Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The power of the hoof!

This is Rolie's update. He has been here just over 4 weeks and his feet (to me) perfectly illustrate how dynamic, sophisticated and powerful hooves can be. 

Rolie arrived with a diagnosis on MRI of navicular bone changes, impar ligament damage, coffin bone arthritis and old collateral ligament damage and here he is in his bar shoe.
There is nothing like looking at the weight bearing surface of a hoof to tell you what is actually happening and although this is a very conscientious piece of farriery on a well balanced foot, the hoof thinks it can do better. 
The big contrast is between the same hoof as the shoe came off (above). Bear in mind that the purpose of the shoe was to give more support and stability to the back of the foot. Below was his foot a few days out of shoes - already a much better frog but his heels needed to move back to provide better support. 
Compare the frog, heels and the proportions of the foot today (below). 

The back of the foot is much more robust now and instead of being confined and contracted the frog is playing (as it should) a key role in how the foot is landing and shock-absorbing. 

The heels are further back and you can see the frog is now a more natural and functional shape.
Rolie needed more support and more stability but to my mind, the hoof has done a better and more much more sophisticated job of providing this than a shoe. In addition these changes have happened in under 4 weeks - a shorter time than even one shoeing cycle. 

As always, its not just a case of ripping shoes off and hoping for the best. The stimulus of our tracks and surfaces and appropriate exercise has been a key factor in making rapid changes while keeping Rolie comfortable. 
As you can imagine, going from this... this in 4 weeks(with NO trimming!) could be a big shock to the system. 
Here is another clue to hoof loading and balance. Compare the length of the hoof walls when he was in shoes. You can see that as well as one being longer than the other the medial (RH) side is beginning to distort. 
Ignoring the mud (he had just come in!) you can I hope see that the walls are not only shorter but straighter, signifying a better balanced hoof giving more stability and support to the limb.

Tomorrow, more updates :-)

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