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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Hoof Reading 3






Because the shod horse doesn't feel it's feet so well, in the UK we have become conditioned to seeing severe cases of thrush and thinking of them as normal and of little consequence. And if a thrushy, shod horse trips over a stone or goes a bit hoppy on a limestone track we blame the stones rather than our hoof care.

But it's not the stones at fault. Evolution (or God if you prefer) has given the horse feet that are capable of negotiating some of the toughest terrain on earth. When they are healthy. If your horse struggles with stones the very painful truth is that your horse is not in optimal health.

So apart from soreness over stones and the disgusting smell, why does thrush matter?

In very simple terms; a horse in pain from thrush won't use the back of their foot properly. The suspensory/concussion absorption mechanisms come out of use and the horse will become more prone to injury. The heel will start to contract and if this goes on long enough the horse may well get a diagnosis of 'navicular' in any one of it's many flavours.

Thrush is serious and it must be effectively treated.

The hooves in this blog

Hooves 1-3 as you can see have severe thrush, no. 4 isn't too clever but it's not as bad.

The hooves have been freshly trimmed (not by me) and the owner is concerned that the hooves may not be properly balanced.  Although photos can be misleading, I have to agree that there are areas of concern. 

Q What do you think of the hooves in these pictures?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Soaking hay - does it make that much difference?

Just briefly because it is 23.38 and I have to be up tomorrow at 05.00 .....

Grace has her hay soaked for a minimum of 12 hours and more usually 24, and post soak the hay is thoroughly rinsed under running water.

A kindly soul looked into her big brown eyes, was totally hypnotised and lobbed some unsoaked hay over her door.  And yes Grace did go lame and yes she also tied up. (Grace has EPSM).

Yet Grace can go out overnight into a huge field and come in just fine.  Our unsoaked hay is more detrimental to her than nightime turnout. - Note she goes out at dusk and comes in at dawn.

This wouldn't necessarily be true with different hay and turnout in a different field or the same conditions but different horse.  So it is important to really know your horse and their hooves.  One 'size' does not fit all.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

You are what you eat......

'House' reckons 'everybody lies'.  Me I think that is a little harsh, most of the people I meet are decent, honest folk doing their very best. Sometimes in very difficult circumstances. 

But sometimes people tell you what they think you want to hear.  And sometimes they think that a little white lie won't hurt.  Only with horses and their food, it often does. 

Most, if not all of the horses I have been kicked, bitten or otherwise bashed by have been having 'dietary issues'.  Usually sugar - once you have unpicked all the things going on - that is what it boils down to.

Take for example the horse that recently bit my head.  Yes my whole head, crocodile style.  The carer assured me the horse was on a low sugar diet. I accepted that, but I should have trusted the hooves which were not doing very well, and the behaviour which showed clear symptoms of dietary issues.

More about behaviour and sugar in a future post

Monday, 12 September 2011

Deadly white powder, often cut with other substances

Some will swear it is ok in moderation, many can eat a fair bit and be absolutely fine, for others even a small amount is not so good.

Yes folks, today's post is about sugar :-)

The chemical formula for almost all sugars is CnH2nOn (n is between 3 and 7).  The last time I checked this holds true for organic sugar too..........  and yes organic sugar has the same number of calories and the same potential to rot your teeth and in excess upset the balance of your horse's hind gut.

As you know, horses have evolved to eat lots of low sugar, high fibre forage.  They are so good at it that they can survive in areas too harsh for cows and sheep.  Yes, get that, horses are tougher than cows or sheep.

In future posts I may get into more of the biology of why too much sugar is bad for our horses, but for now can I urge you to read the small print of what you are feeding your treasured friends.

As an example; - a feed shop near me is selling grass seed advertised as 'Suitable for low sugar pony paddocks.'  Well I read the label, it is over 70% Rye grass (seed) and when I checked out the varieties of Rye included (yes I am a geek), they average over 18% sugar in the growing season.  Now bearing in mind we are aiming for less than 10% - how the ? is that low sugar?  It certainly isn't suitable for horses or ponies.

Ditto various products marketed as safe for laminitics or 'low sugar'.  Don't read the marketing guff on the side of the bag (in the UK) look for the white label that should be stitched on (it often falls off).  This will detail how much sugar is in the bag, as well as listing the ingredients. And don't be fooled; many molasses free products aren't, instead they contain a modified form of molasses which has had a tiny bit of the sugar taken out.  But it is still sweet and sugary!

Some will argue that a bit of sugar never did any harm.  Well the owners of the horses with behavioural problems; that on a low sugar diet have transformed into paragons of good behaviour, but when slipped the odd carrot or bit of grass and turn into 'monsters' will argue otherwise :-)  Guys you know who you are! :-)

And let's not forget the LGL's sound on well soaked hay, but footy when not.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Hoof Reading 2

The owner of this horse told me that they were reassured when the attending farrier told them that the horse did not have laminitis.

Only a vet is allowed to diagnose, but like you, I think the horse is a strongly laminitic case, particularly as part of the back story is that it has presented in founder stance.

Only vets are allowed to diagnose though and when a farrier says 'no laminitis' who can blame a less experienced owner for believing them?

Certainly not me, I spent years believing all sorts of things I now realise were completely and utterly wrong and worse.

Sadly I don't know what is going to happen to this horse, I just hope and pray he will get the help he needs.

On a separate note, I haven't commented on the individual photos, but there are some interesting points. Anyone care to have a stab?

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Southern England, United Kingdom