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JulietMacie
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 Posted: Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 06:27 am
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here are photos of her feet:

Attachment: right_fore_jan15.jpg (Downloaded 337 times)

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 06:28 am
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left fore

Attachment: left_fore_jan15.jpg (Downloaded 332 times)

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 06:28 am
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right hind

Attachment: right_hind_jan15.jpg (Downloaded 332 times)

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 06:29 am
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left hind.

I also have images of her walking and trotting before and after trying temporary pads on her front feet as Pauline outlines on her website. However, I didn't see much difference in her movement with the temporary pads so I'm not sure these images would be of much use. It's very possible that I didn't do a very good job making the pads, so that could be why she wasn't moving differently. Anyway, perhaps we can start with the images posted here and you can let me know if you're interested in seeing the "action shots"

oh, and one other tidbit of info: it's been 5 weeks or so since her last trim.

thanks as always for your help!
Juliet

Attachment: left_hind_jan15.jpg (Downloaded 333 times)

Last edited on Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 06:36 am by JulietMacie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 08:40 am
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Juliet, two things to take notice of right off the bat:

(1) Although it has been 5 weeks (nearly a full normal trimming interval) since your last trim, you see that the buttresses of the hind hoofs are still 'backed up' so that they bracket the widest part of the frog. This indicates that the hind feet are more normal than the fore feet, and that they are 'self maintaining'. This is not true at all of the front hooves, however -- they are 'running forward' so that a line drawn from one buttress to the other passes through the frog at some point ahead of the frog's widest point, which is right at the back. This is one game you absolutely must win -- and it requires not only that the heels be backed up enough with each trim, but also that the toe be taken back. Oftentimes it is not possible to take enough toe, because if you do it will weaken the foot, and so that's where Ovnicek's square-toed shoes come in. But before we go there -- If your farrier is coming next week, would you please photograph the front feet again right after he does them? We will then be able to determine whether he's backing the fore heels up enough.

(2) Have you tried to measure DC thickness? It's a bit "approximate" no matter how you do it, but it would be helpful to have some idea of what it may be. Also, you will want to have some idea of whether the rear DC's are greater than the fore DC's, and if so how much thicker.

Let us know -- Dr. Deb

 

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 10:32 am
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Sorry, Juliet, I didn't see the stuff on the previous page at first -- so you have already measured your DC's.

I also observe the nice conformation photo of your mare. I am now going to, hopefully, engage you in really SEEING her -- by means of the standard technique that I used for articles in Equus Magazine. I want you to look at the analysis image in this post, which was made directly from your photo. Here is the table of percentage (relative or proportional) sizes of various important bodyparts, and certain important angles:

Withers Height:Body Length: 93.4%. This indicates that your mare is longer than high. This is typical of Quarter Horses, and is partly a function of back length but also partly the result of the fact that the QH typically has quite a long pelvis.

Shoulder Length:Body Length: 35.5%. This is an average figure.

Shoulder angle: 54 degrees. Note that if the horse leans forward over its forelimbs, it will force the scapula to rotate and thus the measurement will be steeper. Conversely, if the animal takes weight OFF the forelimbs, the scapula will rotate in the opposite direction and the shoulder angle will measure lower. This applies in movement just as much as in analysis of standing conformation. Juliet: why would that be important to know?

Humerus length:Body Length: 22%. This is a little better than average -- Paint 'hosses', particularly if they are Tobiano as yours is, often have a little old-fashioned American Saddlebred in them, which conveys more 'bone substance', better knees and hocks, a longer humerus which at the same time also has enough steepness to it that it doesn't become an impediment.

Humerus angle: 29 degrees -- see above -- this is a nice feature.

Forearm length:Body length: 25% -- a little better than average. It means that your mare's knees are 'well let down'.

Fore cannon:Body length: 18% -- this is fine, not as short as some but perfectly OK.

Fore cannon:Forearm length: 71% -- another way to say that the knees are well let down, that the forearm is noticeably longer than the cannon bone segment of the leg.

Pelvic length:Body length -- 32.5% -- typical Quarter Horse, big butt, bigger than average.

Femur:Body length -- 27% -- this is longer than most Quarter Horses and it's an advantage to have it that way. Another little gift from your mare's ASB ancestry.

Gaskin:Body length -- 24% -- not as short as it could be, but OK.

