Gambi's Story, Part 2
By Cindy Kunkel

One of several abscesses that Gambi experienced throughout the healing process. An abscess is Nature's way of efficiently clearing out dead tissue.

1/1/00 Although Gambi made considerable progress over the last three months, we knew his rehabilitation was long term, probably two years or more. Many of Dr. Strasser's founder cases were sound in a few months, but Gambi's severe contraction, rotation, and dropped sole extended his rehabilitation. Gambi's positive attitude and healthy appetite showed he was in for the long haul. He was comfortable and responding to the trims and therapy. We were dedicated to work with him and make his recovery a success. We learned as we went and the photos within are of our progress, and not necessarily correct trimming. But we were going in the right direction and less-than-perfect was still enough.

Fine tuning the trim
As of 1/1/00, Gambi was aggressively walking a mile a day on macadam, in addition to his pasture movement. On 1/4, Sabine Kells, a hoof care specialist, stated in her consultation that we were doing a good job trimming Gambi. We could now fine-tune our trim by being more observant of the following points. 1. Gambi's sole horn was still too thick, as seen by the cracks in the sole. 2. The bars and heels were still too long. 3. The heels needed to be balanced and leveled. 4. The hairline was to be a 30-degree angle. 5. The opening cuts were to be more of a step than a V. 6. The tip of the frog was to be ¼ to ½ inch below the level of the hoof wall for the rears, slightly less for the fronts. 7. The sole was to be concaved more. 8. The juncture of the sole horn and the frog was to be cleaned out better. 9. The co-ordinates were to be checked from the front to level the hoof. On 1/6, farrier #3 could not believe our horse's improvement. Gambi had more fluid movement and his whole appearance was improved. The farrier had never seen a horse heal this quickly from such bad rotation and contraction. He finally found the white line and backed the toe vertically ¾ inch. The sole took on a new look as the necrotic horn sloughed off. Farrier #3 trimmed as instructed and noted the trim was different from what he had been taught. Dr. Strasser's method made sense and Gambi's progress was undeniable.

Something taped to the bottom of the hoof was necessary for walking
On 1/7, Gambi's new sole was migrating forward, but had not yet reached the toe. This process could take a year. I was concerned about the frozen ground wearing away the thin, tattered, necrotic tissue of the sole near the toe. How could I prevent the old tissue from deteriorating and falling off before the new tissue had a chance to grow? Also, how could I prevent dirt or fine stones from entering the necrotic sole and graveling or abscessing out the coronet band? Sabine had recommended walks 2-3 times a day for twenty minutes with something taped to the bottom of the hoof if necessary. I placed a gauze pad against the sole and held it in place with a thin layer of duct tape. This duct tape boot protected the tattered sole area of Gambi's hoof. On 1/10, Gambi walked better with the extra protection.

Physical therapy progressed slowly during the winter
On 1/20, there was a major snowstorm. The snow was so deep that it made walking difficult. On 1/23, we walked out our plowed lane and back for physical therapy. The road in front of our home was snow and ice covered, while the berms were piled high with snow, making walks impossible. On 1/26, there was more snow. The horses did not go far from the barn. The snow was over their knees and they struggled to walk when they explored their paddock and field. I was glad we had rubber mats in the stalls so the hooves could have relief from the deep snow and icy terrain. It was hard to tell if there was progress in Gambi's movement. Either the snow was too deep or the plowed areas were too rough.

The heels needed to be kept short, so I learned to trim
On 2/3, farrier #3 commented that he had little to trim. I had watched my husband shoe horses for years and was familiar with hoof structure. After observing previous trims and studying the photo consultations, I used my husband's tools and started rasping the heels as they grew out. The farrier saw improvement in the sole area. He said it was firmer and the ragged edges had grown out closer to the toe. He thought the white line was narrower. I led Gambi after the trim, but the terrain still made it hard to tell how Gambi was walking.

