Wednesday, 20 March 2019

2 week comparison: Humphrey's post

On with the comparison shots for the rehab horses and its Humphrey's turn.  AS ever, the original photo is the upper one, the most recent (taken earlier this week) is the lower photo.
I like the better palmar hoof structure which looks to be giving him more support. His landing has not changed enough to view on video yet but this is an encouraging step in the right direction.

No dramatic changes on the solar view though his frogs are beefing up.

Humphrey had nice-looking feet already but still needed to develop a stronger palmar hoof, as is usually the case with rehab horses.  

As with the other foot his heel is slightly less under-run.  This is his lamer foot so I am hoping that the fact that it is looking less boxy means he is starting to load it more than before. 

A tidy foot and looking a little more balanced.  

Although its not that clear from the photo, one good change is that Humphrey's frogs are now level with his heels rather than below them, meaning they are starting to improve. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

2 week comparisons: Poppy

Today's comparison shots are Poppys; as usual, the earlier photo is at the top and the most recent photo below. 
Poppy had a better landing than the other horses when she arrived and so has been able to work on hard surfaces as well as in the school and on the tracks. Because her feet were better initially, however, the changes are less obvious. 
The clearest difference is her heels which are moving back to a more supportive position. 

It looks from this angle as if her foot is becoming slightly more balanced but we need longer to be sure. 

Slightly different angles which make comparison tricky, sorry. If anything though she is loading the palmar hoof more than she was. 

Again, the hoof looks more balanced in the recent shot but there is still a way to go. it would be good to see if her medial hoof is more supported in the next set of photos. 

Monday, 18 March 2019

Comparison hoof shots after 2 weeks: Billy

I usually try to take conparison photos once horses have been here a couple of weeks (a) because you often get some clear initial changes and (b) because both owners and I am impatient to assess how the horse is getting along. 

Its too early, in most cases, to see a change in landing but improvements in the palmar hoof in photos are a sign that the hoof is getting stronger and that an improvement in landing could follow. 

Billy has had to get used to coming out of his bar shoes and pads as well as building a stronger palmar hoof. There is some chipping below the nail-holes, which is completely normal. I would not be surprised if he developed an angle change in his dorsal wall but to see that you usually need 4-6 weeks of hoof growth.

There are some good changes in his frog and heels now that the bar shoes are off and its this sort of development that we want to see more of

Apologies for the differing angles. I'd expect to see further development here as Billy becomes capable of more work.

As with the RF there is some minor chipping but nothing to worry about.  We should see the hairline levelling up as the palmar hoof develops.

Again,  a better frog out of the bar shoes but of course this is still a weak, under-run hoof. However Billy has made a good start. 

A better angle for comparison but although there are some improvements Billy needs more time and a more confident landing in order to build his digital cushion.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Hot feet, cold feet

While I was giving the workshop at Writtle University College recently someone asked a very good question about whether hooves should be warm or cold. 

Its an interesting question because when you have a shod horse you are normally taught that feet should feel cold and that warm feet can be a sign of a problem - for example laminitis.

However I noticed when I started taking shoes off horses that in fact their feet change temperature - and usually warm up - when shoes come off. Horses who are barefoot will normally have feet which feel warm-ish, with a higher temperature on a hot day, naturally, and a lower temperature on a cold day. 
There are a few theories for the difference in temperature between shod and bare hooves but for me the most compelling - and the most obvious - answer came from a farrier who gave me this.

Its a heat sink and its designed to be extremely efficient at conducting heat to or from an object (like a computer). The farrier gave me this because its a brilliantly simple explanation of why shod feet will always be a different temperature from bare feet.

The heat sink is a very efficient conductor and so is a horseshoe. Both are made of metal and have long thin spikes to increase conductivity. The heat sink is made of aluminium, most shoes are made of steel but the effect is the same.

Shoes will always conduct heat. In a cold climate this will normally make hooves colder than they would otherwise be as they will take heat from the hoof; in a very hot climate in theory they could make hooves warmer.

Of course, there are no studies as to what effect this has on the horse's heath, either immediately (does it affect circulation?) or over the longer term (do hooves grow at a different rate or heal slower if they are cooler than they would otherwise be?). A nice subject for someone's PhD, perhaps?

Friday, 8 March 2019


Finally for this week here is our last arrival, Sisco who has come all the way from Germany. He has been diagnosed on MRI with bilateral navicular degeneration and pedal osteitis - fortunately for me the MRI report was in excellent English!

He has long toes and of course its no surprise that he is landing toe first. The usual reaction to seeing feet like this is to want to shorten the toe - its something we talked about quite a bit last weekend at Writtle University College. 
In fact although the long toe is problematic it is a symptom of the weak palmar hoof rather than a cause. How do we know this? Because if you shorten the toe in these horses before the palmar hoof becomes stronger they will usually become lamer.  
The aim of rehab and the aim of remedial farriery is the same: to strengthen and support the palmar hoof, but with rehab the additional strength and support comes from within the hoof capsule not from external structures. 
 Once the palmar hoof has developed the toe will naturally shorten as the foot loads more correctly and becomes less under-run. This is what we hope to see with Sisco over the next few weeks.
Sisco's footage is here:

Thursday, 7 March 2019


 Mac is the penultimate new arrival, making his way here on a very stormy Sunday from Oxfordshire - its a good thing he was not one of the long distance travellers!
I saw Mac last autumn, as he is a horse I have known for a few years, and he has had problematic feet for a while. He's a big moving horse but has never really developed the back of his foot properly despite spending most of his last few years out of shoes.
Equally, occasional spells of being shod have not helped either so he has come here to see if an intensive few weeks of rehab can convince him to grow a better foot! 
Although they don't look too bad in a lateral shot, once you pick a foot up you can see the uneven hairline and weak heels. At the moment this is his worse foot but his lameness flip-flops from right to left over time. 

His right foot is better balanced and again looks ok from the side.  He is landing better on this foot although thats a fairly recent development. 
The frog on this foot is doing more work and the foot shows the benefit of this better loading. His hairline is also more even but his frog is a long way from being as healthy as it could be so we have plenty to work on!
Mac's footage is here:

Wednesday, 6 March 2019


Continuing the log book of our arrivals is Humphrey, the third of the new rehab horses. 

Humphrey has a history of lameness on the RF and MRI showed 2 DDFT tears as well as related navicular bone damage. 
This is his better foot, which by comparison with the RF is more balanced. Its also the foot he is happier to load - in fact it was tricky to get a good photo of his RF on the ground, as you can see below.
His owner commented when we were first in touch that he has "decent" looking feet, which is true, but as we often see with horses who come here its not always the nicest looking feet which function the best. 

By contrast with Poppy, for instance, you might say that Humphrey has the better-looking feet but his landing is worse, as he is actually toe first on both front feet, not just the right.
 We will want to see improvements in his palmar hoof, of course, in the next few weeks so look out for his updated photos in due course.

 Humphrey's video footage is here: