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Pauline Moore
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Dr Deb - I've started this as a new topic so we can leave the other one for Megan's horse specifically, and have copied your questions on to this thread.

I would also like to ask for a clarification as to what you said you'd heard at the Bowker seminar. What does he mean by 'half the length of the coffin bone'? In other words, does he mean half the length of the coffin bone as measured parallel to the solar plane? And then, exactly from what point to what point are we to compare this half-length? From the posterior apex of the coffin bone to the most posterior point of the bulb of heel (i.e. horizontally, straight backwards?) Or from the most posterior point of the coffin bone to the apex of the buttress (i.e. on a diagonal line downwards and backwards?).

I did send my seminar notes to you a couple of weeks ago plus photos of changes in the digital cushion depth of one of my own horses - perhaps you did not receive them or have not had time to look closely?

On both occasions I have attended seminars with Prof Bowker (RB), he has stressed the importance of a well-developed 'back of the foot', i.e. digital cushions and ungal cartilages that have developed beyond those of a 4 - 5 yr old horse.   After this age a 'good footed' horse will continue to develop strong, elastic fibrocartilage in the DC which differentiates him from the 'bad footed' horse whose DC and UC do not develop any further.  This development is not genetically governed, it is dependent on environment and how the horse uses his feet - fibrocartilage in the DC and lateral/medial cartilages will develop at any age given the right conditions.  One of my own horses, a 19-yr old TB with Cushings has proved this point - I'll try to attach comparative photos below separately.

The larger the back of the foot in relation to total size of the foot, the better.  RB likes to see a ratio of 2:2 or even 2:3 but 2:1 is the bare minimum needed for a functional foot.  This is measured on radiograph images by a straight line that runs from the anterior apex of the coffin bone (point of the toe), more or less parallel with the sole, extending past the wings of the bone out to the furthermost visible edge of the heel bulbs.  The distance along that line from the coffin bone wing to the heel bulb edge is considered to be 'the back of the foot'.  In an ideal 2:2 ratio the length of the coffin bone from toe tip to wing edge is the same length as that from wing edge to heel edge.  Another way to think of this is that the coffin bone should occupy no more than 2/3 of that line - the closer to 1/2 of the length of the line the better.  The absolute measurements are not important, it is the proportions that are important. 

The radiograph of Megan's horse is harder to measure accurately because of the steepness of the bone angle - however it can be seen the area occupied by the digital cushion is not large in comparison to the size of the bone.  Other images can be confusing where the palmar processes have become elongated on one side or the other - this happens when the horse's body is trying to provide more support to compensate for an underdeveloped back of the foot.  In any case, radiograph measurements are indicative only as they cannot show fibrocartilage or assess texture of the DC.  I think it is more meaningful to do a 'squeeze test' between thumb and forefinger (photo below) as size alone does not define a good DC - a good thick DC will feel like high-density foam, firm but 'giving'.  A poor DC will feel soft like low-density foam (bath sponge) if it has some depth, or hard, leathery if it is thin.  It is best to feel for this closer to the pastern if the heels are contracted as the squashed ungal cartilages at the heel bulbs can give a false feeling of firmness.  As an example, Megan tells us her horse has good, wide, healthy frogs and heels but I would take a guess that there is little DC development - I would expect to see a deep cleft between the UC that would feel soft when squeezed.  Perhaps she will let us know.

I think it would be great if Adam could draw some more lines for us and then have estimates of DC & frog thickness, and texture, alongside.

Once you help us by specifying where Bowker says we are to be measuring to estimate digital cushion thickness, I want to start by looking at that on Megan's X-Rays but also on Ollie's, because I know that Ollie is (at the present time, so far) not at all reluctant to strike on the heel.

RB did not discuss where or how to measure DC thickness.  I came home from the seminar wanting to find some way of tracking progress in horses so decided to use calipers as a way of measuring - the top prong was placed centrally on the skin over the DC at the point where it changes direction to become the skin over the back of the pastern.  The lower prong was placed centrally on a line below that runs from heel buttress to heel buttress on their most posterior edges - the prong was not put down into the central sulcus of the frog.  (photo below separately).  Maybe you or Adam can think of a better way to measure, but again the value is in comparisons - whatever method is used should be consistent for that particular horse.  RB believes that once DC fibrocartilage has been developed fully, it never disappears but I'm not sure about this so regular measurements might be useful.

Also -- I know exactly what you're referring to as resulting from the use of foam-padded boots, having seen Dr. Jane's horse make such progress in Adelaide, for example. But....is this the only way that we can influence this? What have you observed regarding type of footing?


Can't definitively answer this question.  In theory the conforming sandy work surface you described should be enough to provide stimulation to the whole solar surface of the foot but you told me recently that you saw a difference when Ollie was wearing boots & pads so maybe the soft surface was not enough.  Maybe it has to do with amount of time spent on that conforming surface - is an hour (or whatever) per day when ridden/groundworked enough when compared with the amount of stall and turnout time?  Don't know, but would be interesting to find out.   I know of a horse here who lived on a soft, sandy surface 24/7 but did not heel-strike at a trot until he had padded boots.

Without a forceplate it is hard to tell visually just how much the horse is weighting his heels with each step, especially on a sandy surface.  Many horses will heel-strike at a walk but not a trot, some will heel-strike on soft ground but not on hard, and this can change from day to day - so many variables it is almost impossible to be certain what any one horse does or does not do.  Looking at the wear patterns of the wall and sole is the only way I can think of to have some idea of what a horse is doing, i.e. if I have to trim more heel than toe then I'm fairly certain that horse is predominantly toe-striking.  Also, I can't be sure what impact an unstable (wobbly) surface would have on the sensory and proprioceptor nerves in the frog and sole, don't know if this would interfere with the sensory-nerve mediated perfusion of the foot.  Any foot soreness from other issues such as laminitis would also impact.

Best wishes - Pauline







Pauline Moore
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This is a photo of how I used calipers to estimate the thickness of the digital cushion and frog.

Attachment: Measuring thickness of DC & frog DSC01158.jpg (Downloaded 1081 times)

Pauline Moore
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This is how I squeeze the digital cushion and frog to assess texture - in practice it is better to have my thumb on top but it was easier to do it this way when trying to take a photo one-handed while relying on my obliging horse to leave his foot on the crate.


Attachment: Feeling texture of DCushion DSC01153.jpg (Downloaded 1072 times)

Pauline Moore
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This is a photo of my horse's right fore taken in July last year, the next photo was taken in March this year. (Sorry, don't know how to put 2 photos together).  It can be seen that the area between his medial and lateral cartilages has 'filled-in', increased in volume.  The texture is now like firm foam, it used to be thin, feeling like leather.

Attachment: Rory RF heels, DC 14.7.09 DSC00861.jpg (Downloaded 1071 times)

Pauline Moore
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March 2010, same foot


Attachment: Rory RF heels, DC 4.3.10 DSC01139.jpg (Downloaded 1072 times)

ozgaitedhorses
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Hi Pauline!
I asked a well known Australian barefoot blacksmith whether he thought that developing a stronger digital cushion was possible in an adult horse. His answer was that he hadn't seen it happen...
Glad to hear that your experience was a different one! But then again, you are probably more committed than 99% of horse owners!
May I asked what happened in the time between the July 2009 and March 2010 photos? Did the horse go to live on different ground? Did you ride him more? Change in diet? All of the above?
Also, in the 2009 photo, the foot has a 'pinched' look to it. Did the heels open up during that time?
Thanks for those photos, Pauline! Always a pleasure to read your posts!
Cheers,
Manu

Alex
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Hi Pauline,

Thanks for posting all of that information. This sounds like a good measurements to take of Arwen's feet. For those who are not familiar with the story if you search her name you will be able to see the x rays from last year.

Since last year we have been using glue on boots and we are having a gradual success. She walks out very well in the boots and is far more inclined to trot and even gallop whilst in them. If they come off she is less inclined to move in the paddock.

The structures of her feet are interesting to watch from booting to booting as we can have a big change in the amount of frog tissue depending on how much moisture is around and we worked out that more glue inside the boots seems to be better at either keeping the moisture out or keeping the pressure on the tissues or both.

Anecdotally I would have said that she has developed a depth through the heel tissue, there is certainly much less pain in the area. She is walking in a better heel first movement. 

I look forward to hearing more.

Cheers,

Alex



 

Pauline Moore
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Hello Manu & Alex

The thing I'm really excited about is that there has been only one change in the past year that could account for the increased fibrocartilage in this horse's digital cushions.

