Wednesday, 9 May 2018

5 weeks, no trimming: how to change a hoof naturally

A quick update on Mickey, who arrived here 5 weeks ago. Unlike the other rehab horses who arrived at the start of April, he only started to land better a few days ago and so although I had filmed him there was not a clear enough difference in his landing to make it worthwhile posting footage.

However he has been working well and his feet are definitely improving so today I decided it was time to film him again:

Here are his comparison photos with the original photo at the top and today's below in each case.
When he arrived Mickey had an extremely weak palmar hoof and his frog and heels were pinched and contracted.
He has made some good changes so far but of course still has a way to go before his feet are fully recovered. His frogs in particular need to broaden considerably but its encouraging to see him making progress. 
While I have been dong the workshops recently and looking at horses in different places one of the subjects that naturally recurs is trimming and why I no longer trim horses here. 
Mickey's feet I think are a good example of how little you can really achieve with a trim in a horse with a weak palmar hoof. The rebuilding and strengthening which needs to happen is mostly internal and in any case trimming is always removal, which is the last thing these feet usually need. 
A trim will not widen heels or stimulate frogs and if you trim the long toe, which is what many trimmers and farriers try, the result is to increase load on the palmar hoof.  
Without trimming Mickey has already shortened his toe, lowered his heels and changed the load but - critically - he has done it in slow time and only to the extent that his palmar hoof has become stronger. 
The advantage of doing things this way is that his soundness has not been compromised, in fact it has steadily improved. 
Meanwhile his feet are responding to the stimulus they are receiving from his movement (rather than to the artificial and sudden removal of hoof wall) and this has allowed his frog and heels to start loading more effectively.  
These are of course still weak feet and they need careful management until his landing has become more fully established and confident.
However progress has certainly been made and I hope Mickey will improve even more quickly now that we can begin to increase his workload and mileage. 

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