top of page
  • Writer's pictureBlakeley Stables

October Blog: "No Hoof - No Horse"

“No hoof - No horse”. That is a very common expression that we hear quite often. It seems that the number one cause of concern when buying, training or breeding stems from the feet. In this blog, we will have an interview with our AAPF Certified Farrier and discuss with him some common foot concerns, some foot issues to look out for when buying a horse, and some fun hoof protection reviews.

Drum roll please as we introduce the one and only…. Barrak Blakeley, joining us today from Alaska, where he now lives and has recently specialized in shoeing moose!!! 😂 (just kidding)

Barrak, please tell us a bit about your shoeing and how you became a farrier:

I grew up around shoeing. My dad always shod our horses feet and I was always around, helping hold horses, handing him tools and helping out with the shoeing. When I was 14 I started apprenticing with a farrier in eastern Oregon. We would shoe for big ranches in eastern Oregon, even into Nevada and Northern California. I was an apprentice for about 3 years and in that time learned how to make a shoe stay on - since we didn’t want to have to drive 4 hours to replace a missing shoe.
When I was 17 I enrolled in farrier school - Pacific Coast Farrier School in California. There I became AAPF certified farrier and greatly expanded my horse shoeing education, knowledge of anatomy, how to work with corrective and therapeutic shoeing, as well as some more technic.
Over the years, I have shod horses in just about every discipline, including 2 Tevis winners. I work with vets in the Central Oregon area on therapeutic shoeing and barefoot trimming. I also specialize in composite and glue-on shoes.

It sounds like you know what you are doing when it comes to feet! So tell us Barrak, What are the 3 biggest hoof “problems” or concerns you see in performance horses and what you would recommend for how to address those issues?

That’s a tough one. Going into winter off of a busy ride season many horses, especially performance horses, are going to be starting to deal with softer feet. The soles won’t have the same toughness, the white line stretches, and you’ll even start developing thrush. A simple, surefire prevention method? Pick your horses feet out daily. (Revolutinary, I know.)
If you want to really want to improve the toughness of the bottom of your horses feet, I’ve found painting Turpentine, or Iodine onto the soles with a tooth brush can really help. Your farrier might not appreciate it on his next trim, as it makes our job a little tougher. 🙂
Unfortunately, something else I have noticed is almost a direct opposite of this, a result of over enthusiastic hoof-picking. When picking out the feet, be careful not to scratch at the whiteline
Another thing I’ve been seeing is an extra loading of the suspensory tendons, usually through poor trimming. Hanging a little extra of the horseshoe off the back of the foot can make a massive difference in relieving stress, as well as keeping the toes nicely pulled back. If you feel at risk of this, especially if he is moving a lot in sand, mention it to your farrier. I’m sure he or she will be happy to make some adjustments for the horses health.

Thanks for your insight! So what are some hoof issues that you would recommend avoiding when buying an endurance horse? What should you look for when examining your next potential mount - the good things to get excited about and the bad that is fixable, but not ideal?

I would be very leery of club feet. Anything that is just starting out and already needs corrective shoeing is a red flag. I love seeing a horse with a nice heel on them, hard feet that can go barefoot are refreshing to see. High-low is not ideal, but it can be manageable. I don't love recommending "turned in or turned out" feet for endurance, as that puts a lot of strain on the various joints.
Straight feet = straight legs!
I would avoid buying anything that resembles the below photo. Lol

Those are some great, helpful tips! (We will be sure to not listen to any of those the next time we buy a horse. :) ) So tell us, what are some of your favorite shoes? Favorites for everyday use? Favorite steel for horses that could use some extra support? Favorite composite?

Each horse is unique, and will require a unique fit and style. That being said, right now I am really enjoying using the Avanti Steel shoes for some special endurance horses who might be needing a little extra help keeping inflammation down. The way the shoe is designed allows the hoof the break over in the comfortable area for the pastern and fetlock joint. I’ve also been really happy with the Easycare Versas. They have great heal support, a nice breakover, they stay on, and they seem to last for quite a few miles without significant wear. They’re even easy enough to apply that with a little practice most horse owners could apply them themselves. (I promise I’m not sponsored by EasyCare.)

Sweet! Thanks for joining us today Barrak. Are there any other last words of advice you would like to include regarding feet, shoeing or surviving an Alaskan winter?

Trimming young horses in invaluable! Don’t underestimate the importance of trimming a baby!
Don't dismiss a good breakover, especially on an endurance horse!
Tip for surviving an Alaskan winter? Move to Florida!

There you have it! Where would we be without our farriers?! Let's give a huge shout out to all our farriers, and at your next farrier appointments, don’t forget to stand in their way, ask them a thousand questions about your horses feet and tell them they are the best 😂

Fun fact: This ride season we competed in 23 races, which results in 92 feet being shod just for those races.

On next months blog, we will be taking a look at those 23 races this season and doing a fun season recap.

Happy trails!


bottom of page