The weather has just been far too nice not to get lots of photos of the horses hanging out on the tracks. Russell seems to be in almost every one - he really gets about and he can spot a camera from way off, just like Felix.
However the main point of this post is to tell you a cautionary tale which I received on email yesterday. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin....
Once upon a time there was an barefoot dressage horse whose owner was frustrated because her horse was always footy on stones even though she was on a low sugar, low starch diet. She emailed me a year ago and I gave her some feed info which I thought might help.
Nearly a year later, both horse and owner were much happier...
"I had been letting my horse self trim with the work and all was going really well - her feet always looked a bit odd - she keeps her hind toes really short and they are quite round not pointy but she was going better than ever - we were moving from medium dressage to advance medium even though the changes were sometimes a bit enthusiastic.
In front she likes to breakover to the outside of centre with both feet and she has "deviation" with both fronts to the inside - looks a bit like a "stabiliser " a sort of curve to the foot - not as extreme as some examples on your blog but not a conventional "cone" shape but very sound on all surfaces."
But now the cautionary tale really begins....
"A trimmer came to the yard to do other horses' feet and as I hadn't had my girl's feet trimmed for months and months I thought a second opinion would be worthwhile.
What a mistake! She took the what I call "stabiliser" - but she called "flare" - away completely in one fell swoop.
The hooves looked symmetrical and the trimmer said now she was landing flat as opposed to outside heel first. The problem was my horse didn't agree - to cut a long story short she is now lame with swelling and heat in the leg - scans reveal a slightly inflamed check ligament but all ok with tendons and suspensory."
Fortunately, there is a happy ending...
"She is already getting better - swelling reducing and hooves growing back - but why oh why did I allow the trimmer to do this? Do we have it so ingrained that a hoof has to look a certain way? I am so angry with myself for letting this be done to my lovely girl.
The good thing is how quickly my horse has compensated for this - her frogs have become much bigger and the foot is returning to it's usual odd shape the more she goes on the roads. She is now very eager to walk out - she was reluctant to start so I didn't push the issue.
I will never let this happen again! Just another reminder that horses know best what they need - I just wish that I had been stronger in my convictions."
The even better news is that mistakes are the things we learn most from - though if you can learn from other people's (including mine!) rather than making your own, your horse will be grateful...!
* For more on "celery" - which has a specific meaning on this blog - have a read of these earlier posts: