Sunday 2 December 2018

Hello from New Zealand

I’ve just spent a great weekend in Carterton, New Zealand, courtesy of Christin and Bek who kindly organised and hosted an amazing weekend workshop.

Of course it was the first day of summer here on Saturday and despite a sometimes dubious forecast we had fantastic weather, at least until we had all packed up when the heavens opened and the lightning stuck!

That’s me done with workshops for this year, but there will be more next year, starting on 2nd March (a changed date from the one I’d previously posted) at Writtle College.

Friday 12 October 2018

Forthcoming workshops, home and abroad!

I've got some (to me!) exciting news that I am thrilled to be able to blog about: new workshop dates including in New Zealand and the US.

Its been great running the summer workshops here, as well as the webinar last month, so its great to already have some new dates to share.  

The first is in New Zealand on 1st December 2018. There are more details in the poster above (click to enlarge) and you can contact Christin  for more information and to book:

Then we have a seminar/workshop at Writtle College in Essex on 9th February 2019. This will be open initially to students but there may be spaces available for non-students. Contact Cloe Lambert for information and to book:

Next up is the US, with a workshop in Long Island, NY on 6th April 2019 - contact Jeannean Mercuri for more information and to book:

Finally for now, there is a workshop in Aberdeen on 18th May 2019; contact either Julie Bradbury  - - or me - for more information and to book.

I know its early days but I have had queries from a number of people about running workshops on their yards or local area so if you would like to host a workshop for 2019 do get in touch.

Monday 8 October 2018

Self-maintaining hooves

Following the webinar last weekend I've been asked if I can put up some examples of self-maintaining hooves.
The problem with doing this is, as we discussed in the webinar, that photos are very deceptive without seeing the horse move. Looking at this photo, someone commented that the toe looked long but in fact the horse has a brilliant landing, heel first and with excellent medio-lateral balance.
When you look at a photo of the sole the toe no longer looks long - as always seeing the horse in motion is the important thing. With that in mind, some of the pictures in this blog are stills taken from video. 
 The important thing to remember is that a photo of a pretty, apparently balanced hoof may be a lie - you just can't tell until you see the horse moving whether it is actually sound and moving well.
However all the feet in this blog post belong to horses who are sound and have been in work barefoot for many years. Most have not been trimmed since at least 2009, one has never been trimmed.
They are in varying levels of work, from light to hard to none at all, but the important factor is that changes to their mileage and workload are made steadily and consistently so that feet can adapt and maintain growth levels to match wear.  

I hope you find them interesting! If anyone has questions then feel free to post. 

Monday 17 September 2018

Webinar - 30th September 2018

Its been great running the Performance Hoof workshops this summer and meeting so many new people and new horses. Thank you to everyone who has come along!

I've already got ideas for workshops next year and there are one or two dates already in the diary but if anyone is interested in hosting a workshop do let me know.

In the meantime the last workshop - this time a web-based one for those in the US - is running on Sunday 30th so if you are State-side and would like to join us, this is for you!

Monday 10 September 2018

Finally! Flynn foiled by photo failure....

With apologies for the massive delay, I am finally posting Flynn's update. My stills camera died so I tried using my other camera but then the SD card conked out. Fourth time lucky here we go...  As usual, old photos at the top, new photos below.
So Flynn is now at week 11 of his rehab and has done well - he has been landing heel first for a while and has been working on the roads as well as in the school. The rich flush of grass in August meant I had to be careful with his turnout but he is now back to being out at night which he loves.   
Comparing his photos, the most obvious difference is the shorter toe and less under-run heel. The sole shots show better concavity and a better heel balance, whereas he was overloading the lateral heel when he arrived. 

Nothing particularly spectacular here, though you can see the lateral heel is lower now and he has a better digital cushion. 

From this angle the better support he has now is pretty clear, I think - the whole limb looks a lot more stable. 

As with the other foot the main differences now are better medio-lateral balance (he lands more evenly) and a healthier palmar hoof (he lands heel first). 

I will try to add Flynn's updated footage when I can recover it but for now you'll have to take my word for it about the improved landings!
18th Sept: Even more belatedly, here is his footage:

Friday 7 September 2018

Put DOWN the rasp and pick up the celery...