In December 2008 we moved to another property in the same area; I was concerned about how this horse would cope with the abundance of grass - some native grasses but also paspalum, kikuyu and other less desireables.  Although it was a dry summer, for the first few months he did not cope well, abscessing in one hind foot, toe-landing, accelerated wall growth, then he tweaked a front tendon so I left him alone for the rest of the year, devoting my limited horse time to the two younger horses.  All 3 horses live out together 24/7 as they have for years, so he had no increased movement during this past year, if anything - less.  No riding or groundwork, just the normal everyday pottering about in a large paddock - the more grass, the less they move around.  As you know, we've had a lot a rain in the last few months, they're up to their knees in grass so do not bother to walk around to find another tasty patch, it's right there at their feet.   They live peacefully, only occasionally stirring themselves into a fast canter when coming up for a feed but this is not everyday, and was their same habit at the previous property also. 

There has been no change in basic diet - I still give them the same copra, oat chaff and various supplements that I have used for years and spoken about here on the forum from time to time.  The only difference is that I have added chromium to their diet.  Early in 2009 I started reading about chromium and how it is useful for people with blood sugar disorders such as diabetes.  Believing that laminitis is primarily a blood sugar disorder and that a healthy, functional foot must have a good glucose supply I thought it would be worth experimenting with chromium.  Took a while to establish if this would be safe for horses and to find a supplier, so did not start giving it to the horses until mid-March 2009.

The first change I noticed was a decrease in hoof growth rate compared to previous years at the same time.  Anecdotal accounts from farriers around the world agree that laminitic horses grow hoof wall at a faster rate than normal regardless of season.  I saw this change on all 3 horses even though the 2 younger ones have never had laminitis problems. The other change has been a shortening of the overall height of the hoof capsule on all 3 horses (north:south) - I think this has been due to the bone being held higher up, the sole following the bone, resulting in a shorter hoof wall.  The older chestnut horse no longer has a soft slight swelling around the coronet, often associated with the bone within sitting too low.

I think the chromium has been the final missing link that, added to the other supplements they get such as magnesium, has allowed this horse to deal with 24/7 access to grass sugars.  All remnants of any low-grade laminitis has gone so he has been comfortable enough to weight his heels with each step - this in turn has provided the necessary stimulation for development of fibrocartilage within his digital cushions.  I've not had to trim more heel than toe at any time during the last 10 months or so, mostly even growth all round.

The challenge he has given me doesn't get much harder - large horse, small, poor-quality feet that couldn't keep a shoe on, Cushings Disease, highly susceptible to laminitis - at 19 he's now the best he has been in a very long time.  I'm so happy for him, but also optimistic that if he can improve so much at his age, then so can most other horses living in similar conditions.  I've felt for a long time that diet is responsible for 90% of a horse's soundness, this horse is the living proof. 

The photo from July 2009 was taken without any thought of digital cushions, in fact can't remember why I did take that photo.  I had long stopped expecting any further improvement in the TB's feet.  As a 6-yr old his front feet were contracted, his heels progressively widened over time to the same point as shown in the July 2009 photo.  There has been no discernible widening of his heels since then, but the 'filling-in' of the area between the lateral and medial cartilages with fibrocartilage has pushed the lateral and medial cartilages apart, reducing the 'pinched' look that you noticed, Manu.  It is also probable that the lateral and medial cartilages themselves have widened and strengthened.  I'll be interested to see if there is any further improvement on this horse or if we have already reached maximum - just wish I'd thought to do measurements last July.

In a nutshell, this 19-yr old Cushings horse has grown a good, functional, back-of-the-foot purely through getting his diet right with no boots, pads or miles of exercise.

Best wishes - Pauline





DrDeb
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Pauline -- I'm very interested in this conversation too -- so much so that I delayed replying until I'd had time this afternoon to go out to the ranch and take some photos of Ollie's feet. I post these here for your comments along with a recent X-ray lateral view of the left fore.

Adam, you will be gratified to see that, although my vet did not put a radiopaque marker at the coronet, you can clearly see where it is.

Everyone may benefit in several ways, I think, from looking at Ollie's X-Ray. You can dub it out and put it up, along with Megan's X-Ray of her Lipizzaner from the other thread, and the pair will then highlight a number of comparisons.

Megan, I suggested to you previously that your horse's coffin bone may be detaching from the laminae at the top. With further study I am more certain this is so, for again despite there not being a hairline marker on your photo, we can be certain within a fairly small range of where the top of your horse's capsule is, and when you compare this to the height of the top of his coffin bone, there is no doubt but what your horse is a "sinker".

The wryly humorous part of all of this is that I was sure -- based on Ollie's history of periodic lameness and founder-like symptoms -- that HE was a sinker. You can see from the XRays, however, that he certainly is not a sinker! So when we took the XRays I got a lesson -- which was -- you need XRays! Especially when as in your horse's case and also in Ollie's case, the capsule itself is not showing a dish or any strong founder rings -- it generally looks normal. You can safely deduce much more about what's going on inside from an abnormal-appearing capsule, but the lesson is that just because the capsule appears normal does not mean that everything inside is normal.

In Ollie's case, everyone, you can see what the MAIN problem is: he has 'spicules' or 'exostoses' or 'osselets' -- prickly, rough bony growths -- on the anterior face of the short pastern. He also (more subtly) has diffuse 'snowy'-looking calcination of the cartilages and a little bit of extension and roughening of the wings of the coffin bone that support the cartilages, i.e. very early incipient sidebone.

As Pauline mentions with her horse, I am still controlling Ollie's diet, because I still believe that he DID have at least one episode of severe laminitis in his life. I got the horse from Yvonne Miller, who is one of our recommended clinicians, an occasional correspondent here, and a very fine practicing farrier. She in turn received the horse from the owner who allowed him to overfatten and founder. After getting the XRays I wrote Yvonne and thanked her again, because it is obvious that her immediate, persistent and dedicated intervention (two solid weeks of HD foam and duct tape) saved not only his life but allowed the laminae to fully re-attach, so that there is no evidence at all on XRay at this point of any sinking or rotation.

I keep my set of boots and a supply of HD foam, I continue to have Ollie's hay soaked to lower the sugar content, I continue to feed him Mg and Cr supplements, and I also have him on a locally-manufactured pelleted low NSC bellyfiller that eliminates the chronic diabetic "munchies" and makes him a mellow happy performer. I have him also on IM polygluconate (glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin & MSM mix prescribed by my vet) and since we started that in February the horse has not taken a single lame step. As IM glucosamine totally reversed Painty's ringbone, I am hoping it will, over time, do the same for Ollie's. We were out there tonight practicing half-pass at the "trot" (that is to say at the pace, in Ollie's case).

Now as to the discussion in this thread: awp, Pauline, there is no way that I know of either to post more than one photo in any one post, unless you hook the photos together in Photoshop beforehand and put them in as a single file. I have four to post here so y'all will just have to scroll down to see them.

1. Ollie's February XRay, left fore, lateral view. I use the Photoshop measuring tool (an alternate function under the eyedropper tool), which is very accurate, and I get a measurement of 15.108 units for the total straight-line distance from the toe of the coffin bone to the furthest posterior bulge of the heel. I then get a measurement of 5.661 units for the distance from the posterior lateral "wing" of the coffin bone to the posterior bulge of the heel. Measured this way, the DC is 37.4% of the length of the coffin bone. Measuring Megan's Lipizzan in the same way, her numbers are 7.243 units total coffin bone length, 2.187 units for the DC, yielding a ratio of 30.1%. According to what you report from Bowker, Pauline, both my horse and Megan's would be seriously below the critical minimum....and yet Ollie is not lame, does not have heels that are collapsed forward to shorten the back of the foot, and does strike on the heel both at the walk and at the pace and canter. Maybe I still have not correctly understood how to measure?

2. Photo of left forefoot showing width between the bulbs and the depth of the DC. I can't take a photo with one hand and also hold the fetlock hairs up and also caliper the heels all at once, so I'll just tell you that the calipered depth is about an inch and three-quarters (4 cm). The texture is firm, firmer than HD foam, but not leathery. The left foot has been Ollie's "more lame" foot, i.e. when he is lame he's always lamer on this side.

3. Photo of right forefoot, same view as no. 2. Calipered depth of DC is about 5 cm (two inches).

4. Photo of left hind foot, same view as nos. 1 and 2, with calipered DC depth of only an inch (2.6 cm)! Pauline, you report Bowker said that the DC on the hind feet is almost always greater than that in the forefeet, but this is certainly not the case with Ollie! Yvonne suggested to me also that perhaps Ollie's reluctance to trot and to canter under saddle might relate to a hind limb issue. Perhaps this will now prove to be so; but I wonder also if this is not another chicken-and-egg deal, because I also know for a fact that the man who bred my horse and started him under saddle 14 years ago believed that gaited horses destined for the show ring should not canter under saddle. Ollie still tries to tell me I'm breaking the law when I ask him to canter, even though he can canter perfectly well. So as with the horse that is confined to a stall and therefore fails to move and to develop a thick DC, perhaps the horse that is not REGULARLY ASKED to pick up a canter under saddle from a walk or halt finds it uncomfortable to do so, not merely because that's heavy lifting for the muscles and joints.