Gaskin:Femur -- 87% -- another way to say the same thing as above. We do definitely want a long femur in a pleasure-riding horse, and at the same time we definitely do not want a long gaskin, because the tendency is that when the gaskins are long, the hock will be narrow and weak and/or the tie-in to the hock.

Hind cannon:Body length -- 24%. Note that this is quite a bit longer than the fore cannon percentage, so it has a tendency to tip the mare up behind.

Overall Body Balance: Downill 8.5 degrees. This is the single greatest obstacle you have with training this mare, and it comes entirely from the Quarter Horse side of her ancestry.

Juliet, how do you think that the mare's rather downhill OBB impacts her tendency to toe-strike? Here's a hint: you notice I keep telling you that you need to speed up the breakover in order to encourage heel-strike. What does 'running downhill' all the time do to breakover -- i.e. does it speed it up or tend to delay it?

Finally -- this is a good time to review the under-saddle maneuvers you'll be tapping away at with your mare come Spring (yuck, I do see all that snow and mud in the photo, how well I remember that from my days in Kansas). Just because the mare's body balance runs downhill DOES NOT mean that she cannot MOVE LEVEL. To do that, your objective is to teach her to put her hind feet under her belly and to put her forefeet out to the front. I know that you've reviewed Mike Schaffer's books. In terms of what I have just said, can you write me a short statement back that expresses how WAITING FOR THE MARE TO RELEASE BEFORE PERMITTING HER TO STEP FORWARD would accomplish this? Hopefully this effort at putting it into words will bust you through to a new level of thinking, a new level of understanding what 'feel, timing, and balance' is going to have to mean with you and your mare. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Attachment: Forum Juliet Mare C4M Anal.jpg (Downloaded 328 times)

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 06:28 pm
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Hi, I have to run off to work now, but I wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU for all this fantastic information! Please excuse me for gushing but I just have to say that you're amazing! I'll do some thinking and researching this weekend and post answers to your questions.
thanks again,
Juliet

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Tue Jan 27th, 2015 06:45 am
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Hi Dr. Deb,

I’ve been reviewing the 2003 Inner Horseman CD as well as the relevant Equus conformation articles (the ones that prompted me to write to this forum in the first place!) and will try to answer the questions you posed in your last post.

Shoulder angle: 54 degrees. Note that if the horse leans forward over its forelimbs, it will force the scapula to rotate and thus the measurement will be steeper. Conversely, if the animal takes weight OFF the forelimbs, the scapula will rotate in the opposite direction and the shoulder angle will measure lower. This applies in movement just as much as in analysis of standing conformation. Juliet: why would that be important to know?

Important to know because my mare is traveling stiffly on her forehand and the more I can teach her/enable her to soften and carry more weight on her hind end, the shoulder angle will reflect this by become shallower. What might be a good target angle with my horse?

Juliet, how do you think that the mare's rather downhill OBB impacts her tendency to toe-strike? Here's a hint: you notice I keep telling you that you need to speed up the breakover in order to encourage heel-strike. What does 'running downhill' all the time do to breakover -- i.e. does it speed it up or tend to delay it?

Thanks to your hint, I would say that having a downhill OBB delays breakover, but I’m having a hard time picturing in my mind exactly why this is...so, I’m going to take a stab at it...is it that over weighting the forehand inhibits the horse’s ability to reach up and out, and freely swing its forearm and causes it, as it’s falling forward out of balance, to take shorter, stabbing steps with its forefeet? In contrast, a horse that’s moving in balance and carrying more weight over its hind end and rounding to some degree is freeing up its front end and enabling its forelegs to swing and more fully extend its leg all the way to the hoof?

Just because the mare's body balance runs downhill DOES NOT mean that she cannot MOVE LEVEL. To do that, your objective is to teach her to put her hind feet under her belly and to put her forefeet out to the front. I know that you've reviewed Mike Schaffer's books. In terms of what I have just said, can you write me a short statement back that expresses how WAITING FOR THE MARE TO RELEASE BEFORE PERMITTING HER TO STEP FORWARD would accomplish this?