Too much moisture?
Between 2/27 and 3/4, the snow was melting and the roads were usable again. We took one-mile walks every other day. The duct tape boots helped to prevent small road cinders from getting into the white line. We carefully checked each hoof after every walk to prevent graveling. A new question arose when the melting snow seemed to wet the coronary band too much and it softened and exfoliated. Sabine assured me that this was not harmful. A closer inspection of Gambi's hoof wall revealed the hoof horn was smooth, hard, and healthy.

A moon sickle is needed to move on rough terrain and longer distances
On 3/6, Gambi's moon sickle was finally thick and strong enough to allow him to walk on most terrain. The moon sickle is the crescent moon shape at the toe end of the sole. This area was permitted to grow flush with the hoof wall. This thicker sole at the tip of the coffin bone enabled a barefoot horse to walk soundly on rough terrain. Gambi was improving, but still had a problem with driveway stones. When we came across these one-inch stones, we carefully crossed them to acclimate his hooves to such terrain. On 3/7, Gambi and his stable mate walked 4 miles, in addition to their pasture movement. Gambi was comfortable enough to rest a rear leg as he sunned himself in the field.

Taking Gambi's mind off his troubles
On 3/9, Gambi was really excited. The neighbor's steers came through the fence and into Gambi's field. These steers tended to excite Gambi when they ran around their field, but now six were in with him. He pranced around snorting with his tail up. He was not satisfied until the owner and myself had chased the steers back to their home. As I moved Gambi from one pasture to another, a neighbor rode by on his horse. Gambi, still excited about the steers, pranced out the driveway. The rider was amazed. He had seen Gambi lame several months earlier and now Gambi was moving soundly. I walked Gambi beside the other horse for a distance and then returned him to the pasture. He kicked up his heels and ran across the field before settling down to eat.

Do not trim the sole in front of the frog! A common mistake
On 3/13, farrier #3 was still amazed at Gambi's progress at six and a half months. Gambi's new growth measured 1½ inches. Gambi was walking normally with strong forward motion. The back hooves looked normal. The front hooves looked normal to where the slipper had grown out.

The front hooves began to look rather normal above the slipper toe. Note markings from consultation showing angle of new growth. -March 13

New uncontracted growth caused the hooves to have normal temperature. On 3/14, Gambi was sensitive in the front hooves from the trim. On 3/15, we walked the horses two miles to stimulate circulation. I lifted Gambi's left front hoof and saw two small cracks in the sole at the toe.

"Don't touch the moonsickle!" - A minor setback - sole cracks from trimming moonsickle. -March 15

There was a small amount of moisture coming out of the cracks. His sole was trimmed too far in front of the tip of the frog, in the moon sickle area. Sabine distinctly instructed to trim only about ½ inch in front of the frog. I was disappointed. It took so long to grow the hoof and the sole took three times longer. It would grow back, but this was our first setback due to trimming. On 3/16, I protected the weak spot with duct tape.

Therapy Slippers
The duct tape boots were wearing through now that we were walking greater distances. Gambi's hooves were still an odd shape and I could not buy over-the-counter horse boots that fit. Custom made boots were not practical as his hooves were changing shape too rapidly. On 3/17, I bought men's rubber boots and modified them to make slipper-like boots to protect Gambi's sole. I used duct tape to fasten rubber tabs around the bulbs. They worked great. They enabled us to walk on the firmness of macadam without concussion. We walked four miles with no problems. The slippers stayed on. They did not rotate or rub on the coronet band or hoof wall. The slippers were light, soft, and form-fitting. On 3/20, Gambi's sole was no longer as soft, but I continued to protect the area. Between 3/21 and 3/23, we had record amounts of rain. The stalls and fields were wet. The creek was overflowing. The hooves were wet. On 3/24, Gambi came cantering in with his stablemate. I checked his hoof and saw no oozing.