All entirely fascinating and helpful -- your comments are welcome. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

Attachment: Forum Oliver DC thickness Lt fore XRay 2-2010.jpg (Downloaded 1011 times)

DrDeb
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Left fore photo showing heels

Attachment: Forum Oliver DC thickness Lt fore 4-2010.jpg (Downloaded 1013 times)

DrDeb
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Right fore photo showing heels

Attachment: Forum Oliver DC thickness Rt fore 4-2010.jpg (Downloaded 1014 times)

DrDeb
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Left hind showing heels

Attachment: Forum Oliver DC thickness Lt hind 4-2010.jpg (Downloaded 1012 times)

Charlotte
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Thank you Pauline, I'm reading with great interest  - spring seems to finally have sprung here in the UK and I'm pulse-checking in earnest. I'm already feeding mag, salt and toxin binder.

I'm wondering how much chromium you fed per bodyweight and did you give it in a specific ratio with the magnesium? Many thanks in advance.

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Pauline-was there a change in weather from the first photo to the second? I assume there would be.

Could that also account for the changes?

Pauline Moore
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Dr Deb:

This morning I spoke with my vet friend whom you know, a hoof 'n' tooth specialist who also attended both Bowker seminars as I wanted to be sure my understanding was the same as hers.

You have measured the coffin bone/DC lengths and arrived at proportions that are roughly the same that I got just using a ruler on the screen.  Yes, both Ollie and Megan's horse have DC lengths that fall short of Bowker's recommended minimum but Ollie is not lame.  The photos and depth measurements of his DCs also indicate that he does not have a well developed, substantial back-of-the-foot - he does not have collapsed or underrun heels, he does heel-strike on a sandy surface.

I heard Bowker say several times 'a sound foot is not necessarily a good foot' and was puzzled about what that meant - if a horse is sound what else could we want?  It became clearer after this last seminar.  The horse we look at today who is sound is less likely to remain sound throughout his life if he does not have well-developed DCs and ungal cartilages. The reduced capacity to absorb impact shock and reduced perfusion through the foot is likely to eventually result in one or more pathologies somewhere in the foot.  Bowker also repeated several times, particularly in discussions about navicular issues, that it is a 'whole foot' problem not just isolated to the heels - ditto most other foot problems. Regarding Ollie, what are your thoughts about why he has developed ringbone and maybe also the start of some sidebone?  The usual suspects are poor foot balance and/or crookedness but we know this cannot apply to Ollie - you are pedantic about hoofcare and you have made him straight as shown in some of the lovely photos you've posted recently - so, do you think it's possible that his weak DCs and UCs have not given him enough support, perhaps especially on the wobbly, sand substrate you've told us he was living on for some time?

My vet friend mentioned this morning something from the most recent Bowker seminar that I had totally missed but remained prominent in her memory as it puts a question mark on the suitability of sand arena surfaces.  Bowker has done a study which found that horses living on a soft, sandy surface have reduced perfusion through the pedal bone very similar to horses with peripherally loaded feet.   It would be very interesting to know if there is a higher incidence of bony changes in the feet of horses living/working on sand such as the area where Ollie used to live.

I do not remember Bowker making any comment about hind feet DCs being more developed than front feet - I think Adam mentioned something about this on the other thread but do not know if it came from Bowker.  Anyhow, I measured my own horses' hind feet DC depth this morning and like you, found they are all thinner in their hind feet.  Comparisons below:

Rory - 19 yrs
LF  55mm
LH  45mm

RF  51mm
RH  45mm

Sol - 6 yrs
LF  60mm
LH  52mm

RF  64mm
RH  51 mm

Gante - 12 yrs
LF  69mm
LH  60mm

RF  73mm
RH  60mm

The photo below is of the left forefoot of my 12-yr old horse who has a DC & frog depth of 69mm.  He has the best feet of the 3 of them, real 'rock-crushers' although Bowker doubts such horses exist.  The back of his foot is huge in comparison to overall size.  Just last week I met the person who bred this horse - she told me that for the first 17 months of his life he was running wild over rocky, mountain country - perhaps that explains his excellent feet.  When my vet has time to bring her x-ray machine over here, I'm intending to do all 3 of them - the 19 yr old to see how his pedal bones have coped with 18 yrs of less than ideal feet and the 12 yr old to see just how closely his internal measurements accord with Bowker's findings.

Best wishes - Pauline


 

Attachment: Gante LF 11.4.10 DSC01194a.JPG (Downloaded 970 times)

Pauline Moore
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Charlotte - Not much research has been done on chromium for horses, my supplier consulted a well-respected equine nutritionist here who sent back information that a maximum of 5mg per day for a 550kg horse is regarded as safe.  Chromium is one of those minerals that can be toxic in excess so I'm careful not to exceed this 5mg per day - my horses all weigh more than 550kg so I figure this gives me a bit of a safety margin.  I also feed brewers yeast for the B vitamins but that also contains a small amount of chromium so it's important to account for chromium from all sources until any further research proves that higher amounts are safe.  I use chromium yeast - this is yeast that has been grown in a chromium-rich environment - 5 grams (1 tsp) of chromium yeast contains 5mg of pure chromium.  I change the amount of magnesium depending on grass/weather conditions, always seeking to feed the least amount possible to achieve the desired effect.  Trial and lots of error has taught me I must increase magnesium on the day it starts raining, not wait for the new grass shoots to appear a couple of days later.  When the ground dries out again I drop the amount back down again.  This works for the conditions I have here but may be different in your part of the world - there are no foolproof rules, let your horses tell you what they need.

Leah - this horse has been with me for 13 years, 3 different properties with differing soil types but all within a 2hr drive of each other.  Over those 13 years we have regularly been though cyclical droughts and floods - times of no pasture, times of abundance.  Previously he has always been at his best in drought, the more severe the drought the better he was.  Starting towards the end of last year, we have had more rain than in the past decade, the very conditions when he is usually at his worst.  Knee-deep grass which has been seeding for the last month or so, damp conditions that are ideal for mycotoxin growth.  He is better now than in the worst of the droughts we ever had and has never before changed in digital cushion size and function - this change is dramatic. 

Best wishes - Pauline

DrDeb
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Pauline, I fixed the measurement on Sol in your original post.

To answer the question you asked in your last: yes, there is definitely a higher incidence of ringbone among horses living on the sand. It's interesting that Bowker finds diminished circulatory perfusion in horses living on sand, comparable to horses that are standing too much on the rim, because the sand does nothing but push up into the soles, letting the rims cut in, so I don't understand that result. My interpretation of the ringbone is that it develops not from abnormalities in the more distal part of the foot; the ringbone is above and outside of the capsule anyway. The cause of ringbone is, just as you say, usually to be attributed to trim that is mediolaterally unlevel, so that you get one side of the foot striking early and the other side late. The late side experiences 'jerk' which affects all the collateral ligaments and the extensor process of the suspensory ligament, and this hyperstimulates the osteoblasts living in the periosteum where these ligaments attach, so that they start calcifying the ligament fibers where they root into the periosteum. Sand footing, because it is unstable, creates exactly the same effect, even in feet that if you took the horse out of the sand and stood him up on concrete, would have feet that were trimmed in perfect ML balance. Long and short is that I'm glad I finally moved my horses out of the sand.

I want to say that we are DEFINITELY 'going somewhere' with this discussion, for anyone else reading it. I am interested in Pauline's on-farm experiments and results, and I'm also interested in what Dr. Bowker is saying, for a reason. And this reason is: years ago, I began teaching students that a normal foot is shaped like a section of a tilted cone. This means that the tubules of the heel in a horse's foot should always be at least a little more upright than the tubules of the toe. It also would demand that we regard any flexure in the line of the coronet band as being abnormal; or to put it the other way around, the line of the coronet band should be straight. The coronet band should be described in 3 dimensions as tracing the edge of a single plane passing through the coronet of the toe and bulbs of heel.

Another way to view this is that there should be no 'zone of impingement' of the tubules in the quarters. There should be no flare that has been forced into the quarters by the forward migration or forward collapse of the heels. Ovnicek puts it that the bars should not be 'curly', i.e. warped into an 'S' shape due to the heels pressing forward against them from the rear. This all is discussed in the 2003 "Inner Horseman" back issue disk on orthopedic principles in farriery.