Waiting for her to release before permitting her to step forward means setting her up to move forward in balance. By releasing she softens at the poll and along her back/pelvis, which allows her to flex her hind legs at all the connected joints (hip, stifle, hock) which allows her to shift more weight over her back legs and frees up her front end to move more lightly. To quote Mike Schaffer:

“...the only way to get a horse to put less weight on his forelegs is to get him to put more on his rear legs. We ask a horse to take more weight on his hind legs (engage them), by encouraging him to bring his hind legs further under him with each stride. As the hind legs take more weight, the forehand gets lighter.” From Right From the Start

Now I need to ask you some practical questions: should I continue our riding for the time being? I admit that I’m worrying about stressing her and making her feet worse than they already are and damaging her joints. Is it time for boots with pads now? If you look again at the pictures of her feet that I posted at the start of all this (in the Toe-first Striking thread back in July 2013) her fore feet are significantly worse now than they were then. This dismays me -- all this learning and work (on all sides: hers, mine and yours!) and her feet are going in the wrong direction! argh.

I look forward gratefully to your response,
Juliet

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jan 27th, 2015 11:35 am
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Dear Juliet: Right answers, for the most part, at least in some ways. Refinements:

On the shoulder angle question: yes, but Juliet, you're still using the term 'travelling stiffly on the forehand' in an incantatory fashion, in other words, I'm not yet convinced that the real meaning of that has sunk in for you. We will turn to that a little farther down. As to a 'target' shoulder angle -- there is no such thing. I despair of students who continually try to flatten the multidimensionality of movement by talking about 'targets', 'exercises', 'getting the horse more fit', and so forth. And, I have warned readers many, many times not to take numbers (i.e. angles or lengths) as absolutes, but merely as guides to the eye. All we care is that if after you make some more improvements, and we take a photo of your mare in motion, that the shoulder angle is lower than what we start from in the conformation photo, where it is obvious that the mare is to some extent leaning over her forelimbs as the camera snapped.

On the OBB question, i.e. why does 'running downhill' inhibit breakover: Yes, you're on the right track there. The correct answer is that the more weight there is on the forelimbs, the longer per stride they will stay in contact with the ground. In other words: weight translates directly to milliseconds of time -- more weight and thus more time that the whole sole of the foot, from toe to heels, is in contact with the ground. This is the definition of 'delay' or 'lateness' in breakover. The foot does not begin to 'break over' until the heels are lifted.

On the third question, great quote from Mike. A horse only has two ends, Juliet; one would think this would be obvious! Therefore, for every pound of weight the horse is NOT carrying on the hindlimbs, he must be carrying upon the forelimbs!

But again....the problem in your answer is not this aspect, but the more subtle aspect -- I don't think you really yet understand what YOU have to change in order to enhance, or else break, that all-important chain of causality:

-- If there is a brace in the poll, there will also be a brace in the loins.

-- If there is a brace in the loins, the horse cannot coil its loins (steepen the angle of its pelvis).

-- If the loins are not coiled, the horse will not be able to flex its stifles and hocks (the stifles and hocks always flex at the same time and to the same degree; but their ability to flex AT ALL depends entirely upon the pelvis 'breaking downward').

Now I am going to do something for you that I could not have done two years ago, when you first wrote in. I have taken the very first photo you ever submitted and made an analytical tracing of it. This is something you will probably be able to stand -- now -- because you have in fact made some improvements. But now we need to go back and see what those improvements actually have been, what is the degree of improvement, and whether further improvement is still required.

I have also pulled off your 'before' and 'after' hoof photos and analyzed those -- Juliet, there isn't any significant change in your horse's feet, either for better or worse. The 'after' photos LOOK worse, because you're five weeks out from your last trim in those, so of course the heels have come forward some. It is 100% fine and excellent that you're thinking about boots and pads and Pauline's supplement protocols but, as I said to you in the very first reply that I ever made to you, THIS IS NOT REALLY WHERE YOUR PROBLEM LIES.

Let me tell you something, Juliet -- or let me let you tell it to yourself. What do you think would happen -- how long do you think it would take, minutes run-time, for your mare to soften, round up, and move in light balance if I were to mount her? Let me tell you something else -- I've seen Pauline ride, so she won't be able to deny this! -- it would be the same if Pauline mounted her! So let us not kid ourselves -- Pauline's horses are getting wonderful therapeutic management which it is something we all need to add into our programs -- BUT I will swear to you and anyone else, that her horses have never had a single 'bad' ride since they came into her ownership.

So Juliet, let us go back to your post of a couple of months ago and take that sentence in there out, let us just delete it, where you say 'OK I think I have pretty well gotten this riding stuff under my belt.' Yes and no!