A hoof knife versus a small file
On 3/25, Gambi showed more improvement. I bought a small file that had four different surfaces. This file was one inch wide and six inches long. One surface was fine toothed and flat, another was fine toothed and rounded, still another was rough toothed and flat, and the last rough toothed and curved. I used this tool to make the square shaped opening cuts, flatten the bars, and dish the sole. Gambi's hooves had grown quite hard and I had trouble trimming with the knife. I was afraid of slipping and cutting him or me. I used the regular hoof rasp to lower the wall, arch the quarters between the moon sickle and buttresses, and to back the toe. On 3/28, Carly and I took the horses on a four-mile walk. On 3/29, Gambi was walking aggressively in his slippers. The new file allowed me to keep ahead of the new growth. It wore away excess growth more naturally than the knife. I felt confident using it at this stage of my trimming experience. As I gained experience, I eventually used the knife confidently. On 4/5, Carly and I could only walk about four miles in the daylight hours after school. On 4/17, as I backed Gambi's distorted toes, his hooves became smaller and I had to buy smaller rubber boots. These boots were great. They were cheap, long lasting, easy to put on, and flexible allowing for hoof expansion while causing no harm to the hoof. [See Therapeutic Hoof Slippers in Do It Yourself! in this issue.]

A check-up
On 4/20, farrier #3 came. He was amazed at the healing. He had never seen a horse survive with Gambi's problems let alone improve with such steady progress. We studied the photo consultation. After reading that the toe angle sucks in closer to the coffin bone if the heel is down and the hairline is at a proper angle, we took almost ½ inch off the front heels. These hooves had the most rotation and we never quite lowered the heels enough. Gambi's hooves were very hard even though I had just soaked them.

Neighbors watch Gambi's progress
On 4/25, Carly and I walked the horses about a mile and a half and were greeted by a girl on a white horse. She invited us to come on her property for the remainder of our walk. Her mother, a knowledgeable horse person, had examined Gambi's hooves during one of our earlier walks. She was impressed with Gambi's improvement. It was a delightful walk around the farm. Gambi's stride was aggressive and his ears were alert. We walked over four miles. On 4/26, Carly and I walked to another neighbor's house. Everyone in a two-mile radius knew Gambi's story and was anxious to see his progress.

Driving Gambi
On 4/27, I broke my toe. It was a good thing Gambi was better and Sabine said he could pull his cart. Our walks were going to change. I would only use the cart on our property or on the half-mile road near our house. I would not take Gambi's cart on the other roads because it was too dangerous.

Hormones affected by increased circulation of deshoeing and proper trimming

Gambi's winter coat had numerous curly areas - from lying down and/or thyroid imbalance. Gambi had been on thyroid medicine for numerous signs of thyroid imbalance, but all signs of thyroid problems had since disappeared (and did not reappear the following winter). -Jan

On 5/9, Carly and I exercised the horses cautiously in the record heat. It was over 90 degrees for the fifth day in a row. The horses still had winter coats around their bellies and because of their age, we did not want them stressed. On 5/13, severe storms finally dropped the temperature to a seasonable 70 degrees. The horses had shed most of their winter coats during the week of hot weather. Since August, Gambi had curly hair on his flank, thigh, and gaskin. I hoped that the hair was curled from lying down and not a Thyroid problem. Gambi was put on thyroid medicine last year when he exhibited numerous signs of thyroid imbalance. All signs of thyroid problems had since disappeared, despite being off the medicine. Now, Gambi's coat was very sleek and shiny.
Shortly after Gambi foundered, I noticed that his sheath was coated with a moist, medium gray colored clay like substance. This substance was present for several months. In March, I noticed a normal sheath coating. I do not know when the change took place. I believe there was a hormonal imbalance after foundering either due to the founder or the medications that had since been corrected. During the spring, Gambi had enthusiastically devoured dandelions, which are known for cleansing the liver.

Vet watching progress
On 5/17, the vet came to see Gambi. Gambi walked and slowly trotted at my side as I led him. The vet examined his legs and hooves. He could find no problems and said the progress was very good.

Riding again
On 5/18, Carly rode Gambi's stable mate and I led Gambi about one and a half mile from home. Gambi was doing so well that I decided to ride him bareback and use his halter as a bridle. I rode him around a neighbor's field. Gambi really liked this. He was listening very well. An experienced horsewoman observed Gambi and said his stride looked quite normal while ridden. Wow, my first ride on Gambi since he foundered and it felt good!

