Thursday, 3 January 2019

An experiment: self-trimming hooves on a horse not in work

First of all, Happy New Year and I hope that 2019 is a kind one to us all.

I'm now back from an incredible trip to New Zealand and although I am missing the summer sunshine and the wonderful people it is fantastic to be back home.

While I've been away there have been no rehab horses here and our own horses have had a holiday - free access to the fields and the tracks and no work at all.

One of the questions I am most often asked about self-trimming hooves is how horses cope if they are not in work - its a common assumption that self-trimming is only feasible when horses are doing significant road mileage each week.

Well, I must admit I have never tried giving our horses quite as much time off as they have had this year and I thought you might be as interested as I am to see how the feet have managed.
I never trust photos to give a true picture of hoof health so I will add straightway that his landings are still good - heel first and with good media-lateral balance. I don't think I have ever seen him so hairy but I rather like the teddy bear look for a change!
The hoof wall is a little longer than when he is doing high mileage on roads but the white line is tight and the frog and heels are solid and in great condition.
Despite the fluff still a beefy digital cushion. For reference, this horse has not been trimmed for 10 years and has been out of work for 3 months.
 I can't abide the feather (ack!)  - that may have to go fairly soon...
As with the LF, basically fine and ready to do more or stay the same, whichever is an option.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Hello from New Zealand

I’ve just spent a great weekend in Carterton, New Zealand, courtesy of Christin and Bek who kindly organised and hosted an amazing weekend workshop.

Of course it was the first day of summer here on Saturday and despite a sometimes dubious forecast we had fantastic weather, at least until we had all packed up when the heavens opened and the lightning stuck!

That’s me done with workshops for this year, but there will be more next year, starting on 2nd March (a changed date from the one I’d previously posted) at Writtle College.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Forthcoming workshops, home and abroad!

I've got some (to me!) exciting news that I am thrilled to be able to blog about: new workshop dates including in New Zealand and the US.

Its been great running the summer workshops here, as well as the webinar last month, so its great to already have some new dates to share.  

The first is in New Zealand on 1st December 2018. There are more details in the poster above (click to enlarge) and you can contact Christin  for more information and to book:

Then we have a seminar/workshop at Writtle College in Essex on 9th February 2019. This will be open initially to students but there may be spaces available for non-students. Contact Cloe Lambert for information and to book:

Next up is the US, with a workshop in Long Island, NY on 6th April 2019 - contact Jeannean Mercuri for more information and to book:

Finally for now, there is a workshop in Aberdeen on 18th May 2019; contact either Julie Bradbury  - - or me - for more information and to book.

I know its early days but I have had queries from a number of people about running workshops on their yards or local area so if you would like to host a workshop for 2019 do get in touch.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Self-maintaining hooves

Following the webinar last weekend I've been asked if I can put up some examples of self-maintaining hooves.
The problem with doing this is, as we discussed in the webinar, that photos are very deceptive without seeing the horse move. Looking at this photo, someone commented that the toe looked long but in fact the horse has a brilliant landing, heel first and with excellent medio-lateral balance.
When you look at a photo of the sole the toe no longer looks long - as always seeing the horse in motion is the important thing. With that in mind, some of the pictures in this blog are stills taken from video. 
 The important thing to remember is that a photo of a pretty, apparently balanced hoof may be a lie - you just can't tell until you see the horse moving whether it is actually sound and moving well.
However all the feet in this blog post belong to horses who are sound and have been in work barefoot for many years. Most have not been trimmed since at least 2009, one has never been trimmed.
They are in varying levels of work, from light to hard to none at all, but the important factor is that changes to their mileage and workload are made steadily and consistently so that feet can adapt and maintain growth levels to match wear.  

I hope you find them interesting! If anyone has questions then feel free to post. 

Monday, 17 September 2018

Webinar - 30th September 2018

Its been great running the Performance Hoof workshops this summer and meeting so many new people and new horses. Thank you to everyone who has come along!

I've already got ideas for workshops next year and there are one or two dates already in the diary but if anyone is interested in hosting a workshop do let me know.

In the meantime the last workshop - this time a web-based one for those in the US - is running on Sunday 30th so if you are State-side and would like to join us, this is for you!

Monday, 10 September 2018

Finally! Flynn foiled by photo failure....

With apologies for the massive delay, I am finally posting Flynn's update. My stills camera died so I tried using my other camera but then the SD card conked out. Fourth time lucky here we go...  As usual, old photos at the top, new photos below.
So Flynn is now at week 11 of his rehab and has done well - he has been landing heel first for a while and has been working on the roads as well as in the school. The rich flush of grass in August meant I had to be careful with his turnout but he is now back to being out at night which he loves.   
Comparing his photos, the most obvious difference is the shorter toe and less under-run heel. The sole shots show better concavity and a better heel balance, whereas he was overloading the lateral heel when he arrived. 

Nothing particularly spectacular here, though you can see the lateral heel is lower now and he has a better digital cushion. 

From this angle the better support he has now is pretty clear, I think - the whole limb looks a lot more stable. 

As with the other foot the main differences now are better medio-lateral balance (he lands more evenly) and a healthier palmar hoof (he lands heel first). 

I will try to add Flynn's updated footage when I can recover it but for now you'll have to take my word for it about the improved landings!
18th Sept: Even more belatedly, here is his footage:

Friday, 7 September 2018

Put DOWN the rasp and pick up the celery...

It was over 7 years ago that I wrote my first post about celery: 

I didn't realise it was potentially explosive to suggest that farriers and trimmers should try NOT laming horses when they trimmed.  I certainly never imagined that so far down the line I would STILL need to be posting the same message but in fact I not only blog regularly but am also covering the topic every time I give a workshop. 

You can see if you search this blog for celery that its a theme I keep having to come back to, and the reason is because horses are still being lamed by trimming. 
Here is an email I picked up this morning, about a rehab horse who went home a few weeks ago. 

"Up until about a month ago, he was doing amazing.  I had heel-first landings and he was really steady and level on his gait."

Shortly after this he had a blip with too much grass, as many people did when the drought broke and the grass flushed. This is always a shame but is normally sorted out completely with a few days of going back to limiting grass during the day. For this horse, however the problem was compounded because a trimmer came to see him that day and rather than assessing the situation correctly she decided that it would help if she removed some hoof. 

The owner's email tells its own tale:

"She then rasped the medial "flare" that he has on both fronts, she rolled his back toes, took the bars back, trimmed the frog, and as she said "tidied his feet up".  

Well I know even in my little experience, that tidy feet don't make sound feet! He's not been walking comfortably since..."

Three weeks down the line the owner is understandably wondering whether her horse will recover. The answer is that he probably will but it will take several weeks.

Aggressive rebalancing of a horse's foot is almost never a good idea and it is DEFINITELY not a good idea when a horse is rehabilitating from long term lameness. In addition trimming a horse who is in the middle of a reaction to grass is a risky strategy and one which will rarely leave a horse sounder and more comfortable.