Now I have numbered different things on the accompanying analysis, and here are questions that go with the numbered areas:

1. The black dot shows where you are carrying your weight when seated in your saddle. The white dot shows where your seat-bones are. What do you think 'the rider in this photo' (pretend like you don't know her, OK?) would need to do in order to get the black dot to move backwards until it was on top of the white dot?

2a, 2b, 2c: We might say this is a 'complex' of related problems.

2a: Points to the rider's elbow. What's wrong with her elbow? What should the coach be seeing instead of what the camera caught?

2b: Points to the rider's palm and fingers. Where is the palm facing? where SHOULD it be facing (this means 100% of the time, no exceptions ever)? What are the rider's fingers doing? What SHOULD they be doing (this means 100% of the time, no exceptions ever)?

2c: Shows that the reins are not straight. Why were the reins not straight, Juliet? Talk to me here about fear, please.

3: Why does the mare poke her nose out? Hint: why is the number '3' not near her nose?

4: The black dot marks the base of the neck; the arrows indicate 'space' or 'distance' between the nose and the base of the neck. Where would the black dot need to move in order to get the distance from nose to base of neck to reduce?

5. What is about to happen here? This is a major reason for no. 8.

6a, 6b: The pelvic line (point of buttock to point of hip) is not marked with a number, but FYI in motion it is 15.2 degrees. In the standing conformation analysis we made the other day of this mare, it is 13.7 degrees. Now not to take numbers too too literally, because the truth is if you take several similar conformation shots or several similar motion shots, these figures will change as much as a couple of degrees. Therefore, what we note merely is that there is no real difference -- if we took the present measurements totally literally, we only get 1.5 degrees of 'loin coiling' in motion, which is to say, less than the two-degree tolerance of error just quoted. So much for pelvic angle. The question then relates to 6a and 6b, which mark hock and stifle angles (it doesn't matter which limb -- they're both the same, the way this mare moves). Now remember what I said above: if the pelvic line does not steepen, i.e. if the loins do not coil -- then 6a and 6b cannot do -- what? And if those joints do not do that thing, tell me Juliet, CAN SHE bear weight on the hind limbs? In other words, to put it the other way around -- what are the SPECIFIC CONDITIONS under which the horse CAN take more weight upon the hindquarters in motion?

7. So, what we have discovered is that this mare is doing what is called 'broomsticking behind' -- in other words, she swings the hindlimbs freely from the hips but hardly flexes the stifle or the hock. Now, the reason she swings freely from the hip is that, that woman who is riding her is hustling her. That woman is clucking and using her legs and horking forward with the top of her chest in a continual effort to get the mare to GO MORE FORWARD (but what is really happening instead is that the rider is pushing her horse off-balance from back to front). And the mare, good doer that she is, tries to comply -- she responds by SPEEDING UP WHILE OUT OF BALANCE. But she pays a penalty with '5', and an even worse one at '7'. WHY is the toe of the fore hoof still stuck to the ground when the left hindlimb is close and coming closer forcefully and at a high rate of speed? And WHAT CAUSES the ugly kink in the left (weightbearing) forelimb, whereby the knee is flexed while the toe is still pressed into the ground? (Just FYI, you're in far more danger with this than any amount of toe-striking....this posture of the forelimb is the only position in which it can be placed which simultaneously slacks the flexor apparatus while tensioning the suspensory, putting any horse who steps in this manner in high danger of tearing a suspensory).

8. Name five reasons that this mare finds her rider irritating.

Now remember, this rider is a woman who died sometime last year. The old coach, Deb, looked at her and said, 'boy, there are a lot of changes that need to be made here. Where indeed shall we start?' That rider is somebody you knew and still understand well, and that is good, because she's your doorway to the future. The only way any rider ever improves is by learning to REALLY SEE THEMSELVES. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

Attachment: Juliet Macie Riding analysis.jpg (Downloaded 286 times)

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Tue Jan 27th, 2015 11:10 pm
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Dear Dr. Deb,

thank you for your generous serving of humble pie! I hope it proves to be nourishing! Here are some answers:

1. The black dot shows where you are carrying your weight when seated in your saddle. The white dot shows where your seat-bones are. What do you think 'the rider in this photo' (pretend like you don't know her, OK?) would need to do in order to get the black dot to move backwards until it was on top of the white dot?

First I was going to say she ought to stop leaning forward, but when I looked more carefully and checked the line that passes through the ear, shoulder, hip, I see that it’s vertical. This is a little confusing since she sure *looks* like she’s leaning forward! or as you say, “horking forward with the top of her chest”. So I’m going to also suggest that she needs to do what I try to do since you told me to: relax her lower back, soften (unclench) her butt muscles and let her legs drape softly around her horse. I hope by doing this she allows her lower back to fill out and her legs to hang more underneath her and bring her upper body back some.

