Joseph and Laura Vita
$25 Trims 
$50 Teeth Float
$65 Fronts  $110 All Four
$15 Farm Call Applies 

"a horseman's horseman"
You can contact them at or (864)553-4165   also visit 
VitaHorse Hoof Dental Care Tips
Technical Questions

Founder i.e. Laminitis. What is it? Founder is a problem in the hoof. When blood circulation is basically messed up, and the hoof bone (called the coffin bone) starts to separate from the hoof wall. Thus the coffin bone rotates and basically sinks closer and closer to the sole of the hoof (this is the part at the pencil in above picture, notice the unfoundered bone location of hoof on left). The first start of founder may be noticed immediately with signs like: loss of appetite, listlessness, high temperature, profuse sweating, colic, and a warm hoof. Founder eventually and rather quickly will cause severe pain in the hoof and causes symptoms like: not wanting to walk, rocking back on the heels, putting the front feet far out in front of himself, and lots of laying down. Call your vet immediately, he or she will help make them as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately there is nothing that really can be done to stop it other than remove what started the disease so as to keep it from continuing, or starting up again. The degree of the pain goes by the degree of the disease. If we can explain it like this: the letters of the alphabet are like letters of Founder. Farther thru the alphabet the disease gets worse. Thus your farrier may have to trim/shoe the horse differently depending on the level of founder. The foot will not go back up the alphabet. The key to this disease is PREVENTION. What causes the disease: large grass pastures that a horses free feeds on all the time, new spring grasses over fed, large amounts of grain (this will vary on size of horses), abnormal concussion (horse traveling on hard surfaces without proper shoeing), overwork for level of horses' condition, drinking cold water when they are too hot from work, high fever for extended periods, and toxic drugs. Ponies and Minis need almost NO grass, they founder so easily. There is lots of shoeing that can be done so work with your farrier and vet closely to achieve the best outcome with your horse.                               

Notice the bottom of hoof on left has a longer toe with more distance between sole of foot and hoof wall due to Founder separation, compared to the smooth even healthy hoof on right.

Is your horse going off and on lame? How about the lameness daily changing locations? Can't figure out what it is? Try Lyme Disease. I know it is not normal to have a horse with lyme disease down here, but it still happens. Lyme is transmitted through tick bites. Now not the big dog ticks we find regularly. I have been told the lyme ticks you wouldn't really be able to see do to their size. They are technically called a deer tick. The disease is transmitted by the deer tick to horses or people.Symptoms include fever, undefined shifting lameness, poor performance, temperament changes, laminitis, eye swelling, and neurological complications. Treatment is an assortment of antibiotics. You may have heard the term Doxycycline or Tetracycline for treatment. We have seen both work well. Not all tests are accurate, if your results come back negative, and the above symptoms still stump ya, your vet will probably say lets treat it for lyme anyway. The meds won't hurt the horse if he doesn't have it. There is not much for prevention. Clients of ours have not found any blessing in the drops, etc, for horses. But if you have let me know. Check for ticks all over but especially at base of neck, mane, and rectal area. I just thought I would put this out there for an added extra piece of info in-case anyone was stumped with a horse lameness, maybe this is it.
Abscesses. Has your horse come up lame for apparently no reason and with in the week or two has a hole or sideways crack appeared in the outer hoof wall? Then upon the hole showing up his lameness subsided? That was an abscess. An abscess is really just dirt or junk that has worked its way up in the hoof either by conditions like weak/soft soles or a puncture wound. The dirt causes infection that builds pressure until it flows to find the path of least resistance to get out. This could be out the hoof wall or your farrier may find it as he cleans up the sole on their next trim. Your vet will recommend things like an updated tetanus shot and possible antibiotics. If the abscess has not drained out then soaking the hoof in Epsom salts to promote soft hoof and drainage may be needed(if you can't get your horse to stand in a bucket for 20 minutes but he will trail ride into a creek, do that). Once the crack appears, then pouring in a cleaning agent/germicide (peroxide or iodine) will be necessary to clean it out. Your farrier can cut away the sole or wall to locate the abscess or to help drainage, but remember less is best. The less hoof cut away the faster healing time because their is more hoof structure/support. If it is bad enough, your vet/farrier may recommend a shoe put on. The shoe may need a bar for extra support, or a removable pad for protection and treatment. Here is a different tip: if you wait too long on trims and the toe angle is all off, in order for your farrier to come and get things right again, you may find a lame horse the next day. I am not saying the farrier should cut a lot away and make his sole sore. I am saying due to the extreme angle change from not getting the hooves done inside of 4 months, the tendons along the back of the leg are all out of wack. So when your farrier comes, he may take just the right amount of hoof off, but your horse may still be sore for a bit due to tendon angle change. Please try to get your horses done as frequently as you can. Vets recommend 2 months. We see 3 months without too much trouble. By 4 months we are seeing bad leg angles. We have put our prices down so you can save money and get your horses done more frequently
 What should my horse's hooves look like when the Farrier is finished? This is a little hard to answer due to the fact that it depends on how the hooves looked before he/she got there and how long it had been since he/she was there last. The longer the length between trims, the less effective your farrier can be in achieving a nice job. Having said that, I will give a rough description of a regular trim on a horse done every 3 mths & shoeing done every 2 mths. When you bring your horse out, we watch him move towards us(i.e breakover & landing of hoof), as long as it looks normal we go to work. If not, we will ask you to walk or trot him some more for us. This is done to be able obtain as straight a stride after trimming that the horses' conformation will allow. There are angles the farrier is supposed to follow in your hoof, Fronts are 45-50 degrees& hinds are 50-55 degrees. Unless you have a tool for it, who can tell? You can, look at your horse from the side. There should be a straight line from the front of pastern (last part of the leg before hoof) down thru front of hoof to ground. This rule generally works for all horses & will let you know if he will be comfortable standing/walking. Some lamenesses give cause for angle adjustments. The frog(triangular part of hoof on underside) should be slightly trimmed, & areas of thrush infection cleaned so as to allow access for you to medicate. The sole should be trimmed evenly so as to allow the farrier a good look for any signs of trouble (abcess , white line trouble, punctures). If you pick up the hoof, there should be a table top straight line across the heel &from heel to toe. As far as shoes, the old saying the shoe should fit the hoof not the hoof to the shoe.Rare is the occasion the hoof should be heavily shaved off, looking bullnosed down to the shoe(we have a great picture in the photo section of a nice shoeing job Joseph did, good nails and shoe fit). Again remember this is a normal hoof and good traveling horse. Nails should be cut off, leaving a small over hang that is smoothed down. It's great if they are in a straight line, but old nail holes & lack of growth dictate ability of achieving this. Now having said this, use it as a guide as to when do my horses need the farrier again.

