The Tale of a $500 Horse

When one loves horses and is pining for one, there should be a rule book that reads as follows:
1) No horse shopping alone, at night, online.

2) No horse shopping for randomly bred horses when you have no idea what you will use them for.

3) If you want to buy a horse "just because" you need to rethink it.

4) Saying "Why not?" should put an automatic freeze on your bank account.

And the list went on and on, but the picture I saw of this $500 mare really caught my eye and I couldn't let it go. She was overweight, her feet were big and ugly, she even came with all her tack (is this a bad sign?) and her name was "Bo" although "she doesn't know it".

Well, she's 6, so at least she's not old! They also said she was rideable and had been used by the Boy Scouts for their merit badges, so unless she killed a kid and they were offing her, she seemed pretty harmless.

They did say, if she leads on the trail, she can be balky and flat-out refuse to take another step. Sounds like fun!

Enter my new horse: Stella. I spent a few days with her, getting to know her personality. She's super sweet and built like a truck. Some of that is "more to love" pounds that will come off, but she's still going to be a tonka toy. For some reason, a clip from Seinfeld of Elaine meeting Uncle Leo's flame named "Stella" kept popping into my mind. It's her reenactment of Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire" albeit she's hopped up on painkillers and is pretty loopy fruits. Needless to say, it's passionate and yet hysterical and this mare struck me as a bit of the same.

Stella came with a cresty neck, spongy croup and a bit of jiggle everywhere. She had her "right shoes on" and both lefts were missing. Her fur had that dirty, dandruffy greasiness that never brushes clean, but stays white and waxy wherever you touch it. Her coat had that dry coarseness that left each follicle curling up at the ends like a well-worn paintbrush in the masterful hand of a 4 yr old. I would also add that her legs, all the way up to her chest and shoulder, were covered in bot eggs.

And check out a couple hoof shots:

Here is an AFTER of her fronts having been trimmed, but look at the hoof wall quality:

This brings up an interesting point for me: not only do her feet need good trimming and not only would I prefer her barefoot (and booted when needed) than shod, but she ALSO needs a good diet to get good hooves.

Her coat quality, skin quality and hoof quality were all lacking from the outside-in.

That she started furiously eating all the fallen leaves as soon as I put her in her pen implied to me, the casual observer, that she was used to foraging on random foliage, gorging like a goldfish and yet still constantly eating in hopes of finding enough nutrients. It's a bit like me eating more chicken nuggets to get vitamins.

She paused in eating crunchy yellow leaves just long enough to see me bringing real grass hay. She stopped mid-bite like a kid caught eating paste in preschool. "Oh." Then she dove into her hay instead.

While we did trim, I also got her wormed and we're starting a psyllium cleanse for the next 30 days, seeing as I think she's eaten anything and everything off the ground (she's from Utah) and might have enough sand in her to build three castles. I got a custom-blended hoof supplement made up at our local store (awesome group of people here in Durango!) and also picked up a bot knife.

I have told all my clients to "Kick Off Your Shoes for Winter", to allow time for the hoof to grow out the nail holes and get even a momentary break from being shod. I know I wanted to take her barefoot anyway, but we're going to track the "balkiness", hoof growth, hair condition, body weight and solar quality on this special 6 yr old through Winter and into Spring. I am hopeful of seeing quite the transformation with good diet, good exercise and good hoof care.

Here's our starting point:

Left Front

Right Front (it hadn't crossed my mind to get a shot before the actual shoe came off, oops!)

Left Hind (Holy Hannah! That's a heck of a hoof wall and a curly frog!)

Right Hind

Even with the heels and frog positioned the same in each comparative shot, and them being adjusted to comparable sizes, look at how much hoof wall came off. The poor gal had sheared the nails off of the right side of the shoe, allowing it to slip onto her sole and frog. The left side of the shoe started pulling the hoof wall away with it. After trimming just the flare, you can see how much dramatically smaller the hoof immediately became.

And these were starting point trims. We didn't want to hack it all off to a place that looked "pretty" to us, we wanted to get rid of the excess and give her a starting point of good solar and hoof wall connection. She won't be starting under workload right off the bat either. She's got about 100lbs to take off and she needs to get her feet a bit happier, so we'll start with flat work on our grassy pastures. I'll be trimming her every 2 weeks, with small adjustments. In a month, I will see if she's in a good place to size for Gloves so we can get out on the rocky trails.

She would be a good example of a horse that lives in abundantly-sized turn-out (40 acres) but the ground is soft and comfy. Our trails are the polar opposite: hard-packed fire roads with tiny to medium size random gravel. She thunders through the pasture, but crab walks up the driveway. This would be a perfect candidate for being booted as she will not build up a nice sole callous unless I interfere with the footing in her pasture and bring gravel in. Left to a comfy pasture, she will have feet that are happy in "grass and soft dirt". Nothing wrong with that, but I would be naive to think that just because she's "barefoot" she will build rock hard hooves. Her footing, for 23 hours of her day, will never stimulate the growth of a hoof that can handle the 1 hour of trails like we have.

She's pretty happy so far.

Hope you have fun following us on the journey of taking our $500 6yr old "Cinderella" from her humble beginnings to her Happily Ever After.


Holly Jonsson


Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

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