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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Use your head as well as your nose.

To continue on the theme of hay.  Had demonstrable proof that you can't judge hay by look or smell.  Except for a broad and rather vague indication of mouldiness.  Very experienced farmer x 3 all declared that a sample of mouldy, sugary hay which is very low in minerals was ok, based on the poke it and sniff it test........

One, completely shocked at how inaccurate this time served method was, is now going to have a forage test done on his hay stock.  Great bloke wants to make sure he is feeding his animals properly.

And - just had the results back on some hay that looks and smells beautiful.  Still too high in sugar and really low in minerals. 

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder......  tis in the performance of the feet! 

And feet need a species suitable diet, which for neds in the UK, may well mean a bit of detective work. :-)

Friday, 16 March 2012

Orange Ears

Just promise you won't tell Grace........

See here for the background

Enjoy the journey

Sometime in the spring/early summer of last year I got a call about a navicular horse, lame in shoes, lamer still with wedges.

Fronts came off June, hinds a bit later (don't ask).

Regular readers of the blog will have seen how they looked straight out of shoes.

Left Fore side view June 2011.  Clipped for nerve blocks et al
Horse could not stand 'bare' on concrete, hence the straw

And then

Left Fore Oct 2011.  Note event line almost half way down

And yesterday

Left Fore March 2012.  Event line almost grown out

The horse* has passed a vetting including trotting a 10m circle on concrete. Hacks out sound over stones (shod companion couldn't do it and had to use the verge), schools and lunges happily.

I watched the horse trot up yesterday - the movement has changed from 'sewing machine' when shod (carer's words not mine) to positively floating.

And the behavioural changes are for me equally significant.  Used to have to be cross tied for tacking up etc.  Now will stand loose in the yard dozing while groomed, tacked up or trimmed.

Enjoy the journey?  Another client has asked that I blog about 'The Finish'.  Only there never is one, not until we pass over anyway.

The horses I attend prove to me time and again that give the right opportunities their hooves will continue to improve, regardless of age. 

Some will decline, from uncontrolled Cushings, Insulin Resistance or other metabolic disorder, but sort those out, feed the horse properly, work them appropriately and it is truly amazing how the hooves respond, even with horses in their twenties.

Age doesn't have to be a barrier to a healthy hoof and the journey never finishes.  So learn to enjoy it and appreciate the ride for whatever it brings.

* Note I am now excluding gender because too many people are starting to play the 'guess the horse' game and that is not fair on the carer's of the horses who have so generously agreed to their cases being put on the blog.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Hay and sugar beet

As I described here I have a problem with hay that is high in iron.  1092mg per kilo to be precise.
So as well as pursuing careful supplementation to mitigate some of the problems this causes I thought I'd take a bit more of a look at the other source of iron that Grace eats in any quantity.
Sugar Beet
150g unmolassed sugar beet to be precise.  And it's important to get the unmolassed product which I know can be tricky in some countries such as the US. 
Raw unprocessed beet typically yields between 17% and 22%  sugar, in some circumstances it may peak at 25%.  The processed, unmolassed beet is 5% or less.  But add molasses and you can be looking at much higher levels. 
The breakdown for the umolassed sugar beet I use is this:
Copper 10mg/kg (twice my hay)
Zinc 20 mg/kg
Iron 450 mg/kg (less than half my hay)
Calcium 1%
Sugar 5% (slightly more than half my hay)

So the beet has a better nutritional profile than my hay. 
I know the company I buy it from test their beet at least twice a month.  I have it in writing.  And for completeness I have checked with another company and they check every batch too.

So what am I going to do now?
I knew Grace was getting too much iron and not enough copper.  But until I had continuity of hay supply testing it was pointless.  I always worried it was the beet.  How wrong could I be!
So now I am going to rejig her ration a little.  I won't worry about feedng a bit more beet and a little less hay and I will mineral balance the lot.  It's relatively easy when you know how.
Grace is really looking forward to her new ears.

You are what you eat

Grace's ears have turned orange.  I kid you not.  If I hadn't broken my old phone I'd show you a photo (and Grace begged me not to - soooo embarrassing).  On a deep liver chestnut it is not a good look and it signals loudly my failure to address a copper shortage that I had a good idea was on the way.  So you can all slap my wrists now.  Only its a very useful scenario that I hope will help someone, somewhere, sometime.

So a bit of background.......
I live and livery in a very high iron area, even the water is loaded.  All the grass is ex dairy, mostly Rye and when I am really unlucky it gets nitrogen thrown at it too.
The livery yard has recently changed its modus operandi and I can now buy my own hay in.  Which is a huge relief as the previous hay was over 18% sugar and over 21% sugar/starch combined, low in minerals and rather mouldy.  So I am pleased I can get my own in and hugely grateful that the yard has allowed this departure from the norm.
As always though there is a hitch - the only alternative hay, while lower in sugar and much less mouldy, is mega high in iron.  I know because I've had it tested.  By an ISO accredited lab.  Twice.

So what's the problem?  Horses need iron right?

Yes they do, but diet related iron deficiency has never been described in the horse except in foals. Instead, because iron is so abundant in the equine diet, iron overload and iron interference with the absorption of the other trace minerals such as copper and zinc is much more likely.  Hence Grace's orange ears.

Excess iron has other unwanted side effects, including: predisposition to infection, predisposition to arthritis and increased risk of tendon/ligament problems, liver disease and altered glucose metabolism – including insulin resistance and overt diabetes.

So looks aside who would want to expose their horse to these risks unnecessarily?

Which leads me to my next post

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Stunning barefoot trot beats the snow

Regular readers of my blog will have seen the feet attached to this horse in previous posts, but perhaps never the whole horse.

Here she is in action, on her way to completing her first 64km of the season.  Note it was snowing!

Vet commented on her "Stunning trot." on the pre-ride trot up.

Despite horrible conditions she completed 64km and trotted up sound at the end.  Well done to all! :-)

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Southern England, United Kingdom