Wednesday, 25 March 2015

What's your expectation?

I had an interesting conversation with a journalist at the weekend. She is looking in depth at the way vets, farriers and of course owners look at their horses' feet and she has a keen interest in both biomechanics and barefoot horses. 

I'd sent her the 2 pieces of HD hoof footage we took at the RRR (for those who are interested the original Barefoot in Slow Motion film has had nearly 32,000 plays and the Healthy Hooves film nearly 10,000 plays - not bad going, well done team!).

After reviewing both our film and footage of shod horses we got to discussing this fascinating comparison still. Above is a shod horse in trot - landing toe-first as it does in every frame of its video, including when its on hard ground.

Below is Buddy who - like every horse in our films - lands heel first in walk, trot and canter (he is also in trot in this frame). 

The shod horse looks elegant and its not lame in the footage but the way its moving is stressing soft tissue with every step and it appears unable to extend fully. To me, its movement is strikingly similar to the horses who come here for rehab - who invariably have DDFT, collateral ligament and other soft tissue damage.

I should make it clear that of course not all shod horses land this badly but it does highlight for me how many people don't recognise poor movement and poor hoof balance and the consequences this has for the horse's health.

It got me thinking about what our expectations are for our horses. 

I know that for all the owners of our ex-rehab horses, and for me, our goal is long term health and soundness - not just healthy hooves, although that's an essential first step, but correct movement which only makes the horse fitter, stronger and more balanced with time and work. 

One of the main reasons we have our horses barefoot is because of the health benefits not only to the hoof but to the whole horse. We find that horses stay sounder and have fewer injuries and are able to perform to a higher level than they were shod. It may take longer to get there but its a fantastic feeling when you do (look at yesterday's blog if you need proof!). 

As someone once said, with everything you do you are either building your horse up or breaking him down. Which are you doing? 

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