Navicular Disease

This disease affects the navicular bone in the hoof small rectangular bone at back of hoof. Now there is too much to fit here, so a condensed version is this: The navicular bone is the main hinge in your horses step. It is between the coffin bone(shaped identically to the hoof) and the flexor tendon (down back of leg).When the fluid filled sac that offers cushion between the navicular bone and the flexor tendon is damaged for any number of reasons, then the navicular bone is now in direct contact with the tendon causing strain, undue wearing of tendon &/or bone, &eventually damaging the navicular bone. One of the main signs of this is lameness, soundness with rest, only to go lame when put back to work. Horses subject to this are: ones with straight pasterns and/or contracted heels, horses with excessively long toe due to lack of trimming (We have seen fractured/broken navicular bones due to excessive toe lengths of horses not being trimmed for nearing a year), horses working unshod on excessively hard or rough ground, & hard working sports such as barrels, calf roping, racing, jumping etc. You can treat the symptoms, but the disease is incurable. Trimming and leaving the horse barefooted may be beneficial in that it will increase blood flow due to natural expansion and contraction during each step of the foot . Shoeing that may also be useful are: raising the heels by applying wedge pads, degree shoes, &/or shoes with a bar, &/or rocker shoes. How do you avoid this disease? Regular exercise for stalled horses, working in softer footing, transitioning speeds down when you ride on hard uneven surfaces on your trails, keep regular your trimming and shoeing, shoe for your sport and activity that requires extra protection to the hoof. Work closely with your vet and farrier on your horses' hoof care as each horse responds differently to different treatments. Good hoof management will increase the usefulness and lifespan of your horse & insure the longest period of enjoyment with your favorite four legger.
Sloping Heels/Slung under heels. These make your horses feet look like one tall heel on one front foot and one lower heel on the other front foot. One major reason for this is how your horse eats. Horses as you may well know are better one direction compared to the other, Right or Left hooved you could call it. Well they are the same as they graze or reach down for hay. The same foot will always go out in front of the other. Causing no weight bearing on the one out behind(which can lead to a tall and possibly contracted heel), while the other has no toe pressure and almost too much heel pressure(causing a longer toe, and sloping non existent heel). This sloping heel can predispose the horse to weaker deformation of the hoof, quarter cracks, bowed tendons, or navicular disease. Other causes of sloping heels can be: in the horses genes, neglected long feet, over lowering of the heel for extended periods of time (fast running sports like racing trim on purpose for this longer toe grip). To help fix this possible laming problem, have the toe frequently trimmed leaving all the heel possible (6-8weeks between trims). Again you will see the feet after the trim should be as close to each others slope as possible. You can shoe the horse with extended heels and or heel elevation with wedge pads. Horses with the heel bulbs touching the ground may need a bar shoe to protect against concussion. But most often for you barefooters, instead of going thru the expense of the shoeing, try increasing your trims per year (4times per year at least). Remember there should be a straight line down the front of the leg from the ankle thru the hair line to the ground surface. And please don't wait until the horse's hooves look bad before you call the farrier. You wouldn't want your shoes to be completely worn thru before you bought a new pair. Don't let your horse desperately need a farrier, put them on a regular schedule. Watch them, if they look horrible at 15 weeks, shrink it back to 12, if they look awful at 12 shrink it back to 10. Veterinarian recommendations are to have an average horse trimmed every 6-8 weeks due to 1/4 inch hoof growth every month. Even if you don't readily see it, they are growing and wearing it down out of balance with the other 3 hooves. Having said that, do the best you can. We will still come take care of your horses even if you haven't called us for 6+months. That is what we are here for.

