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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Home grown and trimming in the dark the Snogmeister excels

LHSR March 2011

LHSR Nov 2011

Snogmeister standing loose to have his manicure,
in the dark, with his pals walking past :-)

Yes that is the same foot. Nothing fancy done, just facilitated nature rather than trying to dictate. So this is a Snogmeister special - all home grown........ Not really surprising he was having problems before he got to choose the shape of his foot when you consider how different the man made (shoe made) version was.  What you might not be able to see is the dramatic increase in concavity.

And look at him - standing so quietly in the dark to have his toes done. What you can't see (because of the flash from the camera) is how the foot is floodlit but the rest is more or less in the pitch dark. What a good lad! :-)

Monday, 28 November 2011

Maiden voyage of the naked hoof!

was the title of an email from a client this morning.......  and with their permission here is the body:-

I rode him for the first time in 12 weeks due to his virus and he did not put a hoof out of line. We went on a short loop which took us along the road and round the corner of a field - not a ride I would have even considered in his 'sugar days' as the field and hedge would have been far too spooky especially after 12 weeks off!

Yesterday we went down the road and back up a stubble field (all walk) again Mr relaxed.

This morning we did another short ride and had a little trot along the grass.

And yes I am still grinning like a lunatic!

This very dedicated owner, who is a real example to us all, has struggled for years (14 to be precise) with a horse that had to have shoes and pads in front and was extremely unpredictable to handle.

When deshod he had pretty bad nail bind - but one of the major turning points for this lovely gelding was reducing the sugar/starch in his diet.

I am so happy for them both.  It took 14 years, but the horse has found his feet and the owner has rediscovered the horse she thought she had.  I hope they enjoy the rest of the time they have.

Big hugs :-)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Of house bricks and more cheese

Got contacted by a client via Facebook last night. Said client was being trolled by a farrier for following the barefoot 'fad'.

Well I've been a barefooter for more than 15 years...........

And I only took up this route because the standard of farriery in my area is so poor.  If my then farrier hadn't proposed putting my unbroken two year old in pads and shoes it might never have crossed my mind. If the answer to every question by his replacement hadn't been 'Well you can always put shoes on.' I might never have sought to learn to trim myself.  (Seriously - I asked about natural solar exfolation - you know when it goes chalky and flakes off - and the answer was to shoe.)

And as far as I can tell my ex shoddie clients are making the same decision for very frequently the same reasons. 

For example; last client of the day yesterday.  Wonderful lady, knew something wasn't right but was getting no joy from her current hoof care provider.   Apparently everything was 'ok' and 'normal'.

Since when has it been normal for a horse to have feet shaped like house bricks?  With hooves twice as long toe to heel as wide and shoes covering a good inch of white line stretch? (And the farrier had said nothing about the stretch or what the owner should do to resolve it.)

This is why horse owners are looking for alternatives - because they know that all is not well and their current providers are unable or unwilling to help them.

Trolling people via Facebook or other social forums is not the answer.  Learning how to treat clients with respect and answering sensible intelligent questions with well informed and helpful responses just might be.

And learning how to recognise and manage laminitis might be another. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Who stole my cheese?

Is the title of one of those grim little books you get thrust upon you when working in corporate land. But there is a message in there for the would be luddites and the flat earthers in the horse world.

And although I am paraphrasing the message is: 'Move with the market or starve.'

My journey to barefoot is probably more gentle than most.  It became inevitable that I kept my old grey mare bare because my then farrier's suggestions about her feet were at best misinformed.  But many have barefoot thrust upon them because of recurrent lameness not helped or maybe even made worse by traditional techniques.

And so it is with livery.  Many of my clients requirements of livery do a 180 when they take their horse barefoot.  No longer do they want jewel green fields, swept concrete, rows of neat boxes and nets full of haylage.  Instead they come to envy those with rubble and weed strewn turnout and rough (but clean) hay.  The desire for a Premier Inn equivalent stable for their horse is replaced with a deep seated wish for a patch of pea gravel.  And a fibre sand school is but nothing compared with miles of safe hacking over varied and even difficult terrain.

And a number of clients, at yards where the concrete is practically polished but the horses get mud fever from standing in shit are voting with their feet (or hooves!).  There is a growing market for livery where the horses genuine biological needs are put first, over and above the human desire for pretty pretty.  And these yards can be more efficient and economical to run. 

More later - got some hooves to do!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Boing... boing... boing.. boing..................

That's me hopping round the stable while mucking out.........

Following an early am phone call from the carer of this horse saying that not only is he staying sound, but he is now jumping (cross poles nothing fancy) and staying sound.


If any horse deserved to get his feet back, it's this one. 

Congrats to carer for putting in the time and effort and giving this guy the chance he needed.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Spaced out on 'crack'

I've not particularly counted, but a fair few of my client horses get edgey when on too much sugar/starch or if the diet is just not right somewhere.  Probably somewhere around 25% or more.  I use the term 'edgey' somewhat loosely as the behaviours expressed can be anything from vague, distracted, incommunicado to quite aggressive kicking and biting.  Inbetween are all the stereotypies including box walking, inability to stand still etc etc.

My own mare Grace got into deep trouble (prior to our partnership) probably largely due to her own sensitivities to sugar/starch.  The pictures below show her after her previous carer spent four months trying to put weight on her in the traditional fashion.  I acquired a horse that couldn't stand still when tied, couldn't concentrate, had trouble with canter and was extremely tricky to brush.  (The list is endless, but this will give you an idea.)

Also note the terrible colour in the above photos.

Below - this is what she looks like when on her low sugar/starch diet with a decent supplement.  And a year later, Grace can happily stand tied for ages, relaxed calm and happy. Check out the colour too!