Now, when Pauline says I am 'pedantic' about hoof trim, that's an understatement I think my farrier would say and LOL. But I don't really need to lean on my farrier to do things right; he's taught me a lot, and I think he's a brilliant trimmer. I have seen Bob Anderson take a horse with totally ruined feet -- heels completely crushed under, no depth of sole, no depth to the foot as a whole, angle way too low like a duck's foot, and in about three years of just doing nothing more than "winning a little bit" with each trim, cause the foot to reshape itself to normal again.

Now, by 'normal' here I mean that the tubules of the heel are no less than parallel to the tubules of the toe, that the toe and wall depth are appropriate for the size and weight of horse, that there is no rotation either + or - in the coffin bone, and the horse moves sound without shoes.

HOWEVER this business of the thickness and rearward extent of the digital cushion are factors that I had not considered before. I listened to a Bowker talk myself some years ago, where he talked about sole depth in feral mustangs vs. domestic horses. The sole depth and DC factors appear now to work the same: which is in a nutshell to say, 'the more the better'.

In this series of posts, I therefore put up a couple more examples that ought to provoke us to some more thinking.

The first set is an X-Ray of the right fore and accompanying photos of the external appearance of a feral mustang from Nevada, a horse that never saw a day on soft ground in its life. All the substrate where it lived is glacial outwash rock, or pediments formed by the avulsion of Pleistocene lakes, or 'deflation terrains' created by the wind which is constantly blowing sand-sized particles away; or else outright basalt rock or other outcropping bedrock. There are some 'sand blows' on that range too, but they're the size of swimming pools and the horses roll in them, they don't run on them.

The second is an X-Ray of old Painty that I dug up. This was taken years ago, after he had been in bar shoes for years. The shoes were removed in order to take the XRay. This was right after I'd hired Bob, and he requested XRays before beginning, so he'd have the best chance of forming a good treatment plan for Painty.

Now I would like you-all to look at all of these as I have, and ask where we are going to find a foot that has more than about 35% 'heel extent', i.e. the ratio between length of coffin bone measured parallel to its solar plane : total length from toe of coffin bone to farthest apparent posterior edge of the bulb of heel. I don't see as much difference as my enthusiasm for Bowker's ideas would make me wish! One would expect the mustang to present a paradigmatic example, but it does not -- you can see this with your eyes, plus here are the measurements:

Mustang: 1.483 units heel length/4.412 units total = 34% heel length

Painty: 1.201 units heel length/3.934 units total = 31% heel length

Oliver: 5.661 units heel length/15.108 units total = 37% heel length, i.e. greater than the mustang!

Something must be amiss!! But I still think we're onto something here, and I think Pauline has discovered it. The one thing I definitely DO see in the mustang is an obviously DEEPER digital cushion; look at the external photos, rear view, and compare that to the equivalent views of Oliver and Pauline's horses, even her best 'rock stomper'. And of course, look at the solar view of the mustang....with its amazingly big, wide frog.

So here, I think, is the way to go. I tried to get some kind of estimate of DC depth or its volumetric size by measuring on the XRays, but there is no reliable way to see anything really but the cartilages. You don't see the DC itself. So this needs to be calipered from the outside. Now we'll have to guesstimate for the mustang, but I would be willing to say that at minimum he would have calipered 7 cm, i.e. about twice as thick or deep as Oliver and more than even Pauline's best.

I also think that the most useful thing to compare this thickness against is not any dimension of the foot, but the horse's weight. So, for exmple, if we have:

Oliver -- 1050 lbs. with 4 cm DC (worst forefoot) he would 'score' 3.8 cm DC per 1,000 lbs. weight.

Painty -- 1300 lbs. with 5 cm DC (worst forefoot) = 3.8 cm DC per 1,000 lbs. weight

Mustang -- 900 lbs. with 7 cm DC (estimated) = 7.7 cm DC per 1,000 lbs. weight

....and Pauline, please if you will do this calculation for your four so that we can compare.

What is SO interesting here is that we are liable to wind up concluding that a horse has to have at least (let us say) 3.5 cm DC per1000 lbs. weight. This is in exact parallel to what we previously found we have to have in terms of bone-tendon circumference, i.e. the absolute minimum for very heavy horses is 5.5 in./1,000 lbs. mass, the minimum for racehorses is 7.0 in/1,000 lbs. weight, and the desirable amount for riding horses is 8.0 in/1,000 lbs. weight; while the feral/wild populations continue to show not less than 9, and often as much as 14 in. of "bone" per 1,000 lbs. weight, in other words, from a third-again to twice as much as the domestic population.

Now I want to go about pinching every heel I can get a caliper on! This would be just as easy and no more impractical than the study we did here before on bone-tendon circumference, which any owner can do externally with no need of XRays.

One of the questions that studies of mustang and brumby feet raise is whether it is even possible for domestic horses to present what feral horses present. For as soon as anyone adopts a mustang and starts keeping him in a pen or a stall, or even under normal conditions on a ranch out West, within a couple of years the mustang's feet reduce in size and thickness, sometimes quite a bit. So there is no question that substrate and mileage upon the substrate is a major determining factor.

That in turn raises the further practical question of, 'OK if I'm keeping a domestic horse under domestic conditions, what kind of foot should I demand.' The answer to this is, I think still, 'the more the better': the thicker the DC, the more substantial 'bone', the greater rearward extent of the back of the foot, the better.

What we have done by just looking at a few feet here is to establish a ballpark parameter for what would be the minimum, i.e. somewhere about 3.5 cm/1,000 lbs. weight for the DC. That's exciting because it is useful and practical!

Everyone's further comments welcome -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

Attachment: Forum Feral Mustang XRay Rt Fore cprsd.jpg (Downloaded 716 times)

DrDeb
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External views of the same foot (right fore) of the same mustang in the above XRay.

Attachment: Forum Feral Mustang med et post cprsd.jpg (Downloaded 714 times)

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Sole view of the same foot (right fore) of the same mustang in the above XRay.

Attachment: Forum Feral Mustang sole Rt Fore cprsd.jpg (Downloaded 714 times)

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Painty's XRay, left forefoot, lateral view. I've had to extrapolate and draw in the heels, since the XRay did not take in the entire foot. You can clearly see the cartilages because Painty had a moderate case of sidebone so the cartilages have diffuse deposits of calcium and are thus fairly radiopaque -- this allows me to draw in the heels fairly accurately.

Attachment: Forum Painty left fore XRay heels extrap cprsd.jpg (Downloaded 714 times)

Leah
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Dr Deb-I am drooling over those photos and rads.

Do you have any others of wild hooves that you would be willing to share to compare?

Also do you know why the Nevada horse was killed and how long he had been captive before he was killed (if at all)?

Last edited on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 09:51 pm by Leah

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Also Dr Deb-this may be somewhere and I missed it.

Would you mind sharing the environment, diet, turnout, etc of your horses? Or more accurately what it was at the time the rads were taken.

I also like having the complete picture when viewing rads and hoof photos.

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Dr Deb - Been pondering on this all day so have a few more comments.

Made some more phone calls to people I know to have been at Bowkers seminars to see if there is something I've missed regarding coffin bone:DC length ratios.  So far no-one can recall hearing how Bowker came to those recommended figures - whether he has actually seen this in a live or dead horse, or whether it's an idealogical extrapolation of what he believes to be optimal.  IIRC he did spend time in the desert (Nevada? with Gene Ovnicek?) looking at feral horses.  I agree with you that it would be hard to imagine a horse with a larger palmar foot than that on the mustang x-ray you posted.  Do you know the age of that mustang?  Did anyone look at his teeth to assess age when he was killed?  I ask because the only possibility I can think of that would explain the mustang's internal ratios being similar to Ollie's would be if he were a young horse, less than 5 years old.  Bowker stated that until 4 to 5 years old the DCs of 'good footed' horses are not differentiated from those of 'bad footed' horses.  It is only after that age that the DC starts to develop fibrocartilage if given the right conditions.

I definitely agree with you that estimates of depth and a feel for texture is more meaningful, particularly if we can relate that to the weight of the horse - brilliant idea!  This would be a very useful 'rule of thumb' so I hope we can motivate as many people as possible to invest in some calipers and go out looking for horses to 'pinch'.  Horses with contracted heels could perhaps be put into a separate category as a DC that is squashed into a tall, thin shape by the pressure of the ungal cartilages would give a misleading impression of being deep.  It would be good if we could find some way to assess texture also - a reasonably deep DC that feels very soft will be mostly fatty tissue with little fibrocartilage.