Wet hooves are easier to trim
On 5/20, it had rained for several days. The hooves were very wet making the soles easier to dish and the bars easier to trim down. Hooray! I could even use the hoof knife successfully.

A "toe callous"?
On 5/28, Gambi had a strange lump of hard hoof horn located at the white line of the toe. I wondered if it could be a toe callous. It was 1 3/4 inch across, 3/4 inch in depth, and 3/4 inch thick. A week had passed since I checked his hooves and now I noticed this growth. I checked last month's photos and could not find any sign of this growth on them. When I held a straight edge across his hoof, I could see that Gambi walked on his heel buttresses and this "toe callous". I made a note to ask Sabine about this.

More riding
On 5/30, Carly rode the stable mate and I led Gambi about one and three quarter miles. Gambi was walking very well. I decided to ride him bare back with his halter again. We rode another quarter mile to the home of neighbors. They were amazed that Gambi was being ridden. He even pawed when he became bored and wanted to go. I rode Gambi about a quarter mile toward home then dismounted and led him the last one and three fourths mile.

Soaks in the creek

Gambi enjoyed the hoof soaks in the creek throughout June.

On 5/31, we soaked the horses' hooves in the creek. During the warmer months, we would use the creek for soaks except when heavy rain caused flooding. On 6/6, Carly and I walked the horses four miles. The temperature was warm. On 6/7, we walked the horses three miles. On 6/8, we had trouble with our soaks and walks due to the ninety-degree temperature and the insects that go with it. On 6/9, we exercised the horses in the cool of the morning. Finally on 6/12, a front brought rain and cooler weather. We could comfortably soak the horses' hooves in the creek.

Not a "toe callous"
By 6/13, it had been raining for a week. Gambi's "toe callous" on his left front hoof became loose. As I examined it, the callous fell off in my hand. Sabine's consultation informed us that what we had thought was a "toe callous" was not. This growth was located in the white line, not in the moon sickle. Thankfully, the growth on the right hoof also fell off.

Baggy Soaks for Abscesses
On 6/15, it was still raining. Gambi's front left leg was slightly swollen. The swelling was not bad, but persistent. He favored the hoof slightly. The following day, Gambi was no better. I called Sabine and she related that hoof abscesses followed severe founder. I was to soak the hooves over the coronet band in apple cider vinegar water. Gambi hated buckets, so I came up with a new technique. I double bagged gallon freezer bags, set Gambi's hooves in the bags, loosely duct taped the tops, and poured apple cider vinegar water into the bags. [See Do It Yourself!, NHM Volume 2, Issue 8, Plastic Bag Soaks for Healthy Hooves] This baggy soak was acceptable to him and a good compromise. The bags took little apple cider vinegar water and Gambi could even move around a little. I soaked him for an hour. Gambi's movement helped reduce the swelling. If this was an abscess, it could take a week to ten days to open. On 6/18, Gambi was still slightly lame. At times he was worse, then at other times he was better. On 6/21, I saw a small line of liquid running down Gambi's hoof wall. There was a small pink spot about ¾ inch above the hairline just above the lateral cartilage. It was about ¼ inch in diameter. There was a small lighter-colored center and hole. I continued to soak the hoof in apple cider vinegar water. We walked a mile with an extended stride. I worked at the heels and opening cuts of the front hooves.

Frog layer came off
On 6/22, a layer of frog lifted off a rear hoof. It was quite amazing. The growth underneath was new and normal. Gretchen Fathauer's information showed this happening and stated it was no cause for alarm. It was a sign of healing. On 6/24, I continued to soak the abscessed hoof two or three times a day. I also trimmed the heel of this hoof, as it seemed to grow too fast. On 6/30, I trimmed both horses. The heels were slightly long, but the toes were well backed up. The sole was dished next to the frog and the tip of the frog was trimmed flush with the sole.

Hay fed in the summer
On 7/3, we kept the meadow mowed this summer so the horses would not over eat grass. As advised by Sabine, we left nice grass hay in the pasture so they could eat either as they chose.

