We often hear the No Hoof, No Horse mantra, and it can apply to so many different aspects of the horse’s hoof. I have been lucky enough to never have a horse with “really awful feet”. I’ve had some that needed to be shod, ripped out shoes, cracked toes or grew too fast/too slow. A lot of those problems could be remedied with a better diet or supplement like Hoof Secret and a little extra topical and environmental care.
One issue I had not dealt with extensively prior to my horse’s recovery, was a serious injury to the hoof itself. My Quarter Horse, Copper, always had good feet. He managed to make a handful of not great choices in his life that left him a little banged up, but otherwise, is a very healthy horse that maintains barefoot year round exceptionally well. When I moved him onto my property a few years ago, he was officially retired from being a little Sport Show Pony and now enjoys leisurely trail rides with twelve hour days in the field.
Discovering the Injury
When I went out to the barn one brisk September morning in 2019, I immediately knew something was wrong. First, his gate was open. And second, he was actually standing in his stall. He is notoriously impatient and would live outside 24/7 to gorge himself if allowed. Seeing him remain in his stall, quiet and head down, I was extremely worried. First glance over he seemed spotless…. And then I saw the hoof. He had a deep gash in his coronary band that looked like it fully separated the hoof from his leg.
A lot of cold hosing ensued, followed by vet and farrier calls. Initially, there was a lot of “well, we’ll see how this goes” and some tentative “he can recover, but he might have a weaker leg” which to me translated to – hope, but also the chance of never riding him again. While our days of showing were done, I had hoped we would have years of trail riding ahead of us.
I shelved my stress about his future to stay in there here and now. Following both vet and farrier advice, we simply had a long road ahead of us and it required patience, time and occasionally some extra help.
First Stage [ Rain Season ]
The first several months were the hardest, I had to keep his wound both clean and open to the air during the fall rain season. In Northeast Ohio, that rain turns the dry lots into mud. I was diligent in cleaning the wound every day using warm water and cotton pieces, I would wipe out the dirt and debris, pat dry, then spray with Alushield.
After the initial few days of heat in his leg, he never took a lame step, and he didn’t get an infection (thankfully). I kept his stall extra clean to give him the best environment for recovery (after a full day in a muddy pit followed by the cleaning routine above). This was the most touch and go time, with follow-up vet appointments and farrier care to make sure we caught any problems early.
Second Stage [ Spring ]
By the following Spring, I started noticing rapid growth, and that meant seeing just how deep his wound really went. It started peeling back in places to the point I used a stiff hoof brush to clean out the grass that got stuck in it every day.
I also bought Back on Track bell boots to assist with the blood flow and hoof growth. At that point, my farrier was surprised just how well the coronet band healed. She had prepared me for the possibility that there would be an indent in his coronet band, and that it could be very sensitive and weak. Despite this, he kept healing stronger each day – and I snuck in a few easy rides without issue!
Third Stage [ The Ugly Part ]
By far the most “gasp” worthy phase were the summer months. For a time, I wasn’t sure I would be able to ride him, but we plugged along anyway (with the approval of his equine professionals).
The hoof kept growing out, and with that, chips and chunks from the old wound were pealing away. I kept the hoof moisturized with Farrier’s Fix and kept thrush at bay with Koppertox. That combination along with his bell boots brought us to the final part of his healing journey.
Final Stage [ One Year Later ]
After a full year of meticulous care, treatments and regular trimmings – his old wound grew out and his new hoof growth was just as healthy as it had been prior.
I attribute a lot of his success to both the genetics of being a hardy breed as well as his diet. He has been fed Buckeye Gro N Win for years now, and he just glows. Without the proper nutrition, he wouldn’t have been able to grow out a new hoof. I fully expected a longer process with bigger bumps along the way. But his recovery is proof – sometimes you just have to give it time.
Copper continues to have solid, healthy hooves, nearing the two year anniversary of “the day he decided to give his mom a near-heart attack”. It wasn’t always easy, sometimes it was downright terrible. But by following the guidance of his care team, using supplies as need and giving him time to heal, he came back better than ever! If someone were to take a peak at him in the field right now, they would have no idea what hoof had the injury!
Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie