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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Monday, 18 June 2012

Chunky Monkey defies the modern myths

Functional and pretty!

This foot is attached to one of those gentle giants that aren't supposed to be able to go barefoot - apparently they are too heavy for their feet etc etc I did mention him while waiting for the AA but I thought you'd like a picture and a bit more info.

Originally shod Cytek and to be honest, style of shoe aside, the shoeing job was definitely one of the better ones. Horse is tubby, LGL prone and probably IR.

The carers who look after him worked really hard to clear thrush, help him lose weight and make his rehab as comfortable as possible. And it really didn't take that long.

Now they are reaping the benefits:
  • 'Lazy kick-along' has transformed into dynamic powerhouse
  • Previously painfully slow walk is now so powerful it makes their hips hurt when they ride him
  • No more slipping on the road
  • Loves to trot
  • Cheaper feed bills
  • Happier horse
  • and last and least important - cheaper foot care bills

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Cruel Practical Jokes and other stupidities

You know the really dumb stuff that lads of about 12-15 start doing as their hormones surge and pimples start popping?

The tap on the opposite shoulder so when you look round noone is there.  Putting a foot on a scale to make someone appear heavier.  Drawing pins on chairs and gluing pennies to the pavement.

I used to think these were just dumb practical jokes, but I saw a reworking of the foot on the scale thing recently and it wasn't at all funny.

Mind you I doubt it was done on purpose, but the alternative isn't much better.

Have to keep this beyond anon, so sorry no photos, so let's draw a mental picture for you instead.  I've had to alter a few details but nothing substantive.

Hooves being x-rayed for lameness work up.

The experienced among you will know the drill.  Hooves are raised on blocks, sometimes very simply, other times much more complex, but remember the hoof on block bit.

One of the things x-rays are used for is to help vets determine side/side and front/back balance of the hoof and the pedal bone within it.

So I'm looking at this x-ray, you can clearly see the block under the hoof.

Except you can't; there is no block under the caudal hoof at all and the heel has been allowed to dip below the level of the rest of the hoof by a significant amount because it is falling off the block.

The horse gets diagnosed with negative palmar angle. (Simply put the pedal bone is too low at the back.)

I am a generally miserable old bag with a naturally inquisitive nature, so I feel pretty comfortable with questioning stuff and have a vet who is good enough to bear it in good humour (bless him).

But many horse owners are not like this.  They are nicer and don't want to upset people or ask 'dumb' questions.

To these nice people I put forward this - so long as you phrase your questions politely and with the best of intent no good vet is going to mind you asking about stuff.  If they do object then maybe you should find one that will let you learn. Because that is what it is all about - learning together so we can better take care of our horses to whom we owe so much.

Laminitis and Fructans

I was going to post this in 2010 - never quite got round to it.......

Did you know that if you ingested enough water it could kill you?  And I don't mean by drowning. There was a case in the UK not so long ago.  Yet few of us would declare water to be a bad thing, except maybe cats and the odd spotty youth.  Many materials, if eaten in sufficient quantity can have harmful effects.  For some substances; Yew Tree Seeds, Laburnanum Seeds, Deadly Nightshade (I think the clue is in the name......... ) it doesn't take very much.  So the question then is how much is too much?

The reason I mention this is because grass fructans have been getting a lot of bad press largely because of a study published by Dr. Pollitt in 2006.  Now don't get me wrong, this isn't out to demonise Pollitt, he is a fine researcher who no doubt seeks to help horses where he can.  But so far as I can tell, this particular study broke a few rules (basic stuff we were taught in 'O' level when I was a lass and yes that is practically pre history for those cheeky folk who know me).

Problem One
The fructans used didn't come from grass and they didn't even resemble grass fructans.  And here on earth not all fructans are created equal.  The fructans in the experiment were from chickory and these have a simple, mostly linear structure.  Grass fructans are more complex and have branching side chains.

It is unlikely that these different structures will be fermented in the same way, with the same speed and the same quick reduction in hind gut pH.  I am unaware of any study where the same results have been found with grass fructans.

