Saturday 29 September 2012

Millie - the first fortnight

Millie's owner came to see her this week and I promised I would get some photos and post a comparison as it was already clear that her feet are changing rapidly. 
Here she is 2 weeks ago...
...and here she is today. Lots of interesting changes, with improvements to the frog and medio-lateral balance but lots still needs to improve. Its interesting to see that the lateral side (on the right) of the hoof is becoming stronger as medio-lateral imbalance is her big problem. 
The left front is also improving and in just 2 weeks, straight out of shoes, these are good changes - again better medio-lateral balance and better frog development. 
More on  Millie soon...
She needs to make big changes but I hope you can see that those are already starting to happen. 

Thursday 27 September 2012

He has a name!

Quick blog today but will do a proper one tomorrow as M is going home and a new horse, Thomas, is arriving so there will be lots of pics to upload. Today is even busier than usual as Grant Chanter, the equine dentist, is doing his rounds. 
The new boy spent the first few minutes while his mum was being done flat out and fast asleep (despite it being his first time in the barn and despite the fact that uncles Charlie and Felix were desperate to chat to him). But eventually it was all just too interesting to ignore and he had to get involved.

Andy has decided to call him Bryher - which is the name of one of the most stunning of the Scilly Isles, where we had a fab holiday - but I am keeping your suggestions in mind for any future foals ;-)

Wednesday 26 September 2012

The job of the hoof is to support the limb

For me the high point of the RRR weekend is always catching up with the horses. Zan stole all our hearts while he was at Rockley, not only because of his sweetie-pie personality but because he had such poor feet and was so lame when he arrived last year. 
Over the weekend it was lovely to see him  - he not only looked totally happy and relaxed but several people commented on his beautiful movement.

He is quite a dark horse because although he looks like butter wouldn't melt he has a HUGE trot and the most incredible movement. Sarah says her instructor has been really impressed with how well he has progressed since coming out of his shoes.
His feet (like those of many of the RRR horses) don't look symmetrical - at least from the top - but compare how balanced his limbs are now. The lower photo is when he arrived here in March 2011 in his remedial shoes. Its a clear sign that his feet - whatever their appearance - are loading more evenly now than they were.

Perhaps its no wonder he moves better now - and its a good illustration of how important it is to look up the limb and to assess hooves in their proper context!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

RRR 2012 - the video...

Cristina had to come to the RRR without Frankie, who is on box rest after surgery on his shoulder, but we shamelessly put her to work and gave her the camcorder and she did a terrific job :-)

I could not have been more proud of all the horses or their owners - they all looked magnificent, behaved impeccably and were a testament to all the hard work of each and every owner. It was lovely to see boundaries being pushed and confidence being regained - most importantly we all had fun!
It was a very special weekend, and the stunning book you made me was the icing on the cake - thank you - to the most amazing horses and owners anyone could wish to know...

Monday 24 September 2012

Where do I start?!

Got back from the Rehab's Reunion last night - this year we had it at Milton Keynes Eventing Centre and big thanks to Lucie Kingsnorth who suggested it - what a perfect venue!
We had a huge field and stable block all to ourselves, with lovely views, a marquee and our very own caterers (who provided lavish and delicious meals 3 times a day as well as unlimited tea and coffee). 

Supplement this with a vast array of homemade cakes (including pear, chocolate and cinnamon cake, orange and almond cake, chocolate and guinness cake, vanilla cupcakes to name a few) which the ladies of the WI would be proud of and you can see that we had a pretty indulgent weekend!
The horses were all incredibly relaxed  and seemed to positively relish their sleepover as well as reunions with old friends. 
Lea had done a tremendous job of organisation and I hope she and Taz also had the chance to relax and enjoy themselves. Certainly the staff and caterers at MKEC couldn't have been more welcoming or helpful.
Dexter and Kelly were on fantastic form! were Bryan and Charlotte...
...Amy and Eva...
...Debbie and Paddy and all the others (more pics to follow when I have the chance!). 
It was great to have unlimited opportunity to play with XC and steeplechase jumps but for those less inclined to gallop about there was a huge indoor school (particularly useful when the weather turned on Sunday, though we were lucky and the hurricane didn't arrive till we were packing up - which would not have happened on Exmoor!) as well as some nice hacking.
We had a blast - and I am already looking forward to next year's RRR (which I suspect will be even bigger and better!). I'm still trawling through photos so will post more over the next day or so!