Here are the scores for my horses based on the flatter foot of the fores and hinds:

Rory - 19 yr old - 1280 lbs
Fore:  51 mm = 3.9 per 1000 lbs
Hind:  45 mm = 3.5 per 1000 lbs

Sol - 6yr old - 1320 lbs
Fore:  60 mm = 4.5 per 1000 lbs
Hind:  51 mm = 3.8 per 1000 lbs

Gante - 12 yr old - 1200 lbs
Fore:  69 mm = 5.7 per 1000 lbs
Hind:  60 mm = 5.0 per 1000 lbs

I've included scores for the hind feet also as I'm thinking there may be some significance in these measurements independent of the front feet. 

Your comments about Ollie's back feet have prodded me to think about this today.  I see a lot of horses whose problems are emanating from their back feet, usually a very obvious collapsed/underrun heel, but not infrequently back feet that look OK until inspected very closely - the degree of discomfort seems disproportionate to the extent of the foot problem but I have not been looking at DCs in the back feet specifically.  When the back feet have a negative plane orientation to the distal phalanx there is usually a distinct, quite sharp 'V' shape to the spine at the point where the withers should be smoothly blending into the back - the horse is bracing his back in a manner that is quite different from bracing due to front end soreness.  Anytime I see that shape to the withers/spine I'll check out the back feet before anything else.  The horse in the photo below does not have underrun back feet (the 'V' in his spine was from bracing due to a toxicity issue that nevertheless made him sore and stiff in his hindquarters - this was resolved and his back returned to its normal smooth shape within 6 weeks) but this horse does have shallow rear DCs and he does not like to canter - prefers to trot.  His owner phoned through DC measurements tonight:

LF - 60 mm
LH - 40 mm

RF - 57 mm
RH - 40 mm

He would weigh at least 1300 lbs which gives him a score of 4.3 for the front foot and 3.0 for the hinds. 

Ollie appears to have a rear DC score of 2.4 - I'm wondering if it is more than co-incidence that 2 horses with rear DC scores less than 3.5 are also 2 horses who do not want to canter.

This is the reverse of the laminitic horse who often prefers to canter because he can more easily get the weight off his front feet.  Do horses with uncomfortable back feet prefer to trot/pace so they can keep the weight off their back feet?

Best wishes - Pauline







Attachment: Hopper Aug 2009_12140180.JPG (Downloaded 684 times)

AdamTill
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I'll contribute more later, but I thought I'd throw up a few images until I get a chance.

First, rehab on heels for one horse. Note the pinched, v-shaped look to the outline of the heels in the before picture, and the wide rounded u-shape in the after. The third is my current horse, who has always had nice wide heels.



Dr Deb's xrays:


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The image of the mustang foot is most helpful.

I have run around doing the pinch test on my equine collection today.  I have taken no measurements but will do so.  All show a deeper DC in the fore feet than the hinds.  A bit of a jackass question but would I use the same 'formula' for small ponies? Enjoying all this information.

Regards Sam

 

DrDeb
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Sam, notice it's not the absolute thickness of the DC that is of interest, but rather the thickness of the DC compared to the weight of the animal that we would be interested in.

This is the same relationship that we focus on when looking at bone-tendon circumference or hoof width (remember the thread from last winter when we had people here participating enthusiastically on that?). It is the ratio between B-T or hoof width (and now DC thickness) vs. weight that is of interest. We want to know how much DC thickness the animal has per thousand pounds of weight or per kilo.

So obviously then it would not matter whether you had a miniature or a Belgian draft. Except in one thing: as with B-T and hoof width, I will predict to you that we are going to find the same thing with DC thickness, i.e. that smaller horses have thicker DC's relative to their weight, and that larger horses have thinner, again relative to their weight.

That's my prediction, based on the fact that that's the way it works for B-T and HW. But! That's the beauty of doing scientific studies: we might find out that I am wrong in this -- that massive weight so greatly stimulates the cells that produce DC tissue that they do, in fact, produce so much of it that it goes up just as the horse's weight goes up. We'll see! -- Dr. Deb

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Hi Dr Deb,

I noticed looking at the Nevada hoof that it does not appear that the heel tubules are more upright than the toe tubules.  I recently attended a webinar with Brian Hampson, PhD candidate with Dr Chris Pollitt from the University of Queensland, who have both been studying the brumby hoof for the last 3 years.  Their data presents that the average toe angle of the desert brumby is 55 degrees, the average heel angle is 44 degrees. 

Perhaps I'm a dolt and have overlooked something, but I've been looking for research reflecting a higher heel angle of a "normal" hoof ~  If you have time, could you point me in the direction? 

Thanks for your time ~christina

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No, Christina, you are not a dolt. There is a difference between studying the biomechanical model -- which is what the hoof-cone is -- and the real measured angles of feet.

An average for a population may tell you a number that not one single horse in that population actually presents. An average is computed from a range of actual measurements. Some of the Brumbies, and some Mustangs, do have heel tubule angles as steep or slightly steeper than the toe angle. Some have heels that are as run-under as you might find in any domestic barn. What are we to make of this reality?

The hoof-cone model is there to clarify for us what the biomechanics and especially the physics of hoof growth and pressures upon the capsule are. And what it tells us is what a hoof capsule would look like if the heels absolutely had no collapse in them at all.

We then look at whatever foot walks up to us and, having studied the model, are enabled to "see" how much collapse there actually is. Whether this needs to be addressed is quite another question, and so is whether having "X" amount of heel collapse is the optimal thing for the horse kept under whatever conditions it finds itself.

Many farriers have had trouble with this whole idea -- i.e. that you can learn very valuable things from a biomechanical model, things that you can carry into daily practice. Instead, what many people try to do is FORCE the model onto the horse. You cannot, of course, do this. What the model does, at base, is teach us that moving the heels back, encouraging the 'back of the foot' to grow, is always desirable, no matter the conditions or type of horse. -- Dr. Deb

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Thanks for chromium info Pauline, much appreciated.

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Everybody -- Just wanted to poke in here to say we had a second go at having boots on Ollie's hind feet this afternoon. As I mentioned, he spent more than an hour the first time really working at trying to kick or stomp those boots off. What I didn't mention was that, as soon as I saw that he had realized that approach was going to be of absolutely no avail, and when I saw that he had resolved himself to take the responsibility for wearing them -- I say as soon as that occurred -- I took them off.

This is crucial, a core principle of training: "release" is great but it is release that occurs at the right time that gets the idea across to the horse, so that he learns it and accepts right down in his guts that this is just how it is going to be -- nothing bad will be allowed to happen to him -- if I should ask him to wear them.

I let one day go by in order to just leave him alone to think about it.

Then I came back today and rode him without any boots. At the end of the schooling session, I turned him loose in the indoor hall, with not even a halter on him. I went and got the boots. I walked up to him and let him smell them so he knew exactly what they were. Then I walked around behind him, asked him to pick up each hind foot in turn, and put the boots on him. Then I stood there petting him a little while. Then I asked him to go ahead and "leave", i.e. move away from me, at walk, "trot" (pace in Ollie's case), gait, and canter.

Not a single protest, not so much as a tail-swish, complete relaxation and equanimity the entire time, and 100% compliance with whatever I asked, just as in the preceding schooling ride.

This is what it means to get a horse to completely let go of his own ideas about something, and accept instead our idea. My idea about the boots is now also Ollie's idea. This is how you train but also maintain the friendship between you, or we could call that the horse's enthusiasm for being around you.

As soon this afternoon as Ollie had run through all gaits, both directions -- which took all of about five minutes -- I took the boots off again. Now I shall be able to put them on (or take them off) anytime I wish until my animal dies, and now can begin riding him with them on the hind feet, so as to report any differences that they may make in the "feel", especially during "up" transitions. -- Dr. Deb

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A few more thoughts on this subject.

Yesterday I went to see a horse I first met some 18 months ago.  He is a TB now 7, retired from racing at 3 yrs as a cripple with bowed tendons in both front limbs.  His front feet were huge but not the bell-shaped, flat feet often seen in TBs.  The heels were badly underrun, the walls tracing a straight line from hairline to ground all round with no obvious flare.  The soles were deeply cupped cranial to the apex of the frog with no distinct junction between sole and wall - it looked like the sole had been dragged downwards in a sharp curve at the toe to meet the ground.  The overall hoof was wider across the quarters than in length. 

It did not need x-rays to know the orientation of the coffin bone planes were steeply negative at the heels, resulting in the deep solar cupping at the toe.   The entire hoof wall was one big flare all the way around with a wide chunk of lamellar wedge extending from quarter to quarter - hence no real sole/wall junction.  This horse is also highly susceptible to laminitis, having had several mild bouts since I've known him.

We have made a lot of progress but there is still some way to go.  The heels are now back where they should be beneath the line of the canon bones, the solar cupping has finally just about gone with just a tiny remnant of lamellar wedge to grow out.  The overall size of the hoof has reduced to dimensions that are appropriate to the size of the horse.  Remarkably, this horse was was not lame when I first met him and is not lame now (other than periods when laminitis has reappeared) - he even heel-strikes on the soft turf of his paddock.  He lives on the side of a hill with minimal flat ground, delighting in flying up and down the steep gradient at a fast canter - this horse is not keen on trot, much prefers to canter even on his flat sand arena.

