HomeAbout MeFAQsServices ListPathologyCase StudiesDonkeysTipsHorse KeepingContact MeLinks

Rocky: 26yr old Appaloosa

Body view of appaloosa horse

Rocky is a 26yr old Appaloosa gelding. He was previously a barrel racer that went from rodeo to rodeo. He was shod for 20 years. He is no longer running barrels, he is retired with a bowed tendon on his left front, a ring-bone on the right front and an old spiderweb fracture of his right hind. Not to mention his sway back and arthritis and he's a bit slower than he used to be. Rocky, however, is happy and mostly healthy and his hooves have adapted to being bare, in spite of a lifetime of shoes.

Right front hoof, lateral view

Rocky is now a beginner's trusted mount. He is able to walk and trot around with supportive leg wraps and an understanding rider. He has been barefoot since 2005, and started getting "natural trims" in 2006. His feet are not what I would call beautiful by any means, but they do not cause him any pain. He needed hoof boots for any riding for a over a year. Since he's not ridden much anymore and he doesn't exercise himself as much the more he ages, his feet probably never will look ideal. They do serve him well enough that he's comfortable being ridden now without any hoof boots, except on the sharp gravel, which he rarely sees, and he couldn't be expected to be tough enough to take that without being conditioned for it to begin with.

Toe to heel view of sole

   I wanted to show Rocky as a success for older horses coming out of shoes. Yes, it takes longer to adjust and reverse the damage from the shoes. But with some  time and exercise, they can adapt very well. Rocky needed hoof boots to protect his very thin soles when first out of metal shoes. His soles were very thin and prone to bruising and abscessing. I also show his hooves as examples that not all barefoot hooves will match what you see in the pictures of the ideal. I still see a lot of room for improvement in his. He needs more sole to build and more frog. However, years of excess paring of the sole and frog has potentially damaged his ability to grow these as well as he should. He is also older now, which affects hoof growth some.  He is a case of "sound without shoes" but still needs protection to go beyond his normal turf. He would very likely bruise on gravel and sharp rocks, so boots are a must in those situations. At home, he's able to run and cut up with the other horses and manages to trod across the rock we put in around the water trough with no limping across.

Dorsal view of hoof