Sunday, 9 February 2020

Smarty's 4 week update

Like Ella, Smarty has now been here 4 weeks. Unlike Ella, he had a heel first landing when he arrived so we were not expecting to see such big changes in his feet as in hers.                                          
Comparing the two photos, as usual his initial photos are on the top and the most recent photos below.  In the most recent photo his foot looks to have a shorter toe and slightly stronger heel but as his feet were in reasonably good shape on arrival there is no dramatic change.
Looking at the comparison photos you can tell that the front right hasn't had a dramatic change but slowly strengthening up.

The digital cushion is developing which is a good sign, although again he was starting in a better place than many of the horses who come here.


Comparing Smarty's first photos to his up to date photos you can tell that the angle of the toe is slightly changing to be more in line with the heel of the foot and again his toe is shortening.

With both Smarty and Ella I would not be surprised if they developed more medial support as they both have slightly toe in stances at the moment.
As you can see his left foot has made some changes. The frog has gained some mass and is more defined.
Although the changes are subtle, his digital cushion is stronger than it was and his frog is more developed, with a lower heel.
Smarty's comparison footage is here:

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Video clips to measure progress

As Ella has been here for 3 weeks we have taken updated footage to track her progress. When she arrived her landing was flat/toe first (the still above it taken from her initial footage). This is the most common landing among horses on arrival and it is associated with pain and injury in the palmar hoof. 

Recording horses is a cheap, effective and repeatable way of monitoring how they are landing and whether their movement and soundness is improving, so its a very important tool for us. 

When a horse is landing like Ella was, its not safe to work them on hard surfaces but Ella has been able to work in the arena. She has also spent the majority of her time on the tracks which is an important way to build palmar hoof strength.
Now she has a much better landing on her right front foot and her left foot, though not as consistent, is also making progress.

Ella's full footage is here: and there will be more updates over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Smarty's week 1 post

Our second horse is Smarty who arrived on Monday. He is an 11 year old show-jumper who has a history of low grade RF lameness over a period of about 3 years with a possibly related bilateral hind limb restrictions. 

His owner, who is a vet, has already put in some great work since his shoes came off, with Steve Leigh's support, and it is to their credit that Smarty arrived with a much improved landing - now heel first all round. 

As you can he has a decent hoof capsule already with good support around the back of the hoof.
From this angle you can see a good digital cushion giving plenty of support; hopefully we should see progress quite quickly.
Looking at his sole of his foot he has good frogs already but these are feet which are changing as you can see from the white line stretch.

Despite the RF being his weaker foot he has fairly similar left and right feet which is a good sign, given his history, that he may now be loading more evenly. 

This is a pretty good heel but he still has a way to go before the frog and digital cushions are as strong as they can be. His landing is a great starting point and should help his palmar hoof continue to develop. 

The sole of his hoof looks as if it has reasonably good depth (looking at the collateral grooves) and he has fairly good medio-lateral balance but I (and I suspect Steve!) would not be surprised if he developed more asymmetrical feet at least in the short term. 

Smarty's footage is here:

Monday, 13 January 2020

Ella's week 1 photos

Ella arrived with a history of on/off lameness and a diagnosis of suspensory issues in the RH and ligament and tendon strain with navicular damage in her RF. She has been shod previously, including with remedial shoes, but wasn't really benefitting from them.
She has nice looking feet but the back of the hoof is on the weak side and her toe is long, usually another indicator that the palmar hoof is not up to the job.
The sole shows a nice enough foot but shallower than you'd like to see ideally. 
From this angle her digital cushion isn't too bad and her frog is in good health so I am hopeful she will be able to improve her feet relatively quickly. 
Again, not a bad foot at all and plenty for us to work with. Really, with a slightly shorter toe and slightly stronger digital cushion this would be a good foot. 
As always, we are not going to shorten the toe by trimming as that would be the wrong way round and would most likely cause her to be sore. 
What she needs is to develop a stronger palmar hoof then she will be able to deal with the change in load caused by a shorter toe. We still won't need to trim her, though, as she will achieve this better at her own rate. 

Ella's footage shows she is landing flat on her LF and toe first on her RF. Her medio-lateral balance is pretty good, though, with just a fractional imbalance on her RF. Her footage is here:

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

A complete new hoof over 6 months

These are the feet of a horse who returned to Rockley last summer after being away for a year.  She had been kept barefoot throughout and had been in regular work but something wasn't quite right when she returned. Her toes had got very long and she no longer had the confident heel first landing she had left with. 
I was pretty confident her feet would improve and so it has proved, although it has taken 6 months to grow in a better foot and to grow out abscess damage (one she had while away, one soon after she returned).
As ever, the day 1 photos are at the top and the recent photos below. Here you can see how the balance of her foot has shifted so that she is no longer using her palmar hoof so effectively. As a result her heels and frog are weaker and she has some crazy bars and long hoof wall. 

Her toes had been trimmed, probably in an attempt to move her balance back, but as the palmar hoof was weak the trim just made matters worse. 
 She has not been trimmed at all since she came back and her foot is better balanced. its far from perfect but this is a horse with history so her feet have a  lot of compensations to perform. Many people would want to back up her toe but for the reasons I've outlined above, its much better to let the toe shorten once the palmar hoof is stronger.
This has always been her more problematic foot and this is the foot which developed the abscesses, probably due to poor balance and old internal damage. 

Again, the long toe and weak heels were a worrying sign but she still had just enough of a good landing to enable her to move around correctly on the tracks and on the roads so good movement was going to be the key to restoring hoof health. 
Six months on, you can see that her foot has a clear asymmetry, which we are not going to interfere with, as its enabled her to stay sound; she has also rebuilt muscle wastage on her right shoulder which means she is now weighting her front legs more evenly.

A nice reminder, if one were needed, that its never too late to allow a hoof to strengthen and rebuild - this is 22 year old horse who has, I hope, many more miles ahead of her.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Happy New Year

Well here it is, the first blog post of 2020 and what better way to start than as the way we hope to carry on?

 We've not had many opportunities to get the horses out on the moor over the last 18 months and hunting has had to take a back seat, last season because of my trip to New Zealand.

So far this season we've had our hands full on the farm every weekend, with rehab horses and of course planting our 1600 new trees but now its a new year and time for new plans.

We've really missed getting out, and the horses have as well. They see plenty of hunting even when they stay here as hounds often come through the farm, but its not the same; they were as keen as mustard when we set off - in fact Bryher had to be restrained from jumping onto the lorry before we'd got the first set of partitions closed.
 In deference to our horses' relative lack of fitness (and if we are honest, that goes for the riders as well, at least as far as hunting fitness is concerned) we were out for less then 2 hours but we had a blast. Roll on 2020!