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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Friday, 5 September 2014

Barefoot Performance Award



This trophy will be awarded at our inaugural Barefoot Performance show this coming Sunday.

I am so excited to find out who will win it.

Details of the show can be found here www.pachesham.com


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A day in the life of a Barefoot South student

Hi there, I’m Michelle. Some of you will have already met me and others will have heard that Lucy has taken on a student. Well that’s me and Lucy has set me the challenge of telling you about a day in the life of a Barefoot South student, so here goes.

6am – I get up early to attend to my four horses. They all live out 24/7 on a track and are fed ad-lib forage. I’m allergic to hay and have been trialling them on haylage but after 4 weeks it’s clear that it isn’t suiting them. All four have lost some of the concavity in their soles and one of them has developed really soft frogs which are prone to infection despite daily scrubbing. I’m amazed how much of a difference it’s made but it’s unquestionable: my lot all grow better feet on soaked hay.

8am – Set off to meet Lucy armed with my essential flask of tea – you never know how long it might be to the next cuppa in this job so best go prepared!

9am – Our first client is a small native type who has been diagnosed with PPID. We watch him walk across the stony car park and he walks over the stones happily. I trim his front feet and he’s an absolute dream; not only does he pick up each foot easily he actually holds the weight of his own leg which makes trimming so much easier. He’s an absolute sweetie so we have lots of fuss and cuddles too, always a bonus. Lucy trims his hind feet as he is a little arthritic and can find it uncomfortable. I watch as Lucy takes the time to let him relax his leg to where he finds it comfortable and she trims it there even if it’s not in the easiest place for her. After trimming we watch him walk on the same surface again and he’s moving very nicely, a slightly longer stride than pre-trim. We aim to watch all our clients horses walk before and after trimming to assess how they are moving and how the trim has altered that.

10am - Our second client has cancelled which leaves us time to find a cafe and catch up on some admin; booking appointments and responding to new enquiries. By pure coincidence we find somewhere selling cake.

12pm – Next up is an established client with a new horse. We deshod him two weeks ago and tend to leave a couple of weeks before trimming. His owner meets us direct from a clinic where he’s been moving forward and striding out better than he did in his shoes. Despite this she’s been ‘helpfully’ told by onlookers that he looks a bit short so she’d probably better shoe him! He has contracted heels from being shod but has all the makings of really solid feet. Lucy trimmed him and we then watched him stride out over the stoney car park really very well.

1pm – We have quite a long drive to the next client and we use the time to discuss feet, trimming, nutrition, my horses, Lucy’s horse and client horses. You name it and we chat about it as both of us are totally fascinated by our work.

2.30pm – We’re booked to see a new client with one horse to deshoe but it turns out to be two clients and two horses to deshoe! These ladies have clearly done their research which is always a good starting point.

One horse has quite contracted feet that look like they’ve been squished into too small shoes. They feel solid though and I’m sure he’ll find his way to rock crunching fairly easily. I used to hear Lucy say to clients “this foot feels lovely and solid” and not really get it. Somehow I seem to have picked it up though because now I see other people give me the same blank expression I gave Lucy. She’s right though, after handling so many feet you can just feel that some are solid.

Our second new horse is in a bit more of a sorry state. He’s been through all manner of remedial shoeing and is currently in wedge shoes with pads. If his feet weren’t in such a sorry state I would find this almost funny. In order to put the wedges on his heels have been cut very short, so once shod his hooves are at exactly the same angle as they would have been if they hadn’t bothered. I presume his pads are to protect his very thin soles, except I can see knife marks in his sole where someone has tried to carve concavity into them. Now I don’t need any of my training from Lucy to see that cutting material off an already thin sole is, at best, illogical.

To add insult to injury (quite literally) this horse’s frogs are so thrushy they’re almost entirely rotted out. His owner was very upset that no one had told her this was not normal and needed addressing. It was abundantly clear that if she’d known she’d have done something about it so it begs the question of why no previous hoof care professional said anything. It’s a question I can’t answer, but I can tell you it’s not at all uncommon and to me it’s a clear sign that those hoof care professionals were not putting the horse first.

So after much frog cleaning, applying thrush treatment and measuring him for hoof boots we wrapped his feet in nappies to keep him comfortable and his frogs clean until his new boots arrive. This owner has a bit of a mountain to climb, but she’s determined to do what is best for her horse, and now armed with the knowledge of how to deal with his thrush and keep him comfortable I don’t doubt she’ll get there. She’ll have some ups and downs but we’ll always be at the end of the phone and will drop by if she needs more support.

6pm – We’re in the car and on our way home. After a few minutes we both start sniffing around and realise we’re covered in thrushy ick and the car absolutely stinks!

7pm – Arrive home and after a quick hello to my partner and dogs I go out to feed, hay and poo pick for my gang and take a satisfied look at their lovely feet.

Once home I reflect on the fact that Lucy and I do have to have some difficult conversations with clients, usually about their horse’s weight or thrushy feet, or sometimes behaviour. But one reason I decided to train with Lucy was her mantra: “The Horses come First” and they really do.

