Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Double trouble

Normally the horses who come here for rehab are in shoes, and have been for some time. Its been very interesting by comparison to monitor Storm's progress, as he had been out of shoes for many months before he came to us.

Of course all the rehab horses (including Storm) are here because of specific injuries or pathology, and rehabilitating that is our primary aim. The problem is that we don't just have to do that, we have to do that as well as taking the horses out of shoes, and that adds in a whole new area of rehabilitation.

I'm aware that the effect that shoes have on horses feet is a deeply controversial area, and to be honest its not a discussion I want to get involved in here, not least because I don't think we really know, at the moment, the full details of the physiological effect shoes have on horses' feet. We can see that there is a tendency for heels to contract in shoes, but not always; I have a suspicion that stress shielding may be a problem for some horses or that nerve damage may sometimes happen, but there is a dearth of systematic research out there.

Its an interesting comparison, though - Storm had a severe DDFT injury and a pronounced toe-first landing when he arrived BUT his hooves were not reliant on shoes and he was comfortable, although not landing correctly, on tough surfaces from day one. By contrast, most horses very much rely on the pea gravel and other conformable surfaces to keep them comfortable for the first couple of weeks out of shoes. This doesn't stop them from making rapid progress and improving their landing equally quickly, but you feel that they are having to tackle 2 types of rehabilitation - their original injury plus re-adjusting to being out of shoes - rather than just one.

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