Trimming the hoof slipper

Gambi, sleek and shiny. Note the slipper toes growing out- hooves about halfway there. -July

On 7/6, Carly and I walked the horses three miles. This was the best the horses had walked. Gambi's coat was magnificent and his deteriorated muscles had long disappeared.He looked very good. We trimmed the hooves. Gambi's new growth was almost two inches and we could rasp the slipper off without fear of drying out the laminae. We backed the toe vertically until a line drawn from the coronet to the new break over gave the proper angle (45 front, 55 hinds). On 7/7, Carly and I rode for a mile. Gambi was finally walking well after the abscess. Progress is slow, but steady. I had been trimming the horses for about three months and Gambi continued to show more normal growth and improved movement. I felt I could handle the job of trimming fairly well if I did not let the growth get ahead of me. I was thankful for the healing that had taken place.

Another abscess
On 7/8, I picked up a rear hoof and got blood between my fingers. A closer look at Gambi's leg revealed a small hole above the lateral cartilage very much like the abscess that had opened on the front hoof. At first, I did not recognize this as an abscess because Gambi had not favored this leg and there was no swelling. I soaked that hoof with apple cider vinegar water. On 7/10, we drove Gambi for 20 minutes. On 7/11, I trimmed Gambi's heels. On 7/12, Carly and I went for a three-mile walk. Gambi walked well on macadam with his boots on. For the last two or three weeks, the abscessing had caused him to want to walk on the grassy shoulder of the road. On 7/13, Carly and I walked the horses three miles again. On 7/14, Carly and I walked the horses two miles. The hooves were soaked and the horses were turned out.

Another common problem, heels too long
On 7/17, farrier #3 was amazed when I rode Gambi around the field next to the stable. Gambi was walking out comfortably in his slippers. The farrier commented, "And this was the horse that nobody thought would live." I took the slippers off and hand-walked him for the farrier. He observed a slight shortening and slowing of stride. A comparison between the April photos taken of the farrier's last trim and the July photos taken when I trimmed showed progress in the hoof shape, especially in the front hooves. The hooves were rounder in shape, had thicker soles, and a better profile. Despite these good points, the farrier thought the heels should be shortened. Gambi was walking better so I decided to wait for Sabine's consultation before trimming.

Wet hooves photograph well
On 7/18, Carly and I walked the horses three miles. I reevaluated the hooves. Now the heels looked long. Gambi was walking very well and I enjoyed exercising him when his stride was so strong. The cooler weather resembled that of spring, not July. It made our long walks quite enjoyable. I looked at past photos and decided to trim about ¼ inch of heel. It started to rain so we finished trimming, took photos, and quit. On 7/19, Carly and I walked the horses three miles. We were still maintaining routine care, twenty minute soaks, a handful of oats in the morning and in the evening, grass hay anytime, freedom in a mowed acre with his stable mate, and daily trims. On 7/20, the photos of the wet hooves showed good detail.

Bruising is old
Between 7/24-27, it rained and the forecast called for rain the rest of the week. Gambi seemed to be walking better on the left front hoof. There was a disturbing pink spot about an inch in diameter beside the frog. It was on the sole near the outside wall. Sabine stated that the pink spot was bruising which occurred while the horn was being produced by the corium. It was probably several weeks or even months old. The bruising was most likely caused by pressure from the horn being left too long at this spot.

A tighter hoof wall
I saw another step in the hoof walls about ¾ inch down from the hairline.

'Steps' in the hoof wall indicate that the wall is remodeling itself tighter to the coffin bone. Heels are still too long. The toe is still too long, and needs to backed up vertically until a line drawn from coronet to the new breakover gives the proper 45 degree angle for a front hoof. -July

The front of the hoof was remodeling itself tighter to the coffin bone again. One line of growth would develop then a new stepped-back line of growth would appear. The last two steps were minor, about 1/16 of an inch each. The sole at the toe was thicker and stronger.