Friday 21 September 2012

Trimming a hoof to make it healthier... a bit like having liposuction to get yourself fitter. It may well improve appearances - it may even make a weak, rubbishy foot look superficially more similar to a rock-crunching, healthy hoof..but the changes will be just that - superficial.

Both regular exercise AND liposuction can make you look thinner. But there is only one of those which can improve your cardio-vascular fitness, build muscle and enhance your overall health. The other is only skin deep.

Interestingly, both these sets of photos (which I picked off google at random) show apparently dramatic improvements. The first one illustrates the effects of liposuction.
The second illustrates the benefits of exercise and an improved diet. Both changes are equally impressive and you'd be forgiven for thinking that liposuction would be a far quicker way to get the same result...
...But obviously that's an illusion.

Liposuction may give the appearance of fitness but delivers none of the real benefits - neither improved health nor increased performance. Its instant and it looks pretty but to build overall health or fitness you need a sensible, holistic approach which includes a good diet, regular exercise and a certain amount of commitment and perseverance.

The benefits won't be immediately apparent but over weeks and months as you become fitter you can see the changes at a superficial level. The difference is that they aren't skin deep. Of course, hooves are just the same but all too often the emphasis is on trimming a hoof to make it conform to the"correct" appearance.
Without attention to diet and exercise this is never going to improve the health of the hoof (or its performance), simply the appearance (a couple of reminders in the form of Legend's hooves!).

Ironically, the more you focus on diet and exercise, the more likely the hoof will grow a healthier hoof capsule and along with improved health and better performance you will develop a better appearance - but that's a consequence of a healthier hoof, not the cause of a healthier hoof.

Thursday 20 September 2012

Rockley - the next generation...

Meet the newest addition to the Rockley herd - I would introduce you properly but he hasn't got a name yet.
He and his mum only arrived yesterday but as you can see they setttled in straight away. The new boy is 11 weeks old and I can guarantee you there will be lots more photos of him very soon!
Meanwhile, any good ideas for names will be gratefully received :-)

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Its a hard life growing new feet...

Better weather this week and although its not that warm it IS dry and the sun is shining, so I decided to try and get some casual shots of the current crowd...

...Rolie is so tired he has to rest his head on Millie...
Dali is just being nosy
Rolie enjoying a spot of socialising with his new buddies
Knightley has seen it all before...
New girl Millie with her boys
Candy still prefers Felix...
Eliza enjoying the sunshine at last!
M looking like butter wouldn't melt...

Tuesday 18 September 2012

He's a COMPLETE Legend!

I had planned another post for today but that will have to wait till tomorrow because today has to be Legend's blog.
He is famous on here for having really bizarre feet. They completely freaked out many of us due to his unique combo of navicular and laminitis  - this had left him with super weird feet, not only weak behind but with a long, stretched distorted toe and thin soles. He was VERY lame when he arrived - and he struggled on anything except the softest surface.
But compare how fab he looks today! I explained on here why I didn't trim his toe back and - as predicted (I'm glad to say!) the new growth has smoothly continued without being in any way compromised by the old, laminitic wall.

Lucy took him home in August but had lots of obstacles to overcome back at home - not least having to change yards several times, deal with overly good grazing and an unlucky abscess that developed soon after Legend arrived home. So this update is a testament to her hard work and perseverance as much as to Legend's!

"Hi Nic,

Legend's been home for 5 and a half weeks now! I've finally stopped worrying and we've settled into a routine and are having lots of fun so I thought I would give you a quick update on what we've been up to. I took Hannah to the farm with me today to take some photos of his feet which I've attached.
He has been improving on a pretty much daily basis since I was able to ride him again after the abscess.
I had been hacking him out in walk every other day for about 30-40 minutes but last week I realised he was capable of doing more - he was feeling fab, stomping down the round and even happily going over some stony ground - so last Thursday Hannah borrowed a horse and we went on one of the slightly longer rides. We were out riding for about an hour and a half over a number of different surfaces including some very stony bits on one of the tracks and unlike the other horse Legend didn't struggle one bit! Hannah even made me swap half way as I don't think she quite believed how good I said Legend felt.

