Wednesday 24 October 2012

Charlie and the check ligaments

Following on from last week's post about bizarre hooves here is the second in the occasional series :-) One of the comments I received recently was from someone who - after seeing some of the bizarre hooves - asked "Do you just let them grow like that with no correction?"
Well of course that all depends on how you define "correction"...

Here for your delectation are another set of hooves belonging to a different horse.
If the first thing that jumps out at you is a medial wall deviation/flare and cracks then you would be in good company so don't feel bad!
I suspect that most people would be much happier if the hoof looked like this - the red outline - all nice and symmetrical, neat and tidy and much more like a textbook "balanced hoof". That of course would mean trimming off all the asymmetric, untidy hoof marked in green - but surely that wouldn't matter - it can't be doing any good can it?

To give you a bit of background, I first met this horse as a 5 year old. He was nicely bred and had been sent to a training yard to be backed and sold on as a sports horse. The problem was that even in extremely light work (no more than walking round the block) he kept going lame. First he would damage the check ligament on one front leg, then he would be rested, treated, brought slowly back into work...and the other check ligament would go.

It had reached the point where both trainer and breeder were at the end of their tethers. A friend knew I had an interest in rehabbing feet and we were asked if we'd like him. At this stage, of course, he was in shoes but as the trainer said, he had excellent feet so that couldn't be the issue.

He did indeed have excellent feet - in the sense that they were concave, with strong hoof wall and were shod perfectly symmetrically.

It might seem mad to buy a youngster with a recurrent ligament problem but both Andy and I had a suspicion that there was more to this horse than met the eye. He had enormous charisma so we agreed to risk £500 and take a punt on him.
That was almost exactly 6 years ago - he arrived at Rockley and came out of shoes in October 2006 (though he didn't look quite like this at that stage...).
Although in those days I hadn't quite discovered "celery", I managed to let Charlie grow his hooves the way he wanted and though I occasionally fretted about his apparent "flare", over the next few months as he got sounder and braver he made it extremely clear that he knew best how to manage his own feet.
Since then he has hunted for 6 seasons, very often twice a week over the long, 9 month Exmoor season, as a field horse, master's horse and on the odd very special day, even as a huntsman's horse.
He has covered literally thousands of miles up and down Exmoor, on incredibly tough terrain which would be enough to test even the healthiest check ligaments - deep boggy ground, stony uneven ground, hard unyielding tarmac and everything in between. He has carried many different people out hunting and never failed to give them a brilliant day.
And though his feet may not look "textbook" today, he has never had a problem with his check ligaments. So for me, Charlie definitely knows best...


Jane said...

Love Charlie. Bout time he has his own blog post, lol!

Nic Barker said...

I know, Jane :-) Poor Charlie, he is such a star!

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Wow, he is truly a classic Beauty!

Debbie & Paddy said...

£500 very well spent! :o)

cptrayes said...

Mine was £1, though the market is dire right now, I admit :-) Plus I'd have paid £500 for him but the owner wouldn't take it!

Same history though, lame in shoes with no apparent reason. Currently being brought back into work with miles on tarmac to see what he makes of his feet for himself.


Nic Barker said...

Thanks Kristen - yep agree Debbie - makes him look like a bargain :-)

C - look forward to reading about how your boy does!