Caught between a rock and a hard place - unhappy feet got those

HeresHoping

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unhappy feet...

Forgive me BFT, for I have sinned. It has been 6 weeks since my last confession.

And it's not a happy story. Taking those shoes off has revealed a whole host of issues and there have been times when I have wanted to cry and run back to the farrier shouting all is forgiven. I haven't.

So, we have been shoeless for 8 weeks (since 19 March). I haven't ridden her in that time apart from in the very first week when it became apparent that actually, she wasn't happy in the school at all. So when her boots arrived I let my son sit on her as we did our walks.

She was on A&P fast fibre but I read that soya is not good for arthritics, and as part of the reason for taking her shoes off was that she was clicky, creaky and stiff through her hocks (as well as having lost her decent canter and not looking happy). So now she's on a stubbs scoop of soaked (not dry weight) speedi-beet and 1/2 mug of linseed to carry her supplements - Progressive Earth Platinum (which stinks of fish, or at least cod liver oil) and Equimins Flexijoint. Sometimes she eats it. Sometimes she doesn't. She's in over night with a net 10 hour soaked haylage. She is out from 7:30 until 4:00 pm muzzled on a pretty poor field. There's not much I can do about that - we work with what we have. Thankfully, she has lost about 15 kilos - a slow process without proper work.

Exercise-wise: She has been walked on tarmac (bootless) in ever increasing amounts and is now up to 50 minutes per day. About 3 weeks ago I started walking her slowly down the stony track to the field (about 150m) without her boots onto try and stimulate her feet a bit more. It's not pure gravel, just a well used graded road so smooth stones are exposed in places. She is now quite happy on the tarmac and will actually jog to catch up whereas previously we had to go s l o w l y - or at least, at her pace which has never been particularly quick. About 4 weeks ago I reintroduced the school on the lunge in BIG circles in walk in the evening because she was getting fat and a tiny bit cresty. She recently said she didn't mind trotting - so we did a little of that, too, on BIG circles. Her hocks were moving brilliantly and there was virtually imperceptible nodding on the uneven bits. Then I noticed that when it came to turning right on the concrete outside her stable, she didn't use that off hind very well - pivotting rather than stepping under. Heel pain? Hock pain? Sound in a straight line and seemingly sound on the lunge in the school. So, back into straight lines and walking only in the school in the evening. Still walking on tarmac in the morning.

At the beginning of this week I had a look at her trot again. Woo and hoo - sound. In fact, I hadn't seen her move that well in, well, for a long time. So I put her back on the lunge again with a view to building up to 10 mins trotting.

Yesterday she was hopping lame in front. This morning she came out of the stable with 4 fat fetlocks. They went down almost immediately on our walk. There may be a reason for this - they've 'repaired' the road for a mile or so by pouring grit on it. It's effectively closely packed tiny, sharp gravel and we have to walk 100m on it before we get to a place they haven't poured the grit. I rather stupidly thought 'well, 100m of new sensation can't do her any harm. After all, she picks her way down the paddock road with speed and alacrity these days.' Perhaps I was wrong. Slight warm on the insides of her front hooves.

Anyway, she should have been trimmed two weeks ago but I had a wobble and cancelled the farrier in favour of a barefoot trimmer. He can't come until next week but doesn't seem overly concerned at how long her feet could be getting.

Pictures in the post below of 3 very unhappy feet.
 

HeresHoping

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So, herewith the pictures. These were taken after her walk this morning, and I didn't wash them. I wanted to show you the wear and the weighting.

OFF FORE - I like to call this her 'withered arm'. The frog is only just starting to grow, You can see how she rolls her foot from the outside inwards - there's hardly any wear on the inside of her hoof. And the heel is still too long. I'm afraid she's got a bit of hoof oil around the coronet band - not helpful, really.

Side - she's about to walk forward so pastern angle isn't indicative. Sorry... no one else around and she really wanted to go out.


Front: - notice that flare on the inside :(


Sole: You can see how she pronates. It's an outside wall first landing. But the frog is ever so slightly starting to get some wear.


Heel: Still very long but the frog is starting to grow a bit. And that hairline isn't a happy one. Incidentally, she's hobbling on this foot in trot - better today than yesterday on trot up.