Measurements:

TB, 7 yrs old, 16 h, weight: 1280 lbs
Bone/tendon: 9.5"

Digital cushion/frog:

LF 51 mm
LH 46 mm

RF 48 mm
RH 48 mm

This gives him a score of 3.7 for the forefeet and 3.5 for the hinds.  As you can see, there is very little difference between front and back digital cushion depths.  However, there is a difference in texture.  The fronts feel very firm, rather like the feel of a tight muscle, (eg rhomboideus) with no 'give'.  The rear DCs feel more elastic, there is some recoil or bounce - 'like a trampoline' as the owner of the bay horse above puts it.

Although this horse just scrapes over the line on our current thoughts about minimum depth/1000 lbs bodyweight he probably exemplifies Prof Bowker's comments about a 'sound foot not necessarily being a good foot'.  He is paddock sound at the moment but I think would be unlikely to remain sound if he was in any kind of regular work, he needs more cushioning support and protection, in his front feet especially.

Thinking that we do need to take into account differences in texture as well as measurement, it seems the simplest way to do this is to compare front and back DCs on each horse as I think this could serve as a mirror for how the horse has been choosing to use his feet, and indeed his whole body.

The horse I saw yesterday has had good reason to load his back feet rather than his fronts for at least the past 4 years, probably longer - bowed tendons and laminitis, little wonder he prefers canter - his DCs reflect this, the hinds are more functional than the fronts although of similar dimensions.

I don't think it is particularly important as to what historically caused the horse to prefer back or front feet loading - as in all other areas of horsemanship we are dealing with the horse as he presents himself to us today.  Once any outright pathologies have been fixed (like bowed tendons, laminitis or whatever) we can start encouraging the horse to load whichever set of feet have the weakest DCs - using boots, pads etc and appropriate ridden and/or ground exercises.   Sam - really can't answer your question about how long it takes - too many variables for each individual horse.

The owner of the bay horse in the photo above tells me the deeper front DCs feel like HD foam, a trampoline that springs back to the original shape.  The rear DCs feel soft, like a worn-out kitchen sponge with no elasticity.  Will report on the back-boots experiment in a couple of days when we can be sure results are consistent.  Apparently this horse was broken-in very forecfully, tight side-reins, driven 'forward' etc - maybe he learned that loading his back feet properly was 'against the rules' just as Ollie may have learned that cantering under saddle was forbidden - either way, it would appear these horses may have never learned to weight their back feet in a way that stimulates DC growth.

This morning I prodded and poked my own horses again to assess difference between front and back DCs:

Rory - 19 yr old:
All 4 DCs have a similar feel, rather like a doubled-over gelpad, very slightly firmer in front.

Sol - 6 yr old:
Front DCs feel like HD foam, backs are like gelpad, same as Rory

Gante - 12 yr old:
All 4 DCs feel like HD foam, identical texture, firm but elastic

I don't know if we should be aiming for similar depths and similar textures in back and front feet - perhaps this will become clear as we gather more data.

Best wishes - Pauline


Best wishes - Pauline







Leah
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Dr Deb, I am not sure what kind of boots you are using but I do know some horses have actual pain from the design of certain boots.

Depending on the build of the leg and hoof (heel height, etc) certain boots (even if 'fitted' by measurement) create heel pain.

Obviously I am sure you can recognize this but I mention this for others following along.

It caught me by surprise when I first realized the boots could actually be creating some problems.

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Leah, Ollie was not kicking because the boots were hurting him in any manner. He was kicking because, in his conception, they "did not belong there", in the same way that a big clob of mud might not belong there.

You did notice, did you not? that once he quit trying to kick them off, that he was taking a deeper, firmer step with the hind feet while wearing them? That would be a good way to tell if any boot was hurting the horse or not. If the boots hurt the horse, the horse will shorten rather than lengthen his step, and will tip either forward or backward or to the side -- whichever way works for whatever feet the boots are on -- in order to get weight OFF of them rather than onto them. -- Dr. Deb

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OK, folks, here's a little report on riding Ollie with the boots on his hind feet this afternoon.

First I took him to the schooling arena with no boots, warmed him up, and then asked him to give me his entire movement repertory "in brief". This includes every kind of bending and lateral work at a walk, ditto at "trot" (pace in Ollie's case), some straightforward stepping-pace, rein back, and Spanish Walk. At all of which he was, as usual, sound and willing. But this 30-minute segment had to be done so as to have a "baseline", not only my memory of what Ollie "normally" feels like, but specifically a baseline for him on this very day, with the footing in the particular condition it was in.

Then I put the boots on his hind feet and went through the entire repertory again. And there was an immediate discernable improvement.

I compare this to riding him with the boots on his fore hoofs two months ago, upon which I reported little or no positive results.

This is now very interesting. Ollie did not just up and offer to trot, and I did not, upon this first ride, ask him to canter under saddle. But that will soon be the case, and we will see how he responds.

Now I am wondering -- I have high-density foam inserts in the boots. Pauline, what would you advise? Should I:

1. Look for some firmer type of foam in order to stimulate digital cushion thickening?

2. Look for some softer type of foam instead?

3. Figure out some way to embed little marbles or something of the sort in the foam, so as to provide texture for more stimulation? Maybe we could embed one of those rubber curry-combs in there!

4. Should I ride the horse in the foam boots all the time, I mean, once he is conditioned to them? It seems to me that if any horse has been avoiding fully weighting his hind legs for years, that one should work up to it rather gradually -- I would say a program of about two months' duration should be sufficient. This would mean that I must delay really serious work with the hind boots until I get back from my visit to Australia/New Zealand in late May.

I also want to add -- it is necessary to remember that, even without boots, Oliver is not a horse that is in any OBVIOUS way "dumping onto the forehand": as the attached photo shows, this horse clearly places his hind hoofs well up under the body and bends the hind joints -- he more clearly "sits" when he moves than any other horse I've ever personally owned. The feel without boots is already good. Nonetheless, it is always possible for a four-legged animal to find ways of redistributing to the forefeet some of the weight that might have gone into the hind feet. In fact, I believe that MOST horses do this, especially American-bred horses, for the great majority bred here have hocks of only minimally sufficient width.

So what we are liable to find out is how talented Oliver actually is; and I also anticipate that he will canter under saddle more readily with the boots on. Comments and other people doing the same experiment with their horses are welcome! -- Dr. Deb

Attachment: Forum Oliver sitting down in gait 2-2010 cprsd.jpg (Downloaded 715 times)

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This is getting more interesting by the day!

First, I'll give you an interim report on the bay horse as it may be a week before I can say anything conclusively.  His owner has done everything as cautiously as possible, commencing on Wednesday afternoon.  The horse was warmed up and worked lightly from the ground without boots, much as you did with Ollie.  Unlike Ollie, this horse made no objection to the presence of boots on his back feet so he was asked for a couple of walk/trot transitions and then a couple of trot/canter transitions in each direction - no more than 10 minutes in total with the boots on.  This horse has a different nature to Ollie, 'obliging' is not a word that comes to mind; when something isn't right he doesn't hold back from making his opinion known.

The first change the owner noticed was that the horse did not put his ears back when going into the canter - apparently this had always been his habit.  He even offered to go into canter which his owner could not recall ever happening before.   She also noticed that there was 'more up-and-down movement' in his rump and that his hocks were flexing more than she had seen previously.

Intending to repeat the exact same sequence on Thursday afternoon, his owner found he was sore and stiff at a walk in her arena, he was also reluctant to pick up his hind feet for cleaning, snatching the foot away - something he never does usually.  She very wisely decided to leave him be and will re-assess later this afternoon.  Despite all her care it appears this horse enthusiastically used his body in an entirely different way once he felt the comfort of his rear boots.  I'm hoping this will be just the sort of soreness we feel when we go for a run or a session at the gym after a long absence, but it may be a few days before he can have another trial with the boots.

Bob Bowker spoke of seeing this in many horses - he would tape soft foam tubes to their feet so the foam would extend as far as the outer heel bulbs; the horses would  immediately step out with a heelstrike and then 10 strides later pull up hopping lame.  Too much too soon!

There is no doubt that Ollie is weighting himself beautifully when you ride - I've never seen a photo otherwise - but, as you say, horses are such wizards at hiding what parts of their feet are taking the most weight that it is impossible for us to see without a treadmill and an array of lab equipment.  It may also be that he is weighting his hind feet entirely correctly when in pace but finds it more difficult to do so in trot and canter - hence his preference, but the short time per day or week in which he does weight correctly is not long enough to provide significant DC stimulation.

