Wednesday, 29 October 2014


Sorry for the hiatus in posts - but the end is in sight, thanks to a potentially expensive afternoon spent in the Apple store in Exeter yesterday and I am hoping to have computer functionality by the end of this week, with a backlog of stuff to post!

Meanwhile, I just wanted to share with you 2 emails which came in last week, both from overseas blog readers and both interesting for very different reasons. This is the first:

" I am trying to find some one to help me figure out the best way to trim my mare. Am losing confidence in the people I have access to ...I'm tired of seeing my poor mare being so sore after trims or farriers doing what they think are best for her which end's up not being best for her. 

No one seems to want to listen to me."

The second is from a vet who has become interested in taking horses barefoot as a rehabilitation tool.

"I have been doing a lot of research on hooves and trimming in the past few years and have taken quite a few horses barefoot actually with very good results. The one horse who brought me back to your work, after being obsessed with DOING something (i.e. trimming) is one of my own horses. 

This horse had numerous [body] issues and rock hard but very ouchy feet. I was obsessed with trimming then especially as I had the feeling that as soon as I left them alone they got out of shape.

I have started her ( and my other horses) on a no trimming, miles only regime since october 1st, letting her choose her own hoof balance- which is making me incredibly excited and nervous at the same time..... Not only for the feet of course, but also for the rest of the body's health and soundness!"

And the final thought to throw into the mix comes from a veterinary research paper which looked at the structure of the human nail as a way of finding a better understanding of hoof problems in horses and other animals:

"The daily trimming of fingernails and toenails to make them more aesthetically pleasing could be detrimental and potentially lead to serious nail conditions. The research, carried out by experts in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at The University of Nottingham, will also improve our understanding of disease in the hooves of farm animals and horses.

Dr Cyril Rauch, a physicist and applied mathematician, together with his PhD Student Mohammed Cherkaoui-Rbati, devised equations to identify the physical laws that govern nail growth, and used them to throw light on the causes of some of the most common nail problems, such as ingrown toe nails, spoon-shaped nails and pincer nails.

According to their research, ‘Physics of nail conditions: Why do ingrown nails always happen in the big toes?’ published today, 17 October 2014, in the journal Physical Biology, regular poor trimming can tip the fine balance of nails, causing residual stress to occur across the entire nail. This residual stress can promote a change in shape or curvature of the nail over time which, in turn, can lead to serious nail conditions.

Dr Rauch also said: “Similar equations can be determined for conditions of the hoof and claw and applied to farm animals such as sheep, cattle, or horses and ponies.

It started with ingrowing toe nails.

In their study the researchers focused specifically on ingrown toe nails which, though recognised for a long time, still lack a satisfactory treatment as the causes remain largely unknown. When devising their equations, the researchers accounted for the strong adhesion of nails to their bed through tiny, microscopic structures, which allow the nail to slide forwards and grow in a “ratchet-like” fashion by continuously binding and unbinding to the nail. By also taking into account the mechanical stresses and energies associated with the nail, the researchers came up with an overall nail shape equation.

The equation showed that when the balance between the growth stress and adhesive stress is broken — if a nail grows too quickly or slowly, or the number of adhesive structures changes — a residual stress across the entire nail can occur, causing it to change shape over time.

The results showed that residual stress can occur in any fingernail or toenail; however, the stress is greater for nails that are larger in size and have a flatter edge, which explains why ingrown toe nails predominantly occur in the big toe.

Although a residual stress can be brought about by age or a change in metabolic activity — ingrown toenails are often diagnosed in children/young adults and pregnant women — the equations also revealed that bad trimming of the nails can amplify the residual stress.”

Research on toenails but serious food for thought - or it should be - for anyone who trims hooves.

Many thanks to Freya Brookes for sending me this info!

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