Thursday, 25 November 2010

Horses who already have "good feet"

The recent discussion on Horse and Hound which I posted about last week had another interesting feature. The original poster could understand that horses with poor foot balance or neglected feet could benefit from time out of shoes but was asking about how it applied to horses who already had "good" feet.

It is a question that used to worry me, too.  I was always fairly confident that rehab could improve really dreadful feet - weak, flat TB feet, such as Dex and Frankie had, for example or contracted frogs like Conto (above)  and Lexus - but when I first had a rehab horse turn up with apparently good feet, I wasn't as sure that rehab would still be successful.

Once I started filming horses, though, it became apparent that the fact that a horse has "good" feet doesn't necessarily mean their biomechanics are correct.   In fact, many of the horses who have come to Rockley for rehab have had "good" feet.  Paul is a good example - his vet, farrier and owner had struggled with his lameness for several months but his feet looked perfectly competent - his vet had said he was perfectly shod and his feet looked pretty text-book.  You could say the same about Big Charlie, Lady, Kingsley and Isha.

What these horses had in common though was that they weren't able to use their feet correctly - most of them landed toe first and in Kingsley's case he was having to adopt a twisted stance as a compensation.

For all these horses, their movement had been adversely affected and in the need to keep moving somehow, despite their problems, they had stressed and injured tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Often, the problem blocks to the foot, but the foot is far from the only part of the horse's body which is affected.  Its why trimming is only a tiny part of the whole picture, and also why looking simply at feet is unlikely to give you all the answers.


cptrayes said...

Did those horses feet change shape much as they came sounder? In other words, were their feet just not the shape that they wanted themselves even though they looked right to humans???


Nic Barker said...

Interestingly, most of them didn't develop any dramatic asymmetry although they all grew in a better-connected hoof capsule at a steeper angle (none quite as dramatic as Kingsley's I have to admit).

Generally the toes are shorter and the heels less underrun, as you'd expect (eg Paul).

Angel is the only one of that group who grew a medial deviation in addition.