Note: A week after this blog post we went back to visit our deshoe clients and the lad with the thrushy frogs now has small but lovely firm clean frogs. It’s clear his owner is putting in just as much effort as we hoped she would and her horse is reaping the benefits already.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Taking Bookings for 2014

























Barefoot South's very own Hoof Fairy is back in harness and taking bookings for 2014

If you want to treat your horse's hooves to the magical touch make sure you reserve your space.

Existing clients can use current contact details.  New clients click Contact Barefoot South.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Barefoot and bitless police horses.

At least 3 US police forces have taken their horses barefoot and have noticed far fewer lameness problems enabling the horses to spend more time at work and less time off sick.  The photo below, posted with permission of the original poster is of a US police horse on parade.

If they can do it in the US how come we can't do it here in the UK? It can't be because of diet, exercise, environment or trim. The circumstances for these are pretty much the same both sides of the pond. 



The text below is cut and pasted from a US mounted policeman posting on 'The Right to Trim' FB page.

The horses we have retired recently, all have been in metal shoes most of their lives. We pulled all of our police horses shoes, but the damage was done on the majority of them that limited their careers as police horses. Remember, a lot of other issues can occur throughout the body of the horse because on the constant nailing on of metal shoes. The ones recently retired were not lame so to say but had hock, back and other issues.
My police horse Shadow, aka as Texan Star, has never been shod since we got him un 2002 as a two year old. He was schooled slowly, not rushed into service like a lot of young performance horses, and went to work on the streets as a four year old. He is now 14 and his health record is so far clean of any of the consistent lameness issues we had when we shod all of our police horses.
We now look long and hard any horse people want to donate that has been in metal shoes the majority of their lives because we know their careers will be shortened due to being in metal shoes. There are always exceptions but again we would prefer not to roll the dice taking horses in that have been in metal shoes.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Slipping on grass - I don't think so

Amazing Mother, daughter and cob combo.  They've all worked their socks off and this is one example of the results: Eventing Summer 2013

Yes they do get time faults - for going too fast...

Give them all a round of applause :-)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Doesn't this horse look fabulous!






You'd never guess she has Cushings (PPID) would you.  And neither did the vet.  But interestingly, there were a lot of clues in her hooves.

Her care giver/owner is amazing and honestly I am in awe of the work and diplomacy that has been executed in getting this mare what she needs whilst keeping everyone on board.

I initially suspected some sort of metabolic problem because despite barefoot protocols being followed the hooves were not responding.  Growth was poor both in terms of quality and quantity and the soles were thin and rather soft.

The mare had a poor topline and other issues which also backed up the idea that all was not well.  Prescriptions of protein powders and the other traditional initiatives did nothing to help the mare and the vet was resistant to the idea of testing for PPID as she was quite young.  The owner tells me she did consider having her PTS as she didn't want the mare to suffer.

After much diplomatic negotiation on the part of the owner the PPID test was done, Prascend prescribed and the horse started to recover.

The picture are of their first ODE one year on. 


Notes on PPID/Cushings

Even just ten years ago we only suspected our horses may have PPID if they became unusually hirstute and failed to shed properly.  Symptoms could, if we were lucky be moderated, but the outlook was poor. 

Today PPID properly controlled doesn't have to be the death sentence it once was.

We have a PPID test, although it's not 100% accurate and we have Prascend (Pergolide).

The test has to be done properly and not all vets are completely up to speed with interpretation of the results. So if you suspect your horse has PPID I recommend you read www.ecirhorse.com for the low down.

In the UK until recently vets would prescribe Pergolide but it wasn't/isn't titrated or licensed for horses.  Pergolide has been replaced by Prascend which is both.  Horses on Pergolide before the change are allowed to continue on it. 

It is important as an owner or care giver to realise that there are many subtle signs that your horse may have PPID that manifest years before the hairy, curly coat stage.

Loss of topline, pot belly, lack of energy, difficulty fighting infections, slow wound repair, poor hooves both quality and quantity and particularly a failure to grow a good sole, . The coat may be duller than you would expect.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Footiness

Time to update this post; 'Help my horse has gone footy'  

Footiness is the bane of many a barefooter, and unresolved footiness, or a misunderstanding of what footiness means are common reasons for shoeing.

But the world is slowly waking up to the idea that a horse's hooves are a window to her health and it's a sad day when we choose to ignore the warnings we are being given.

And footiness is a warning, pure and simple, that all is not as it should be.  How we react to that warning says a lot about us.

What I failed to mention in the previous post is that list items 1-6 can cause an inflammatory response, as can adipose tissue.  This can cause footiness regardless of how good the hoof is.  Long term inflammation also seems to impact on the ability of a horse to grow a good foot, particularly sole. And a thin sole is a problem even if the horse isn't obviously footy.

If we are lucky, the footiness, including the thin sole sort, is indicating a basic management error (see post highlighted above) and can be resolved relatively simply.

If you can't resolve the footiness through good management then you need to consider metabolic disease such as Insulin Resistance (IR), Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), commonly known as Cushings.  I've found that many horses that fail to grow a thicker sole have metabolic problems.