Yesterday I rode out with a group from the yard to one of the only decent canter tracks near us so he could get rid of a bit of energy. We ended up visiting a yard at the end of the track to watch some working hunter so only had one canter but Legend was great, although a bit tired by the time we got home as we were out for about 2 and a half hours which is the longest ride we've been on in 2 years! I had planned to give him a rest today but as it's meant to rain all day tomorrow I decided he could have tomorrow off and I'd school him today. 
This was the 3rd time I've schooled him since he's been home and I still can't get over how amazing he feels, I don't know if I mentioned before but I used to have a lot of trouble getting him to bend (despite his saddle being checked and his back being checked several times) but although he hasn't been schooled properly for the best part of a year he is bending easily both ways and I can barely remember him going better. I've attched some photos from today though they aren't the best example as he was in what I can only describe as a 'Legend mood' though he looked after Hannah and she's not schooled for a long time.

I only have one week left before I go to uni but hopefully we'll fit in some more good rides before I leave him with Hannah. If he keeps going how he is we are hoping to take him to one of the local farm rides before christmas, though we aren't planning anything in advance because something always goes wrong! 

I feel so much more positive about his future than I ever did when he was remedially shod. When he was remedially shod our vet told me not to trot him on the roads because of the concussion yet without shoes I don't think twice if I have to trot on the road and he has been fine doing little bits. I also said I would never jump him again but i'm now reconsidering that and will hopefully do a bit with him when he comes to Nottingham with me after christmas.

So yeh another happy rehab here, thankyou for giving me my horse back


Monday 17 September 2012

Millie - a new girl and a study in hoof balance

New girl Millie has arrived and for once we have a horse here who hasn't travelled halfway across the country; she is a local girl and lives just down the road near Bideford.  She has been shod for the last 4 years but had her shoes removed for x-rays, which confirmed the vets' diagnosis of navicular syndrome.
Straight out of shoes, her feet are obviously weak and vulnerable and there are untidy edges where her long hoof wall has chipped away. Another clue to hooves out of balance is the bulge in the hairline at her coronet but there is also lots to like about her  hooves. Her heels aren't too badly under-run, she doesn't have ripples or growth rings in her hoof wall and although her frog is weak and her heels are a little high I think they will come back quite quickly.  
Here is where I think the biggest changes will happen - in her medio-lateral balance. At the moment there is a dramatic difference in hoof wall between the medial and lateral sides and if you were to draw a line through the middle of her foot the difference in size between the two sides would be clear. 
I have high hopes for Millie - and not just because she is a thoroughbred :-) More on her soon. 

Friday 14 September 2012

Feel-good Friday foursome

Yet more fab news about Bryan, via his pal Wendy's blog and on Facebook. Its really high time there was a Big Barefoot Bryan Blog - he can't be expected to just share with Wendy now he is hunting as well as jumping...

"After what seemed to be an eternity since last season I finally received an email announcing mounted Autumn Hunting commencing at 6am sharp Wednesday. This necessitated a daunting 3am alarm call at Planet Monkwood and caused confusion amongst the newest recruits at the Planet, namely Bruce whose bite is every bit as bad as his bark, and Beanie who can vouch for the previous statement having become a victim of Bruce some weeks earlier. Both Bruce and Beanie looked at me incredulously as I appeared not just very early but fully dressed and clearly with intent to get on with things rather than the normal routine of having a leisurely coffee and checking my emails before venturing outside. BBB (Big Barefoot Bryan) was also a little bemused but ever the gentleman he cooperated fully with being cleaned, tacked up and loaded at stupid o’clock. In my opinion there are only three good things that have come out of Belgium – chocolate, Poirot and BBB – and I adore all three!
As anticipated BBB did get rather excited and threw a few shapes but generally it was just AMAZING to be hunting a horse that only six months prior I had been advised to euthanase due to an MRI diagnosis of incurable lameness. BBB relished his infrequent visits to the great grass rings of Hickstead and to his second home Pyecombe this summer but I think his introduction to the sport of hunting has opened his eyes to a whole new world. The splendid spectacle of the mist rising from the fields and the Three Musketeers forming a formidable line at the front of the mounted followers reinforced my theory that now hunting has recommenced all is now well with my world. Shortly after moving off BBB added a new talent to his ever increasing repertoire – limbo! It took a little patience but he soon realised that he had to go under the extremely low branch and slowly enough to ensure that I was not ripped off his back. By our third encounter with the same branch he was quite nonchalant about it.