 

HeresHoping

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OFF HIND:

Side - the chips are the nail holes reaching the floor. The heel is a little under-run


Sole: Again, the outside of the hoof is getting slightly more wear. The frog is working, but that hole has been there since the beginning.


Heel: :( - That hairline says it's so unhappy. She is vastly improved from 2 weeks ago turning tight right on the hard - will actually pick the foot up rather than pivot, and will cross under in the school. So I guess it's happier than it was.


NEAR FORE

Side: we seem to have more pronounced event lines on this foot.


Front: Not sure what is going on here. Note she's squaring off her toe. Not a very good picture, as not dead on, sorry.


Sole: Note the toe first landing. #sigh.


Heel: At least the frog is better, and the hairline a little happier.
 

HashRouge

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There are far more experienced hoof people than me on here and I'm sure some of them will be along soon, but one thing I would say is don't panic about hair lines etc at the moment as some horses hooves change slowly and I don't think you're doing too badly for 8 weeks. And your trimmer should be able to give you some good advice, but just make sure you are cautious and don't let him take too much off her feet at all as I suspect that might make her quite sore. Sadly this is something you have to watch, with trimmers as well as farriers.
I am interested by the event lines though - does she have cushings or some sort of metabolic condition? Her feet look a lot like my mare's, and she has cushings. Those event lines look very familiar to me!
 

HeresHoping

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Hi and thank you for responding. I am going to get her tested for cushings. She is a good candidate. However, I can tie those event lines down pretty much. Low one - coming off summer grass to winter regime at old yard - corralled in winter with hay. Also taken off food. Next one up, put back on food and a new supplement. January, brought up here and turned out again, different grass, fed haylage, back in full time work. Next one I think was lgl. I had her re-shod and her feet were on fire for three days and she was very footy. In fact she kind of shut down. I was furious with the farrier who of course disappeared off the face of the earth afterwards. I also changed her feed, supplements and started soaking her hay. Please bear in mind I took these with my phone and then adjusted the contrast in Photoshop because they were far too bright to see anything. The lines are prominent but not hugely so. But yes, Cushings is on my mind, particularly as she can get a little bit cresty and she is still shedding. Although so is every other horse on the yard. We are up North now, big change in regime, temperature, pasture, etc.

Edited thanks to DYAC
 
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FfionWinnie

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8 weeks is no time at all. Personally I would ride or hand walk her rather than lunge her on a surface. Have you got a field you could walk her in, nice hard field without much grass would be better than the school. If she wasn't footy on the gritty bit, it would not concern me, and I wouldn't think swollen legs would be connected with walking on gritty tarmac.

I would cancel the trimmer or at least be sure he isn't going to do anything other than run a rasp round. There's little to nothing to take off those feet. She's trimming her own feet, I would leave her to it. All he can do is whack the heels down, and I don't think that is going to assist her at all!
 

Gloi

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I agree with FfionWinnie. Cancel the trimmer , she has nothing to trim. When she comes back from the walks get a horseshow nail or similar and pick those bits of gravel from out of the white line. I wouldn't particularly be deliberately walking her on the stony track, imo at the moment you are more likely to bruise the soles than strengthen them, once you are further along the journey it will be a different mater. Also, don't be afraid to hack out in boots, the more movement the better.
 

HeresHoping

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Thank you so much for responding. I have been rasping off the rough edges around the toe and sides every 10 days or so in the absence of having the farrier come. I wanted the trimmer (who has worked with Nick at Rockley) to talk about balance. I will have to wait another 6 weeks before he is in the area again.

I haven't ridden her since the first week as I haven't seen her completely sound for more than three days at a time. I think shoes off unleashed a whole host of mechanical issues. She is landing toe first on near fore and rolling outside to in on off fore. In the school (sand and a sprinkling of rubber) we have been achieving a flat foot for some of the time - I have been long reining in between lungeing to watch her. She beetle squishes on the off hind - the sore foot.

Also I need to lose another 7 lbs before I will get back on her as I got quite heavy. However, we have a 3 mile roads and tracks route so I will boot her up and lead her round there in the evenings for a bit.