Also consider what I call FTS, Fat Thigh Syndrome.  I've known horses go footy simply from being overweight.

And if the horse has been out of work for any reason don't forget that the feet need time to get fit. No I'm not being daft, check hoof anatomy, there are a lot of ligaments in the foot and if they are not working they can get out of shape.  I've personal experience of that.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Track livery on private yard in Chobham, Surrey

Space for one or more unshod geldings. Beautiful track with natural shelter. Not surfaced, but that will be done in due course. Very high standard of mains electric fencing.

Use of school (not lit), good quality stabling and tack room.

All this in exchange for helping owner with her horses. This includes poo picking the track and putting out hay. Mucking out one rubber matted stable and taking bucket feeds to horses on track.

The track is close to the stables so not too much treking back and forth.  Good hacking is available, but you/your horse may have to negotiate some traffic/cross a road depending on how far you want to go.

In the first instance contact victoria@roger.com.es

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Healing heels

There seems to have been a bit of a 'theme' to recent visits.  Lots of new clients, lots of caudal hoof pain.  Lots and lots of heels which are stratrospheric in their ambitions.

Horizontal or near horizontal coronary bands supported by near vertical heels are not a good thing.  I have no idea why they are so popular, but in some parts of SE UK they seem almost endemic.  It seems boxy feet are fashionable these days, even more so if the hoof capsule can be persuaded to go to 5 inches plus.

These unnatural edifaces may or may not also be very contracted.  They are nearly always bruised to some extent.  Not necessarily visible from an external perspective, but the minute the foot is picked up and cleaning commences there it is.

One I've done recently had more than 1/2 depth of deep purple bruise in his heels both fronts.  Yes the poor lad did breathe a sigh of relief when we'd helped him out with that.  Took two goes over 3 weeks.  All credit to the owner for being able to deal with it.  We booted and padded for exercise in between but such was his relief at having his heels seen to I understand he has been going really rather well despite it all.  Prior to trimming he had been in so much pain we had to stand him in shavings just to do his feet.  Now he can stand completely bare on concrete quite relaxed and happy.

If you know what you are doing heels are 'easy', but if you don't I can understand why people worry.  It is very easy to make a mistake that takes a long time to recover from.  I can even understand, although I don't endorse the view, why some people say to leave them alone.  Wishful thinking that perhaps they will magically take care of themselves with or without some road work.

Well in SE it's not happening.  Not because people don't try, they really do.  I know people who do hours of roadwork, but because the horse is not using their heels properly they don't get worn properly and it all goes base over apex.  Then trimming the resulting hotch potch isn't something that can be approached with all guns blazing.  If you are going to restore function and comfort it can take time, a lot of skill and often takes boots, sometimes with pads too.  And my owners always get homework and I always know if they have done it.

Remember the mantra 'comfy footsteps'.  Progress will be so much faster.

When I get some time I'll post some heel pictures.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Asymmetry/deviation and balance

Brief intro - previously shod cob.  Hooves were 'pretty' when shod, but the horse used to trip. I don't think they qualify as 'pretty' anymore, but horse doesn't trip either. I know which I prefer, for the horse's health and the safety of the rider.
LFT - balanced?



















Know the difference between flare and asymmetry/deviation? Not everyone does and confusion between the two often leads to unnecessary heartache and drama. It is important to understand why they are different and how each arises. Although if the HCP is practising NHC not too much can go wrong.

We have reviewed deviation before; basically all the structures are synchronised, but the solar area of the hoof has shifted. This might be en masse to the lateral or medial sides or there maybe a bit of a wibble going on see here. So long as the horse is sound and the pedal bone is in balance I don't worry too much.

In an 'ideal' world we might see deviation as an abberation, it does tend to reflect a compensation for another issue maybe higher up. Sometimes if the issue is resolvable the deviation will disappear over time, see here. Sometimes the issue has become fixed, it might be wonky legs or an old injury.

Regardless by applying NHC and with the owners/carers playing their part, the horses I have dealt with have all kept sound and done well.

Flare is another matter and by flare I mean the flare you see when the white line is stretched. See here where the toe is stretched - seen most clearly in the second to last photo of the series (in the linked post, not this one). The hoof in the second photo below has flare, from a stretched white line which you can see extends all round.

It was suggested to the owner of this horse that the hoof was out of balance and that this should be addressed before dire things happened.  As you can see from the photos below the hoof is actually asymmetric or deviated from the outside, but perfectly balanced from the solar view.  If an attempt were made to dress out the asymmetry/deviation you can easily imagine what might happen. 

Asymmetry


Stretched white line, foot in balance

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Credit where it's due

I've been asked on more than one occasion to promote products and/or companies in the body of this blog.  For money.  I won't do it.  This blog is meant to be an educational and discussion tool.  It isn't a front for selling.

But today, I break my rule, but not for money and not because I've been asked.

Round of applause goes to Priors Farm Equine Vets.  Once again Ben has risen to the challenge presented by Grace.  No drama, no second mortgage required, just sensible, horse centered pragmatism. 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Would you be interested?