Hoof Care

  Supplements. There are so many aren't there. And just like anything else you have good and bad.  Also you have some that work for your one horse and not for the other. If you horse is getting regular hoof care every 8 weeks, and good food, and hoof oil, and you still have cracks, or if you don't have enough hoof growth then supplements may be the route for you.  I am just going to list ones we have experience with and have seen work well.  Red Cell, it is cheap and for the blood, helps the whole system, mainly used if your horse is lethargic acting, dull coat, and skinnier.  It is basic and been around a long time cause it works.  Foundation "Hoof Formulation", this works great on most horses, although we have heard it brings out dapples in a horses coat, no explanation and we have not seen it.Farriers Formula we have seen work well for most horses. Remember it should take about 4 months before you see the growth come out of the hair line at the top of the hoof, so wait 6 months on the product before you change to another one because you think it is not working. And it will take about 1to  1  1/2 yrs to have the new hoof growth reach ground level. If you see your horse licking metal, eating manure, chewing trees, get a salt/mineral block.  They need the extra minerals especially as the season grows hotter and they sweat standing still g,et a block at the feed store.  Another product: Fly spray.  AT HOME DEPOT! It is an organic, nontoxic, safe on kids and pets, quiet spray, only $5, So much cheaper than horse spray and it doesn't smell too bad, it actually smells kinda nice, especially compared to other horse ones. It is call EcoSmart, It has a dog and a little girl on the front, with a green lid. See if it works on your flies. 
    Just enough watering and drying to make it look like a good start to hay season. The worst part is with the warm weather coupled with the fall of man we now have: fly season. How does fly season affect hoof care? I am glad you asked. As the season gets drier and drier and the bugs get meaner and meaner, your horse takes to stomping those dried up hooves, causing cracks to begin, or to worsen. Every time your horse stomps the ground, the spilts get serious pressure on the opening, forcing them to split further up into the meaty sensitive portion of the hoof, eventually causing lameness. So prevention of fly breeding ground is a main concern. Drag pastures or pick up manure on a daily basis. Eliminating piles of manure helps stop fly re-infestation. Hauling manure off your property is best if you pick out the pastures. Dragging pastures turns that manure into fertilizer, as long as you don't have too many horses on the pasture and you aren't overloading the ground. If you pick out the pasture and the manure has to stay on your property, then stock pile it far from your animals. If you have a tractor, mix the manure with leaves, bark, mulch, any other type of composting and use it in your garden after a year or two of decomposing. If you already have cracks your farrier can eliminate most ground pressure by rasping the ground surface of the hoof wall at the base of the cracks, this will help stop a lot of the extra opening of the cracks. It will look funny, even cloven footed to an extent. Look to have your farrier stay on top of the serious cracks on 4-6 week rotations. . I know that is a lot, but the health of your horse is worth it.Your horses, toe grows 1/4 inch per month, the longer that hoof wall the weaker and more susceptible it is to cracks Also don't forget, oil your horses coronary band (the hair line and hoof wall), on a 3-5 day per week basis. Using Olive Oil is great and cheaper than hoof oil. I like it better than lard
Should I shoe or not? This obviously is a loaded question with a rather easy out. Each horse is different, each scenario is different, and each year is different. His hoof makeup is not the same as even his mama's or papa's. His weight is different, his athleticism is different. So you cannot just say all horses need to be barefoot, or all should be shod. Your riding environment, your sport, your pasture, is all different then even your next door neighbor, so a firm yes or no on this subject is not applicable. As your horse ages his nutrient breakdown changes, so he may have had bare feet as a younger horse but at 13 it is different (apply any age here), Without knowing you or your horse I can not give you the answer on here. I can tell you of my experiences. I have ridden almost all the sports myself. I have had horses barefooted, flat shod, or shod with caulks (spikes on the shoes to grab the dirt), And all were necessary. They didn't come up with shoeing horses over 1000 yrs ago because they were stupid, they didn't know horses, or they felt like playing with metal. Horses were pretty much their life and pretty much meant life to everyone then, and their care was paramount