Thank you.
 

paddy555

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Thank you so much for responding. I have been rasping off the rough edges around the toe and sides every 10 days or so in the absence of having the farrier come. I wanted the trimmer (who has worked with Nick at Rockley) to talk about balance. I will have to wait another 6 weeks before he is in the area again.


Thank you.
don't want to preempt the trimmer but I would guess if they have worked along Nick's lines they will be of the view to let the horse get on with it, balance and flarewise. I would leave the trimmer for another 6 weeks. There is just about nothing to trim.

I would get going with a horseshoe nail or bradawl on the grit and also the cushings side. Shedding is the final symptom. Have you got any others? If you have I would test as cushings feet can be a whole different game and you may save yourself a lot of effort. Symptoms, excessive peeing, drinking, muscle loss, lethargy, pot belly, prone to infectiions. All these and more are listed on the thisislaminitis.org site

If you haven't got cushings 8 weeks is nothing. If you have then, if it is any consolation, I am still trying after 11 years!
 

HeresHoping

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Hi, and thank you.

Thank you. I am hugely grateful for everyone's input.

Just to reassure everyone, I do de-grit with a nail - I took those pictures as soon as we had returned from our 3 mile walk around the block on the tarmac. With 100m or so (well, twice as there and back) on the grit where they've regraded the road and not swept it off yet.

Cushings-wise: Other than a furry belly, and the fat pads, she has no other symptoms. Occasionally she blows up on the grass but that's usually gone by the morning. But she is 15 and I just have a niggle and sadly I have had a niggle about several others and been right. Had a major fall out with someone, actually. I don't think they've ever forgiven me over the bill.
 

JillA

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I wouldn't cancel the trimmer - even if it is just to redo a breakover, check out the heels and advise you on your management in between times. Mine has just been, bevelled the walls more than I would have done and suggested booted walking on hard surfaces to stimulate heel growth. If you have found one as good as mine it will be worth it just to keep you on track, most owners like me tend to be very conservative with regular maintenance and a good trimmer will sort and advise.
 

FfionWinnie

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There is nothing to "sort" on those feet JillA. What on earth do you think a trimmer, good or otherwise, can do with those feet?

A good trimmer would leave them alone.

Op I've said this a lot and I will say it again. Horses have been walking on their own feet for hundreds of years. It's not rocket science. Get the cushings test and as for the rest don't panic. If she's sore boot her or keep her on surfaces she is not sore on. She needs time most of all, to grow the feet she needs, and they might in the short or long term be apparently misshapen flared things but that also may be exactly what she needs. You'll know because she will be more or less sound as it goes on. What she doesn't need is someone trying to change anything about those feet because there is nothing there to change in the short term (except to make her more sore).
 

JillA

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Ah, the self trimming school.................................OP feels there is a problem with heels and hairline. Maybe all she needs is reassurance, maybe not. I would really not want to say just having seen photographs, is the horse landing heel first for example, and if not why not. And yes, horses have been looking after their own feet for millennia, and walking tens of miles every day on a variety of terrain, and suffering and even dying when their feet really didn't cope as well as they could. What's the fee for a trimmers visit against the reassurance that all is as it should be or maybe needs a little adjustment.
 
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paddy555

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There is nothing to "sort" on those feet JillA. What on earth do you think a trimmer, good or otherwise, can do with those feet?

A good trimmer would leave them alone.

Op I've said this a lot and I will say it again. Horses have been walking on their own feet for hundreds of years. It's not rocket science. Get the cushings test and as for the rest don't panic. If she's sore boot her or keep her on surfaces she is not sore on. She needs time most of all, to grow the feet she needs, and they might in the short or long term be apparently misshapen flared things but that also may be exactly what she needs. You'll know because she will be more or less sound as it goes on. What she doesn't need is someone trying to change anything about those feet because there is nothing there to change in the short term (except to make her more sore).
totally this. It is not the "self trimming" school BTW, it is the "those with experience know when to leave the feet alone" school.
 

