Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Changing how hooves land and why this is important

As many of you know, the horses who come here have a range of diagnoses ("navicular", DDFT collateral/impar ligament damage, coffin bone damage) but most have a lameness which blocks to the foot and many have then had x-rays or MRI which of course gives lots more information about what structures within the foot are affected.
Horses with this type of lameness nearly always have a toe-first or flat-footed landing, when filmed laterally and often also have poor medio-lateral balance as they land (ie they land on one side of the front foot first), when filmed head on.
What is very consistent is that as horses become sounder their landings improve and become more heel first and more evenly loaded.

I always film horses when they arrive and there is a clear pattern which is confirmed again and again - look at the footage I took of Beanie and Red, who arrived at the weekend, as a typical example.
Buddy, who went home last week, shows what happens as feet begin to become stronger and healthier. Contrast this footage of how he landed when he arrived with footage from the day he went home. A better landing goes hand-in-hand with improved soundness - again something I see repeatedly.
This is after only 12 weeks of change - not quite half a hoof capsule - so imagine how good his landing will be once he has grown in a full new hoof capsule. Its also interesting to see that the issue is not just with his front feet but also his hinds. Not all horses are like this but many are and the changes to the landing in hinds is equally dramatic and equally important.

Why is it so crucial to change how horses land? The answer is simple - because it reduces damage to ligaments and tendons and as a result improves soundness. Its of course something I have blogged about many times before - there is more on the anatomy of landings here and more on what happens when a horse continues to land toe-first here and of course you can search the rehab horses to find examples of more footage.

The really useful thing about watching how horses land is that its something that is easily available to any owner, vet, farrier or trimmer. Its not expensive, doesn't require sophisticated equipment and is an effective way of monitoring not only hoof health but biomechanics.

How hooves land - while important - is naturally not the only thing you need to monitor with a horse but one thing I am sure of - you ignore a poor landing at your peril!


falconfeathers said...

I love your blog! My horse had been in shoes for years and more recently a VERY bad shoeing that went on for several months while he was away at a bad trainers.

For the first time he is bare foot and has been since October 1. His long toe is mostly gone and his hoof is growing in at a better angle, but still dishes out a good bit.

He is tender on gravel and is still on and off lame. My new trainer is really pushing for shoes and I passively ignore him! : )
He is boarded on a fairly soft pasture. There isn't anything I can change about that.

Also I have trouble recognizing a what a good foot should really look like from your pics. Is there anyway you can post pics side by side with bad vs improvements-with arrows pointing to specific areas?

do you have any recommendations for his feet?


falconfeathers said...

Oh-also he is tripping-something he never used to do, but I am hoping this will improve as he lands he improves/toe shorter and landing on heels?

Unknown said...

I just added you to my reading list after a fellow blogger sent me a link.
I am currently dealing with a mare who is lame on both fronts, with no clear reason as to why. Xrays show nothing, and vet exams have only been able to isolate that the pain is in her heels.
Next Friday she is headed to CO for what I hope is going to be a solution. Some Natural Balance trimming and perhaps corrective shoes.
I am always seeking out new information, so I am happy to have been directed to your blog.
Thank you for the great information.

cptrayes said...

I share your experiences with the hinds and the front footfall.

Woody arrived flat landing/toe first in October and swiftly became heel first. But meanwhile, his back feet, on which he had never been diagnosed with any lameness, did the most amazing twisting gyrations as they changed shape/landed laterally/screwed around on the floor/ swung the fetlock out wildly with the foot static and then finally came straight and stayed there.

He was front foot lame for most of 4 years until October 14th and on February 9th he hunted for over 3 hours with no effect on his front feet.

What a satisfying outcome that was!


Nic Barker said...

Nice one C :-)

FF - have a look at blog posts from last week for photos of hooves from the lateral view. BUT beware that its not the appearance which is important but how they land and load, so photos are only a clue :-)