A new horse, Caymen, arrived yesterday all the way from Scotland - a long journey but he travelled in fine style and was as fresh as a daisy when he came off the lorry.
Caymen has been diagnosed with damage to the navicular bone and as a result has been shod in heart-bar shoes. These are applied with the objective of providing support for the back of the foot but, as you can see, they don't always achieve that.
Horses with navicular damage (or related soft tissue damage) always have a weak palmar hoof and so its always right to focus on improving that area. Whether with rehab here, out of shoes, or in a more traditional context, using remedial farriery, the focus is the same.
The difference is that a bar shoe aims to externally lock the foot into some sort of stability - like putting scaffolding up round a weak building - whereas rehab out of shoes aims to strengthen the foot internally.
Each route has its pros and cons. A shoe is a quick fix but over time the very stability which it encourages also leads to atrophy, as you can see in these photos. The digital cushion has more or less collapsed and the frog has also been taken out of action.
The hairline diving towards the frog indicates clearly that there is little structure in the back of the foot at the moment and thats something that we now need to change.
Rehab out of shoes tends to yield results more slowly than shoeing but the plus is that the improvements should be sustainable over the long term. Lets hope that Caymen agrees!
A diary of whats happening at Rockley, whether its news on rehab horses or on our own horses hunting and competing. All the horses are barefoot, and the blog includes updates on hoof rehabilitation and information about barefoot performance.
You can find out more about research, rehabilitation and our horses on the pages above or at our website: www.rockleyfarm.co.uk.