Wednesday 27 October 2010

Whole horse rehab

I wrote on the blog last week about hooves and bodies, and how having unhealthy hooves can cause horses to adapt their movement in ways which, in the long term, cause problems in other parts of the body.

So, for example, many of the horses who come here have been out of work for months, or even longer, because their hoof problems have made it impossible for them to work in comfort.   The foundation has to be improving hoof health, because without sound, comfortable feet no horse (or human, or any other animal) is going to function or move correctly.

The first step, then is to get better biomechanics in the hoof and distal limb - the footage of Rose is a good example of how a healthier, more supportive hoof capsule can quickly develop.  Changing a toe first landing to a heel first landing (with the caveat that terrain has an effect and nothing is set in stone!) is an essential precondition to improved soundness and movement.

Once we have that foundation, then its possible to start to build better proprioception, stronger muscles and a generally healthier horse.

The tracks here are invaluable for teaching horses, without human interference, about where their feet are and how to negotiate uneven ground.  Proprioception starts in the feet, and many horses when they arrive literally have no real idea where their feet are in relation to their bodies.

Once the essentials are established, though, most horses still need to be taught about the best way to carry themselves, let alone a rider.   This is where work led from another horse, and groundwork, come in.

Rehab is a jigsaw, with a myriad of different pieces, and where the whole picture can fall apart if one of the pieces is wrong or doesn't fit.   More about that in future posts!


Unknown said...

Hi Nic,
I think Kingsley is going to be a living proof of this...He has been off work for well over a year now (unless you count in some very short walking hacks which he didn't cope with i.e. his lameness worsen and a bit of lunge work after which his lameness also increased).

I miss him loads and hope to visit you in December.

Nic Barker said...

I hope so, Wiola - look forward to seeing you soon, and hope we will have some progress for you by then... :-)