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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Monday, 10 November 2008

No foot no horse no George

George is an ocean going liner. Or maybe a caterpillar driven tank, or an articulated lorry that has lost its kink. Whatever, he is great at going in a straight line. Takes his time to come to a stop and is reasonably rubbish at turns, especially considering he is supposed to be a cow horse.

Unfortunately we are in a bit of a spiral and I don't think it is going the right way. His feet are terrible, which makes his back, shoulders, loin and butt sore. So he finds it hard to hold himself together, which makes it hard to do any work with him. But we need to do the work with him to make him easier to handle so we can do more work with him to help him mend.

So we have decided if we can to take him to Rockley Farm, which is a specialist rehab centre. They will be in a better position to give him an environment which will help his feet. When his feet are better then we can work on the rest.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Confused and bemused

Our normal barefoot trimmer is great. We love him to bits and he has been doing our horses for years. But sometimes it is good to get a second opinion, especially as it is so easy to get wrapped up in the way you have always done things and then you stand to miss new and possibly better ways.

So we had a specialist barefoot trimmer out, recommended by a vet and a member of a professional barefoot association.

We were promised before and after photos of the trimming which I would have loved to share. But unfortunately these never arrived. Neither did a few other promises but never mind.

It was an experience. No one was hurt and the horses quite liked the person. But I don't think I will be inviting them back. My priority is always the horses welfare and part of that is having suppliers that are not only good at their job, but can also be relied upon. I run my own business and this experience has taught me very plainly that it doesn't matter how good you are at your speciality, it is still important to get the hygiene factors right.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Barefoot trimming

Madam arrived in April. We knew in advance we would have to do quite a bit of work on her feet. This is how they were then. The first picture shows her left fore. You can see the holes from her last set of shoes. Harder to see, but you might be able to make them out are the bruises on the hoof wall - from the laminae being torn as she moves. You can also see the underslung heel.

The next picture shows the underside of a front foot. This shows the underslung heel more clearly. There is a flare to the left - hence the torn laminae and as you can see the foot is really flat. There may be some bruising around the apex of the frog. A vet saw her in regard to a later abscess and declared that as her feet were so flat she would have to wear shoes.
The final picture shows the underside of a hind foot. The hinds were particularly long - not yet turkish slippers, but on their way. You may be able to see the sole is completely flat and it was actually 'polished' to the texture of glass - which was to prove a slippery prob
lem later. The frog is completely flush with the sole.

See tomorrow's post for pictures of how Madam's feet look now.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Little bit of this, little bit of that. Isn't that how many horse owners feed? I know I used to, still do, but not quite so much.

We are moving onto a 'self-service' system. The horses will have access to a variety of block supplements which they can help themselves to as they wish.

Some people favour feeding the same type of 'freeserve' supplements, but in a loose form in some type of lidded feeder with holes. I have decided against any type of bucket or feeder. The two QH, George in particular can be rather klutzy and I have visions of finding them wearing the bucket or worse.

Madam loves licking things, water troughs, gates, trees, you name it, if it stands still it will get the once over. Here she is trying out the Himalayan salt lick. The frisbee originally made a roof to keep it dry, but as you can see, that worked for all of five minutes. Now it helps stop the salt leaching into the wooden post. Probably just as well because Madam eats enough wood as it is.

Oh and in the background you can see George sneaking under the electric fence.

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Southern England, United Kingdom