Monday, 28 November 2011

Who'd have thought it?

These hooves belong to Nico, a 6 year old TB x Polish warmblood who arrived last Wednesday, thanks to the commitment of his owner (as always!) and the support of his vets and his insurers (AND their external veterinary consultant, which I think is a first!). 
He is only 6 years old but has had a complicated lameness history, beginning with problems on his hind suspensories and ending up with bilateral front limb problems, which blocked to the heel/caudal hoof.
He'd been shod with remedial half shoes and a gel filler behind and his owner says these have improved his heels and his soundness.  I can believe it, since they are allowing for more caudal expansion and contraction than full bar shoes and are also supporting his frogs.  She has however made the brave decision to try to rehab him barefoot in the hope of improving his lameness at a more fundamental level.
Although the gel had helped Nico, when I took the shoes off his soles and frogs absolutely stank - they were black, soft, thrushy and smelling to high heaven.  I thought he had quite thin soles and his owner and I discussed the fact that he might be quite uncomfortable out of shoes.  Turned out I was wrong on both counts...
Here are his feet 4 days later - and the plateau at the toe is the last that is left of the dead sole that was lining his feet.
Its so soft you can lift and peel it back and of course its wearing away rapidly (I haven't trimmed it, though in a different environment he might be a candidate for a trim!).
Despite the long hoof wall that is still there at his quarters, the hoof is looking different already.  This is the sort of hoof that many would say is "too short", and "needs shoes".  But the sole view gives a different interpretation: despite the cracking, there is no damage to any sensitive structures and you can see the chips and splits are only where hoof wall is long, especially on the lateral (RH) side.
In fact this isn't a foot which is too short - its way too long, especially given the dead sole you can still see at the toe.   What is brilliant is that the farrier has not over-trimmed either sole or frog, and its this, plus his gel inserts which gave some stimulus to the caudal hoof, which I suspect has helped Nico to remain comfortable out of shoes.
Looking at the same foot from the front, the fact that its long becomes more obvious.  The tilt in the hairline (as well as the orientation of the frog and heels above) is a clue that his medio-lateral balance may be off but there is masses to like about these hooves even after only a few days, and the length, as you can see, is sorting itself out quickly and easily. 


Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Do you have any recommendations for helping a horse's sole, which is THIN THIN to grow back thick and strong?
I've been rehabbing my OTTB from laminitis (Oct 2009) and we went barefoot in March 2010 and are still. His RH which had the most damage still has a very thick hoof wall (medial side) with very slow growth on that hoof and thin soles (latest xrays show). I've put him on Flax, Chia, Jiagulan to help. He's also on Triple Crown L/S and loose minerals/vitamins. He's 24/7 turnout as well to help with stimulation. THANKS, I appreciate any advice since you have such success. :)

dreams579 said...

Awww :) so proud of my boy! its great to be proved wrong for once!

I do wonder whether maybe having all that dead sole stuck under there actually helped to act as a stimulus to the live sole by helping transfer the pressure of the pad across the sole - thus increasing its thickness, because, like you, i was fully expecting him to be very sore as he is normally such a wimp when he loses a shoe. also amazed how quick the frog is spring back to shape!

I can feel myself going down the slippery slope to hoof obsession already ;)

Nic Barker said...

Hi Kristen, as always, its difficult to give anything but generic advice on a horse that I've not seen butgood sole growth - like good hoof growth - is really down to 2 things: diet and correct stimulus.

Low sugar/starch, high fibre and good mineral balance are the critical elements of the first. I don't know whats in Triple Crown but reading the ingredients list for nasties is the first step. 24/7 turnout may be fine but may not be if its 24/7 grass - again, depends on your own situation.

For detailed mineral info have a look at Eleanor Kellon's sites (google her and you'll come across her main site and the cushings/IR group which is a good resource too).

Next step, if all that is right, is work on surfaces he is comfortable on and which give support and stimulus - conformable surfaces are best to start with and work up to tougher ones as long as he is comfortable and landing correctly.

Best of luck!

Dom said...

Those are the shoes Ozzy was in when I got him. They called them 'flip flops' at the track.