2a, 2b, 2c: We might say this is a 'complex' of related problems.

2a: Points to the rider's elbow. What's wrong with her elbow? What should the coach be seeing instead of what the camera caught?


Her elbow isn’t bent nearly enough to put her hands at the level of her natural waist. It also looks like her elbows are pointed out somewhat rather than hanging down near her sides.

2b: Points to the rider's palm and fingers. Where is the palm facing? where SHOULD it be facing (this means 100% of the time, no exceptions ever)? What are the rider's fingers doing? What SHOULD they be doing (this means 100% of the time, no exceptions ever)?

Her palms are facing down rather than inward toward each other. Her fingers are open and loose instead of closed firmly around the reins.

2c: Shows that the reins are not straight. Why were the reins not straight, Juliet? Talk to me here about fear, please.

The reins are not straight for many reasons; the primary reason is that this rider had so little understanding of how to properly ride that she had very little confidence in what she was doing. Because she was ignorant and because she always had a nagging worry in her gut that she was not doing right by her horse she really just didn’t know *what* to do with those reins! She had learned by bitter experience that “pulling on the reins” didn’t really do any good-- the horse didn’t really respond until things got somewhat ugly and this left bad feelings on both sides. Her horse was frequently moving faster (might say “hurtling forward”) than she wanted her to; she felt bad about pulling but simply didn’t know other, better solutions so she often just left the reins alone and did her best to keep up! When out of the arena (and here’s where the fear comes in) you can imagine how well this strategy worked! An upward transition (e.g.: from walk to trot) often initiated increasing acceleration that sometimes ended badly for all concerned.

3: Why does the mare poke her nose out? Hint: why is the number '3' not near her nose?

I’m a little confused by your hint -- how can her poll be nearer her nose? Isn’t the fixed length of her head between these two points? She pokes out her nose because her poll joint is locked and her back is hollow and the base of her neck is low. If she were to soften her poll joint, her neck would acquire a little arch in it and her head would hang a little more vertically, bringing her nose down and in a little closer toward the base of her neck.

4: The black dot marks the base of the neck; the arrows indicate 'space' or 'distance' between the nose and the base of the neck. Where would the black dot need to move in order to get the distance from nose to base of neck to reduce?

The black dot would need to move up.

5. What is about to happen here? This is a major reason for no. 8.

The mare’s left hind is about to collide with her left front hoof. Because she moving in a downhill posture, it’s hard for her to get her heavy front feet out of the way of the back feet. The back feet are then inhibited from swinging more freely and she can’t step underneath herself to a degree that would help her lighten her front end. She’s caught in a sort of a vicious cycle. By getting her to release before even taking the first step, this vicious cycle should be headed off before it even starts.

6a, 6b: The pelvic line (point of buttock to point of hip) is not marked with a number, but FYI in motion it is 15.2 degrees. In the standing conformation analysis we made the other day of this mare, it is 13.7 degrees. Now not to take numbers too too literally, because the truth is if you take several similar conformation shots or several similar motion shots, these figures will change as much as a couple of degrees. Therefore, what we note merely is that there is no real difference -- if we took the present measurements totally literally, we only get 1.5 degrees of 'loin coiling' in motion, which is to say, less than the two-degree tolerance of error just quoted. So much for pelvic angle. The question then relates to 6a and 6b, which mark hock and stifle angles (it doesn't matter which limb -- they're both the same, the way this mare moves). Now remember what I said above: if the pelvic line does not steepen, i.e. if the loins do not coil -- then 6a and 6b cannot do -- what? And if those joints do not do that thing, tell me Juliet, CAN SHE bear weight on the hind limbs? In other words, to put it the other way around -- what are the SPECIFIC CONDITIONS under which the horse CAN take more weight upon the hindquarters in motion?

