Monday, 28 July 2014

Felix and his first 3 weeks

I can't believe its already the 28th July - the whole of last week vanished in a blur - but incredibly its 3 weeks since Felix arrived in his shoes and pads
Straight out of shoes he looked like this - flat soles, no bars to speak of, contracted heel and a wizened frog with a central sulcus split on this foot. 
This is the same foot today after his first 3 weeks. Still lots of work to do but a better frog, the beginning of a healthy heel and bars and he is also developing some concavity. 
 Caudal photos clearly show the sulcus split. They are reasonably common but a major problem as they are usually sore, infected and can cause a lot of pain in the back of the foot - enough to prevent a heel first landing and lead to all sorts of other problems. 
One of the initial factors which is crucial in encouraging horses to have be healthier in the back of the hoof is frog stimulus. You can see how little there would have been in his shoes but he is now getting much more and its all helping to improve his landing which will also help get rid of that sulcus split. 

You can also see that he has managed to over-reach even now that he is out of shoes. Sophie said it was likely to happen as he did it regularly in shoes. Its very uncommon in barefoot horses but Felix was determined to prove me wrong. Ok Felix, you've made your point; you can stop it now...!
The shoe was intended to provide support for the heels and back of the foot but if you look at the back of the shoe it doesn't extend any further than his already under-run heel. 
Out of shoes his foot is supported in the same place and actually has a better hoof pastern axis even though his digital cushion and heels are still weak and have a lot of strengthening still to do.
His stance today certainly looks much more comfortable out of shoes (below) than it did when he was shod and there should be considerably less strain on him as a result.  

Friday, 25 July 2014

Filly's feet

Filly is (another!) chestnut thoroughbred who arrived on Monday but due to haylage taking over the blog its only today I've had the chance to post her initial photos. As you can see, a weaker digital cushion than the left.
There is quite a difference between her left and right feet with the right being particularly under-run with a weaker digital cushion than the left. She's had remedial farriery with pour in gel pads but those didn't suit her so she arrived in ordinary shoes.
Again, comparing right (above) to left (below) its clear that the digital cushion on the right foot is weaker and more pinched than the left. It looks from this angle as if the hoof wall on the left foot is distorting. MRI showed that Filly has bilateral lameness, worse on the RF. 
She was diagnosed with an impar ligament tear on the LF and DDFT lesions and navicular bone damage on both front feet. 
To add to the complications, she has an old injury to her right shoulder which has left her with a slightly twisted limb flight on her right foot. It will be interesting to see how her feet change over the next few weeks. 
A few hours out of shoes its a lot easier to see whats going on. Filly has weak, flat feet as you can see from the shallow collateral grooves and the bar which is extending to the apex of the frog on this foot. 
This is her better foot in some ways but the frog and heels are still contracted. She is landing slightly better on this foot but neither are heel first. 
As always, I'll be looking for improvements in these feet over the next 4 weeks so there will be more on Filly soon. 

All is peaceful...

 ...just how we like it! These photos were taken last night, just after 8pm.
Now the grass is cut the horses have access to a whole new set of fields with a fantastic view and a lovely breeze - just what you want on a warm summer's evening. Wiggy's on the left, Felix in the foreground and Filly and Prince in the centre.
 Russell, gang leader, plus his second in commands, Columbo and Prince.
 Felix again, following me round to make sure I'd got his best side...

Spot the chestnut - there are 4 in this field! This one is Ruby, with Prince's tail for good measure. 
If the weather carries on like this I am sure there will be lots more pics to follow!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

"The most wonderful time...of the year"

Other people may love Christmas but for me this is the BEST time of the year. That wonderful day when the grass is baled, wrapped and safely stacked and all is right with the world :-) 
We have had an incredible year of pretty much perfect weather for grass - mild winter, early spring and lots and lots of sun (the rain is a given here but even that has been perfectly timed, not to excess and often overnight).
The reward - the best harvest we have ever had in some of the best weather - cloudless blue skies, hot sunshine, dry ground - absolutely perfect...
...of course that makes it a bit sticky in our tractors, which are both elderly and without mod-cons - still they (just about) managed to do their share: turning the grass and getting the bales in for wrapping, while delegating to bigger, smarter vehicles for the key jobs... 
I took this as Saturday's storm rolled out and just before the mower came through - a Vizsla's eye view!
And of course no haylage or harvest post would be complete without the end-of-the-day photo which I always take as a self-indulgent reward - the gorgeous sight of more than enough forage to keep our horses and cattle going through the next year.  In fact this year we even have an overflow stack because there are too many bales to fit on the hard-standing - a nice problem to have.
Glorious! (Humour me - this makes me very happy...)
The raw material - lots of different species, no pesticides, no artificial fertiliser - poor stuff by modern standards but the horses love it, it has great biodiversity, low sugar levels, high mineral levels and as a bonus it smells incredible.
 If winter IS coming, well, thats fine by us.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


A manic few days, so I've had to neglect the blog - grass was cut on Sunday (thanks Simon!) and we've been flat out getting it turned as well as a new horse arriving yesterday and all the usual yard jobs and exercising to do as well.  

Still, there are benefits to starting the day at 5am, not least this fantastic weather, fewer flies to bother the horses and I out exercising and that incredibly satisfying feeling when you have well and truly seized the day!
Grass is being baled and wrapped today (thanks John and Edward!) and then that will be a huge weight off my shoulders!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Welcome Wiggy

Thankfully my computer, satellite and camera all seem rejuvenated and I am able to resume normal blog service - what a relief!
 These feet belong to new boy Wiggy who arrived on Sunday. He is only 5 and is bred to event but his front feet have been his Achilles' heel and he has been diagnosed on MRI as having impar ligament damage with navicular bone changes and collateral ligament damage.
On arrival he was most uncomfortable on his RF, unwilling to stand square and taking weight of the RF/LH diagonal which is apparently a (recently) typical stance. 
Although his toe is long his foot is not badly under-run and he is landing flat rather than toe first which is encouraging.  He lands laterally on both front feet which commonly accompanies collateral ligament strain. 
Not a bad frog but the foot is clearly distorted and rather flat so we will be hoping for improvement both in appearance and landing soon.
There's a big difference in hoof wall and hairline heights between medial and lateral and this again is often a sign of collateral ligament stress. The bulging hoof wall isn't a good sign either but its been caught early so fingers crossed. 
A long toe but a stronger palmar hoof on his LF and lots to like about his feet, despite the obvious problems. 
 Meanwhile, there are more important things to be getting on with, clearly...

Friday, 18 July 2014

Overcoming technical difficulties...

Apologies for the shortage of blog entries this week. 

I seem to have been hit by a triumvirate of technical hitches, including a camera that is reluctant to focus, a phone which won't allow voicemail and a computer which after an "upgrade" *hollow laughter* is running sooooooooo slooooowly that uploading footage and photos is almost impossible - its taking about 1,000 years just to type a simple sentence, in between crashes as I vainly try to do the more exciting stuff.  
I haven't got much patience with technology at the best of times and having wasted what feels like hours trying to fix the voicemail problem with o2 (result: FAIL) and sending multiple crash reports to Apple (result: who knows? Its a disaster so far) I'm going to give up on technology for this week.

The photo above was the good weather fleeing before the storm which came in just after 10pm last night but I'm hoping that once the lightning storms have cleared the air and de-bugged the ether everything will work fine next week...

Well, you have to be optimistic, don't you?