Thursday, 14 January 2010

Barefoot baby steps

Grace is a very interesting (new word for challenging) horse to work with. At first glance, its' all there. Conformation is good, she is highly intelligent, very willing and a real pleasure to be around.

It's only as you start to unpick the package that you realise what a long road is being travelled, and all in tiny, baby steps.

Look at the first picture - This horse is in agony. She has jammed her front legs under her to try and unload her heels which are sore from long term fungal/thrush infections. But her toes hurt from an earlier bout of laminitis.
All this pain has secondary impact - she is not using her hind end properly because of the pain in her feet and her back has got screwed up with the tension - so that hurts too.

In the second picture Grace looks much happier. Her front legs are where they should be; in a good comfy vertical so she can use her stay apparatus effectively when she needs. Her quarters and thighs are showing the benefit; developing muscle and tone because she can use them properly. And her back, once taut with muscle tension is now relaxed and starting to double muscle.

We haven't done anything fancy or complicated with her. Mostly we have worked on her diet - weaning her off sugar and onto a high forage hay based diet which is supplemented with high levels of magnesium among other things. She isn't even in proper work yet. Just the occasional free school or lunge to check progress.

The videos below aren't great - taken with my phone while I was scooting about. But I think you can see how Grace has improved over time - look particularly at how her back end is working.

And remember this is just removing her shoes, a change of diet and her own pootling about.

I am starting to get excited about what we might achieve with a more structured and regular work programme. But I know she is carrying a lot of damage, so I am trying to remain very chilled and pragmatic.

Regardless though, I am thrilled that this horse which was once so sore is now getting so much better. Next time I will try and capture one of her more spontaneous moments.

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