The First of the Three Musketeers had assured me that this would be a quiet morning but in truth it was far from quiet and we covered nearly ten miles. He had also promised me that there would be no jumping and thus the Field patiently watched the peculiar sight of all of the Three Musketeers dismantling a large rusty metal gate held together with an assortment of wire and twine situated under a low tree with rutted ground either side which under normal circumstances they would have gaily leapt over and cantered off into the breaking day leaving the less able and less brave quivering in their wake. Despite all this excitement there was still the chance to chat and I was staggered when I was asked if BBB was a Retired Racehorse! For those of you who know BBB well you will know that his physique is fairly substantial. He stands about 17.2hh, is a good middleweight warmblood type, lives on a diet of unlimited haylage and to my mind does not resemble a thoroughbred at all.
After three and a half hours of jigging around the Kentish countryside the welcome sight of Mrs B’s gas stove greeted the remaining members of the Field. There’s nothing like perking Father Christmas up after an early morning start than seeing Mrs B with a sausage in her hand. After the traditional post hunting chatter BBB and I set off for home dropping Young Miss Ellie off on the way.
BBB is now displaying the classic post hunting traits of a horse that has hunted for the first time. He is refusing all food and is pacing around his stable listening intently for the glorious sound of hounds pursuing a freshly laid trail. He obviously thoroughly enjoyed himself and was very footsure even down some demanding tracks. Through the mist of an Autumn Hunting morning he could easily have been mistaken for Mistral Hojris when displaying his poshest extended trot. But today BBB became a ‘real’ horse and was even honoured by the Scarlet Pimpernel himself who has nicknamed him Nelson. Poor BBB anyone would think that he didn’t have a proper name!

No doubt Nelson's further adventures will be posted on WendyBBB's blog in due course...!

My second contribution to that Friday feeling is a voicemail I had from Eva's vet, who went to see her last week. Amy had emailed me to say the visit had gone well but it was lovely to hear from him that he was both surprised and pleased with how sound she was and how well she was working :-) Its very refreshing to meet a vet who is taking such an interest in the horse post-rehab, so that call made my day.

Thirdly, another lovely FB post, this time about Legend who went home last month.

"Hi Nic, I just wanted to let you know that I rode Legend today for the first time since he came back from Rockley and I'm absolutely amazed at the progress he has made! He was striding out over stones like he couldn't even feel them and there was a wonderful spring in his step - he was an absolute joy to ride and I just can't believe how far he has come! He is obviously comfortable and happy in himself again, which is wonderful to see. Thank you so much for making this possible! xx"

And, just to make it a Friday foursome, here is Bryan's jumping clip from last week :-)

Thursday 13 September 2012

Baloo and bending

Baloo has been here nearly 6 weeks and its time to assess how his hooves are doing. On arrival his RF (which he was lamest on) was boxy and contracted.
Today the same foot is less upright and is beginning to move into a more normal position. The toe angle is better, as is the hairline which no longer bulges so badly at the quarters and is levelling out.
Although the hoof still looks under-run when you look at the sole you can see that the frog and heels are in fact improving. As always, its important to check what you are seeing from different angles. 
On day one you can see that his hoof was bending and contracting on the lateral side (this time to the right of the photo) and the frog was distorting too. If you were to draw a line down the middle of the frog, which hoof is loading more evenly?
Heading in a healthier direction!
Baloo's hoof is still skewed but compare the difference over 6 weeks in the hoof wall on both sides: instead of being bowed on the lateral (left hand) side and collapsing on the medial (right hand) side its straightening and the whole hoof capsule is becoming a more normal shape and less contracted.