While Gem has a few traits that I hope to avoid in my next horse, she has certainly spoiled me with her hoof health.
The farrier hasn't been out since April/May and prior to that it was Feb. I don't rasp the hooves myself and my only foot care between farrier visits is to pick them out before and after a ride. From all my reading, learning and experiences I am a firm believer of letting the horse form the hoof it needs to compensate for any changes higher up the leg. I dislike hearing people rasp away small flares or medial to lateral imbalances just because it doesn't look right to them. I'm not sure where the concept of the perfect, round, smooth hoof with a centered break over point came from, but it sure wasn't the horse.
(Side note: I'm not anti shoes or anti boots. I'm pro whatever works to keep your horse healthy and happy. If that is shoes, then so be it. But I do think being bare is the best way to go if possible. If Gem ever needed shoes then she would get them)
Gem's feet have continued to look amazing since the 50, but Pete doesn't get the mileage that she does and his feet were starting to look a little gnarly. We had called our old farrier, but hadn't heard back from him and I was starting to get nervous about Pete.
After Dusty got home from work Saturday we headed to the barn and just as I tied Gem to the trailer to tack her up the resident farrier pulled in. He stashes his trailer at the barn because he lives 2 miles away, but apparently doesn't have a horse there. I'm not sure if he even does any horses on the property, but since he was there and we were there I figured I'd ask him what he charges and when he would be free.
$30 for a trim has pretty much been standard with everyone we have ever used, so when he said $30 I was game to give him a try. He was free then and there, so I picked out Gem's feet and called Dusty to have him come on over and hand me Wyatt so he could get Pete.
I am always very, very nervous when someone knew touches Gem's feet. I know her feet are not text book. Her heels are higher than they should be and she has steeper angles to her front hooves than is considered optimal. This is the reason she can't wear the hard shell boots (Renegades, Vipers, Easy Care) which are made for a horse with low heels and a different angle to the hoof wall. I've tried them. They don't fit. I have been told by other people at rides to "just take her heels down" which is a terrible idea. If I did that I would have a very lame horse. Instead I let her grow the hoof she needs and she responds by performing a brilliant barefoot 50 on some extremely rocky terrain.
I stood around and talked with the farrier for a while first to make sure we were on the same page. I told him she did a rocky, hilly 50 a month ago and was bare. He was surprised and impressed and then he took a look at her feet. He was doubly impressed. He completely agreed that she really didn't need anything done, but he rasped her a bit to get her bars down a smidge. He said that his wife had a horse once who never needed anything done, but she would get nervous so he would go out every 6 weeks and pretend to rasp and trim them to keep her happy. He recommended having her looked at maybe 2 times a year as long as everything stays the same and then to call if something changes. I was very happy with his approach.
Then Pete came over and he had some real work to do. Pete is bare as well more because he is pretty much retired now and has no need for shoes in the pasture. His feet have never been as hard as Gem's and need more work to keep up. Even when he was going on all the rides Gem was, he was never as comfortable on firm ground and would hug the shoulder while Gem plowed down the middle of the gravel roads. If he was being ridden more often, I would get Renegades or Vipers for him. He has the perfect foot shape for them.
Pete had a bit more done and had a big crack in his left front toe that came off leaving him a bit short there. Overall though, his feet are doing so much better now that he is out 24/7 and it is a lot drier down here. No more standing in mucky snow for 6 months followed by 2 months of mud as things thaw out for the year. It has done wonders for his usually crappy feet.
I would use Jack again in the future. He was good with the horses, understood my approach and was happy to provide what was needed.