Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hoof Progress - Lots of Pictures!

The horse who is featured in 'Is This Hoof A Good Hoof?' is making progress. The first check and trim was done 18 days after the set up trim. The next check and trim photos are from eight days after that. At each trim all that was done was to tune up the mustang roll on all four hooves, including making sure the quarters were relieved. Ted also worked at bringing front hoof breakover back a tiny bit more at each of these two trims. This is something that he will continue to work at a little bit at a time as Ted is very cautious to go carefully because he firmly believes that every trim should leave a horse as comfortable or more comfortable than prior to the trim. Keep in mind these are showing the progress these feet made over only 26 days. Particularly impressive given the fact that for a good portion of those days we had to restrict (rather than encourage) her movement due to risk of injury. However the weather conditions moderated and allowed us to begin turning her out for a lot more exercise right around that 18 day mark. Since the hoof and sole develop by load and release (as Pete Ramey says "Length of recovery time is measured in miles not days.") This truth is well demonstrated by the progress in the last eight days.

Right front, 18 days after set up trim
At this point the frog is beginning to touch the ground in some spots and some flaky junk has exfoliated off the outside of the sole and a healthier looking sole is beginning to appear.

Right front, 8 days of turn out later....
Now the sole is really showing growth and the frog has developed substantially. 

 For comparison - here is an original front hoof picture after the set up trim.
Starting Point - Right Front After Set Up Trim
Although it is difficult to see from this angle, the sole is developing some thickness so there is a little bit of depth at the apex of the collateral grooves. Also you can see the callous ridge development beginning to show up around the outside edge of the sole. Most impressive is the rapid growth of frog once the mare was turned out on soft footing. On the original set up trim day the frog was not contacting the ground at all, eighteen days later barely touching on a few spots. During those eighteen days she did get a couple of days of turn out play (when snowcover seemed adequate to offer some protection) but for the most part activity was quite restricted due to safety concerns. Eight days of turnout on soft ground later and the frog is fully functioning (at least on soft ground) and developing accordingly. 

This photo is of the left front but it is a better angle to see the development of some sole.  

Hind foot progress is going well too. The first photo is eighteen days after set up trim. All that she needed on the hinds at this point was a little relieving of the quarter walls and the second photo shows eight days of turnout later. Compare the apex of the collateral grooves in these two photos and you can see that she is getting a thicker sole. The frog is also beginning to develop well. We are very pleased with her progress. 

Left Hind - eighteen days in 

Left Hind - 26 days in (8 days after above photo)
Hind Hoof after Set Up Trim
Note how flat the bottom of this hoof is compared to the concavity that is beginning to develop now ( 26 days later). In about one month the internal structures of this hoof (P3 especially) is so much safer and more protected than when we started. 

I will keep posting progress reports. Personally I am interested to see if, when, and how much the bars begin to develop on these hooves. Up to this point Ted has not touched bars, frogs, or (of course!) sole. All work done has been to the walls.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Colt Starting Clinic Anyone?


From the very start of Ted's "public" horsemanship career there have been frequent expressions of interest in a colt starting clinic. Many horse owners would like to start their own colt versus sending it to a professional trainer. Many of the horse owners we talk to who have been starting their own colts for years would still love to do it alongside Ted in a clinic setting. Some folks want to get hands on coaching in following the same program (Downunder Horsemanship Method) which Ted uses if a horse is in training here. Some people want someone else available to do the first couple rides on their colt. Others literally have no training partner which makes the first couple of rides more difficult. Anyway - lots of reasons it could be a worthwhile adventure.  It seems like there is a lot of interest in it but we have been having a hard time trying to figure out how we can fill that need. Ted would love to be able to fill those requests but doesn't want to risk turning out a substandard colt starting clinic experience. So how to make it a realistic workable clinic for most people?

