Thursday, 1 October 2015

A month off

Thanks for all the great comments, shares and support on this blog especially over the last few months.

I'm going to take a month off during October, partly just for a break but also because Andy and I are having some much-needed time away - and our first holiday for over 10 years(!).

I'll be back soon  - both at Rockley and on the blog - so in the meantime have a fabulous October and keep working those hooves!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Not in the foot...Lady's update

An unusual update today, as Lady is a horse who arrived with a lameness which was NOT in the foot. This makes her almost unique among the horses we have rehabbed but there were some similarities as well. 
It was clear that the problem she had had caused dramatic muscle loss in her pectoral area, as you can see from her initial photo above. She was lame LF and had a corresponding lameness on the diagonal RH. The veterinary diagnosis was that there was sacro-iliac damage behind and most likely brachial nerve damage in front, so plenty to work on. 

Interestingly, she was also landing toe first on her LF - which makes sense as the nerve damage and  muscle loss made it impossible for her to fully extend her limb. 
Her vet thought it probable that the muscle atrophy would take up to 6 months to fully repair but it is nice to see that in 8 weeks she has already made progress though of course there is a long way to go.

Her lameness is also improving, as you can see from her footage. She is now working much better than she was in hand and led from another horse so ridden work will be the next step.


Monday, 28 September 2015

Dakota's final update

Dakota went home yesterday and so time for an update. Lets start with footage for a change - comparing her landing from June to September...

Dakota from Nic Barker on Vimeo.

I'm really pleased with how the back of her foot has developed so far - even with a good half of her new hoof capsule to grow in the hairline is straighter and the digital cushion is bulkier. 

Not only a better palmar hoof but a clear angle change in this foot as well which means a shorter toe and a more supportive hoof once the capsule has grown all the way in. 

Still a work in progress but a better frog and you can see that her toe will be considerably shorter once the new growth is complete. 

A much happier looking foot with a frog and digital cushion which are starting to work properly.

Sorry about the wrong angle - Mac playing silly buggers again...
All in all some nice changes and more to look forward to over the next few months. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Filming - the next step...

So one of the aims for the reunion was, as always, to get some footage of feet from a different perspective.
Steve Leigh and I had been planning this for a while but there is a limit to what you can put in place when you live 450 miles apart so there was a lot to be done once we met at the reunion in Wiltshire. 

It became clear pretty quickly that we faced a major logistical challenge, particularly as we only had the materials and tools which we'd brought with us. To the rescue came Will, whose horse Alfie was here earlier in the year and who not only lived nearby but had a workshop and an innovative practical solution to our problem. Without his time, help and expertise we would never have got this far, so huge thanks Will for all your help!

This was campfire technology, literally done on the hoof, and there is plenty we need to hone and improve on but its a promising start.

Ramping up from Nic Barker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Monday, 21 September 2015

Rockley rehabs' reunion 2015

Radio silence from the blog for the last few days because we had the rehabs' reunion this weekend in Wiltshire - amazing weather, great company and the horses were all on incredible form!
We started off with flatwork and hacking but pretty soon the jumps were beckoning...

 Dexter and Felix as always made lots of new friends, since most of the time I was too busy to ride...

 Krista and Buddy looking immaculate, as ever...
 ...and Annette and Indio proving that Spanish horses like jumping too!
 Claire and Holly have made huge progress since last year... have Fiona and Prince!
The BUBD dressage team have regional finals coming up in a couple of weeks  - the horses are all looking incredible so fingers crossed for them, not that they need it...
Helena and Lola were flying...
...and Sophie and Felix certainly found their XC mojo...
...Indy had never lost his!
Ernie was determined to prove to Lindsay that he was fit to jump again...

Steve burnt off his cake chasing the best shots...

...Dex and Hannah  - you can tell she doesn't want to jump XC, no, definitely not...

All in all a brilliant weekend - big thanks especially to Freya and Becca for limb dissection (no horses were harmed)...
...and Will and Steve for the magnificent filming ramp - more on that soon!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A hiatus and a final post on Max

Apologies for the blog hiatus last week. Unfortunately we had been unable to get our haylage done earlier in the summer and so finally, with the promise from the Met Office of high pressure last week, we cut, only for the Met Office to discover they had been mistaken. 

High pressure eventually arrived this week, several days too late, and in the meantime we had 3 days of rain from last Thursday onwards, effectively ruining half of our haylage which was (a) very trying and (b) very time-consuming. 
However, equine rehab stops for no man and certainly not in the face of bad weather so on we go. This is Max' belated update - he in fact went home yesterday but missed out on a 12 week update. 
I'm starting with the caudal shots because these are, in Max' case, the most interesting. Bar shoes, such as Max arrived with, are normally used on horses with palmar hoof pain and the reason they are used is because many people think the additional steel under the frog and heels provides "support" to the back of the foot. 

I hope these photos help to demonstrate that - in fact - what they do is encourage the frog to narrow and atrophy and the digital cushion to weaken and collapse. Using the hairline as a marker you can easily compare the width of the palmar hoof (frog and digital cushion) in bar shoes and today. Which do you think is stronger and healthier?
To make sure its not a fluke have a look as his left front as well. This was a stronger foot in shoes and has less deterioration to begin with but again the frog and digital cushion are markedly different out of shoes. 

The changes in the lateral shots are more subtle - a shorter toe and a less distorted hairline confirming the stronger palmar hoof.

There is an angle change in the dorsal wall too but its less dramatic than some we see here. Max wasn't really lacking concavity initially - his biggest problems were poor medio-lateral balance and a toe first landing. 

The photo above is his frog straight out of shoes. Of course Max still has at least half a new hoof capsule to grow in so the old growth is still at ground level. As a result he still as evidence of a long toe and asymmetry sole when you look at his soles but that should improve over time. 

A better hoof today but lots of work still needed. In fact Max has made slower progress than some rehab horses, though I am glad to say he has shown steady improvements over the last few weeks. 
Ironically it wasn't his front feet which caused the most problems when he came out of shoes but his hind feet, which developed abscesses at the site of the old nails. This isn't common when horses come out of shoes but it certainly set Max back initially, so he has done well to get as far as he has with a handicap at the start.  
Finally I'm including his comparison footage - last but not least because how hooves look is far, far less important than how they are loading and landing. The footage is only a short clip but shows a much improved heel first landing on his front feet compared to when he was shod.