Thursday, 4 July 2019

All about GRASS!

What an incredible growing season we are having - these are photos of 3 of our hayfields and I don't think I have ever seen this amount of grass by this time of year (because we are high on Exmoor our season is usually a lot shorter and sparser than elsewhere in the south of England).
We have a good variety of different species in our fields and the diversity becomes even more apparent a little later in the season when everything is in full flower.
We of course use this grass to make our winter forage - in our case haylage because our weather conditions mean its not really possible to make or store hay with any degree of consistency. So what's the point of this post?
Basically, old permanent pasture and wild flower meadows like these, which have a rich range of different plants and herbs, can grow the most fantastic forage for horses. Its a world away from the single-species monoculture which you so often see in the countryside but it has countless benefits: providing habitat for other plants and animals, providing safe, low sugar forage with a good range of minerals for our horses and boosting the threatened biodiversity of our environment.

So if you have old-fashioned hayfields cherish them, if you know farmers who maintain them, encourage and support them by buying their hay or haylage and if there is nothing like this in your area, lobby for something more beneficial than acres of high-sugar rye-grass!

Sunday, 30 June 2019

DB's 4 week update

DB's first 4 weeks have gone past incredibly quickly for us at least, though I am sure the time has dragged for his owner. Its time for an update with as ever his original photo above and the most recent one below. 

He has made some good improvements although he is not yet strong enough to land heel first in front. 
If you look at the end of his heels they are now further back than when he arrived and his frog is also a bit stronger. This shows that the back of his foot is developing and I hope over the next few weeks a better landing will become clear. 
Monitoring the hairline is a good way to check whether the internal structures of the palmar hoof are improving. For DB its more level than it was which is encouraging. 
From the side as well a more level hairline is a positive. You can also see that there is a new angle of growth at the top of his hoof capsule. This change will become more apparent over the next couple of weeks.  
Not the best angle, I am afraid, but again the heels and frog are better than on day one.  
An even worse angle - sorry - but the hairline gives us a clue that the digital cushion on this foot, as on the RF, is slowly building up. 

No footage today as he is still landing toe first but as soon as we have something to show you I will post it.  


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Harvey's not-quite-4-weeks update

Time for an update on Harvey who will have been here for 4 weeks this coming Friday.  When he arrived he was lame in walk on his RF and landing toe first. 

As you can see from the original (upper) photo he was also reluctant to load the RF; by comparison although he is still not fully sound on it he is more comfortable and has a better stance. 

His frog is also becoming stronger and at the same time his heels are less contracted.  
As his palmar hoof develops we should see ongoing changes to the digital cushion as well as a more balanced hoof capsule.

Harvey's footage is up here: https://vimeo.com/344294490


Thursday, 20 June 2019

DB's first 2 weeks

New boy DB has been here just over a couple of weeks and although his landing is still toe first, which is hardly surprising at this stage, I wanted to post some new photos because his feet are already changing. 
We can only work him on easy surfaces at the moment so progress is inevitably slower than once we can use roadwork as well but the tracks are doing a good job of providing stimulus to his palmar hoof and slowly starting to develop it. 
This is his lamer foot and when he arrived he rested it much of the time but that is becoming less noticeable as he gets more comfortable.
There are fewer changes to his left foot which was his stronger foot anyway, although of course its under-run and he was also landing toe first on this foot.
There aren't big differences to spot yet but I hope he will have made more progress by the time I post his 4 week update. 




Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Mac and the 15 week update

Mac went home yesterday and I grabbed some photos before he left. He stayed longer than the normal 12 weeks as Emma was off on the holiday of a lifetime so we got to keep him an extra 3 weeks, so these are 15 week comparison photos, an exciting increase on what I can typically take!
As usual the upper photo is day 1, the lower one today. The biggest difference in the new growth visible in the top of the hoof capsule along with the shorter toe.  Mac's landing has been consistently heel first for a good few weeks now and his medio-lateral balance is now solid, giving his feet proper support.  
You can see that the shorter toe is because the whole back of the foot is more established now, with a stronger frog and deeper collateral grooves, indicating better sole depth. None of this has been achieved with trimming, its all down to work and surfaces.
There is a big difference between a boxy foot with a weak frog and the same foot with a fully functioning frog! Again, the change is not about lowering heels but about building the frog and digital cushion.  The foot today has an established heel first landing which will only get better with more mileage.  
This foot had a worse landing than the right on arrival and again there is a clearly different angle of growth and the changes stem from a stronger palmar hoof.  
A very much better palmar hoof today which is also visibly more balanced.  
Mac's footage is on his earlier blog posts so do check that out if you are interested. 


Thursday, 13 June 2019

Sisco's 14 week update

As regular blog readers will know, most of the horses who come here stay for 12 weeks, as that's the length of time it typically takes to get a better landing on feet and to establish horses at a level of work which they can carry on safely at home. 
Occasionally, though, a horse needs to stay longer, usually because they have a more severe or long term lameness which is taking more time to improve. This has only happened a handful of times in all the years we have had rehab horses but Sisco is one of those horses. 

As you can see from his photos, his feet have improved a lot over the time he has been here but he had very weak, contracted hooves on arrival with extremely under-run heels and long toes. 
The upper photo in each case is his foot on arrival; the lower photo is him today. 
The factor that has held Sisco up has been his reluctance to land heel first. His soundness is hugely improved and his feet are stronger but at the moment he does not land as confidently as I would like. This is a surprise when you look at how much his feet have improved.  
He is certainly landing better than he was (footage is below) and his palmar hoof is much better developed but the landing is lagging behind. This means he is more limited in the surfaces and distance he can work on than would normally be the case for a horse who has been here for this long. However he has been in consistent work and sound over his most recent weeks here which is good news.   
Sisco will be going home soon to continue developing and strengthening his feet so we are hoping for  ongoing positive changes.  
Sisco's footage is here: https://vimeo.com/341989509