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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Grey - Princess Pickles

So named because she is outwardly glamorous, but as a youngster was famous for getting herself into trouble.

PP is sugar sensitive, but we keep her on a no sugar diet. Her feet have been barefoot for years and she has always done well. In the past some experts have suggested that she would go better in shoes, but this has proven not to be the case.

PP's feet are a reflection of the 'Exercise' and 'Environment' elements of DEET. Because of her lifetime of injuries (see bottom of post) she has not used the back of her feet for years. This has caused her heels to contract and her frogs to become skinny with a very deep central sulcus. Despite lots of traditional exercise we have not been able to improve this.

We are hoping that by improving her environment we can stimulate the back of the foot to encourage decontraction of the heel and stimulation of the frog. PP has been on a circuit system for turnout since 1st September 2008. This has helped a little. Her feet have hardened and are growing faster than ever. But the heels have stayed contracted. So now we have put large chopped bark in the field shelter in the hope that this will provide more stimulation.

PP will be 16 in May 2009. Despite her multiple, serious injuries, she is still with us and in her own way is still sound. I say in her own way because she moves like a hyper active spider on speed and is not brilliant at circles in front, but is ok in a straight line. The physio says this is not because she is lame as such but because she has learned compensatory behaviours for all her old injuries. Her suspensory injuries are also on the inside branches so they are under greater strain on a circle.

Each leg has had at least one major trauma, the fronts have had several. Her hips suffered when she had an altercation with a car. She damaged her neck when she landed on her head (brake failure when in the field). She has a broken tooth thanks to an unpleasant vet and once completely skinned the underside of her tail.

Despite many long and painful treatments she has remained a doddle to handle and a real joy to ride. She is a beta horse, prone to being bullied by the other horses she nevertheless manages to stay cheerful.

PP has one major vice - sweets or edible treats of any kind. Even one will turn her into a brat, in the same way one drop of water turned Gizmo from a fluffy adorable creature into a toothy scaled monster.

The more serious injuries include:

  1. Tearing of all major muscles for left fore limb including upper arm, chest and shoulder (brake malfunction in field) this limb is now slightly shorter than it should be
  2. Cut through to both hock capsules and badly skinned tail - backing through a post and rail fence to get at a 3 month old colt. Hocks now a bit clicky at times
  3. Damaged neck when landed on head (brake malfunction again)
  4. 3 serious sets of suspensory ligament damage to both fore legs (one leg lost 50%)
  5. Damaged pelvis during some sort of incident with car (not sure what happened as I was knocked out briefly and they drove off)
  6. Damaged left hind leg (and back) when hung upside down by polo fencing (didn't quite clear the top strand and being elastic it snared her foot)

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Southern England, United Kingdom