JillA

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totally this. It is not the "self trimming" school BTW, it is the "those with experience know when to leave the feet alone" school.
But you don't know the OPs level of experience. If you want to leave your own horses to their own devices, that is up to you and your level of experience. I think it is potentially dangerous to give that advice to someone who has come on a forum asking for advice - that in itself would suggest insufficient experience to recognise when things are in need of intervention of some sort. It doesn't have to be radical. I know at least one horse who almost foundered because the owner was advised to allow him to self trim, and the warning signs were missed (sorry OP, not suggesting you are anything but a caring owner and clearly look after you horse's feet very well).
 

FfionWinnie

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Are you suggesting the feet in these photos are in danger of causing the horse to founder or die JillA? If so I would love to hear what you think a trimmer (who may or may not be any better trained or experienced than I or anyone else commenting on this thread) could do to prevent such things.

Let's keep in mind the horse saw a foot professional 8 weeks ago. That the horse has had 15 years of farrier or professional trimming to get it to this "position".

Let's also keep in mind the trimmer cannot tell the OP everything is as it should be because it clearly isn't, the op knows this.

The way to getting things as they should, is to get the horse's diet and exercise and hoof comfort as good as it can be. I am struggling to understand how you can believe chopping bits off is going to achieve that at this stage.

As for your condescending comments, I can assure you I come from the "I've got 6 rock crunching, never need boots, tremendously sound equines school of hoof care". The vet regularly admires the feet of all my horses and wishes she saw more just like them.
 

samlf

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I think the best thing you can do for that horse is make sure the central sulcus is really truly free of thrush - I dont think it is coincidence her only good foot doesn't have a deep central sulcus (although of course it is chicken and egg!).

Nice comfortable frogs will make her more keen to land heel first and help encourage a healthier, stronger landing.

RE trimmer - I dont think there is anything to trim there, but a trimmer should not trim when there is no need - they are also able to support you and assess movement and landing in person which is not possible to do over a forum.
 

HeresHoping

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Thank you for everyone's input - no matter the differences in opinion, I am nevertheless grateful. Maybe I should give a potted history, for those that don't know our history or haven't read previous posts. For those who've heard it all before, please feel free to skip to my ultimate paragraph - I have a question.:rolleyes:

15.1 1/4 Connie mare, 15 yo.
  • Ex brood mare - 4, possibly 5 foals - lived out most of the time
  • Came back into work September 2013. They couldn't get her into foal again so sold her
  • I got the ride May 2014. By March 2015 we were out competing stressage - novice, schooling elementary and occasionally medium, jumping unaffiliated 90 - 100cm.
  • Occasional moments of unsoundness - on the hard, usually when her shoes were due but owner used to wait until falling off - 12 - 14 weeks!
  • September 2015 - I moved up here so she was ridden once a week when I went back down, and the kids bombed around on her for a bit
  • December 2015 - I bought her
  • Jan 1st 2016 - she came up to North Yorks with me
  • March 19th 206 - shoes off


Me: Riding my own pony since I was 3. All PC certificates. Competed internationally as a juvenile - in all disciplines. Gave up at 21 when I was told not to ride for a year post op. Anyway, sat my finals and London called. 18 years later, offered a horse to ride. The rest is, as they say, history.

Experience of barefoot horses - well, in my yoof ours were except for competition season when they'd be shod to stud up.
Experience of transitioning to barefoot - 8 weeks. ;)

Anyway, I am inclined to agree that there's nothing to trim. I have sent the trimmer the pictures, we shall see what he says. I believe he has a very good reputation - he comes highly recommended: http://www.natureswaynhc.co.uk/

Re flare - am a 'grow the feet they need' fan. I would not want anyone to touch that. Especially given how tight the foot is growing down from the top.

Re landing: No. She's not landing heel first. On the near fore, it's still toe first. However, it is hugely improved. In the school, where it's softer, it's definitely flat. On the off fore, she's rolling the foot outside to in. Also looks much better in the school.

Re central sulcii: these were dreadful. I have carefully treated for thrush and they have gradually opened up. They still look deep, but they are more canyons than crevices these days.

QQ: Now, I am going to boot her up and we shall go on a bridle path or two this evening. BUT - I only boot her on the fronts. Largely because the differential between length and width on the backs make it virtually impossible to find any. Given her heels on her hinds, would going out be a mistake? Should I get back boots first?

Thank you again. I really appreciate the input. All of it.
 