The sole at the toe had become thicker and stronger; hoof is a more normal, round shape. -July


New achievements- living conditions that include different types of terrain
On the morning of 8/7, I went to feed the horses and Gambi greeted me in the yard. After examining his field, I discovered that Gambi escaped during the night by way of a steep shale bank. Twice on 8/8, Gambi took his stablemate with him as he challenged the shale bank and circled the property to eat in the yard. I did not mind them circling the property because it was great exercise. On 8/10, Carly and I walked the horses three miles and then soaked in the creek. On 8/12, Gambi and stablemate continued to climb the shale bank and circle the property several times a day. The horses really enjoyed escaping their old territory and foraging in a new place. I contacted Sabine to ask if this activity could be harmful to Gambi. She said that if he was up for it, let him.

Gloves for trimming
Sabine's consultation arrived and she recommended leather gloves to prevent cutting myself with the hoof knife. None of my farriers used gloves and I never even thought to use them. I tried them and they worked. As far as trimming, I had been going in the right direction, but had a ways to go. Sabine wanted 3.5 cm from the top of the lateral cartilage vertically to the ground. Sabine's letter mentioned having the bars lowered, but blending into the frog about one half way back. I was glad for the positive comment at the end of her letter noting that Gambi was coming along beautifully. She listed several good points and told me not to worry about details, but keep after the heels.

Equipment needs renewed or sharpened

From 8/17 to 8/24, Carly and I walked the horses two to three and half miles a day. Our walks were longer than the twenty minutes suggested on the check sheet. On 8/26, farrier #3 and I reviewed the latest consultation and then looked at Gambi. The farrier noted that I was trimming correctly. The heels were down, the cracked sole was gone, and the toes were backed up. The hoof was very healthy looking with strong, new growth. The angles of the hoof were better. He questioned me about using water and no hoof dressings on the hooves. He helped with the opening cuts. This was my weakest point. After I commented on how hard it was to rasp, he checked my rasp. I had been using it for a year. He recommended a new one. He only used a file for two or three days then got a new one. I examined my hoof knife and decided to replace it too.

Noticeable trim progress
On 8/27, I wondered how Gambi would be the day after the wider opening cuts. He was walking well. I was very thankful to farrier #3. Gambi was actually walking better after this trim. In the beginning, Gambi took a week to adjust to the trim, not long ago I noticed little difference after the trim, and this time I saw normal pasture movement without slippers. This was another good sign. I watched him for several days and saw him walking with a more extended stride in pasture with nothing encouraging or forcing him to move aggressively.

Adjusting to rougher terrain
On 8/31, we walked the horses two miles and soaked hooves in the creek. We wetted cloths with cool water and wiped the horses down. They enjoyed the relief from the heat. On 9/2, Gambi walked quickly over the gravel driveway to get to the barn. Before this, he had walked up and down the grassy edge, hesitated then slowly crossed the gravel. With time, his soles toughened. The new hoof growth was fairly even near the coronet band; previously he had excess heel growth. The heels were finally trimmed properly. The toe was not as slow growing now. On 9/4, I trimmed both horses. The horses cantered and bucked their way up the shale hill. It was so hot and humid that I found it hard to believe they felt like going so fast. On 9/12, Carly and I walked the horses three miles. I harnessed Gambi and line-drove him to a church near our home. There were a number of hard hills to go up and down but we had no problems.

Twelve point trim
On 9/24, I studied twelve-point trim information from the Internet and Kells' last photo consultation. I trimmed Gambi's hooves. On 9/29, my husband helped me make proper opening cuts. The next day, the horses were walking all over our five and a half acres.