Student Opportunity

Due to demand for our services outstripping supply, Barefoot South is offering two student places. Students will qualify to become a Barefoot South employee when training is successfully completed.

If you are interested in applying please email hoof@barefoot-south.com by no later than 11th May 2013.

Applicants will need to meet the following criteria to qualify for interview.

·         Demonstrate some practical experience of barefoot, performance horses, this could be owning a working barefoot horse, or looking after working barefoot horses

·         Be able to discuss the pros and cons of barefoot management techniques

·         Hold a full, clean, current UK driving license

·         Have own transport

·         Be capable and competent in handling horses of all sizes

·         Computer literate

·         Have use of a mobile phone

·         Be a quick learner

·         Capable of taking direction

·         Excellent communication skills, written and verbal

·         Possess strong basic maths skills

For further details or any other queries or if you are not sure if you meet the criteria, but are interested in becoming a student please contact Lucy on the above email address.

UK applicants only, all physical aspects of training to take place within one hour of any part of the M25, at Barefoot South’s discretion.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Sweeties and Spavins

The biggest challenge with this horse (for me) was getting her shoes off without hurting her.  I was pretty sure she was nail bound, quite possibly pricked and being on the older side, somewhat stiff and she has spavins. Shoeing had always left her sore, and her owner had to bute her before being shod.

The owner has an ongoing task which is bigger still.  Keeping this young lady away from the sugary consumables she loves.

A recent incident involved breaking out of her stable and into the cattle feed shed where she was found stuffing her face with Liquorice Allsorts.  Apparently that is one of the ingredients of cattle feed these days, and if you check out Dairy One you can get the analysis for 'Candy Byproduct'.

Despite these challenges, the usual livery/grass problems and the dire warnings from the usual suspects about how a spavined horse can't go barefoot, this partnership has done very well.  You can see them below on a sponsored ride, completely barefoot, no problems with slipping.  Quite a few problems with brakes so I'm told.  Oh and her hinds aren't nearly so stiff these days.


Rocket fuel not required, a forage based diet provides this horse with plenty of energy - picture taken by Mark Dalton

One of the fab four... hooves that is

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Weebles wobble but they don't fall down

Experience of hoof rehab highlights how much an apparently solid and well defined part of a horse's anatomy, ie the hoof can change, both for the good and the not so much.

And of that outwardly solid structure there is one section which can cause enormous heartache and pain, whilst being largely ignored and when noticed frequently misunderstood.  Yet this section is also capable of impressive transformations which often go unnoticed.  What am I referring to?  Heel bulbs of course.

Hence the title
"Weebles wobble but they don't fall down."
Which means to me at least, that the heel bulbs can be in terrible shape, but the poor horse attached to them will still struggle on. Until they reach the point of catastrophic failure anyway.

When you know what to look for the signs are obvious.

Personally I like heel bulbs to be substantial, plump, full bodied, balanced. These qualities hint at well developed lateral cartilages which are a vital part of properly functioning hoof.  I also tend to find them attached to hard working, high performance hooves.  Soggy, squishy, underdeveloped, pointy heel bulbs are generally attached to hooves which are in poor shape one way or another.
Can you see the 'wobble' - horse unsound

Bulbs bulked up - wobble gone - horse sound

Major wobble



















































If your hoof anatomy is a little shaky, there is a diagram below. (I never said I could draw...) If you want to you might like to try to apply that drawing to the photos. Then compare the anatomy drawing with my rough sketch of a hoof I saw recently (below). Can you see what is happening? The horse was not comfortable. There was other 'stuff' going on, but leaving the foot out of balance wasn't helping. It will take time to address the balance for that hoof (it's not just a matter of lopping a bit off the bottom), but early signs are good.
 

 



Friday, 19 April 2013

18 days

RFS - Day One

RFS - Day 18
Compare white stripe in hoof wall with RFS Day One
LFS - Day One



LFS - Day 18
Compare lateral cartilage and heel bulb with
LFS Day One





















We first met these hooves here. The horse is currently competent over tarmac, concrete and grass, somewhat footy over stones. Flight of forelimbs significantly improved post trim yesterday. (Improved breakover) Horse looked softer, more relaxed and behaved impeccably despite very windy conditions and rattling sheds. Exercise is designed to rehabilitate hoof and body and is focused on comfortable footsteps... lots of them.

If you have time to exercise your horse then rehab at home is very doable and you get to learn what will and what won't work for your horse. 

This horse lives at a conventional UK livery yard, no special facilicities, equipment and all the usual challenges.  And still we have significant change and improvement in a short space of time.

The owner is fabulous, and that is what makes the difference - the diet and exercise regimes are being followed through.  It's a team effort and the most important member of the team is the main carer/owner.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Educational trends and Sugar Beet

For those of you that don't know me - I'm pretty ancient. Not pre war, I just feel like it, but older than the current UK Prime Minister and that is just plain wrong........

In my day (insert much tooth sucking and huffing and puffing), all kids had a reasonable grounding in science, math and general logical thinking at least until the age of 13.  I don't know how it goes now, but 'general science' doesn't seem to cut the mustard in the same way as studying the sciences separately.

