Friday 28 February 2014

Roger's 6 week update

 Roger has now been here for 6 weeks. He arrived with multiple problems including a DDFT tear and a check ligament injury and had most recently injured his LF when he arrived as well.
Today I am pleased to say he is gradually improving in soundness and has been working well for the last few weeks. 
 His LF shows the biggest changes. It didn't look too bad when he arrived but was flat and under-run and he was landing very evidently toe first.
Today his palmar hoof is wider an stronger. His foot is still under-run but the balance of the foot is steadily moving to a more supportive place. 
From the lateral shots you can see how collapsed the palmar hoof had become. The stripe is a useful indicator of how the foot is growing and the dorso-palmar angle. 
Today the stripe indicates a less collapsed foot and you can see from this angle (and from the improved hairline) that there is beginning to be better depth to the digital cushion. A shorter toe is another encouraging sign.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Cheshire Chester's 3 and a bit week update

Time for an update on Chester, who arrived here at the beginning of February. When I posted about him initially I said that I wanted to see his frogs and heels develop and his toe to shorten. 
 Comparing these photos, with the original shots at the top and today's below in each case, you can see that he is starting to do precisely that. 
Although Chester isn't yet capable of work on tough surfaces time spent on the tracks has already shortened his toe and increased his hoof growth, as you can see from the line which is today much lower in his hoof capsule. 

It looks to me as if Chester's frog had been thinned with a hoof knife before he came here. It will take time to recover fully but in today's photo - below - this is already a better looking frog.

Just goes to show that trimming isn't the only way to shorten a toe - and doing it this way has benefits for palmar hoof strength too!

Wednesday 26 February 2014

How much can we cover in a day...?

I am putting together the seminar I an running with Helen Spence on 8th March and thought it might be worth putting up as a blog post what we want to try and cover in case there are comments or requests for topics that people want to highlight here.  All feedback is welcome, whether you are coming to the seminar or not ;-)

  •   Assessing hoof health and basic biomechanics

We'll work with a variety of horses with differing standards of hoof health. The aim will be to learn to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each hoof, how hoof problems may be affecting the rest of the horse and his movement (or vice versa) and what the causes of those problems might be. 
  • Troubleshooting and owner power
Of course multiple factors can affect hooves, from conformation to diet, from tack to teeth, from the surfaces the horse lives and works on to metabolic issues. 

Diagnosis of illness or lameness is strictly a veterinary remit but once a diagnosis has been made there are many ways in which owners can use these factors to influence hoof health and biomechanics for the better.   

There are also some very simple ways in which owners can monitor their own horse's hooves and whether these are improving or not. 

  • Nutrition
We'll cover some nutritional essentials and its also a great chance to brainstorm about what does and doesn't work for different horses in different areas of the country. 

  • Management
We'll spend some time talking about practical management techniques which can enhance hoof health - using tracks, yards and "dead" areas, how to increase movement, reduce boredom and give horses the best possible management system with what you have available.

There are many ways in which the work our horses do impacts on their feet and we'll look at what types of exercise is useful in rehabilitation as well. 

We may even get onto the question of trimming  - when it can be helpful and when it may not be! Hope to see you there :-)

Monday 24 February 2014

Why bar shoes don't work - or Peter's 12 week update

Peter went home yesterday so these are his 12 week update photos. The important points to compare are the heel and digital cushion, which as you can see are much less under-run and more robust today (below) than when he was in remedial shoes (above). 
As always, I find it ironic that the shoes which were supposed to be supporting his palmar hoof had actually prevented it from strengthening and developing as it should.
With sole shots of the same hoof in his shoes...
 ...immediately after the shoes came off...
...and after 12 weeks. His foot was very contracted and still has a way to go before either the medio-lateral balance or the palmar hoof is as good as it can be. Nevertheless, contrasting his frog and heels, particularly the lateral heel, this is a foot which is now heading in the right direction. 
Comparison shots of his LF show the same. 
 Again, ironic that the shoes which were aimed at "support" had in fact contracted and weakened his frog and distorted his heels.
After 12 weeks, the palmar hoof is beginning to recover but it will be another 3-4 months before his foot is as strong as it can be.

The caudal shots also show some interesting developments. The digital cushion is more stable and the foot much more balanced though there is still some uneveness which should improve as the new hoof capsule grows in fully. 

The RF is certainly much more evenly loaded and again, its clear from this angle that the bar shoes, far from providing support, were actually distorting the structures of the palmar hoof. 

