Thursday, 27 October 2016

In and out of bar shoes - Joey's update

Like Ted yesterday, Joey arrived here just over 2 weeks ago and its time for an update. He came shod in bar shoes which had been advised in order to support his injured DDFT, as I blogged here
In that post I re-iterated my opinion that bar shoes do not, in fact, provide the support that vets often imagine they do and these photos I think show why. 
In the bar shoe the foot actually has a lot less support because the ground contact is limited to the shoe whereas now much more of his foot is in contact with the ground. 
Think of it like a mattress on a bed frame: are you likely to have a better night's sleep on a supportive mattress if it is only supported round the edge of the bed or if there are slats right across the bed from side to side?
Of course this is a weak foot with a poor palmar hoof and weak digital cushion but to me it already looks stronger out of its "supportive" shoe. 

The under-run heel and flat foot are also going to change  - again this will happen faster out of shoes. 

I don't know about you but to me this looks like a foot which is relieved to be out of a bar shoe.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Ted's two weeks

Feathery Ted has been here just over 2 weeks and its time for hoof photo updates. I am limiting this to his sole shots for now as he has so much feather that you can't see an awful lot from other angles!
Of course its possible to wrap all the hair out of the way for photos and no doubt I will do that for his 4 week updates but these are just quick comparisons so I am keeping it simple. 
His landing is already improving and he is able to work in the school with short periods on harder surfaces as he becomes more competent so there will be more changes on the way. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

"Advanced degenerative pathology" - Jake's feet

These photos belong to Jake who arrived a week ago  - apologies for the late posting, I am just not sure where last week went!
 Jake has been diagnosed on MRI with "severe and active" navicular bone changes and pathological changes to his fetlocks, worse on the LF, and has been given a "guarded" prognosis for return to athletic soundness.
Despite that, his feet are far from the worst we have seen and have many good points. He is landing toe first at the moment but is a cheerful and energetic little horse and I hope will make good progress.
Although these feet are a little unbalanced there is lots of well developed structure there already which I hope will allow Jake to bounce back now he is barefoot. 
The telltale collapse of the palmar hoof is clear from this angle and is confirmed both by the MRI and how he is landing but his feet look capable of a good recovery.
 As with the LF, his frogs are in reasonably good condition for a recently shod horse and we have lots to work with. More on Jake soon.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

New feet, 'nother new horse

These feet belong to Lenny, an eventer who arrived at the weekend. When you look at hooves from this angle its pretty clear which one he has not been using...
 ...its his LF, of course, which has been diagnosed with DDFT and collateral ligament damage on MRI.  However from the top (which after all is where we nearly always stand to look at feet) he looks a lot more symmetrical; a change in angle can be a useful viewing point.
 The sole shot shows a foot which isn't too bad, although flat and lacking structure.
Interestingly if anything the LF has better media-lateral balance than the RF, although the back of the LF is a lot weaker. The MRI also showed collateral ligament damage to the RF, which fits with what we can see in the photos. 
This is a more robust digital cushion than the LF but the foot looks as it is overloading medially. We will see if this changes once he is out of shoes.
 Lots to like about these feet, and there will be more on Lenny soon.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Remedial shoes for support

The other new horse to arrive at the weekend was Joey, an eventer who has been diagnosed on MRI with a "significant" injury to his DDFT as well as navicular bone damage and bursitis. 
Joey was shod in remedial bar shoes which are intended to (and here I quote directly from his veterinary report): "to provide heal [sic] support in the long term". 

I took a photo of his feet from this angle because it illustrates perfectly the problem with using remedial shoes to support the back of the foot. The "support" is at ground level but the internal structures  - digital cushion and lateral cartilages - are completely unsupported.
In fact when you look at the left leg from a different angle its clear that the shoe is already out in front of the palmar hoof and the toe is running forward - not very supportive. 
Intuitively, as I've said before, we like to think that the metal acts as some sort of scaffolding, pinning the foot together, but when you look at the weight-bearing surface of the foot its actually reduced by the shoe rather than increased.  Joey was only standing on a narrow strip of metal when shod - loading his bodyweight onto the edge of his foot - whereas now he has the whole palmar hoof to load. 
This photo clearly shows a weakened digital cushion; the hairline is distorted and the back of the foot is collapsing over the back of the shoe, as you could also see in the first photo. This is often the first place where we see improvement over the initial weeks of rehab and I hope Joey will be no exception. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

Feathery Ted

 We have had a busy weekend with 2 horses going home and 2 new arrivals. First was Ted, a coloured cob who has been diagnosed on MRI with collateral ligament damage and coffin joint inflammation.
He was shod with remedial shoes and given a period of box rest but his lameness recurred once he started to come back into work, despite careful and controlled exercise.
He is a fairly laid-back character who has settled straight in with the rest of the horses. 
Feather is not my favourite thing as it does make it harder to get good hoof photos, but at least his sole and caudal hoof shots will still be clear!
His owner had already made changes to his nutrition and his feet are reasonably strong despite his shoes so I hope we will be able to get him back into work quite quickly.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Something to think about

A study which was published earlier this week caught my eye and I am sure many of you have seen it as well. The National Equine Health Survey 2016 found that 38% of horses in the UK had heath issues and that lameness was the most common problem (the detail is here: Blue Cross Equine Health Survey).

I saw this study the day I got back from our reunion.
The horses attending that had all been diagnosed in the past with serious lamenesses which should, according to traditional veterinary experience, have limited or ended their ridden careers. 

Yet in fact the vast majority of the horses who go through rehab - including those at the reunion - have been sound and working at the same level or higher than before they went lame, not just for a few months but for for several years since their rehabilitation at Rockley. 

The horse pictured below came to us in 2008 with a deep flexor tendon injury and had been given a 5% chance of returning to work. He is now 17 years old and 9 years after his diagnosis is still going strong. 
Now of course even for these rehab horses life is not entirely trouble-free. Some owners are also dealing with metabolic issues like PPID; some horses also have problems like kissing spine or arthritis to contend with. Most owners need to manage their horses' diets carefully to ensure their feet stay in the best possible health. 

But overall, and despite their previous injuries, the rehab horses are ovewhelmingly sounder than the majority of horses in the UK.

In fact at our reunion one instructor - who had never seen any of the horses before - commented on how sound they were and how freely they moved compared to the majority of horses she taught. Makes you think, doesn't it?