Given you have seen a distinct difference, I would stay with the hd foam pads you are currently using - they will crush down and soften anyway before too long so you will have to keep replacing them.  As they soften you will have an opportunity to see what Ollie likes best.  I would definitely not get anything firmer.

The longer Ollie can wear his boots and pads the better - not just when you ride, but you should certainly use them every time you ride until Ollie has grown enough DC that he no longer needs them.  Would it be possible for your barn manager to put them on in the morning so that he is wearing them for turnout and then take them off again at night?  He cannot have them on 24/7 - the skin will become soft and fragile, but half or more of each day would be very good.  If this can be arranged, he could continue to get the benefit even when you are away travelling.  It would probably be better to work up to longer hours of wearing them, say, a couple of hours to start with and then after a while include turnout time so he is not tempted to do cartwheels in them until his body has adjusted - the bay horse only had them on for 10 minutes but was sore next day, however he is not accustomed to weighting his back feet in the way that Ollie does at pace so Ollie will be less likely to become sore than most horses, I think.

Best wishes - Pauline





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Well, I will tell you a funny story that is an exact reflection of this. Some years ago I was giving my friends M.J. and Linda lessons at the old barn where I used to have Painty. These women are both quite experienced riders and M.J. really is a fine rider and trainer with quite a few years' experience. Both Linda and I had horses at the old barn, but M.J. would borrow one from Linda when she came down to ride with us.

The lessons took the form of developing a pas de trois for the three of us to display at the summer show they always held. The horse that Linda loaned M.J. was a big handsome Trakehner that had come to her -- as almost all her horses -- because it was only about 3/4ths sound.

A lot of Linda's "freebies" were lame in the right fore because we live near Oakdale, California, which bills itself "The Cowboy Capital of the World," and it is true there are about ten gazillion horses around here employed in team roping, and the "header" horse almost always winds up getting retired because it goes lame in the right fore. Nobody ever said that PRCA ropers could ride -- their horses are essentially motorcycles with legs. CROOKED motorcycles with legs, I should say.

But I digress. This Trakehner, not being a roper, was also not lame in the right fore; he was lame on the right hind. The lameness took the form of a mild "offness", plus the animal had a marked preference to circle right and to take the right lead....which always hints to me that the whole problem might be that the horse has been allowed to travel crooked, doing most of the work off its left hind leg. So I said to M.J., 'untrack him from left to right,' in other words leg-yield from left to right. And she did so, and after four or five steps then I said, 'now go the other way', and she did so.

I had her work back and forth doing little zigzags at leg-yield, and twirl the head, and after just a few minutes, the horse very much started to loosen up. And then I said, 'OK, have him leg-yield left to right while you circle left', in other words 'expand the circle' to the left hand. And as she did so, the horse turned loose and became completely straight. Its neck softened, the base rose, he lengthened his topline and 'came over the top', his whole body being pushed elastically off the powerful downward thrust of the individual hind legs, which were now working equally.

"Wheeeee!!" said M.J., instantly perceiving the great increase in the energy that was coming through, as well as the height of the suspension and the degree of overall elasticity. I grinned and said, 'now, M.J., you can go fifty steps that way -- no more -- then you must walk and let him rest.' And figuring she'd know what I meant and why I said that, I turned away from her and started on something else with Linda.

Sixty-five steps later, suddenly I hear a thundering ruckus behind me and I turned around to see that WB making like a bronc from the Oakdale Rodeo. I mean he had his head between his legs. Too much, too soon!!!!

Happily M.J. is a damned good rider and she stayed on, and we laughed our heads off, and we still laugh about that story today, that M.J. did what Harry always warns students about -- "Don't get greedy!"

So I will be going out to the barn again tomorrow, and yes indeed I definitely intend to check to be sure that I haven't made Ollie sore. I've seen horses born with very crooked hocks, what they call "windswept", who could hardly move well at all, whose backs and necks were screwed up because their weak, mis-shapen hocks hurt them every time they took a step. But I have taken several of these horses and their riders, and had them go through a gradual program, usually again of about two months' duration -- the same essentially as for healing a broken bone -- where we gradually increased the length of the rides, the hardness of the substrate, as well as the degree to which we caused the horse to carry itself upon the hocks; and the result in every case has been that the horse turned out to be useful and sound, sometimes the best darned horse in the barn. You have to work them in order for their bodies to develop.

More tomorrow! -- Dr. Deb

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Yes Dr Deb I did notice-as I said in my post I was certain you knew the difference but was pointing it out for others following along.

Your observation on boot use (regarding your post on the hinds) with Ollie is also very much like those many of us with barefoot horses (many whom are professionals-so the 'data base' for observations is at least several hundred horses).

The solution (booting) and reasoning (the digital cushion) is different from ours-but the change in comfort in what was a seemingly very comfortable barefoot horse (as you said-no obvious posture issues, etc) is the same.


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Dr Deb and Pauline,

  I measured my TB x Belgium draft's DC and got 6 cm for 3 out of 4 feet, the right front being 6.8 cm. They are firm and elastic, he is out on pasture most of the time, unless it is storming or the grass is too rich, as it is now. The frogs get a little ragged in the wet winters. He lands heel first and will canter.
     I thought you might be interested in a heavier horse's DC, he is around 1650 lbs, and 19 years old.
  Pauline, you are always so generous with your information, we are always trying to do your stretches.
       The first photo is of his left front, the flatter of the two front.
                                      Jeannie

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This photo is of his right hind.

Attachment: Rt Back.JPG (Downloaded 632 times)

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Jeannie - thank you so much for doing this, very interesting to see a different type of foot.  Your boy scores 3.6 for both front and back feet.  I've set up a spreadsheet to collate measurements from as many horses as possible and have been entering height and bone-tendon measurements as well - would love to have these extra details so I can include them on the sheet if that's OK with you.

I'm intending to make a nuisance of myself by turning up at local shows, pony club meets etc asking to measure any horses present - would like to look at as many different types and sizes as I can find.

Best wishes - Pauline

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Pauline,  his b-t is 10 1/2 inches, his height 16.3 hands. I'm happy to help out in the information department, and will be looking at feet with a new eye now.
                                       Jeannie

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My Icelandic (weight 900-1000 lbs) measures:

LF - 4.5

RF - 4.6

LH - 3.2

RH - 3.4

BT - 7 3/8 inches

H - 14hh

Might have to organize some boots for him to try what you folks were discussing...sounds interesting.

 

Last edited on Tue Apr 20th, 2010 01:17 pm by AdamTill

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Adam, with respect to boots -- somewhere in one of these threads you mentioned several brands, and I permitted it because in this type of case, I don't think there is any other way to be clear. Plus none of you is a sales rep for any boot company, so there is no vested interest being pushed.

I will therefore tell you that the boots I have for Ollie are "Boa Boots", that have a dial that tightens a laced cable over a tongue, like the tongue of a shoe, to close them. You asked me previously what I meant by 'collar' -- these boots have a soft, rolled collar at the top similar to what you would find on any sport shoe. They also come with gaiters, but I have ridden him without messing with the gaiters now thirty times, always in footing that is at least somewhat sandy, without getting any significant amount of sand in the boots.

I find that these boots do not pinch the coronet bands, do not abrade the heels, have good but not excessive traction on the undersurfaces, are durable, and are very easy to get on or off. Also, I bought them to fit Ollie's forefeet but with just a little extra snugging up they work perfectly well on the back feet, too. The only slight inconvenience with them is getting the protective "hubcaps" on over the dials, after you've finished tightening -- you have to align the little plastic caps just right or they don't go on easily and/or may come off and be lost.

For $165 USD, I think they're a great deal. The cost seemed cheap to me because you have to compare it to two things: one, what it would cost (around $200 a pop) to have him shod with pads; and two, how extremely large a pain in the ass it is to go out and wrap the feet with duct tape if he has another episode of laminitis. This has to be done at least once every two days, and you can quickly spend $165 just on duct tape. -- Dr. Deb

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Hi Dr Deb,

I might have misunderstood, but that's what I had thought you had requested with the boot discussion. A lot of the designs are close enough in description but far apart enough in function that you can't really meaningfully discuss them without naming names, but I wouldn't otherwise mention brand names here.

Your Boa's are what I had mistakenly called Old Macs before someone corrected me - too many out there to keep straight sometimes! They're the ones I generally recommend for folks that have horses with roundish feet, and/or want boots that are really easy to get on and off. 

The "downside" to Boas is that you have to be careful tightening the cable dial, since folks that buy the wrong size and try to prevent them from twisting by cranking down the dial have sometimes resulted in scars at the coronet from the underside of the crank. Like any boot, however, if they fit properly without twisting BEFORE the crank gets done up, then overtightening isn't an issue.

