July 6, 2012


Connor hinds
“No foot, no horse,” as the saying goes.  One of my most vivid memories of having Castleberry’s Protégé (Shae) as my Training & Handling II horse in college was when his owner/the chair of the equine department, Dr. Marks, brought him out for a conformation analysis in a class that may or may not have been related to conformation.  A self-professed 'lameness nut', she’s obsessively studied everything to do with lameness, including foot and skeletal conformation, and it wasn’t uncommon for her to slam her binder shut and declare that we were leaving the classroom and going to the barn to “molest some horses” (aka, study their conformation/movement or perform lameness exams or something).  Equine college was awesome.

Much of what she said that day regarding Shae has been lost on me, though I can imagine she focused on his nice shoulder angle and well-tied in neck, his beautiful hindquarters and dinged him for his very slightly offset knees.  Not even her most treasured and wished-for pony escaped her critical eye, as she declared “barn blindness” to be a terrible disease, and said you should always be aware of your horse’s conformational and behavioral faults because none of them are perfect.  The one area in which she praised him without end, though, was his feet.
Connor R hind, three days post-trim.  My one defined white sock...
Connor L fore

“Would you LOOK at those feet?  I’ve seen textbook drawings of hooves that didn’t look as good as those feet!  Nice and concave, hard, fores are round, hinds are slightly pointed, nice looking heels.  That’s how you know Lisa bred him, she puts feet like that on all of her Cobs.  More people should breed for feet like this.”  A teaching moment for sure, since some of these girls might breed future generations of sport horses.
And it was true, when I met Lisa and her ponies for the first time, I noticed that all of their feet looked the same, and like nothing I’d ever seen on the Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds I’d grown up with.  Big feet, strong feet, perfect feet.  “Good gravel-crunches, right there!” was another Dr. Marks-ism regarding Cob feet.

Connor inherited these good Cob feet.  I intend on keeping him barefoot indefinitely, and I think my farrier is breathing a sigh of relief as I say that, Jen says he swears Connor’s feet are going to break his tools one day every time he trims him.  Visitors regularly exclaim that his feet are bigger than many of the full-sized horses’ feet.
Connor L hind
That doesn’t mean he’s invincible to lameness, or that his feet never chip and crack – they do, especially in this drought when he’s stomping at flies on ground that hasn’t seen a proper rain in nearly two months.  But his feet, good bone and good conformation give him the best chance to stay sound as the things I ask him to do get more physically demanding. 


  1. I love Cob feet!!! I did have to get used to the different shape though.

  2. Envious of those great barefoot feet...and think of all the money you save!