Finally, a chance to post M's pics - they should have been up last week but with all the excitement of HandH, NFU and the monster grass post, I ran out of room for him...
M is of course our scholarship boy and he arrived 10 days ago from Derbyshire. He is an 8 year old ex racehorse who came out of shoes one by one earlier this year essentially because his feet were no longer able to keep them on.
To say he has a good range of hoof issues would be an understatement (the uneven hairlines are a good clue that these feet have been unbalanced for a while), but his feet in some ways look better now than they have done in the past. This shot below came with his scholarship application and shows his RH in 2011 following a resection for a severe crack (he also had a crack in his LF).
The lower photo is the same hoof today. The crack has effectively healed with coming out of shoes and stopping the peripheral loading which was over-stressing his hoof wall. Of course his feet have other issues now, not least having weak, collapsed, under-run heels and long toes, so that's what we have to try and improve during his rehab.
Like many ex-racehorses, M also has thin soles and is very prone to bruising. These sole shots confirm the weakness at the back of his hooves but what you can't see is that his soles are so vulnerable at the moment that they flex on thumb pressure. Often this is due to dietary or metabolic problems, but M has been tested and come back clear, so its possible that they are the result of shoeing or the soles being mechanically thinned in the past in preparation for shoeing.
The dark shadow in these photos is bruising and its this which is going to give us a real balancing act to deal with during rehab. His hooves desperately need work and stimulus to improve but bruising and damage is a real risk. Fortunately the tracks here are a god-send for horses like him, as he can get the stimulus he needs without being on surfaces which are too challenging.
The only problem is that - as an 8 year old TB - he isn't always convinced that going slowly and quietly is a good idea and he is rather revelling in his new-found social skills so I just hope he doesn't over-do it!
Finally, shots of the back of his foot for completeness. RF, as you can see, has the weaker frog but they are more or less as you'd expect for a horse just out of shoes and certainly aren't as bad as some.
The heels are higher than the frog but - as with most horses with similar diagnoses to M - its not the heels that need to come down, its the frogs and digital cushion which need to become stronger. His heels also need to move back to be able better to support his limb, but that should come with time, movement and a better hoof capsule.