And shoeing was necessary for most of the war/work horses, it increased travel and soundness, especially over different terrain conquering different regions. Granted we aren't roaming the earth conquering, and we control our horses footing more but the need can still be there. Right now I have 7 of my own horses, My babies aren't usually shod if need be until they reach working age (roughly 3-5yrs depending). My ponies are all barefoot and have always been. In riding lessons I avoid hard footing with them. I watch each step of my horse and adjust each ride to fit. I have 3 horses shod. Any horses that do speed sports, that find themselves on slippery footing (grass) have appropriate shoes for traction. And the horses that may find themselves occasionally on rocky footing wear pads with their shoes to protect their soles that don't come in contact with the ground frequently. I oil all my horses hooves to help maintain elasticity to continue easy circulation down into the hoof and back up. If I see cracks, I don't automatically tell my clients they need shoes, Just LOTS OF OIL. And more trims, If these steps don't fix or halt the cracks with in the year then the owner and I will work together on the appropriate next steps. The Natural Trim method is wise to look at wild horses who survive barefoot, and take what is good from them and apply it to our horses, just like it is wise for your farrier to know all the disciplines of shoeing so he/she can take the information and bring the best most varied answers to your horse. All in all, work with your horse, be informed, and do what your horse needs to you to do to be the best they can be.
Worming. It is spring time and the much needed worming medication is ready for the first dose of the year. Some Veterinarian spring recommendations are 2 hits of Strongid (also known as Pyrantel Pamoate) 3 weeks apart. What are some signs of infestation: if your horse is looking thin, if the coat is dull, if they are acting listless, or even if they are scratching their tails on the fences. This means that all your hard earned money you are spending on hay and grain is going to parasites! Even if there are no signs, go ahead and worm him on a regular schedule. Don't wait until there is trouble to treat it. We have our horses on a regular 2-3 month schedule. They are pasture horses on a smaller amount of acreage. We drag our fields to spread out the manure and break up the habitat for some of the parasites. and in our smaller paddocks we pick them out frequently (every 2 days). If your horse is not getting enough nutrients due to parasites then other parts of their body are suffering especially the foot. And you know the old adage no foot no horse. If your horse is really unhealthy, then you will need to check with a vet on the exact treatment. Worming very sick horses can make their present condition worse. Your vet may recommend a slow worming process. Thank you all for reading, check our website for more information.
Hoof oil. Everyone knows how hard and dry the ground can be in certain seasons, especially your horse. And everyone knows how wet it can be too. Both times can use hoof oil. Let me explain. Your horses' hooves are a growing entity of their body that is the source of concussion while in motion. The drier the ground the drier/harder your horses' hooves can be. Hard hooves are great, but Rock Hard is not the best. Oil will give moisture and flexibility to the hoof giving more comfortable ground contact. Do you have cracks and chipping? Before you put on the shoes, try oiling daily. You will be surprised at how well your horses feet hold up to work with a little extra TLC. And don't just oil the outside, pick up the hoof and slather it on the bottom too! The frog(this is the triangular shaped part on the sole of the hoof) is like an extra heart beat. The more pliable it is, the easier it is to receive and pump blood up and down the legs causing better circulation. Now what if it is wet out? Picture when you get oil on your hands and try to wash it off. Doesn't work too well does it? Oil can also act as a barrier, allowing you the ability to regulate moisture absorption! So where and how often do you oil? Clean off the hoof wall and oil right at the hair line and down at least 3 inches. If you have shoes on, avoid the nail holes, the less greasing of the nails the better. Don't forget to pick the hoof out and brush debris free when you oil the sole and frog. Oil at least 5 times a week for dry, hard, or cracking hooves. 3 times for maintenance. And no oil will not automatically make your horses' hooves too soft or to wet. Watch the hooves and work with them as they need it, but in my 40 yrs of hoof care, in all conditions, I have yet to see someone oil a hoof too much. What should you spend, $15-$24 per quart. In extreme cases increase your farrier visit to every 4-6 weeks until the cracks are gone.

