Monday, 25 June 2012

Horses never stop trying to grow the best possible hooves...

When I posted last week about Dali, one of the comments that struck me the most was from his owner, Rachael. When she saw the changes he had made in less than 3 weeks she said this:

"He's been lame for so long and has so much to repair - the odds were against any big changes really :)...there isn't a single person or professional that gave Dali any hope".

Dali is only 13, he has been lame a long time but even in 3 weeks he has made substantial improvements to his hooves and I see no reason to write him off just yet! 

So todays' post is for anyone whose horse has been given a poor prognosis, who has been long term lame or whose owner thought it was too late for any improvement. 
These aren't the best comparison shots, but they show Eva in her shoes and today. Many people would think that her feet were more symmetrical in shoes but I hope you can see that to judge whether a hoof capsule is well balanced you need to look a lot further than just the hoof. Incidentally, this is one reason why I never comment on hooves if all I can see are photos of the foot - you just can't tell anything without looking at the limb AND at the horse moving.
Compare her stance in the top photo and today and imagine which is more comfortable and more supportive of the body above. Her hoof capsule looks less "symmetric" today but is actually in a better place and allowing her to stand and move straighter. Eva had a severe DDFT tear and was given a poor prognosis for a return to work, yet here she is.
Lexus proved that even a 19 year old horse after years of poor shoeing would grow better feet. These photos are 5 months apart.
How many people would have written him off saying he was just too old?
Here's Abbey, proving that growing a better frog is the key to better medio-lateral balance...
 The photos are just 4 weeks apart...clever boy, Abbey!
Here's Roo, showing how much a frog and digital cushion can beef up in 4 weeks. She is doubly clever as she had a DDFT injury 4 years ago which (we assume) has recurred but she is still able to turn her hooves around. 
Roo is also happy to demonstrate how healthier hooves allow for better limb balance... 
Here she is on arrival, well shod with comparatively healthy hooves but with a niggling lameness and poor medio-lateral balance. Like Eva, looking at her hooves alone you would have said she had well balanced feet - but the overall balance is better now in front and hind feet. 
Comparison today - not perfect but better loading from limb to hoof. Horses are ALWAYS trying to have the best possible hoof balance with the most effective support for the limbs above. 

Whether they manage to grow it depends on how they are shod, how they are fed, how they are kept, how they move and how their feet grow. 
Even in 2 weeks, M is starting to make the changes that will lead to stronger hooves...
Horses NEVER stop trying to grow the best possible hooves. Whether they achieve that is a whole 'nother story.
 
M says its pretty tiring growing new hooves...I could do with 5 more minutes in bed...

5 comments:

cptrayes said...

I'm struck by Eva, changing from a toe out stance to a toe in one, and musing on the terrible stresses it must have been putting on the rest of her body to stand that way in shoes when she needed completely the reverse.

The changes that the others show in such a short time is, for me, nothing short of miraculous.

C

Nic Barker said...

I'm with you, C - never ceases to amaze...

Amy Hughes said...

The changes in Eva are fascinating - MUCH straighter legs above her homegrown hooves!

Very happy to see such positive changes in photos of her feet and legs - I miss seeing her face though and cant wait to see her for myself in a few more weeks :-)

Rachael Duffy said...

If I can extend on my quote :) My vet told me at one point when I was searching for treatments not to get carried away as what Dali ideally needed was a navicular and ddft transplant! tho thats yet to be invented lol So when you hear that and people saying 'how much for an mri? Id get another horse for that' which im sure many people on this blog have its pretty easy to accept theres nothing you can do but give them the best last years of living in as little pain as possible :)You are right about most people dont consider the leg, Ive yet to see a farrier here take pictures, step back and look at the horse standing or even watch them move, which in hindsight proves they just aim for a symmetrical hoof. Some even going so far as to make the horse fit the shoe! Good to see alot of happy healthy and relaxed (lol M) ponies off to better futures :)

M's mum said...

What a great post Nic!! Sooo many feet making soooo many changes, it's great to see and is a huge encouragement to me, and I'm sure to so many other owners too. The forelimb shots in particular tell a very telling story.

ps. I'm glad to see my horse is taking time out from his hectic social schedule to catch a few zzzz's!!!