Friday, 30 September 2016

Something to think about

A study which was published earlier this week caught my eye and I am sure many of you have seen it as well. The National Equine Health Survey 2016 found that 38% of horses in the UK had heath issues and that lameness was the most common problem (the detail is here: Blue Cross Equine Health Survey).

I saw this study the day I got back from our reunion.
The horses attending that had all been diagnosed in the past with serious lamenesses which should, according to traditional veterinary experience, have limited or ended their ridden careers. 

Yet in fact the vast majority of the horses who go through rehab - including those at the reunion - have been sound and working at the same level or higher than before they went lame, not just for a few months but for for several years since their rehabilitation at Rockley. 

The horse pictured below came to us in 2008 with a deep flexor tendon injury and had been given a 5% chance of returning to work. He is now 17 years old and 9 years after his diagnosis is still going strong. 
Now of course even for these rehab horses life is not entirely trouble-free. Some owners are also dealing with metabolic issues like PPID; some horses also have problems like kissing spine or arthritis to contend with. Most owners need to manage their horses' diets carefully to ensure their feet stay in the best possible health. 

But overall, and despite their previous injuries, the rehab horses are ovewhelmingly sounder than the majority of horses in the UK.

In fact at our reunion one instructor - who had never seen any of the horses before - commented on how sound they were and how freely they moved compared to the majority of horses she taught. Makes you think, doesn't it?


Rhonda Lee said...

Yes indeed.

C-ingspots said...

Yes it does. I haven't yet read the survey, but overall if you had to name one, specific and main reason for the success - would you attribute that to going barefoot, and even foregoing trimming? Also, if yes is your answer, what do you recommend for horses who don't have such varied terrain to spend time on? Trimming only? This really is fascinating.

Nic Barker said...

Its definitely a combination. Stepping back from trimming has been an important part but equally important is the nutritional awareness of owners (which grows and develops the longer their horses are barefoot!) and consistent exercise which keeps feet strong.

Keeping hooves unshod is also essential - once shoes go on hooves inevitably deteriorate in my experience. I've never seen a foot get healthier in shoes and in fact horses tend to go lame if they are re-shod (though that has only happened a handful of times).