Ted has come up with what may be a possible solution. It would still take a lot of commitment but here is the idea:  The clinic would begin with an intense three day clinic, probably a Friday-Saturday-Sunday. At the end of that weekend, everyone would go home with specific work assignments with their colt to be done Monday-Thursday, or possibly Monday - Friday. You would need to plan on spending two hours minimum on each of those days with your colt. On the following Friday or Saturday everyone would come back for another three days of clinic, either Friday-Sunday again, or Saturday-Monday. By the end of those days of training the colts should all be well under saddle and everyone would be ready to ride outside of the arena on the final day. Now obviously, that colt isn't then at a 'graduate' stage but he or she is well on their way and at the point where we are just adding time, practice, experience (wet saddle pads, concentrated training and long rides!).

So what do you all think? Please pass the idea around to your horse friends and acquaintances. I would like as much feedback as we can get on what types of clinics/lessons/coaching our clients want. If there is interest in an idea we will pursue it. It seems like a lot of people might just need the second half of a colt starting clinic, because they already have a colt pretty well ready to ride. It seems to me what a lot of horse owners need is help checking on the first ride prerequisites and conducting their first few rides. What we need to know is what you all would like Ted to offer.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Is This Hoof A Good Hoof?

With this horse we're trying to improve on what at one time would have appeared to us a 'good hoof'. We have here a horse that is currently moving sound and could even be put to work with hoof protection, (boots and pads). But we're going to try to apply the knowledge we have gained to better that status for the long run of this horses life. We often use boots (and pads if needed) when warranted but our goal is that a horse could be comfortably barefoot at home and at work. We would like our horses hooves to be strong enough to not need additional protection; shoes, boots, pads, etc.  We're hoping we can help nature out and let this horse develop a more mechanically sound, stronger hoof capable of protecting the internal structures of the foot even in working conditions and for years to come.

The first thing we saw looking at this horse is that she appears to be well cared for and in good health. However we also saw that there is separation in all four hooves, not uncommon in domestic horses although in this case the separation extends all the way around each hoof which is less common and indicative of improper trimming. The hooves appear at first glance to be well maintained but a closer look shows an angle change about 3/4 of an inch below the hairline indicating the separation that is happening. (For extensive information about separation look for work by Dr. Pollit, Dr. Bowker and Dr. Taylor among others.......!)

 This horse has not been neglected by any means but in spite of regular trimming has several commonly misaddressed problems going on in the feet. Due to our ongoing studies we have learned to understand problems we are seeing and also, (hopefully!), know what we can try to do to help the horse correct it. This horse was trimmed by the previous regular farrier one week before the setup trim was put on here. The hooves had been trimmed to be completely flat, such as to take a shoe, or to be level with a hard flat surface (the classic stand the horse on concrete view). Unfortunately I failed to get any pictures before the set up trim was done but I did take these two days after the set up and I have tried to show what the hoof looked like before the initial trim via our notated photos. The first change implemented was the bringing back of the breakover as shown below. The first trim is the beginning of a balancing act as we try to achieve progress without causing soreness or sensitivity. We are working on beginning to bring her breakover back to a correct position which will help her stride out more naturally. By implementing the "mustang roll" we are also trying to begin removing the separation causing forces on the walls without putting undue pressure on the thin soles. Ted tries to be very careful to err on the side of caution; so the beginning of this balancing act is quite conservative.   

Here Terrence is showing the amount that was removed at the set up trim.

This photo shows the angle change from the outside of the hoof wall.

This is a front hoof. See the shallow apex of the collateral grooves. Note
the lamellar wedge, particularly easy to see on the right side of the photo.

When we look at the bottom of the hooves we can see the separation indicated by the angle change - all the way around on each hoof. Illustrated by photo above and below.

This is a hind hoof. Note there is really no depth at all at the apex of the collateral grooves.
Here we see the evidence of rasping on the sole as well. The lamellar wedge is also very easy to see in this photo. 
We also see a very thin sole, see the apex of the collateral grooves. This was consistent on all four hooves as well. There is less than 3/16" between the bottom of the apex of collateral grooves and the ground. Note the photo showing evidence of rasping of the sole. As horse owners we need to understand the seriousness of this issue of inadequate sole. Under no circumstances should a rasp have ever touched an already dangerously thin sole. This was the case on both hind feet. This sole is a prime example of a hoof extraordinarily susceptible to injury, particularly bruising of the corium and subsequent subsolar abscesses. In our current weather conditions, i.e. rock hard ground, I am somewhat concerned that she could bruise herself at play in the pasture it is so thin. We are restricting her to areas where hopefully the current snow cover will keep her cushioned for now.