What? HE STEPPED ON A NAIL!   I wanted to share this with you that I only found out in dealing with a vet on the incident many years ago. A client had a horse turned out in the pasture when he came to find his horse lame one morning. Upon examining the horse he found a nail in his hoof. He quickly removed the nail and called the vet. The vet said it was too bad he didn't leave the nail in the hoof so he could xray the hoof and see the position and severity of the penetration. Now obviously different situations call for different needs, I just thought I would give you this little tidbit that I picked up a while back. Makes sense. So you may want to call a vet before you take quick action. Ask your vet their thoughts on it, and God forbid you have to deal with it.
Don't forget the teeth. Your horses mouth is constantly changing. For 20 yrs their teeth are growing. For 20 yrs they are being worn down. Don't wait 20 yrs till you have them cared for. Every other year have them looked at and possibly floated until the age of 4. Then definitely have them floated every year after that. By the age of 20 things can really change and you may need them cared for every 6 mths. Is your horse skinney and you can't get the weight on? How about turning his/her head to eat or dropping grain? What about head tossing when ridden or fighting bridling? Any of these "ailments" could be a reason to have the teeth checked.

Training at Home

  “Shoeing in Motion” is a term we came up with to describe the expertise you get with our Decades Farrier service.  Not only are you getting a farrier who knows how a horse's hoof needs to look for structural soundness, but you are also getting an experienced horseman who knows how a horse should move.  Now I don't mean just seeing the horses' breakover/takeoff of each step at the walk as he comes to us. If you have a farrier who does this much that is great.  “Shoeing in Motion” means more. It means due to years of riding and watching horses as a professional trainer/breeder/show rider, we see more than the hoof. We see the horses whole body in motion in relation to his feet. How his head is set, how his tail is set.  It is a feeling . And then knowing how to alter that hoof capsule to suite each individual athlete. And they all are athletes, because they have to live by their athleticism.  So they deserve as much as we can do for them.
Here is some farrier trivia for you.
The original hoof care were basket like shoes, then they progressed to rawhide wrapped around the hoof somewhere in the 12th century (Genghis Kahn is given credit to his fast driven calvary for this hoof care). The Romans started the the leather sandal with a iron sole. The leather shoestrings fastened around the pastern and fetlock.  It is a toss up between China, Rome, and the Celts as to who started the first set of iron nailed on shoes.  The fist blacksmith to be recorded in books is in the Bible: Tubal-cain. Everyone knows that the farrier/vet and blacksmith were rolled into one up until about the mid 1800s when a split in the professions started.  There was not much shoeing in the 1750s and early do to lack of iron ore, it was all shipped in from Europe and there for too expensive.  In 1779 thru the Revolution, price caps on shoeing was instated.  In 1842 the price of shoeing a horse was $5, and congressman was only making $8 per day, the blacksmith was very well paid.  Don't forget the great westward expansion had cooks & trail bosses on the caravans, and in order to have the movement continue blacksmith were needed on the trail as well.  In the mid 1800s the factory made shoe was finally produced, but nails were still hammered from scratch. In 1848 the nails were finally mass produced by machine, thus saving the blacksmith's elbow a little. Since my husband has been there since the beginning I know it is all true :) Oh  here is a tip, pour club soda on fire ant hills, it will get rid of them. Just don't go unbalanceing the ecosystem by destroying all those little buggers.
Spraying Fly Spray
Remember when spraying, hold your horse and spray a hooves first. If you horse backs up, continue to spray down and move with him talking quietly. You don't want to stop spraying or the unnecessary fear will be rewarded and you will actually train the animal to run backwards to get away from it. Holding the leadrope short, place a hand on his neck, sometimes a reassuring hand is all a horse needs. Just move slowly up the leg as he settles. If he needs to circle, that is okay as long as he doesn't drag you around. Remember working in a small environment is best (stall, small enclosed paddock, round pen) this keeps his world small and allows you to work with him without such a big world for him to think about. You maybe will only get his legs done, but that is okay for a start. Go ahead and reward with treats when he stands still and you have finished spraying.

New baby foals
will be coming soon. The last thing you want to neglect on a foal is his hooves. The question of the week: What if my foal looks as if he is growing/standing crooked? Answer: Consistent and Frequent Balanced Trimming. Crooked legs cause unequal weight distribution throughout joints. This causes unequal circulation and unequal bone growth and thus improper locomotion. A small defect at birth, may turn into a nightmare for an older horse just due to neglect of trimming. As long as your farrier is knowledgeable about horse growth and and proper gait, have them trim your foal every 4 weeks. Keeping an eye on take off, break over, and landing of the hoof. Example Problem: your horse walks like a duck. Solution: the farrier generally will trim the outer wall, and the amount of such is determined by how much change is desired in one trim. By the time the horse is a year old (for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses) certain bones of the lower leg are closed. Thus change in the stance of the foal is difficult if not completely impossible without surgery. And with or without economic troubles, surgery is not feasible for most of us owners. So it pays now to have your farrier watch your foal closely, making and effecting changes to the hoof in the most natural way possible aiding in straight growing of the limb.We have helped foals, who were diagnosed by vets as having a club foot started, to grow a completely normal hoof due to correct trimming every 3 weeks. We have even helped foals born with weak tendons stand and grow straight and tall with corrective hoof attachments that were maintained by the educated horse owner. So if you see something fishy (or ducky) about your foal's limbs, get your farrier on the scene to help keep your horse moving straight for the rest of his life.
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