The hoof specialist trim and the results

Hoof specialist trimmed the exposed toe laminae back to the white line. -Oct

On 10/11, I trimmed Gambi's rear hooves but not the front. I wanted Martha Olivo, a visiting hoof specialist, to critique my trim and do a fresh trim. Martha said Gambi's rear hooves were good, then, trimmed the fronts. She sliced off a portion of the frog at the heel, dished out the sole, and filed the heel of the hoof wall. I knew that if I could get the heels down more, tighter toe growth would follow. She trimmed the exposed toe laminae back to the white line. I was afraid the short toe would be tender when climbing the shale bank. However, this would help the hoof wall to grow in tighter now that the lever action was off the toe area. She explained that the coffin bone re-suspended when the hairline went to 30 degrees. I showed her how Gambi walked in his home-made hoof slippers. Martha said Gambi was ahead of the game in healing.
After the specialist left, I purchased a left-handed hoof knife to aid with making opening cuts, a Dremel and attachments to dish Gambi's sole which had become quite hard, and a mineral block to be used in conjunction with his salt block that would allow Gambi to choose the amount of mineral intake he required for optimum health. I designed my own hoof gauge similar to the one Martha used, complete with all the angles and measurements specified in Dr. Strasser's book. Gambi was tender after the trim, but was walking better within days. On 10/18, we went for our first long walk since Martha trimmed Gambi. Two miles of extended stride were walked. Gambi looked good.

Comparing the expenses of Dr. Strasser's method to those of conventional therapy, I found Dr Strasser's method cheaper and less traumatic. Although consultations by hoof care specialists were comparable in cost to vet bills, the Strasser method used inexpensive water soaks, less bedding, and minimal hoof trimming tools or hoof trimmer/ farrier services; apple cider vinegar diluted with water, gallon freezer bags, slippers, foam rubber, and duct tape were used as needed. These items were inexpensive with the exception of the farrier tools. (I would recommend buying tools in the medium to upper price range; cheap tools did not do the job and only led to frustration.) I would recommend investing in an initial x-ray to establish the problem and severity. The conventional method used 'bute' and some medications to increase circulation, special shoeing, and extra bedding which were costly, did not work, and created other problems. As Gambi's condition deteriorated, the care and cost of a horse hospital was considered. The Strasser method allowed Gambi to be observed and treated at home where he progressed without the high cost and trauma of strange surroundings.

One year later, cantering on his own
It had been a little over a year since we started the Strasser method. Gambi's hooves were still not perfect, but were greatly improved. He looked like a different horse from the year before. By 10/20, Gambi was cantering and kicking up his heels in the front meadow on a regular basis. On 11/21, I decided to move Gambi and his stable mate to the hill for a different taste in plants and firmer ground. They circled the back of the property quickly and ran into the yard. They decided to race and buck around in the yard instead of grazing. My husband was upset about the skid marks they put in the yard, but as he grumbled, I smiled to myself. Gambi was going to make it. I returned them to the front meadow. Gambi crossed the creek, raced up a hill, and kicked up his heels. He pranced around in an Arabian style, before finally settling down to eat.

Author's note

The End (of story!) -Nov

I highly recommend the Strasser method for any horse. Gambi's progress was so good that we removed his stable mate's shoes and he has grown much healthier hooves, too. The hooves are not chipping or wearing down too rapidly despite rough terrain and regular use riding and driving. I see no need for shoes with the Strasser trim. I would, however, recommend a person study this method thoroughly and understand it before attempting it.

Gambi's recovery would not have been possible without my husband Ronald's previous hoof-trimming experience and constructive criticism of my trimming attempts, and our children's (Gretchen, Rebecca, and Christopher) computer research (finding the Strasser method on Gretchen Fathauer's website) and diligence with all of Gambi's documentation.


For more information:

The books A Lifetime of Soundness and Shoeing: A Necessary Evil? By Dr. Hiltrud Strasser are available through The Horse's Hoof,,, and Star Ridge Publishing, 870-743-4603,
Gretchen Fathauer's website is

Dr. Vet. Med. Hiltrud Strasser operates The Institute for Hoof Health and ESHOP (European School for Hoof Orthopedics) in Tuebingen, Germany, a center for study and learning in which the hoofcare specialists in Europe obtain their schooling. In this first holistic hoof clinic, equine patients from around Europe are routinely healed and restored to a fully active life after being given up as hopeless and incurable by conventional veterinary medicine. Dr. Strasser has authored several textbooks on lameness and healing, reference books on natural boarding for horses, and many articles for both horse and veterinary journals. Only two books have been translated into English.

Sabine Kells, translator of Dr. Strasser's books, is currently the only Strasser Certified Hoof Care Specialist in North America. She is based in British Columbia, Canada and is available for consultation at PO Box 44, Qualicum Beach, BC, V9K 1S7, Canada.