Let's hope Peter continues to go from strength to strength!

Friday 21 February 2014

Gemini - the sole shots

You asked for sole shots for Gemini and here they are. A good frog, on the whole, but not a perfectly balanced foot.  

 Some might call her feet flat but in fact they aren't. The soles may look flat but the collateral grooves are deep which is normally a sign of good depth in the hoof capsule.
There are still lots of aspects which need to improve and it will be fascinating to see how her feet change over the next few weeks.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Short blog, busy week...

 Short blog today as we've had an even busier week than normal down here. Its a good job my nephew Sam has been here to help because there is not only all the work with the rehab horses to be done but lots of fencing.
Its great having the tracks, and in the weather we have had this winter they are even more invaluable as they provide well-drained turnout no matter how much rain we have had. But having horses on them and a huge amount of annual rainfall inevitably takes its toll on timber and we had to replace a whole section of track this week.

I say "we" but have to admit that Andy and Alan did all the work on this, and very smart it looks too. Now all we need is for the fog to lift...!

Monday 17 February 2014

Gemini and the clues to an unbalanced foot

New horse Gemini arrived yesterday. She is unusual for several reasons - firstly she is a very young horse, only just 4 years old, and secondly she has never been shod. 

This meant that she had some big advantages over many of the other horses who arrive for rehab but it also meant that it was going to be interesting to try and work out why her feet were causing her problems (Gemini has been 2-3/10 lame for several months and has been diagnosed on MRI with navicular bone and collateral ligament damage). 
Lateral shots of her lamer leg don't look too bad  - in fact there is lots to like, not least the strong hoof capsule and balanced hairline.
From the front, however, we get the first clues that her hoof balance isn't quite right for her. From this angle the hairline no longer looks so balanced and there is a hint that she has a medial weakness in her hooves.
Here is a fascinating caudal shot. With most horses who have been in shoes for some years you wouldn't see this level of good frog development but Gemini has it - at least on this leg, though her LF is weaker.

Her frog is loading and she has a heel first landing on this foot. However, a shot of her foot from this angle confirms the same medio-lateral imbalance as we can see from the front and sure enough she is landing on the lateral side of the foot when she walks.

More on Gemini soon...

Friday 14 February 2014

Here's hoping...

Although we are still facing horrendous weather here (though no flooding, since we are so high up, so we are a lot luckier than many), there is a glimmer of light on the horizon - well 2, actually.

The first comes from the Met Office who are saying that as long as we can all get through the 80mph winds we are forecast today - and of course the 40mm of rain - then its going to start to calm down over the weekend and we may even have a break from the storms next week. Wouldn't that make a pleasant change?

If its true I might even be able to catch up on the backlog of filming which has been put on hold for most of this week and last week - so watch this space!
The second and more guaranteed ray of sunshine comes in the form of SB, who is down for half term - yippee :-) 

[ETA: photo comes from this time last year - look how dry and sunny it was! Ack, ack ack...]

Thursday 13 February 2014

Hoof prints in the snow

A snowy morning here though its not going to lie - but Knightley, Brigitte and I were the first ones out on the lane. 
Brigitte's prints - not bad at all for a rehab horse - great frog definition on her RF and even her LF is getting there. 
Knightley muses on the view, or possibly on the desperately scratched and grubby state of my camera lens...

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Brigitte's 11 week update

Time for Brigitte's update though its hard to believe she has been here 11 weeks. I've taken some footage of her and thought stills from it would the easiest way for you to see what is going on.
 Here she is on arrival, a very toe first landing on 3 out of 4 feet with the fronts being the worst. Most horses start to land heel first fairly quickly but Brigitte's feet were so under-run that it has taken her the best part of 10 weeks to start to change.
Even today, she is only landing flat, not clearly heel first, but now that she is beginning to use the palmar hoof more correctly it should continue to strengthen. 
When she arrived (above) her feet were very distorted - in fact they were so under-run that they were narrower at the base than at the coronet. The deviated hairline is another clue that things were far from well. 

Eleven weeks on we are making progress. However though the toe is shorter the palmar hoof is still weak, proved by the fact she is still reluctant to land heel first. 

Sole shots give a clue to where her feet are heading - interestingly they look more symmetrical from this view today but less symmetrical from the top. Its clear that balance for Brigitte has to be set using internal markers not external angles!
Notice as well that the bars which extended right round the apex of the frog have disappeared as her foot has become stronger. I have not trimmed them as they were an essential support while her foot was weak and unbalanced.