimming out bar tissue embedded in her soles. This is before & after today’s trim, I just sprained my wrist and could not do as much as I wanted to. I had removed excess bars about 3 weeks ago…it keeps reappearing. She also had untreated thrush.
On Jul 20, 2012, at 8:15 PM, Marianne Allen wrote:
Hi Catherine,
Thanks for your great email regarding my article on bars.  They cause more lameness issues than I can list.  I looked at the pictures of the mare.   The bars have been in there for most of her life and have joined in a circle around the entire frog onto the toe.  It is not just the surface that the bar sits on, the bar is deep into the hoof capsule.  It will descend from up inside after each trim. But if you have one inch or more embedded up in the capsule and you only remove ¼ inch at a time it will take some time to remove it all.  This is all possible and you should only go carefully into the excess bar as you will be working directly under the coffin bone.  Unfortunately, the bar is now where sole should be.  Also, since it is right under the solar corium of the coffin bone it could also cause a lot of bruising and bleeding once you start removing the excess. This scares most people so you can go slow and consistently to remove the bar material from where it has migrated past the halfway point of the frog.  Use the curl of your knife in small slices as you remove this material. It will give the horse such immediate relief.  Bar is always the whitest material on the sole and you will train your eye to differentiate it.  I think you made a great start in the removal process today.  So sorry that you sprained your wrist.  You did a lot of great trimming already.  Sometimes on hard bars I will use a dremel with a sandstone gum drop bit to help remove the hard excess. This will help you a lot.  There is a good site with all the info on trimming with tools if you would like me to send it to you.  How wonderful that you have a horse sanctuary.  Your life must be very blessed.  Again, thanks for your email and if you need any help don’t hesitate to ask.
Happy Trails,
Marianne Allen
Advanced Natural Hoofcare

I am very grateful to Marianne for her advice. It makes me very sad to think that Penny may have been suffering most of her life due to incompetent hoof trimming. There is no excuse for this.

Penny's foot, looking "fine" from above

Penny with horrible bar overgrowth

Penny's foot after excess bar was removed

If you choose to keep horses, it is your responsibility to ensure their comfort and happiness. You cannot depend on someone else to be responsible for them. Please take advantage of the numerous resources  now available to learn about proper hoof care. Below are a few Facebook pages I visit regularly.
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