Front hoof, note the trimmed frog. See the shallow collateral groove depth
and the lamellar wedge all the way around, it is particularly easy to discern
on the right side of the photo.

Another issue is the frog, it has been routinely trimmed completely out of function.  It is common to trim the frog for aesthetics. Again, this is common practice but prevents the frog, an organ with a purpose, from doing it's job. Dr. Bowker's research on the frog is very extensive and enlightening. I will be continuing to post the progress of this case. Keep an eye on the frog in the upcoming weeks. Due to our current snow cover part of the frog is actually in function now so we hope for rapid development. Again, even with all the issues that we see in this horses hooves, she is moving correctly (heel first landing) which hopefully will mean that we can achieve rapid progress.  

The entire topic of hoof care is so complex and so involved that it seems that any case study or example is an example of oversimplification. There is so much involved in the development of the horses hoof that every aspect can't possibly be thoroughly addressed yet I can't figure out how to avoid that so I am asking for the readers forgiveness in advance! I am aware that every bit of this article seems like oversimplification of complex factors.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hoof Care Studies - Pete Ramey

This fall Terrence received a bunch of Pete Ramey materials for his birthday. It did run way above our normal birthday gift budget but I looked at it more like paying for a college course (without having to come up with fuel money :) ). And since we had purchased Terrence his own; we finally returned the DVD set Under The Horse to the friend who lent it to us (last year!). 
Knowledge is always a good investment, right? And wow, this stuff is full of knowledge. Terrence, Ted, Matt and I have watched lots of the videos by now (but not all of them yet) and Terrence and Ted are through the book at least once. I personally haven't even read the book completely through once and I am sure I will have to read it multiple times to even begin to absorb all the knowledge in it. The book; Care and Rehabilitation of the Equine Foot is a very unpretentiously named treasure trove of diverse knowledge. It is almost a misleading title because it really is a book on total horse health, although, true to Pete Ramey's core purpose it is focused primarily on the hoof and recognizing and treating dysfunctional hooves.  It really details out how all horse health issues are irrevocably intertwined. Now, while we all of course recognize that any health issue will impact the horse in other areas it is fascinating to get into the science of exactly when, where and how these issues are all connected. There are a total of eight authors, a couple of the topics covered by the various expert contributing authors are: equine nutrition, everything from how to feed (with all the relevant whys included) to how to analyze and adjust your feeding - an extremely in depth section on ulcers, their causes, prevention and treatment - every imaginable type of hoof disease or problem - etc. etc. etc.  The ulcer chapter was particularly interesting to Ted as it is all documented and scientifically quantifiable. There is nothing like hard evidence and data to a true info junkie (those of you who know Ted and numbers are smiling!). I personally find the book incredibly interesting and I enjoy how it is full of practical applicable solutions to everything while still thoroughly explaining the science of each situation. 

Terrence trims quite a bit here and he now has one paying client so he is already earning some payback on his studies. 

I love how much we have learned and how much we continue to learn.  

I already think that our increased knowledge was worth every penny of this order. It is a drop in the bucket compared to what we have spent in educational dvd's, books, etc. the last several years particularly those from Downunder Horsemanship ~ we own  literally every video currently available from that company (and Ted has studied all of them with the exception of the Foal Training Kit). Not one of the investments in knowledge that we have ever made have we regretted. (Although I think Beth may be regretting the purchase of the Foal Training Method Kit if Clay doesn't foal this spring!) Intriguing how one source of information leads to another.  Downunder Horsemanship and Clinton Anderson, Pete Ramey and Hoof,  Easyboots, the list is always expanding. I am sure we will be following the findings of some of the researchers who contributed to the new Pete Ramey book.