Tuesday 23 December 2014

Why its not about the trim - Eager's final update

Eager went home on Friday  - apologies for the late update  - I really have no good excuse except that the days are so short at the moment that lots of stuff is just having to wait till I have more time.
Eager had pretty nice looking feet when she arrived (the upper photos of each pair) and she had never been shod but her palmar hoof was weaker than it should have been and not surprisingly this (plus her media-lateral balance) was the area where the problems originated. 
We were able to do a  lot of work with her fairly quickly and as she started with a baseline of a fairly strong foot she has made good and rapid progress. The lower photos in each pair show her feet after 10 weeks.
Unfortunately I had to take her final photos with a different camera to normal (its a lot bigger so I can't get the same angle as with my nifty little pocket camera) which is why the shots aren't quite true comparisons.
Nevertheless I hope you can see that her palmar hoof is stronger now than it was when she arrived. Her frog and digital cushion are more robust and have more width and depth.
As a result of this her toe is shorter and her foot is more supportive of the whole limb. I know this is something I always bang on about but I hope these photos show that these types of changes are nothing to do with trimming and everything to do with building stronger internal structures to the foot. 

Full marks if you also observe that her feet are also changing their media-lateral balance - and in fact this is the area where she had the greatest challenges.
Like many horses who come here she was also lacking medial support in her feet - this is something she is gradually improving but it will take another few months - until she has grown in a full hoof capsule - before that is in place at ground level.
Its all about the foot supporting the limb - and 99% of that comes from within the hoof capsule. 

Monday 15 December 2014

Research and the run up to Christmas

I'm conscious that the blog has been a little sparse for the last few weeks - I would love to be blogging more but I am trying to make time to progress not just the ongoing research but the potential new study which I blogged about last month.
This should result in an update of the Project Dexter data as well as the new MRI-based research proposal so I think its worth the effort (I hope so!). 
However, I am planning this week to squeeze in updates on Bruno and Eager but we are also trying to get some urgent fencing finished  - not very Christmassy but very necessary!

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Photos for Fiona!

As many of you know, Freya is here for the winter and has brought Birdie with her. He hadn't ever hunted before but we all thought he might enjoy it and on his 3rd day out I managed to get some photos for Fiona, Freya's mum.
 Birdie was more than ready for the off - keen as mustard and seconds later was charging up the hill!
The field were momentarily stationary...
...which did not suit Birdie at all. However this was pretty much the last time we stood still so he had plenty of chances to show off his newly-acquired skills at crossing all sorts of terrain.
An unbelievable day...
...and the best view anyone could wish for :-)
A tired but happy horse and rider at the end of a wonderful few hours - well done Birdie and Freya and lets hope for many more days like this to come!

Monday 8 December 2014

Winter sunshine

Its been a while since I posted photos from the farm but we've had such incredible weather recently I had to take my camera out and about...
This is Bruno having a munch on the front lawn - a special privilege as there is masses of grass there and he needs all he can get!
Lets hope for more weather like this - winter sunshine really makes these short days seem longer!

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Bruno's first 3 weeks

Bruno arrived 3 weeks ago and I posted his original photos in this post. Time for an update although as he was landing even more toe first than Alfie (whom I posted about yesterday) it would be too much to expect him to be landing heel first already. 
 He has the typical under-run heels and long toes which we commonly see on horses who have only had a short time out of shoes but already his toe is shortening (on its own - no trimming required) and his hairline is straighter which indicates the palmar hoof is getting stronger.
Sole shots show a frog which is improving and a big shift beginning in his media-lateral balance. His breakover is going to be way back once his toe has shortened and that should also allow his heels to stop collapsing and come back to a more supportive position. 

This is an interesting shot as it shows that the foot is becoming more balanced - there is better symmetry at the level of the frog and digital cushion and the palmar hoof as a whole looks tougher. 

There is going to be quite a difference in Bruno's hoof angle once he has grown a bit more hoof capsule. You can just about see a band of new growth at the top and if you project that down to the ground at the same angle you get a sense of where his heel and toe will be in 6 months' time - a much shorter toe and a much less under-run, more supportive heel. 

Bruno's frog has started to widen as have his heels and as on his RF the toe has begun to shorten. 

For now his heels look high as he has shed a layer of frog but that will grow in pretty fast and that should make a big difference to his landing as well. 

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Alfie's first 4 weeks

Alfie D has been here 4 weeks and I've just managed to get some revised footage of him which I am really pleased with.

The footage compares his landing from day 1 (below)...
...to today, 4 weeks later...
As you can see he has improved significantly. This is important because now his landing is heel first and he can engage the palmar hoof properly it means we can work him on tougher surfaces without risking strain to his DDFT.

This in turn is important because it will help his new hoof capsule grow in faster which will allow his foot to rebalance faster. A win-win situation. Plus of course its much more interesting for Alfie to go out and about rather than work on a surface.

More on Alfie soon!

Friday 28 November 2014

Goofy's 4 week update

Time for Goofy's comparison photos as he has been here 4 weeks already. His original post is here and gives some of his background history
 On this, his worse, foot he has a central sulcus split to contend with which, as you can see from his day 1 photo below, was quite deep. We have mostly got on top of the infection, I hope, and its starting to open up as he uses the palmar hoof more.
Its still a weak foot though I appreciate the mud in the recent photo doesn't help the comparisons - I had brushed it all off but Goofy managed to plaster himself in the short time before I got the photos...

The most interesting aspect of this shot is the much steeper angle of new growth coming in. His hair is hiding it a bit but above the bulge (an old abscess hole) at the top third of the hoof capsule is new growth which will bring his toe shorter and help support the palmar hoof too once its at ground level. 

Not as much change on this foot which was his better one anyway but a better frog and the beginning of better concavity. 

More mud - sorry again - but you can at least see that the digital cushion is less pinched (the hairline is more level) in the most recent photo. A good sign as it indicates it is becoming stronger. 

A shorter toe and from this angle too the hairline is more level. More on Goofy soon. 

Wednesday 26 November 2014

MRIs, navicular and pie in the sky

Most of you already know that the vast majority of horses who come here have been diagnosed with a lameness which blocks to the palmar hoof.
On MRI this typically presents as inflammation of the navicular bursa with DDFT, collateral or impart ligament damage - often with associated navicular and coffin bone damage. If only x-rays are available then bone damage is visible but not tendon or ligament damage (however research shows that soft tissue damage is going to exist as its always a precursor to navicular bone damage).

Historically this type of condition has been described as degenerative but - for reasons I have blogged about before in this post: Surprise, surprise, not really a degenerative disease after all (which is one of the most popular I've ever written!) -  I've long had my doubts about this.
I described in that post how follow-up MRIs and x-rays in the few horses who have had them AFTER rehab showed encouraging signs of healed tissue and bone damage. Unfortunately till now its not been possible to perform many of these as the cost is prohibitive.

However - and this is where the pie in the sky comes in - recently I've been talking to some veterinary professionals about the possibility of a new research project - this time looking at repeating MRIs on our ex-rehab horses and comparing them with the MRIs done before they came for rehab.
Its possible - just possible - that we may be able in time to get funding for this as the cost of follow-up MRIs is much lower provided they are done by the same centres. There are lots of obstacles to overcome and its by no means certain that we will be able to get it off the ground but myself and the owners of the horses are as keen as mustard so its just a question of getting veterinary and academic backing...Fingers crossed!