Monday, 1 June 2020

All about landings and why they are important for soundness

I'm re-posting some of my previous blog posts today because I had an interesting question come in on email and it reminded me that its sometimes good to go back to basics.


The question was about how horses land, and whether it really mattered whether they landed heel first. Its a question that often comes up and I have posted about it a lot (you can search through old blog posts using the box on the right).

So rather than re-invent the wheel, here are some posts I prepared earlier...

http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2010/10/heel-first-flat-and-toe-first-landings.html - a basic explanation of the anatomy behind lame and sound landings.

http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2009/11/toe-first-landing-what-happens-next.html - why a toe first landing is an important warning that should not be ignored.

http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2011/10/comparing-heel-first-and-toe-first.html - anatomy in more detail.

http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2016/04/normal-healthy-landing.html  - examples of really healthy landings.

http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-horse-experts-and-heel-first-landing.html and http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2014/09/heel-first-landing.html
- responses to a strange article, which insists that heel first landings are not healthy. The 2013 post includes slow motion footage as well.

Hope you enjoy them, and apologies to those who've seen them all before!


Wednesday, 27 May 2020

What we do, what we don't

I've been getting a lot of enquiries recently from people who have found the website or been referred by someone else (thank you to everyone who has recommended us or passed on our details!).  Its been a while since I posted an introduction or did any myth-busting so its probably a good time for a recap.
So, for anyone coming across us for the first time here is a brief introduction to what we do, as well as what we don't.



  • We specialise in horses with long term lameness, usually a soft tissue (tendon or ligament) injury which is causing a front limb lameness. 
  • Every horse arriving here has been diagnosed (often, but not always, on MRI) with a significant foot issue; many have been lame for months or even longer. 
  • The objective with rehab and remedial farriery is similar - to support the back of the foot so that the horse is more comfortable and better able to move freely. The main difference is that farriery achieves this by shoring up the foot from the outside, whereas rehab achieves it by developing and strengthening the internal structures of the foot. 



  • We can't guarantee success and horses are not "fixed" when they leave us - its just the start of an ongoing process that involves the owner in a lot of hard work, including close attention to the horse's diet and regular exercise on different surfaces to keep hooves as healthy as possible.
  • However, if you treat feet like any other part of the horse's body and allow the horse to maintain their fitness, they are incredibly capable of changing and improving. A healthy bare foot is one of the toughest things you will come across, and positively thrives on hard work and high mileage. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Horses on a circle

Footage of horses moving on a circle is an indispensably useful piece of information, and its something we use here routinely to assess how horses are doing. I don't usually post this on the blog because people who are unfamiliar with what we do tend to view it and simply see a less than sound horse - perhaps not realising that the reason horses come here is always because of lameness! 

We don't use work on a circle for rehabilitation, certainly not in the early stages, as its too challenging for horses with soft tissue injuries of the type we see here. The reason it is useful is as a measure of lameness because although every horse which comes here is lame, some are sound in a straight line and only show lameness on a circle and many are worse on one rein than the other. 

Its very common, as with Guinness above, for a horse to be reluctant to bend correctly as a way of taking weight off a front leg, to go hollow (for the same reason) and to have a shortened hind leg stride (as a consequence of shortened stride in front). 


This lower photo is a still from 3 weeks on and the improvements are clear. Guinness still has a few weeks of rehab here to go and should continue to improve once he goes home but it is a nice illustration of the changes that can happen in a few weeks as feet strengthen and become more comfortable. 



Thursday, 14 May 2020

Henry's update

Henry has been working hard in the weeks he has been here. He has strong looking feet but has taken a while to build a more consistent landing.

What interesting is that while his landing has improved his feet have not changed much.

He has arguably a bit more development in the frog at the back of the foot today, and his toe is a little shorter but no dramatic shifts. 




Again, a stronger frog at the back of the foot but photos are telling is very little about Henry's feet. 


You get a more interesting picture of what is happening when you look at his footage, which is here: https://vimeo.com/418341968

He has gone from a toe first landing to a heel first landing, which is always what we want to see. There is room for this to become better still but importantly his landing is steadily improving with consistent work, a good indication that we are heading the right way.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Wilberry's (nearly) 8 week update



Its coming up to 8 weeks since Wilberry arrived with us; I tried posting these comparison photos yesterday but before I had a chance to save it we had a power cut and I lost the lot, so this is the second attempt. I like the fact that Wilberry has a better stance now and that the back of his foot is less under-run.
He had pretty decent-looking frogs when he arrived but this was not borne out by his landing. As that has improved the back of his foot has developed and he is also beginning to have better sole depth.
This is a more balanced foot, which is nice to see. As ever, the proof is in how he is landing, so his footage is the most important thing - the link is at the end. 
No dramatic changes in these photos, but his heels are further back and therefore more supportive and  more importantly the central sulcus split in his frog has healed up.  You can see this more easily in the lower shots. 
And finally the most important part - his footage: https://vimeo.com/415416066


Monday, 4 May 2020

Ella's 16 week update

Due to Covid-19 we've had Ella here for an extended period - longer than the 12 weeks we would normally have horses here for - and its great seeing her feet respond. There is a really dramatic change in angle in her feet which is now clearly visible and once her new hoof capsule has fully grown she should have pretty smart feet.
Her frogs have improved a lot but there will be further improvement once her shortened toe grows in.  The back of her foot is already more robust, as her better landing has proved. 
Looking at her feet from this angle her heels appear shorter - essentially her frog and digital cushion are better developed and so her feet have better support.
If you project the line of new growth down (its about half way down her hoof capsule at the moment) you can see her toe will shorten once its fully grown in.
The confirmation of her shorter toe and better palmar hoof are clear in these photos - her frog is taking up more of the foot and the foot is less under-run.
As with the other foot, she now has a stronger digital cushion and frog which should continue to develop once she is home again. 

Finally a quick comparison of her stance  - as ever the original photo is above and the most recent is below. I'd say she is better balanced and looking more confident today and again as her "new" feet continue to grow in that should only get better. 

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Dash's delayed update

Dash has now been here for 5 weeks - we should have posted an update last week but somehow the time got away from me and I forgot it was already 4 weeks, for which I apologise. She started landing better a couple of weeks ago and so since then we have steadily increased her work levels and introduced more challenging surfaces. 
Her feet have responded, as you can see, by starting to grow in a (hopefully stronger) hoof. She had come out of shoes only a few weeks before coming to us (as you can see from the nail holes in the upper photo) and as a result her hoof wall was weak but the nail holes are nearly gone 5 weeks later. 
Her frog is starting to become stronger and although her heels still look under-run on the photos above, from below you can see they are actually improving though her feet are still flat. I would not expect her concavity to improve until she has grown in a whole new hoof capsule.

On her right foot we have the same pattern, and I like the more balanced hairline as well. 

The development in the back of her foot is a good sign but this is still a weak foot, of course. A horse like this would often be described as flat-footed but the important thing to realise is that flat feet don't have to stay that way - they can grow better. 

Looking at her digital cushion there is the beginnings of better structure, an encouraging sign, though lots still to do.
Dash's footage is here, and its nice to see that not only has her landing changed from flat to heel first but her stride length and confidence have also improved: https://vimeo.com/411949336