Friday, 11 November 2011

A quick sort out

Glory be, and thanks to some bright little satellite whizzing around the earth's orbit, we are back online  - yippee!!  So far, so good, but I am really hoping that this new provider will be a whole lot more reliable than the previous bunch.  We shall see.
Anyway, that means that a whole load of stuff which has been sitting on my computer can now make it up onto the blog.  First up is Paul, who will be going home on Sunday, 4 weeks after he came back.  He was a rehab here almost exactly 2 years ago; more on him here.

When he returned it was clear that  - despite 2 years of being successfully barefoot - several things had recently gone wrong with his feet, possibly due to an injury he suffered, possibly due to trimming, possibly due to some other factor we may never identify.

Although he has a robust caudal hoof and excellent hoof capsule, his landing had shifted in less than a month to being flat/toe first and his medio-lateral balance was off, resulting in lameness on his LF.  As a result his frog had weakened - his heels may look high but in fact its his frogs which have atrophied.
For me, there were 2 alarm bells when I saw his feet in October.  He had laid down a ridge of sole and  his feet were loading unevenly, weak on the medial side and overloaded laterally.
Comparing his LF over the last 4 weeks, you can see how much rebalancing has gone on.  His frog is now working properly again and is developing rapidly.  You can also see from this photo that at this stage, his bars and the ridge on his sole are absolutely crucial to the stability of his hooves - to trim these would be madness!
Its interesting to see how much change can happen in a short time - particularly in his frog and his medial hoof (on the right in these photos).  The speed of the change is at least partly due to the fact that Paul already had strong feet which were used to hard work - he just needed to be allowed to sort them out. 
Now look at the difference in his frogs - this is why - with him at least - it was a case of building frog, not lowering heel.  I have not touched his feet with a rasp or nippers or a hoof knife. 
As his landing improves, his frog responds - these photos are just over 2 weeks apart...
and the photo below is today.  It doesn't take long if there is a good foundation in place. 
Both his owner and I thought that he would be quick to turn himself round and put himself back on the "virtuous circle" of a good landing which in turn will allow his medio-lateral balance to rectify itself; as he has done so his lameness has rapidly improved. 

As always, better biomechanics means healthier hooves  - and healthier hooves means better biomechanics.
I have a lot to catch up with, so there will be more soon.


jenj said...

Nic, could you please explain your comment "at this stage, his bars and the ridge on his sole is absolutely crucial to the stability of his hooves". How can you tell?

I'm asking in part because it's "normal" here to trim the bars flat with the sole. Common theory says that the bars can easily lay over if not trimmed. I'd like to better understand when the bars should NOT be trimmed!

Nic Barker said...

Jen, as usual with hooves its a case of sometimes but not always. Its common practice to trim bars here too, but personally I rarely do so.

Partly its because our climate is much, much wetter than yours, so bars (like the rest of the hoof) tend to have a high moisture content and realistically over here they tend to be soft and wear away easily.

With this horse, the ridge of sole is very new and goes right down both sides of the frog - a classic sign of an unstable foot which needs the bars for support.

In addition, what you can't see from photos but can see clearly in real life, his hoof has a steeper side and more shallow side and the ridge is more pronounced on one side than the other - again a classic sign of an imbalanced hoof. This is something I am going to talk about a LOT more in future blog posts because its a really important area :-)

madasariley said...

I am flabbergasted & encouraged bythe improvements in Paul's hooves in such an incredibly short time. Well done Nic. I read all the blogs with avid interest. If only I could successfully persuade our resident farriers here in UAE to do the same! Can't wait to read Mr. Knightley's next update :0)