Well the proof is in the pudding perhaps, and it is sad to see a general trend for folks not to question published material, digital or print.  But we should and we must apply a healthy dose of scepticism and logic to everything we read.

Take for example sugar beet.  An innocent enough vegetable, but one that can be very devisive. Maybe not as devisive as Maggie Thatcher, God rest, but I loved her for her honesty and I love sugar beet too.  So my cards are on the table, I am pro sugar beet.  But don't let my opinions sway you.  Be logical, look at the data.  Don't be swayed by hysteria either, and there is a shed load of that on the internet these days.

In examining sugar beet you need to separate your data by country, as each has their own regulation regarding how food stuffs are grown and handled.  And this is where the first set of errors creeps in.  For example in the US much if not all sugar beet is GM. In the UK the percentage of GM sugar beet is 0.  That is right, nada, none, zero, because GM sugar beet is not accepted by the sugar processing industry in the UK. It is a very tightly controlled industry, I was actually slightly horrified because it is pretty much a closed shop.  A bit like the unions dear Maggie wasn't so keen on.

So in the UK we realise we have to look at UK data not US.  If you can be bothered, and once, when I was a bit younger I was, you will phone up producers, suppliers, nutritionists, scientists and so forth.  You will get hold of EU legislation and information on pesticides etc.  Having done all this you may find there are two factors at work that make the idea that beet pulp is 'laden with toxins' an 'interesting' idea.

The two factors are science and money.  And never underestimate the power of money (sad but true).  I've often found the way to influence an apparently intractable person was to point out the bottom line benefits.  So for the science, the noxious chemicals and yes I accept that chemicals are noxious, are so low that they are pretty much beyond detection in beet pulp.  I say 'pretty much'  because no doubt there is batch out there where they found some.  For the money, these noxious chemicals are so expensive that farmers, mindful of the bottom line, work extremely hard to minimise their use.  Which makes a nonsense of the idea that these things are liberally sloshed around like so much pond water with neither due care nor consideration.  I don't doubt that some farmers are careless, but the sugar industry tests each batch of beets and won't accept anything which is going to interfere with production or the end product.

But don't get drawn into the rhetoric, hype or hysteria.  If you are worried by the products you feed your horse, do the work.  Understand how your horse's digestive system functions, appreciate the beauty of hind gut fermentation and what is required to keep it afloat.  Call your suppliers, get the data.  And observe your horse.

For what is one man's meat is anothers poison.  I do respect Kellon and the work she has done.  I don't know of anyone else that has the sheer volume of data to support the thinking and findings.  And volume counts.  There are too many ill thought out studies based on handfuls of horses.*  They don't stand up to scrutiny and should be discounted.  Equally I accept that some foodstuffs which are well tolerated by the majority of the equine population won't be tolerated by all.  So if unmolassed beet, or alfalfa or straw etc doesn't work for your horse that is a good finding, but don't use it to assume they don't work across the board.

*And this is often about status and sometimes money too.  Scientists gain standing from the numbers of papers they publish.  They don't necessarily have to be any good.

This is an american blog, but elaborates on the material you may find if you do the work.

http://enduranceridestuff.com/blog/2010/10/beet-pulp-toxicity-dont-fall-for-this/

If someone wants the UK data it is there you just have to work for it.  If you want me to find it for you I will, but you'll have to pay me!

To start your journey and I don't say this guy is right, but it is a starter.

http://www.biotech-info.net/deadly_chemicals.html


Monday, 8 April 2013

Bit of a bind

I first met this charming big black beastie (BBB) on 13th May last year.  His owner had contacted me for help as she didn’t want to lose him.

Prior to our meeting BBB had been referred to a leading referral centre (LRC) with 4/10 lameness in the left fore.
Using MRI scanning the diagnosis was remodelling of the Navicular bone and some damage to the DDFT in both front feet, but primarily the left fore.  But when the owner discussed the diagnosis the waters got muddied somewhat, but ultimately the LRC recommended a year in a field and maybe he would be suitable for the odd hack if he was shod with wedge shoes.  The vets said enjoy that for as long as you can but his prognosis isn't a good one and ultimately will result in Euthanasia. 

And so our journey as Team BBB began.




Recently deshod. Outer hoof wall previously
rasped out. Signs of nail bind present



Roughly two weeks later



Now, notice flared quarters. Not perfect, but
 funcional and sound



Hind post deshoeing

 
















Hind now



















To be honest there was nothing exceptional in the outward appearance of the recently deshod hooves.  Thinning of hoof walls and nail bind are surprisingly common in the UK.  What was more unusual was the condition of the hind feet, but these weren’t the focus of the lameness issues.
Today all the hooves are still a work in progress, and I can’t comment on the condition of either the Navicular bones or DDFTs - but what is form without function?  And I am happy to report that BBB is sound and moving beautifully.
How has the owner achieved this remarkable outcome?  Well lots of hard work it’s true, a successful barefoot horse needs a lot of exercise, but diet change was important and allowing the hooves to function naturally without the impediment of a rigid shoe.

