Monday 22 February 2021

Asking for feedback...

 Good morning everyone, at last the sun is shining and it feels as if spring really is about to spring and here on Exmoor we are all lapping up the brightness - hope there is some for you as well!

The reason for today's blog is to ask for your feedback. 

Alicia Harlov, who I have worked with before and who does the excellent "The Humble Hoof" podcast, and I are planning to run a series of webinars, as we can't get together in person. 

We want to cover a whole range of topics - from hoof care and nutrition to saddle fit and training, anatomy, dentistry, biomechanics and much more - working with specialists in these areas and exploring how what we do and how our horses live impacts their health, wellbeing and performance. 

We would love your ideas about topics and how it might run, so if you could complete this very short survey we would really appreciate it:

You can also send comments to me at or to Alicia at

Thank you!

Tuesday 16 February 2021

4 week updates - Isla, Jules and Astro

I'm starting today with Jules, who arrived in shoes and with a clear toe first landing. 

Feather makes it harder to see angle changes but her nail holes have almost grown out despite being high, which is a good sign. 

One of Jules' quirks was a medio-lateral imbalance and meant she was landing medially on her front feet. This is still evident in her footage but her feet are starting to become more symmetrical. 

We won't see big changes in her palmar hoof until she is confidently landing heel first but her frog is working harder now which is a step in the right direction. 

The better frog is easier to see from this angle and there should be further improvements to come over the next few weeks. 

Jules' footage is here - she is not yet landing heel first but she is definitely flatter and less toe first than 4 weeks ago:

Isla is already showing signs of growing in a better hoof capsule, with a steeper angle of new growth which you can see immediately below the hairline. 

She has not developed a completely confident heel first landing yet but is showing signs of a stronger palmar hoof and on her footage (below) she is significantly less toe first than a month ago. 

She had fairly long hoof wall which was prone to chipping when she arrived but this has now smoothed off of its own accord without needing to be trimmed. 

You can see how the new growth is bring her foot more underneath her and over time it will correct the underrun heel.

We want the widest part of the foot to be towards the back of the foot so there is an improvement over the last 4 weeks. 

Isla's footage is here:

With Astro's feet there is already quite a discernible angle change (you can see it in the top of the hoof capsule in the lower photo) which will result in a shorter toe as the hoof grows down. 
It is also nice to see that the nail holes from his shoes are almost completely grown out already. 
His feet have not been trimmed as we prefer to let hooves change in their own time but in the lower photo you can see the beginnings of a better palmar hoof, with his heels moving back.

It is harder to see changes from this angle but in his footage we can see a better landing. 

Again, the angle change is visible in the top band of growth in the hoof capsule. 

We will want to see a lot more frog development in Astro's feet over the next few weeks. 
Hairlines are always a giveaway to a weak palmar hoof or a collapsing digital cushion and a hairline levelling out is a promising sign. 
Astro's footage shows an improved landing, with both feet now landing heel first so we will will hope to build on that going forwards: 


Monday 15 February 2021

4 week updates: Mojo and Merlin

Time for 4 week updates and I'm starting with Mojo - I will blog all of the updates over today and tomorrow.  As usual, the original photos are at the top and the current ones are below, with a link to footage at the end.   
Mojo's weaker foot is his left, which had the worse landing when he arrived. The footage shows a more confident landing now and this is borne out in the photos although the changes are still fairly subtle.

As you can see, he has a split central sulcus, not just on this foot but on his better foot as well, which we are dosing with medical grade manuka honey daily to help battle infection. We want to see that frog get a lot stronger and for his heels to de-contract as well. 

You can see how deep the split is but at least he no longer finds it so uncomfortable and the better landing will also promote healing. 

The changes are harder to see in this foot where he already had a good landing. 

There are the same issues with a central sulcus split on this foot  - at this time of year it is a case of persisting with keeping it as clean as possible and encouraging the best possible movement. Again, keeping it pain free is a big help. 

Mojo's footage is here (I don't normally film horses with rugs on but it was well below freezing, minus 5 I think, so we made an exception!):

He has quite an extravagant landing which is easy to spot and you can see that his left foot is starting to land better and is closer to mirroring his right foot, which will in turn even his stride length.

Next up is Merlin, who actually had nice looking feet when he arrived but whose landing was not so great. 

As usual, he has not needed to be trimmed and so all the changes to his feet are those which have grown in naturally. 

The biggest difference is in the shorter toe and the placement of his heels, which are now slightly further back, indicating a better landing and developing palmar hoof. 

He has a slightly better digital cushion as well - believe it or not under the feather!

You can just about make out the shorter toe from this angle but there is not a lot else to see. Its common for changes in dorsal wall angle to not be visible until after 6 weeks or so although you can often feel the angle change earlier. 

As with the other foot a slightly shorter toe and slightly more supportive heel, good signs but we expect more changes as his landing improves. 

Merlin's footage is here and the changes are, as in the photos, quite subtle so you may need to freeze frame to see the landing. It is fractionally heel first now and allows us to get him out doing short pieces of roadwork: