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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Swamp foot and a hair shirt

I was going to call this 'Florida foot', but as I've never been to Florida, I thought that unwise. However I do have trimming colleagues in Florida who have told me about some of the challenges they face over the pond which is what inspired the thinking (I'll get to the point shortly!).

Now being somewhat long in the tooth and silver of hair I have managed horses in a variety of conditions and made all the usual mistakes. I'm not proud of them, but I do hope I have learnt from them and that by being open about my errors that others can avoid being equally daft.

So before I knew any better I fed my horses things with molasses in them, have let my horses feet grow too long, over rugged, under rugged, not fully understood the consequences of thrush - you name it, I've been around a long time, so I have a long list (and the hair shirt to go with it).

Well I've just added to the list. And I am hoping you guys will realise my mistake and not make it yourselves.

Saw a horse who has previously had pretty good feet. Growing out some issues but nothing too dramatic. As the horse has had some time off there was a bit of chalk to remove and I noticed that the white line had gone from 'standard a bit bit stretched' to really quite stretched, which I pointed out to the carer. I should have stopped then. Because the next bit is horrible. Took off a bit of chalk in the seat of corn and the foot bled. Not huge amounts but not a good thing. The site was so small it couldn't actually be seen and stopped really quickly. But why did it happen in the first place?

Well we will never really know but these are the things that had happened in the time between trims:

Diet change
Intense rain resulting in swampy mud underfoot (hence swamp foot)
More grass
Less exercise

Any one of these can have an impact on the structural integrity of a foot. Although a healthy foot can cope with any one of these in moderation, in retrospect I think a compromised foot faced with all of these has been over challenged.

In future I will be quicker to understand the possibilities.

So going forward the carer is going to reinvigorate the horse's diet, restrict access to grass and will be cautious, but continue to exercise on good surfaces.

Ideally we need to find somewhere dry for the horse to stand and steps are being taken to do this, but it will take too long to be of immediate help.

And me? Well the next time I find a horse with a stretched white line that is stood in mud I am going to run like hell....... no seriously - I will probably leave the chalk in until we have got the situation under control and know more about what is underneath.

Horse wellies anyone?

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Southern England, United Kingdom