What BBB’s owner has to say

"Prior to having a horse with 'caudal foot pain' exacerbated by shoeing I would not have even considered barefoot. I am embarrassed to admit that the one person who kept her horse barefoot at one of the competition yards I was at was someone I avoided as I thought she was slightly strange and a 'parelli type' hacking with horse trainers and never wanting traditional shoes. I didn't for a second think that by keeping her horse barefoot she was looking out for the wellbeing of her horse’s soundness and longevity.
I started my barefoot journey truthfully and honestly because I felt I had little other choice or at least not a very hopeful other choice! I am amazed at how Lucy has guided me, sometimes through gritted teeth (especially with reference to the dietary changes!) with patience and honesty. I was told from the start that it is not always an easy journey and that he may well be sore initially and have peaks and troughs in his transition phase. I was very lucky in that it went very smoothly with an overall improvement that was seen very quickly.
BBB is now one year barefoot and has grown his first new hoof capsule (apparently the second will be even better!) He is completely sound and competing successfully at BD level dressage. I owe this phenomenon to nature which is truly a rather wonderful thing, BBB for 'talking' to me and guiding Lucy's expert DEET principle and to Lucy for being there every step of the way (it helps that you do not go to bed until late!). I look forward to seeing BBB's feet this time next year :)"

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Thoroughbreds can't go barefoot they have genetically bad feet ;-)

Early May 2011

Mid August 2011



































Except time and again TB's are proving this common misconception just isn't true. 

This TB had 'typical TB hooves'. Just check out the bull nose in the May photo. By mid August same year the bull nose is halfway grown out. At this stage because the owner was otherwise occupied the horse was a pasture ornament, all that was changed was the diet (shoes had been removed shortly before May photo). If the horse had been exercising I'm pretty sure the bull nose would have grown out faster. The horse is now a competent barefooter, declared very sound by vets and turns his hoof to dressage, jumping and eventing.  Oh he hacks out on roads too...........

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Sometimes it hurts like hell, but it's worth it

Ok, to protect the innocent and cut a tangled history to size.

Older horse, been through the mill, current fix is heart bars in front, vet says nothing more can be done and if they don't work then call it a day.

I'm asked to peek over stable door - horse definitely not happy.  Owner not happy. So a date was fixed.  To pull the shoes that is.
Heartbar shoe in situ

Note filler on inside of right fore

Immediately post deshoe

I always ask owners and carers for updates and this is what I got today:

"Well like a 2 year old to lead and a greyhound when turned out! He's never been like this before think I might have shoes put back on! Only joking his stride length in front has lengthened a lot, his walking perfectly on road and on stones path, slightly footy when turning. His frogs look even better than yesterday it's absolutely amazing, I've even showed YM the pics!!"

Not bad for 3 days deshod.

And the pain? Well that's nearly all mine - my arms are killing me! :-)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Out with a whimper in with a bang

Apologies for no posts since November.  Had a minor diversion.

Now I have a question for you guys.

How long between these two photos.  Same hoof, promise!


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Stanley - the first horse to officially join Movember to raise money

This is Stanley; barefoot of course, but more importantly a recruit for, and the first official horse to raise money for Movember. (Scroll to the bottom for photo of the Mo.)















Please support him in his efforts to beat the humans at their own game. Stanley's MOment of whiskery fame is to be found at http://mobro.co/stanleythecob, he's already been mentioned on the Queen Mary 2's breakfast tv show, and on his local radio station Wave 105!  

Stanley is a member of a team at the college where his owner works and is currently standing 2nd in the team ratings, but  of course we would  all love him to get to first place and maybe stay there.

When he is not concentrating on growing his Mo, Stanley can be found participating in a variety of horsey sports.  Or eating.  Every horse knows the importance of a healthy appetite when it comes to growing a healthy Mo. :-)

Stanley with his 'Mo'



Friday, 7 September 2012

Should I shoe my laminitic?

Way way back I deshod a laminitic that was due to be PTS that week. Shod by an award winning farrier there was apparently nothing more that could be done. The horse was lame and fed up having suffered conventional therapy and been box rested for months. The owner was naturally distraught.

It wasn't long before he was sound and even with a few dietary hiccups he has been sound since and is currently in work.

I want to walk you through a few pictures - some are gross so finish your dinner before you read any further.

This first picture shows 'Henry', one of my freeze dried legs.  You can see the lamellar wedge, imminent solar penetration and how the poor thing is forced to bear weight on the tip of his pedal bone.
'Henry' NB wedge, angle of the pedal bone & heel height
 
 These photos tell their own story.  I understand that some HCP are taught to maintain the toe wall between 45 and 55 degrees. 
 
Initially this is done by rasping out the outer hoof wall, then when this option is exhausted (no outer wall left), the heel is raised. 
 
This of course will invert the hoof capsule so the horse has to bear progressively more weight on the tip of the pedal bone.  This is both painful and injurous to the horse.


Red is pre trim angle, green post
NB heel height - pre trim, sole has been dechalked
With no more heel raising, but a complete diet change and lots of movement, the healing angle (HA) can grow down.
 