Problem Two
A very high dose; 3.75kg of the pure chickory fructan was delivered by stomach tube, and unlike the lager louts of Europe, few horses would naturally ingest anything this way. It would take c.43kg of fresh grass to deliver that much fructan (and remember even then it would be a different type of fructan).  Grace is a a hoover, and eats far beyond her theoretical capacity but even at her greediest at c.500kg she struggles to put away more than 16kg.  Yes I am that sad that I measure everything.

Problem Three
The peak season for pasture associated laminitis is spring, when fructan levels are low.

So from my simple 'O' level point of view, the findings of this research are that if you hook a horse up to a stomach tube, force feed it an unnaturally and ridiculously large amount of the wrong sort of fructan you are going to disrupt hind gut fermentation and give a horse laminitis.

NB - but why would you?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Haven't posted about Grace for a while

Especially not on her blog.  Sorry.

I'll have had her for 3 years in July and she is an example of how horses/hooves can have a roller coaster ride, but still generally improve over time. And many changes, both good and bad can be reversed.

Slightly gobsmacked that she is doing pretty well hoof wise despite laminitis rearing its head all around and despite a lack of work.  Although of course she could tip over the edge tomorrow.  Spring last year she didn't do so well.  This year the Spring grass is worse and going on for much longer, but she is foot wise suffering less.

Guts though are terrible with the sheer quantity of long, very wet, low fibre, high sugar,  low mineral grass.  Edible charcoal and Yea Sacc are helping me out.  I keep her in for the occasional whole day too, just to dry her tummy up.  Ideally I'd like her brought in at noon and for a while this worked really well, but there are 'technical' issues so this is what we are doing for now.
I'd like better concavity but not too bad. Nov 2011 and

Slightly longer toe than I'd like but okish for a pasture pet

Grace reinforces the notion that a lot of hoof troubles start in the hind gut.  I work my butt off/spend a fair bit to try and help her out with this and so far it seems to be paying off.  Still cheaper than shoes.  But of course this is not why she is barefoot which is entirely for her sake.

I can better identify any onset of laminitis and take remedial action.  Grace can develop and use her caudal hoof, essential for protecting her limbs from concussion (oh boy do I hate riding shod horses after years of bare).  Also an essential element of preventing navicular syndrome. 

While barefoot doesn't entirely prevent thrush (far from it) it is easier to treat and bare horses that are mineral balanced, healthy and in work seem to suffer much less.

Grip on roads is great and with correct conditioning, again especially of the caudal foot, they slip over most surfaces much less. 

Some bare horses seem to slip more on short wet grass, some less.  I can't judge that one as the feedback from clients is mixed.  I do think that unbalanced riders can bring a bare horse down more easily on wet grass. 

But the shod horse is staying upright at the expense of long term joint/ligament health - so if you are not balanced my advice is 'Don't jump short wet grass - period'. 

I know at the time it is hard, yes I was once a teenager, despite my Mum saying I was born aged 40.......  but there are more important things in life than ribbons.

Common Sense

Couldn't help but notice a horse with extraordinarily oval feet.  Extensive lamellar wedge (stretched white line) poking out over the toe of each shoe.  No outer hoof wall at distal point of hoof.  My big ears overheard the BHS Instructor who is the horse's owner commenting:

"The farrier says he's laminitic, but his feet have always been like that."

Well that's all right then.......................................  (not).

Contrasted with carer for this horse who was being reassured that all was ok - but who despite being a novice decided to to their own thinking and research.

RF Eggbar prescribed for heel shear.
NB contraction, prolapsed frog which
doesn't reach the floor.   Uneven heel

Tall foot had eggbar, other foot shod plain. Horse tripped
badly to point of falling

NB front leg stance.

Qualifications count for nought if they fly in the face of common sense.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Barefoot Dressage


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Say your prayers

for Nigel/la.
Slight departure but look who I found drowning in a bucket in the garden.

'Daddy' was calling from the shrubbery, so having checked for obvious wounds (there were none) I put her/him under a bush in relative saftey. There was a slight hitch in that she/he was reluctant to get off my hand.

Let's hope Nigel/la makes a full recovery and gets to adulthood with no more misadventures.

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Southern England, United Kingdom