JillA

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Sounds like a good trimmer, and great that he is prepared to work with you from now on. I made a huge investment in Pete Ramey's book Care and Rehabilitation of the Equine Foot, but it was worth every penny, there are chapters by well respected vets such as Robert Bowker, Dr Kellon, Kerry Ridgeway as well as Pete himself, and it is all very logical and makes sense. It is aimed at hoof care professionals but put that knowledge together with a good trimmer such as you seem to have found and you can work as a team on the improvement you need. Some of it is reproduced on the l
Laminitis Site so very informative browsing there too. Good luck
 

paddy555

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QQ: Now, I am going to boot her up and we shall go on a bridle path or two this evening. BUT - I only boot her on the fronts. Largely because the differential between length and width on the backs make it virtually impossible to find any. Given her heels on her hinds, would going out be a mistake? Should I get back boots first?

Thank you again. I really appreciate the input. All of it.
IF you have cushings I suspect you will end up with 4 boots. That was the only solution I found to the problem. So for me the test is no 1 job. I would also boot all round. Boots will enable the horse to be exercised comfortably even if only walked. Comfort would be my first priority. It would be interesting to see how the horse performed in 4 boots. Fully sound etc. If she was totally sound and happy in 4 boots then I would boot for a while and give the feet chance to grow. Then I would start removing the boots for short periods and gradually increase the time BF. You could always go barefoot in the school etc.

The hinds don't look that difficult to boot. I would think that epics, with "up" buckles if necessary, would fit them if nothing else did.
 

HashRouge

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Thank you for everyone's input - no matter the differences in opinion, I am nevertheless grateful. Maybe I should give a potted history, for those that don't know our history or haven't read previous posts. For those who've heard it all before, please feel free to skip to my ultimate paragraph - I have a question.:rolleyes:

15.1 1/4 Connie mare, 15 yo.
  • Ex brood mare - 4, possibly 5 foals - lived out most of the time
  • Came back into work September 2013. They couldn't get her into foal again so sold her
  • I got the ride May 2014. By March 2015 we were out competing stressage - novice, schooling elementary and occasionally medium, jumping unaffiliated 90 - 100cm.
  • Occasional moments of unsoundness - on the hard, usually when her shoes were due but owner used to wait until falling off - 12 - 14 weeks!
  • September 2015 - I moved up here so she was ridden once a week when I went back down, and the kids bombed around on her for a bit
  • December 2015 - I bought her
  • Jan 1st 2016 - she came up to North Yorks with me
  • March 19th 206 - shoes off


Me: Riding my own pony since I was 3. All PC certificates. Competed internationally as a juvenile - in all disciplines. Gave up at 21 when I was told not to ride for a year post op. Anyway, sat my finals and London called. 18 years later, offered a horse to ride. The rest is, as they say, history.

Experience of barefoot horses - well, in my yoof ours were except for competition season when they'd be shod to stud up.
Experience of transitioning to barefoot - 8 weeks. ;)

Anyway, I am inclined to agree that there's nothing to trim. I have sent the trimmer the pictures, we shall see what he says. I believe he has a very good reputation - he comes highly recommended: http://www.natureswaynhc.co.uk/

Re flare - am a 'grow the feet they need' fan. I would not want anyone to touch that. Especially given how tight the foot is growing down from the top.

Re landing: No. She's not landing heel first. On the near fore, it's still toe first. However, it is hugely improved. In the school, where it's softer, it's definitely flat. On the off fore, she's rolling the foot outside to in. Also looks much better in the school.

Re central sulcii: these were dreadful. I have carefully treated for thrush and they have gradually opened up. They still look deep, but they are more canyons than crevices these days.

QQ: Now, I am going to boot her up and we shall go on a bridle path or two this evening. BUT - I only boot her on the fronts. Largely because the differential between length and width on the backs make it virtually impossible to find any. Given her heels on her hinds, would going out be a mistake? Should I get back boots first?

Thank you again. I really appreciate the input. All of it.
HH I would get that trimmer out if I were you. He does work closely with Nic - he was at the Rockley Reunion last year - so he is not the sort who is going to take loads off and make your horse sore. However, if you want advice and reassurance, then an appointment would probably be quite a good idea. Even if he doesn't need to do anything, which I suspect he won't.
 
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