You can see the difference betwee the angle the horse was forced to maintain when he had shoes on, compared with the angle the hoof is meant to grow at. 
NB Wedge, red line denotes HA when fully grown in
You can see the history of trials and tribulations the horse went through during his rehab - dietary misadventures mostly.  But the last bit of wedge is nearly grown out.  Horse was sound throughout.
A few months later, not without hiccups and the wedge has
all but grown out.  Hoof in background has yet to be trimmed.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Navicular rehab at home...........

Is perfectly possible although perhaps harder if you are short on facilities. But so long as any pathology has not progressed too far* and you are sufficiently determined you may suprise yourself.

I quote extracts from a text received today:

The vet came today to look at [horse] so we could book another MRI..... He was impressed with his feet and said they look much better.... Vet said whatever we were doing it was clearly working!

This horse is out 24/7 in a less than ideal environment and is owned by someone who works full time. I've coached from the sidelines (and trimmed when needed) but the owner has done all the hard work herself.

*Some people sadly leave it far too late

Thursday, 5 July 2012

What a difference five weeks makes

First I've been off sick for about 3.5 weeks so am now so far behind I almost don't know where to start and it's a bit daunting.  I never was that hot for the admin side of any job and now I have a ton of stuff to do.

Second - it brings to the fore another, hidden benefit of barefoot.  Most hooves can, if necessary, on occasion, go that extra week or two in between trims.  They may get considerably more tatty than their carers prefer, a few may get a little wonky, but the earth continues to turn and the hooves continue to be able to function.  It's only with the rehabs that I really start to worry.  And this is one of those.

Immediately post deshoe, just started to clean up

Five weeks later, to the day, note how toe wall
has grown in, the proportions have improved,
with a wider heel, buttresses coming back,
and frog bulking up





































There is still a long way to go, but the horse was considerably more comfortable after the trim and is positively bouncing in boots and pads.  Not bad for five weeks.  And yes there have been some modest dietary modifications and an exercise programme put in place.  A few socks may have bitten the dirt too..........

A traditional viewpoint is that shoes 'protect' hooves. The hooves in these photos are actually stronger and more capable without metal nailed to them. It is going to take time to grow out the damage and in the interim boots and pads are invaluable.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Chunky Monkey defies the modern myths

Functional and pretty!



















This foot is attached to one of those gentle giants that aren't supposed to be able to go barefoot - apparently they are too heavy for their feet etc etc I did mention him while waiting for the AA but I thought you'd like a picture and a bit more info.

Originally shod Cytek and to be honest, style of shoe aside, the shoeing job was definitely one of the better ones. Horse is tubby, LGL prone and probably IR.

The carers who look after him worked really hard to clear thrush, help him lose weight and make his rehab as comfortable as possible. And it really didn't take that long.

Now they are reaping the benefits:
  • 'Lazy kick-along' has transformed into dynamic powerhouse
  • Previously painfully slow walk is now so powerful it makes their hips hurt when they ride him
  • No more slipping on the road
  • Loves to trot
  • Cheaper feed bills
  • Happier horse
  • and last and least important - cheaper foot care bills

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Cruel Practical Jokes and other stupidities

You know the really dumb stuff that lads of about 12-15 start doing as their hormones surge and pimples start popping?

The tap on the opposite shoulder so when you look round noone is there.  Putting a foot on a scale to make someone appear heavier.  Drawing pins on chairs and gluing pennies to the pavement.

I used to think these were just dumb practical jokes, but I saw a reworking of the foot on the scale thing recently and it wasn't at all funny.

Mind you I doubt it was done on purpose, but the alternative isn't much better.

Have to keep this beyond anon, so sorry no photos, so let's draw a mental picture for you instead.  I've had to alter a few details but nothing substantive.

Scenario
Hooves being x-rayed for lameness work up.

The experienced among you will know the drill.  Hooves are raised on blocks, sometimes very simply, other times much more complex, but remember the hoof on block bit.

One of the things x-rays are used for is to help vets determine side/side and front/back balance of the hoof and the pedal bone within it.

So I'm looking at this x-ray, you can clearly see the block under the hoof.

Except you can't; there is no block under the caudal hoof at all and the heel has been allowed to dip below the level of the rest of the hoof by a significant amount because it is falling off the block.

The horse gets diagnosed with negative palmar angle. (Simply put the pedal bone is too low at the back.)

Thought
I am a generally miserable old bag with a naturally inquisitive nature, so I feel pretty comfortable with questioning stuff and have a vet who is good enough to bear it in good humour (bless him).

But many horse owners are not like this.  They are nicer and don't want to upset people or ask 'dumb' questions.

To these nice people I put forward this - so long as you phrase your questions politely and with the best of intent no good vet is going to mind you asking about stuff.  If they do object then maybe you should find one that will let you learn. Because that is what it is all about - learning together so we can better take care of our horses to whom we owe so much.

Laminitis and Fructans

I was going to post this in 2010 - never quite got round to it.......