Grace has no trouble cantering either! :-)

I often think that the horses which are really suffering remind me of people coming down from drugs.  But they have a choice, our horses do not.  And far too many horses get admonished for bad behaviour when the answer lies in our hands - in what we feed them.

Note it took me weeks to wean Grace off her addiction to all things sweet.  There were tears (mine) and tantrums (hers).  But I think you will agree it was worth it.

Now I have a horse that people comment openly on how well behaved and sweet she is - an angel no less.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Navicular and metabolic - the next instalment

It's amazing what you find when you have a tidy up.......

We looked at this case earlier this year but having reorganised my files I have found an old photo which you might find interesting, especially when you compare it with the end of October shot.

This case particularly highlights how shoes mask deep seated problems.  The horse was diagnosed with navicular, but no one mentioned the multiple event lines, stretched white line, collapsed sole and forward running foot and what these might mean.  Except that the horse was "genetically flat footed" ...........

Thought you might like a few quotes from this horse's carer (with their permission so thank you to them :-) )

"Someone watching me pick xxxx's feet out today said 'You are lucky with her, she has great feet' I actually stood up in shock and said are you talking to me??!! "

"She really is stomping along on her feet. I actually forget no shoes at times :) "

 "When I started this process I did not think her feet would get smaller, that I would be able to rug her up without being bitten and kicked, I could hack without shoes, that her flat feet weren't genetic :) So much learned!"
22 06 11 recently deshod
31 10 11 post 'hiccup' - see end

22 06 11 recently deshod

08 11 11

Hiccup - this horse is so sensitive that a few handfuls of the 'wrong sort' of hay can make her lame and grumpy and it shows in the structure of her feet too.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

To protect your barefoot horse take up a new career - turn sleuth......

Almost daily I come across confusion and mayhem.  Partly caused by miscommunication, partly by misleading information from forums and quite a bit from ear mites.

There is one thing we can all do to help ourselves. 

Read the packaging - And if the information is not there or is incomplete then don't buy.

This especially applies to wormers and feeds.

and below two case studies from just yesterday which underscore the need

No brand names mentioned, but one company makes a tapeworm only wormer.  Active ingredient 1mg/1kg body weight.  In combination with another wormer (for an all in one) the dose is 2.5mg/1kg body weight.  The active ingredient may cause a problem for some horses with particular health problems. The manufacturer has stated doses on the packet, but the vet, advising on which wormers to use seems unaware of the different drug amounts.

Regarding feeds - a respiratory aid is more or less a solid block of molasses.  Owner of lami pony advised it is safe to feed to laminitics,

I rest my case.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

By special request - picture of the 'snog meister' :-)

If I had the resources I'd have this one myself, just for the snuffles :-)

Monday, 7 November 2011

It's not always about the fronts and some heavy petting :-)

I get very fond of all the horses I do, but I have to be honest there are some that are a bit special.  This post features one of those.

I don't think I have ever deshod a horse that was in as much pain as this guy.  His face was literally wrung out with it.  We just got on with it, gave him a tiny bit of very gentle hand walking to help get his circulation back and then put him to bed.

The next time I did him was one of those moments I will remember for the rest of my life.  I can't say he was sound, that would be an over stretch, but he was so much more comfortable.  But the remarkable bit was his behaviour.  He was all over me like a rash.  The 'snog' had all the enthusiasm and intensity of a brand new puppy meeting friends.

During his trim, any time he could reach he spent with his lips in my hair wufferling and snuffling and generally making up. Talk about heart breaker! :-)

Then came the tougher times. A stitch was found in his shoulder and the vet upon removing it pronounced he would always be lame and that the owner would have to get him remedially shod and put him on daily bute.
Any time he backed up he had trouble with his hinds and he just couldn't 'come through'.

His owner - a genuine horse woman who always puts her horses interests first - decided that in the light of previous experience (she had had similar diagnoses on previous horses which came sound bare) and the fact that he had been so lame in his natural balance shoes that she would keep him bare and give him the time he needed.

Wind forward 9 months or so and he is sound in walk and trot on hard surfaces.  He's not been cantered on the road............  he can back up as well :-)

A lot of the time, the focus is on the front feet as these are often the bigger problem.  But for this guy, although his fronts weren't brilliant, his hinds have undergone the bigger change.

These feet may seem 'odd' when compared to the parameters that some schools of thought set.  But the final test is 'sound or lame'.  And he was very lame and now he is sound.  So I'm figuring this guy is happy with that.

And as always congrats and big hugs for the carer for putting the horse's welfare first.

Oh and can you see the changes?  Note that he was shod in NB shoes which were a little more than 1.5 inches apart at the heel.

LFS March
LFS June

LFSR March
LHS March
LHS June
LHSR March

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Post script to the last

and while I think about it .........

More bouncing is required for the carer (you know who you are), who in the past few months has deshod three horses all at the same time, moved yards and then built the horses a track of their very own.

Recently trotted up for vets post a weighing session all three horses were reported as being 'very sound' and were also the closest to their ideal weight of any horses the vets have weighed.

The herd includes a warmblood, a TB and a pony.  Congrats to the carer! :-)

Time for a little bounce......

Of pure joy.

The latest 'navicular' is hacking out bootless, sound on grass and is improving over hard ground.  And has stopped biting their carer.  Main lifestyle changes?  Yes - treated like a lami and moved yards.

Very lami shetland - had literally gone through the bottom of his feet is apparently doing some bouncing of his own during his regular 'parades'.  Main lifestyle changes? Yes - dirt paddock and daily heart beat raising walks.  Although the carer reports that the term 'walk' is misleading because he is prancing about and tows her along and has turned into a 'naughty little ********' but I think they are quite happy about that :-)  And he comes to call which is really nice because he must be enjoying his jaunts.

Both are on DIY livery.

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Southern England, United Kingdom