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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Barefoot hooves - speed of growth/wear

Hooves are a window to your horse's health. Event lines - as can be clearly seen in the first photo are reminders of 'events'. The two biggest lines, at just below half way down the hoof and the one below were caused by vaccinations - which this horse will probably not have again because they made her very ill.

In the second photo you can see one big event line just above the bottom edge of the hoof. This is the same one which in the first photo is just below half way down. The hoof has grown that much in 8.5 weeks - or just about 2 months. I estimate that this hoof is replacing itself completely roughly every 6 months. Oddly before I checked the history I had always thought this horse grew foot quite slowly.

So it pays to keep records and to realise just how fast hooves can grow - barefoot ones anyway.

And despite being stabled this horse is almost self trimming. She works 3x a day on a variety of surfaces including sand, stones, grass and car park. Extreme metabolic issues mean she is not quite rock crunching at the moment, but she has been in the past and we hope that she will be in the future. But never again will I use a wormer that claims to be effective over a number of weeks. It takes too long to grow out the damage from this horse's feet.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Hind foot - 9 month changes

First photo just deshod, second photo not quite 9 months later.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Event lines and laminitis

The first picture was just after the horse was deshod. A previous laminitis attack is evidenced by the heavy, broad rings in the heel area of the hoof wall. The hoof wall had been severely rasped when the horse was shod to remove the rings from the front portions of the hoof wall.

The second picture is 9 months later. You can see the hoof wall maintains the same angle more or less from coronary band to floor. If you look closedly you can see there are faint event lines. Some of them are from diet, others from wormers and vaccination. By carefully monitoring the appearance of these, it is possible to deduce what does and doesn't work for an individual horse.

This particular horse is an exceptional challenge and it is gratifying to have been able to get a reasonable angle all the way to the ground. Rock crunching comes and goes. A well intentioned but 'unfortunate' wormer is taking a long time to grow out.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Transition - changes in hoof shape

When a hoof 'transitions' it sometimes changes shape in one or more dimensions. The above hoof has changed from just about every view.

In this solar view you can see how the;

  • length from frog apex to toe tip has shortened,
  • collateral grooves are wider
  • depth of sole around the frog apex is deeper,
  • sole has gone from almost bulging to having a modest amount of concavity

Friday, 25 June 2010

Lameness - Removing shoes - a case study

Front Foot Shod
The purpose of this blog is to question, inform and encourage in equal measure.

If you are a regular follower, the questions will be easy to answer. If not then previous posts may be helpful.

If you are the owner of a horse which is in transition then I hope that this and previous posts will provide some inspiration.

In order to provide the photographic material a very very kind horse owner has given me permission to use pictures of their horse - which has just started the transition process.

The horse attached to the feet in the pictures has been progressively lame for some months. Besides being lame the horse was unable to stand without the front legs continually trembling at the knee. The regular vet referred to a specialist. Diagnosis was nothing wrong with feet. I'll let you make your own minds up.

Solar View Both Fronts Just Deshod

Two Weeks Later

Since removing the shoes the horse has been on a high fibre, low sugar diet. Exercise is on soft surfaces until the horse is able to cope with more. The knee trembling almost entirely stopped and the horse is 'beaming'.

Although footy over stones the horse is moving better in a straight line and around corners. The owner is incredibly hard working and dedicated to their horse. A credit to themselves and an example to us all. :-)

And here is one we did earlier ......

Monday, 7 June 2010

EPSM and barefoot with added sugar at livery

If you have an EPSM horse with sugar issues you may find yourself driven to distraction until you find the formula that works for your horse, especially if like me you keep it at livery with no grass free turnout.

My own horse Grace has been up and down like the proverbial yoyo. First it took an educated guess to realise that she may have EPSM. We already knew about the sugar problem. Several weeks on the EPSM diet and we were making progress. Now Grace only ties up when under extreme mental/emotional stress (until the next unexplained episode of course and touching lots of wood).

But her feet ....... they react just as badly as her muscles and take longer to recover. Every millimetre of concavity is hard won and very easily lost. We had a month or so in February when she could crunch rocks. Then a few things happened and we have been struggling. (Wormers, vaccinations, grass, stress, they all impact.) So I have recruited the EasyCare Gloves and only regret that I didn't get a pair sooner.

Look at the pictures below. If you imagine a steady switch between the two on a monthly or more frequent basis you might have some idea of life with an EPSM sugar sensitive ned.

In the first picture (old camera phone) the foot is completely flat and starting to scoot forward at the toe. In the second picture the foot is now wider than long (just) and has some concavity.

It has now come to a bit of a pause at this point. With extra Vitamin E we are holding steady for the moment. I am not planning to change anything until I know this current state is stable.

Of course I'd be so happy if we get a more concave foot, but right now I'd be grateful to hang on to the concavity that we have.

Another look at a deviated hoof

In April we looked at a deviated hoof and how if you trimmed it just by looking at the outside you could end up resecting the hoof (a complete no no).

The hoof in question also had an extensive white line separation in one quarter, and some damage higher up in the same quarter, possibly from where an abcess had errupted from the coronary band.

The damaged hoof wall and white line separation have now 'connected' and the quarter has broken away. I thought you might like to see the extent of the damage - and to know that the horse is still sound. In fact she is increasingly 'perky'.

The pink lines broadly track where the upper portion of hoof wall is indicating it would like to go. We are still in the same position of not being able to remove the 'flare' as it is a deviation and to do so would mean cutting into the live foot.

This hoof is showing evidence of dietary issues, which the owner is seeking to address. Much easier to say than do when keeping a horse at grass in the UK.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

We need a new acronym............

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with DEET which then became DEETT - standing for


But I need to add in Education and Communication.

Suggestions for a new acronym will be warmly welcomed!

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Southern England, United Kingdom