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?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Trimming, yet again...

I have put many posts up over the years about the dangers of over-trimming and unbalanced trimming and the terrible effect it can have on hooves and soundness.
I posted one such blog last month (its here in full if you haven't seen it). 

As ever, I was amazed at the reactions it prompted from some trimmers and farriers who went immediately on the defensive. I really don't understand why because in fact what I'm posting isn't controversial. All I ever ask in these posts is that they stop leaving horses lamer following a trim than before they were trimmed
Is that really such an astonishing or unreasonable request? I don't think so - in fact if we are going to get technical we could cite the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This clearly states that: 

"a person commits an offence if an act of his causes an animal to suffer and he knew or ought to have known that the act would have that effect or be likely to do so".

My understanding would be that if you are going to trim a horse and leave it lamer you are causing unnecessary suffering because I've never seen a horse get sounder in the long term as a result of being lamed in the short term. It doesn't make sense and it doesn't happen in practice.

So if its counter-productive (not to mention unethical, illegal and unprofessional) to over-trim horses and render them less sound why do I keep banging on and on about it on the blog?
Because it keeps on happening.

I did my first posts on this topic back in 2011 (there are links here to several earlier posts) and I really expected that I wouldn't need to post about it again. However the post last month was (yet again) prompted by an email from someone whose horse had gone lame following a trim and sadly this person was not alone.

Since then (and we are talking about a timescale of less than 4 weeks) owners have reported the following to me:
  • 2 horses which were so badly lamed by a trim that they were effectively immobile;
  • a yard of multiple horses which have been repeatedly left lamer after regular trims;
  • 1 horse left bruised and sore following a trim which was done in the name of "rehabilitation";
  • 1 horse which is being repeatedly "re-balanced" by a trimmer who is (equally repeatedly) ignoring the horse's frantic attempts to replace the support he keeps trimming away*.
*Hint: If you keep having to "re-balance" a horse's foot every 4 weeks it is more likely you and not the horse who hasn't understood what a balanced hoof is...

All these trims were performed by "qualified" trimmers or farriers. So I make no apologies for yet another post and I will keep on posting while this keeps on happening.
One more time, folks - a trim is not a good, safe, effective, balanced trim if it leaves your horse less sound.
  • Its perfectly possible to trim a horse and leave it as sound, or even more sound, than it was before the trim. 
This, in my opinion, is the only acceptable trim because its the only trim which benefits the horse. This is what the good trimmers and farriers do.  
  • The REALLY good trimmers and farriers (the ones who are the most experienced and knowledgeable and have the highest numbers of performance barefoot horses on their books) will regularly monitor, but rarely trim, a working barefoot horse. 
If you are a farrier or trimmer and you can't do either of these, please leave your rasp and knife in a safe place and definitely don't take them near a horse. 

If you are an owner and your horse is less sound after a trim please make this clear to your farrier or trimmer. You have a responsibility to your horse to safeguard them from invasive and damaging trimming.

Monday, 14 July 2014

More on Columbo

Another update for Michelle as this is by far the easiest way to post comparative photos. 
I'm doing a more frequent update than normal as its important for us to be confident he is on the right track since his progress is unusually slow at the moment.
The top photo was taken when he arrived, the middle one last week and the lower one yesterday. This is the foot he is reluctant to engage heel first - you can see whey - and it has become a bit of a vicious circle when lack of engagement = palmar foot pain = weaker frog and digital cushion = inability to land heel first = more deterioration.  
We are trying to help him break this cycle by allowing him lots of time on surfaces where he is comfortable but is also getting stimulus to the frog and digital cushion and lots of in-hand work in the school to try and encourage better patterns of movement. 
This sequence of photos is over the same timescale. The lower photo shows that the central sulcus split is starting to open up a bit - which should be a precursor to it becoming healthier and less painful.
At the moment Columbo is very unhappy with any poking or prodding in this area, which is understandable, but unfortunately getting in there with antibacterial and anti-fungal spray is a necessity at the moment. 
For those who are interested, I've uploaded his footage here - his landing is still pretty stubbornly toe first on his RF particularly though it feels as if he is teetering on the verge of something better - he is beginning to land better going downhill, for instance, and in the school. 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Orange is the new black...

We have a bit of a theme developing at Rockley right now, as I mentioned earlier in the week as new horses Felix and Ruby arrived in turn.
 This is Ruby...
 ...this is Felix...
..and last but not least Dexter, our resident chestnut TB. 
For Felix, meeting Ruby was love at first sight - Prince is loitering on the right, for good measure, adding a third shade of chestnut, but having put up with bays on her first day, Ruby really only had one orange boy in her sights.
It may not last, of course, like many summer romances, but for now the mutual admiration society is in full swing. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The second Ruby

New girl Ruby arrived yesterday all the way from Scotland. She couldn't be more different in appearance to our first rehab Ruby (a coloured cob who was here last year) and we are continuing the chestnut TB theme which was started by Felix at the weekend. 
As you can see, she has been out of shoes some time (since October last year) and there is lots to like about her feet but she is landing flat/toe first in front and that's something we need to help her sort out. She has some issues with medio-lateral balance which have been confirmed on x-ray and MRI with corresponding collateral ligament damage and damage to the coffin joint.  
Remedial farriery didn't improve her and though she did become sounder out of shoes her lameness recurred earlier this year and she has been recently assessed as variably 2/10 lame bilaterally. 
From this angle its clear her palmar hoof isn't perhaps as robust as it needs to be and that's, as always, where we will be looking for the biggest changes. 
As with the LF, an asymmetry which usually points to a medio-lateral imbalance - in both feet its the medial aspect which is weaker, as is often the case. 
A slightly long toe and again a weak digital cushion but then again I've seen an awful lot worse, so here's hoping the second Ruby does as well as the first. There will be more on her soon.