Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Hooves are dynamic

Day after deshod, Six weeks later, Six weeks 4 days after deshod

Grace quite clearly has metabolic issues. She is not the worst I've seen, but she still needs 'managing'.
Our priority in the early days was to get her to eat, to get her teeth floated and her shoes removed. In the six weeks 4 days since her shoes came off her feet have improved a fair bit. The above shots are just of the near fore heels, but you can see how the heels are decontracting. There is even a visible difference just 4 days apart.
What you can't see in these pictures is how the frog has transformed from having the colour and texture of a piece of cheese to being more robust, grey coloured mega tough piece of india rubber.
When Grace's shoes came off and her soles shed the dead chalky layer, it was a bit alarming* to find her feet were more convex than concave. There is no doubt that she was uncomfortable for about 10 days on hard/lumpy surfaces. If her feet hadn't been changing shape so rapidly or if the walk from field to stable had been more than 100ft I would have booted or padded her feet.
Equally alarming was a) how badly her feet had been trimmed (by a qualified farrier) before the shoes had been put on b) the prospect of trimming the feet of a horse that was so worried by the process.

Now I don't need to worry, her feet are starting to become concave and she no longer worries about walking over hard surfaces. And she is very happy to be trimmed.
Of course all these external changes are being led by changes inside the foot. I can't imagine what that must feel like.
And what wands - [lavendar and lilac according to the cynics :-) ] - have been waved?
Diet is critical - and Grace's food is a long way from the current trend of premixed, sugary bagged feeds. And there are no expensive additives either. In fact feeding for foot health is very economical.
Environment is also important - and hard to manage for those of us on livery yards. The hooves need stimulating with 'appropriate' surfaces at the right time according to their progress. Grace is turned out in a standard overly sugary field. So I make up for it a little with the bedding I choose and a simple set of exercises; hand walking on concrete/tarmac and 'dancing' in the arena. I also keep her stabled for part of every 24 hours when grass sugars are at their highest.
For bedding I use Aubiose. I keep it dry (against the packaging instructions) as I find its crunchy texture seems to provide more stimulation than soft shavings or straw. Plus if looked after it is quite a dry bed, so helps combat fungal infections and thrush. It is also comfortable to lie down on (I've tried it), low in dust, easy to muck out and a similar price to shavings. For those who like a clean horse, it also drops out of manes and tails easily.

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