It was over 7 years ago that I wrote my first post about celery: 

I didn't realise it was potentially explosive to suggest that farriers and trimmers should try NOT laming horses when they trimmed.  I certainly never imagined that so far down the line I would STILL need to be posting the same message but in fact I not only blog regularly but am also covering the topic every time I give a workshop. 

You can see if you search this blog for celery that its a theme I keep having to come back to, and the reason is because horses are still being lamed by trimming. 
Here is an email I picked up this morning, about a rehab horse who went home a few weeks ago. 

"Up until about a month ago, he was doing amazing.  I had heel-first landings and he was really steady and level on his gait."

Shortly after this he had a blip with too much grass, as many people did when the drought broke and the grass flushed. This is always a shame but is normally sorted out completely with a few days of going back to limiting grass during the day. For this horse, however the problem was compounded because a trimmer came to see him that day and rather than assessing the situation correctly she decided that it would help if she removed some hoof. 

The owner's email tells its own tale:

"She then rasped the medial "flare" that he has on both fronts, she rolled his back toes, took the bars back, trimmed the frog, and as she said "tidied his feet up".  

Well I know even in my little experience, that tidy feet don't make sound feet! He's not been walking comfortably since..."

Three weeks down the line the owner is understandably wondering whether her horse will recover. The answer is that he probably will but it will take several weeks.

Aggressive rebalancing of a horse's foot is almost never a good idea and it is DEFINITELY not a good idea when a horse is rehabilitating from long term lameness. In addition trimming a horse who is in the middle of a reaction to grass is a risky strategy and one which will rarely leave a horse sounder and more comfortable.

Monday 27 August 2018

Oscar's 8/9 week update

The photos I've included in this update are of Oscar at 9 weeks but the video is of him at 8 weeks - the reason being that my internet was so slow last week that it made uploads impossible. 
Although Oscar had thin soles and flat feet - and he arrived in shoes - he has made good progress so far.  Comparing the back of his feet the improvements are obvious and his soles are developing as well.  
As usual, the foot is actually less supported - particularly the back of the foot - in a shoe than it is in its natural state.  Ironic, of course, in view of the widespread belief that shoes provide support. 

Its especially good to see this foot becoming more balanced. This can also be seen in his footage (below). 

This was his better foot originally so the changes are less dramatic. 

Neverthless, some good changes to see. 

Oscar's comparison landing footage is in this link for those who are interested:

Thursday 23 August 2018

Beau - an 8 week update

I'm a little late updating on the rehab horses as my internet decided to go back in time to dial up speeds on Monday and its only just dragged itself back to life. 
Still, better late than never here are Beau's photos, with the original ones at the top and her 8 week shots below. The biggest change is in the development at the back of her foot, as you can see if you compare the white hairs on this foot. 

The heels are broadening and are far less under-run than they were originally.  
There is still old growth which will take a few more months to grow out - you can see this clearly if you compare the angle of the dorsal wall in the photos above and look at the toe in these photos, but that will sort itself out over the next few months.  

A much more solid digital cushion and fatter frog - all good signs.
The angle of the new growth is very clear in these photos, with the change in angle obvious just over halfway down the hoof capsule. 

I like the fact that this foot is now more balanced  - from the footage she now has better medio-lateral balance on this foot in motion.  

 Beau's comparison footage is here:

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Performance Hoof Workshops - new dates

As you may know, I've been trying something new this summer - workshops for owners and horses all about hooves. 

They've been lots of fun to run and I'm delighted that the feedback from those attending has been really positive so far.

They usually run for one day and we look at around 6 different horses, filming them and looking at their movement in slow motion on various surfaces. We assess how the horse is moving, where his strengths and weaknesses are and whether there are ways to improve how his feet are landing and loading, overall foot balance and movement in hand and under saddle.

As well as taking footage of each horse and looking at them individually we talk about nutrition and environment and how they can affect feet. We also look at practical ways to make simple, cos-effective changes which can improve yards and fields for every horse.

There will be new workshops on the days below and there are currently spaces available so if you are interested in booking please email me:

Costs are £40 for a spectator and £80 if you are bringing your horse, each day runs from 10am-4pm.

Saturday 1st September              Priors Hardwick Road, Upper Boddington, NN11 6DW

Friday 14th September                  Rockley Farm, Brayford, EX32 7QR

Friday 21st September                Frieze Farm, Crowsley, Henley-on-Thames RG9 4JL

Thank you all!