Did you know that if you ingested enough water it could kill you?  And I don't mean by drowning. There was a case in the UK not so long ago.  Yet few of us would declare water to be a bad thing, except maybe cats and the odd spotty youth.  Many materials, if eaten in sufficient quantity can have harmful effects.  For some substances; Yew Tree Seeds, Laburnanum Seeds, Deadly Nightshade (I think the clue is in the name......... ) it doesn't take very much.  So the question then is how much is too much?

The reason I mention this is because grass fructans have been getting a lot of bad press largely because of a study published by Dr. Pollitt in 2006.  Now don't get me wrong, this isn't out to demonise Pollitt, he is a fine researcher who no doubt seeks to help horses where he can.  But so far as I can tell, this particular study broke a few rules (basic stuff we were taught in 'O' level when I was a lass and yes that is practically pre history for those cheeky folk who know me).

Problem One
The fructans used didn't come from grass and they didn't even resemble grass fructans.  And here on earth not all fructans are created equal.  The fructans in the experiment were from chickory and these have a simple, mostly linear structure.  Grass fructans are more complex and have branching side chains.

It is unlikely that these different structures will be fermented in the same way, with the same speed and the same quick reduction in hind gut pH.  I am unaware of any study where the same results have been found with grass fructans.

Problem Two
A very high dose; 3.75kg of the pure chickory fructan was delivered by stomach tube, and unlike the lager louts of Europe, few horses would naturally ingest anything this way. It would take c.43kg of fresh grass to deliver that much fructan (and remember even then it would be a different type of fructan).  Grace is a a hoover, and eats far beyond her theoretical capacity but even at her greediest at c.500kg she struggles to put away more than 16kg.  Yes I am that sad that I measure everything.

Problem Three
The peak season for pasture associated laminitis is spring, when fructan levels are low.

Conclusion
So from my simple 'O' level point of view, the findings of this research are that if you hook a horse up to a stomach tube, force feed it an unnaturally and ridiculously large amount of the wrong sort of fructan you are going to disrupt hind gut fermentation and give a horse laminitis.

NB - but why would you?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Haven't posted about Grace for a while

Especially not on her blog.  Sorry.

I'll have had her for 3 years in July and she is an example of how horses/hooves can have a roller coaster ride, but still generally improve over time. And many changes, both good and bad can be reversed.

Slightly gobsmacked that she is doing pretty well hoof wise despite laminitis rearing its head all around and despite a lack of work.  Although of course she could tip over the edge tomorrow.  Spring last year she didn't do so well.  This year the Spring grass is worse and going on for much longer, but she is foot wise suffering less.

Guts though are terrible with the sheer quantity of long, very wet, low fibre, high sugar,  low mineral grass.  Edible charcoal and Yea Sacc are helping me out.  I keep her in for the occasional whole day too, just to dry her tummy up.  Ideally I'd like her brought in at noon and for a while this worked really well, but there are 'technical' issues so this is what we are doing for now.
I'd like better concavity but not too bad. Nov 2011 and
below

Slightly longer toe than I'd like but okish for a pasture pet


























Grace reinforces the notion that a lot of hoof troubles start in the hind gut.  I work my butt off/spend a fair bit to try and help her out with this and so far it seems to be paying off.  Still cheaper than shoes.  But of course this is not why she is barefoot which is entirely for her sake.

I can better identify any onset of laminitis and take remedial action.  Grace can develop and use her caudal hoof, essential for protecting her limbs from concussion (oh boy do I hate riding shod horses after years of bare).  Also an essential element of preventing navicular syndrome. 

While barefoot doesn't entirely prevent thrush (far from it) it is easier to treat and bare horses that are mineral balanced, healthy and in work seem to suffer much less.

Grip on roads is great and with correct conditioning, again especially of the caudal foot, they slip over most surfaces much less. 

Some bare horses seem to slip more on short wet grass, some less.  I can't judge that one as the feedback from clients is mixed.  I do think that unbalanced riders can bring a bare horse down more easily on wet grass. 

But the shod horse is staying upright at the expense of long term joint/ligament health - so if you are not balanced my advice is 'Don't jump short wet grass - period'. 

I know at the time it is hard, yes I was once a teenager, despite my Mum saying I was born aged 40.......  but there are more important things in life than ribbons.

Common Sense

Couldn't help but notice a horse with extraordinarily oval feet.  Extensive lamellar wedge (stretched white line) poking out over the toe of each shoe.  No outer hoof wall at distal point of hoof.  My big ears overheard the BHS Instructor who is the horse's owner commenting:

"The farrier says he's laminitic, but his feet have always been like that."

Well that's all right then.......................................  (not).

Contrasted with carer for this horse who was being reassured that all was ok - but who despite being a novice decided to to their own thinking and research.

RF Eggbar prescribed for heel shear.
NB contraction, prolapsed frog which
doesn't reach the floor.   Uneven heel
heights.

Tall foot had eggbar, other foot shod plain. Horse tripped
badly to point of falling

NB front leg stance.







































Qualifications count for nought if they fly in the face of common sense.

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Southern England, United Kingdom