The pelvic angle would need to steepen -- which is to say she would need to coil her loins. If the pelvic line steepens the corresponding hock and stifle angles would also close which means her hind legs could/would step more underneath her belly. This means the hind end can also function more like a spring: absorbing downward motion and exerting forward/upward motion. ‘“Coiling of the loins is the true cause of “engagement of the hindquarters.’ Note that when the loins coil, the rear part of the pelvis is the brought forward. The action brings the hip socket forward, and thus automatically draws all the other parts of the hind limbs forward, too: the stifle joints, hock joints, and hind feet are brought up under the body from back to front.” From “How Horses Work, Installment #5”

7. So, what we have discovered is that this mare is doing what is called 'broomsticking behind' -- in other words, she swings the hindlimbs freely from the hips but hardly flexes the stifle or the hock. Now, the reason she swings freely from the hip is that, that woman who is riding her is hustling her. That woman is clucking and using her legs and horking forward with the top of her chest in a continual effort to get the mare to GO MORE FORWARD (but what is really happening instead is that the rider is pushing her horse off-balance from back to front). And the mare, good doer that she is, tries to comply -- she responds by SPEEDING UP WHILE OUT OF BALANCE. But she pays a penalty with '5', and an even worse one at '7'. WHY is the toe of the fore hoof still stuck to the ground when the left hindlimb is close and coming closer forcefully and at a high rate of speed? And WHAT CAUSES the ugly kink in the left (weightbearing) forelimb, whereby the knee is flexed while the toe is still pressed into the ground? (Just FYI, you're in far more danger with this than any amount of toe-striking....this posture of the forelimb is the only position in which it can be placed which simultaneously slacks the flexor apparatus while tensioning the suspensory, putting any horse who steps in this manner in high danger of tearing a suspensory).

The toe of the front foot is still on the ground even as the hind foot is threatening to step on it because the horse is bearing too much weight on her front to allow her to unweight that front hoof in time.

8. Name five reasons that this mare finds her rider irritating.
    1. because her rider, by carrying her weight too far forward, is causing her (the horse) to be even more unbalanced by ADDING weight to her front end.
    2. because her rider isn’t helping her release physically or mentally by setting her (the horse) up properly before asking her to move
    3. because her rider is asking her to move in a gait (trot) that she (horse) can’t manage in balance, in other words, her rider is asking her to move at a rate that makes her feel insecure and worried
    4. because her rider is unable to make use of the reins in any way to help balance or support her horse
    5. overall, because her rider is somewhat oblivious about all these problems that she’s causing and even though she knows something is amiss, is clueless about what to do about it or even where to start!
I'm not sure if these reasons should be written in the past tense or the present tense...

Now remember, this rider is a woman who died sometime last year...
R.I.P.!!!

thanks as always,
Juliet

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Wed Jan 28th, 2015 08:01 am
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Hi Juliet
New photos after a trim would be very helpful, but I would like to make some comments about your mare's hind feet as the bull-nosed profile of the dorsal hoof wall and pronounced swelling around the coronet (especially the right hind) can be a bit of a red-flag that all is not well within. It's not too clear from the full-body photo but it appears the angle of the hind coronet hairline is rather steep which can also be an indication of a low or negative angle of the coffin bone.

I would not have expected raised wedge pads on the front feet to have made any significant difference to movement as the photos are not giving obvious clues that she may have low palmar angles in the front feet. The excess heel length that Dr Deb has already mentioned has taken her front feet frogs out of ground contact, but the digital cushion thickness is average for a horse of her size and should be adequate for the work she does.

However, I think it could be worthwhile doing the same experiment with fitting raised wedge pads to her hind feet, preferably after the farrier has trimmed this week. The digital cushion thickness is less than the front feet, as is usual for most horses, but again, should be adequate. On doing this experiment with the hind feet, I've seen many horses suddenly lengthen the step-length of their bare fore feet.

If you find no change to movement by raising the hind heels experimentally, then at least you can be confident that internal mechanics of the feet are not influencing movement, and you can forget about that issue while concentrating on Dr Deb's lessons outlined in posts above.

If there is going to be a change, you are likely to notice it virtually immediately, within 5 minutes, so we can then discuss that some more. If you do see a significant change, radiographs might be helpful in determining what angles might best assist your mare while she is developing a stronger internal foot.

I have given up trying to guess internal bone angles from the appearance of external structures; so often there seems no correlation. You have seen the image below on my website, but for other readers, this is a good example of 'inside' not matching 'outside'. These images of the right hind foot of a QH mare were taken years ago for other reasons, before any of us were thinking about digital cushions, but the negative plantar angle of about 1.5 dgs inside an upright, boxy hoof was nevertheless a shock. This mare had not been in work for quite a long time but was very stiff through her shoulders, perhaps as compensation for the discomfort of sidebone in her front feet.

