A few people have been asking about Bryher's feet - so here they are...
Its tricky getting good photos because, of course, he is only 4 months old and though he is obliging about picking his feet up, he doesn't keep still for long. Shots from this angle are easier and you can already see some very distinct bands of growth.
My best guess is that the lower ring is from when he first started to stomp about on his feet (at the beginning of July) and the band just over halfway down is when he came to Rockley, about 2 months ago.
One of the most interesting things about foals is the shape of the foot - a completely different profile to an adult foot (in other words, wider at the top, narrower at the bottom rather than the opposite way).
Over the first few months and years of a foal's life the foot changes and grows and I would expect comparative photos of Bryher this time next year to show a foot which is closer to an adult shape. But how does this happen?
Prof Bob Bowker theorises that hooves don't simply grow down from the coronet but actually develop in response to movement and stimulus from the ground. This fits with the fact that - in humans - reproduction of cells in the epidermal layer of skin (in your fingertips and feet) can be triggered by friction and stimulus, resulting in thicker skin in these areas as a response.
This is a unique response but if we realise that the horse's hoof is - anatomically - a digit then it makes sense that stimulus to the hoof will cause it to become more robust.
If a hoof only grew from the coronet horses would retain the foal hoof shape throughout their lives. However if the cells of the hoof grow in response to ground stimulus too, it would make perfect sense that the shape of the hoof would change as the foal started to walk and run on the ground and the inverted cone would become broader at the base.
Just imagine what happens when you reduce or cut off that stimulus!
Its going to be fascinating to chart Bryher's hooves over the next few months and years!