Best wishes - Pauline

Attachment: Millie RH.jpg (Downloaded 255 times)

JulietMacie
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 Posted: Wed Jan 28th, 2015 05:16 pm
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Hello Pauline

thanks for your thoughts. I will post new photos of all four feet after her next trim which is in a few days. I'll also try the padding the experiment on her hind feet and report what I see. In the meantime I was confused when, in the second paragraph of your post, you said "The excess heel length that Dr Deb has already mentioned ..." Did you mean toe length? Or are you saying that her underrun heels with the buttresses so far forward have taken her frog out of contact with the ground?

thanks for the clarification,
Juliet

Last edited on Wed Jan 28th, 2015 05:18 pm by JulietMacie

Cheddar
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 Posted: Thu Jan 29th, 2015 04:03 am
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Pauline et al.

This video by Dr. Debra Taylor covers the issue of negative plantar angles and an 'external' sign that may predict that angle as well as many other foot issues which follow the same lines you have been exploring. It ties into the digital cushion information you have been sharing here.

http://www.thehorse.com/videos/34609/is-the-hoof-smart-adaptability-of-the-equine-foot

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Thu Jan 29th, 2015 11:20 am
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Juliet
Heels that run forward, or become 'under-run', are basically overgrown heels. Instead of growing vertically, these long heels are pushed forwards by the weight of the horse. In extreme cases, the long heels are totally crushed and lie horizontal to the ground, sometimes even curling inwards.

When the weight-bearing buttresses are no longer at the widest point of the frog, but lie at some point forwards of the widest part of the frog, the balance of the whole horse is affected.

If the buttresses are where they should be, directly below the centre of the vertical canon bone, the horse is able to stand comfortably upright without any muscular effort. This is because the tension on the extensor structures (muscles and ligaments) on the front of the limb equals the tension on the flexor structures on the back of the limb. The horse is balanced over the pivot point of the buttresses.

If the weight-bearing buttresses are positioned somewhere in front of the centre of the canon bone, the horse cannot stand upright without using muscular effort as the tension on the extensors and flexors is not equal.

Rather than wasting energy by using muscles to stand upright, the horse solves the problem by leaning forwards over the pivot point of the front feet buttresses, just as we lean against something rather than using muscular energy to stand completely upright.

The problem is that if this becomes an accustomed posture, the heels are not able to fulfil their load-bearing role and, like everything else that doesn't get used properly, will progressively atrophy and/or contract. At the same time, there will be excessive pressure in the toe area; neither part of the foot will have optimal blood flow.
You can feel this in your own body:
stand with your feet flat on the ground so that you can feel even pressure in the heel and ball of the foot, then lean forwards but without having your heel lift from the ground. You will feel increased pressure in the toes and ball of the foot, but decreased or no pressure in the heel.

For a simplified overview of Prof Bob Bowker's work on the haemodynamics of the hoof, and importance of ground contact for the frog, see the link below to the 2005 McPhail Annual Report, starts page 6. Much more work has been done in the 10 years since this report was published, but it's a good starting point:

http://cvm.msu.edu/research/research-centers/mcphail-equine-performance-center/publications-1/annual-reports/2005_Annual_Report.pdf/at_download/file

Keeping the toe as short as possible, and keeping the heel buttresses as far back as possible, are both vitally important. For some horses, trimming at 3 weeks or 4 weeks is necessary to keep the heel buttresses below the canon bone. There will be little progress if a horse is nicely balanced and can stand vertically for a week or so after each trim, but then leans forward for a month or more until the next trim. We can use standing posture as an individualised guide for how frequently any particular horse needs to be trimmed.

Pauline

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Thu Jan 29th, 2015 11:31 am
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Cheddar
Dr Deb Taylor is doing some fantastic work in providing practical evidence for Prof Bowker's theories on the internal workings of the hoof; the link you provided is excellent and well worth viewing.

However, there's always got to be some awkward person who says 'Yes, but …..'

It would be great if assessing 'air space' in the external sole and frog was a reliable indicator of palmar/plantar angle and DC volume, but regrettably it doesn't always work out that way. Here are two more photos of the same hoof above. There is a slight concavity and solar depth measured at the tip of the frog is significantly less than that at the lateral sulci at the heel/frog junction. This foot 'should' have a positive plantar angle, but it does not.

Pauline

Attachment: Millie RH 2.jpg (Downloaded 222 times)


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