My horse seems to have picked up a bug somewhere that the vet's coming out to check, since he keeps stretching out as if to urinate without being able to, even with a clean sheath/no back issues etc etc. After he's feeling better, I plan to play around with pads on his hinds. If it works, then I'll try casting the pads on, so he can wear them for a few weeks in the field.

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Hi Pauline,

I have measured my 3 horses:

Solo 15.3hh, 1,030lbs, 10yo, Anglo-Arab, never shod, occasional use of hoofboots, no lameness

B-T 8.5" = 8.25"/1,000lbs

DC LF 5.8cm = 5.6/1,000lbs; RF 5.9cm = 5.7/1,000lbs

      LH 5.6cm = 5.4/1,000lbs; RH 5.6cm = 5.4/1,000lbs

fronts feel like firm gel pad, hinds a bit firmer

Tango 15hh, 800lbs, 3yo, ArabxASB, never shod, no lameness

B-T 8" = 10"/1,000lbs

DC LF 5.8cms = 7.3/1,000lbs; RF 5.7cms = 7.1/1,000lbs

      LH 4.1cms = 5.1/1,000lbs; RH 4.2cms = 5.3/1,000lbs

fronts and hinds both feel like firm gel pad

Nif 15hh, 890lbs, 24yo, Arab, shod til age 17, then barefoot, never lame through his feet

B-T 8.25" = 9.27/1,000lbs

DC LF 5.5cms = 6.2/1000lbs; RF 5.4cms = 6.1/1,000lbs

      LH 4.8cms = 5.4/1,000lbs; RH 4.5cms = 5.1/1,000lbs

fronts and hinds feel like soft gel pad

 

I hope this is helpful! I will be interested to see how the 3yo's statistics change as he matures

Dorothy

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Thank you Adam & Dorothy for the measurements.

Adam - what was your assessment of texture for Tindur and how old is he?  Will be very interested to know if you see any difference in his movement with back boots, hope he is OK re current problem.

Dorothy - looks like Dr Deb's prediction about smaller horses/ponies having relatively deeper DCs could be right, your 3 have good depth relative to their height and weight.

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Tin's 6, going on 7 in a few months. I'd say the consistency of his digital cushions is on the slightly squishy side of firm, but they seem to work fine. Same front and hinds. Lateral cartilages are good and firm - can't shear the heel bulbs at all by hand.

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AdamTill wrote:  - can't shear the heel bulbs at all by hand.

What do you mean here Adam?  Thanks Kathy

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Very interesting discussion. I have been going around looking closely at digital cushions since reading this thread. When you are measuring, where are you putting the calipers on the frog. I can see that you have it in the cleft of the frog, but what difference does it make if the horse has just shed his frog, or has a very full frog, like the wild horse, should this be included in the measurement of the digital cushion. Yvonne Miller

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Hello Yvonne - When doing the DC measurements I did not put the lower prong of the calipers right down into the cleft/central sulcus of the frog as this is too variable - some horses have no cleft, some have great depth, so for the sake of maintaining a modicum of consistency between horses, or changes on the same horse from foot to foot or changes over time, I used an imaginary line that traversed the back of the frog from the most caudal part of the two heel buttresses.  On some horses, like the chestnut in the photos, this meant the lower prong of the calipers was not actually touching anything.  Not very accurate, but the best I could think of at the time!

As mentioned previously, I think the real value is in comparisons - between back and front feet on the same horse, and between horses to calculate approximate DC depths per 1000lbs of bodyweight to assess relationship between depth and longterm soundness of the horse.

Best wishes - Pauline


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Hello Everyone

It’s more than 2 years since this discussion appeared to have been abandoned; this is because I needed to sidetrack in a direction I had not expected. I’ve been collecting data and documenting experiences with many horses ever since and am now able to show that, for some horses, adjusting diet has produced positive changes to the internal structures of the hoof.

Those changes include digital cushion (DC) depth & texture, sole thickness,
positioning of the pedal bone relative to the hoof capsule, and even some bone regeneration.

Summarized below, in separate posts, are the histories of two specific horses over some 10 years. Each has presented huge, quite different challenges but they are representative of many other horses where there is not such extensive documentation. One of the horses has genetically very strong feet, the other does not. One has significant bone loss, the other has excellent strong bone. One grazed high-oxalate pasture for a long time, the other did not. Their stories are not what would be expected. Both are now entirely free from any problems in feet or body and have no need for shoes or boots on any terrain. Both live out 24/7 on lush pasture, with no need for hay.

Thank you to everyone who sent me DC measurements for their horses. As predicted by Dr Deb, smaller horses do generally have more depth of DC than larger, heavier horses, and usually a more elastic DC texture also. For instance, a comparison of 12 small ponies (mostly Shetlands) with 12 draft horses (mostly Clydesdales):

Ponies:
Av. height 9 h
Av. weight 205kg
Av. DC depth 31mm

Drafts:
Av. height 17 h
Av. weight 755kg
Av. DC depth 71mm

The ponies averaged 15mm of DC depth per 100kg of bodyweight. The drafts averaged 9.5mm of DC depth per 100kg of bodyweight.

As will become apparent, DC depth can be used to track changes in the way a horse uses his feet and his body, and also as a guide for how the horse has been using his body previously. This can be a useful tool for therapists, farriers and horse-owners when attempting to find the primary cause of problems that have not required a veterinary diagnosis.

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HOPPER’S STORY

Hopper is a WB gelding born 1999, acquired as a 4-yr old by his current owner. He is the bay horse whose photo appears earlier in this thread. He has excellent quality hoof horn, has never needed shoes, and has never had any hoof deformities such as flares, contracted or underrun heels. He is an easy-keeper and his diet has always been low NSC pasture with a quality V&M supplement. In other words, the best care any knowledgeable owner can give.

Hopper has been mostly unrideable until March of last year. Very light exercise, even lunging, would often result in episodes of tying-up or extreme muscle soreness and stiffness next day. He was also overtly aggressive to both horses and humans, and prone to out-of-the-blue spooking even when not around people. Despite his externally excellent feet and good conformation, he always moved with a short, choppy stride and was reluctant to canter. His hind DCs were 20mm thinner than the fores – a larger than average difference.

The two photos below show what happened within 4 months when a large amount of magnesium was added to his daily diet. There was no change to basic diet or exercise other than removal of some high-potassium herbs that had acted as toxins, exacerbating his chronic body bracing. Note the change in profile of his withers and back, the slope of his croup and angulation of the hind limbs – and the obviously relaxed, calm demeanor. The visible change in body posture occurred because magnesium had allowed his musculature to relax to normal length (calcium triggers muscle contraction, magnesium relaxes muscle). But he still had the short, choppy stride.



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Last edited on Mon May 28th, 2012 04:07 am by Pauline Moore

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HOPPER'S STORY (continued)

Everyone was shocked when radiographs revealed Hopper had significant bone loss inside such externally strong front feet, so it was automatically assumed this must be the reason for the short stride. Below are photos of his feet taken on the same day as the radiographs in June 2010. Note the curved line of the mid-ventral surface of P3 on the lateral view, and the toe deficit and remodelling of the left wing of P3 on the AP view.

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HOPPER'S STORY (continued)

It was found during the first 9 months of 2010 that adding supplemental calcium to Hopper’s diet resulted in a return of his severe body bracing and cranky temperament. When calcium was deleted, he again lost his body bracing and became peacefully quiet and sweet tempered. But he still had the short, choppy stride.
In March 2011 it was found that Hopper was drinking rainwater with a natural pH of 5.5 (most town water supplies test as 7.0 or above). Sodium bicarbonate was added to his drinking water to bring the pH up to around 7.2 and 30g added to his daily feed. Hopper lost his short, choppy stride within 3 days. For the first time in more than 7 years he was able to move his limbs consistently through the full range of motion predicted by his conformation.

There has also been no recurrence of any of the former muscle stiffness or tying-up episodes, even with strenuous exercise, as indicated in the photos below taken 3 months after commencing bicarb. Hopper has also stopped windsucking.

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HOPPER'S STORY (continued)

The changes in the way Hopper uses his body have been reflected in the digital cushions of all 4 feet. All 4 sets of heels have widened, and the digital cushions of his back feet have increased in depth by around 13mm, as shown on the photos below, which were taken 2 yrs apart.

Repeat radiographs in March 2012 show there has been no further bone loss and some bone regeneration.

Hopper, at 13, is finally the sound, calm, problem-free horse he should have been as a 3-yr old.

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Last edited on Mon May 28th, 2012 04:35 am by Pauline Moore

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RORY’S STORY

Rory is a TB gelding born 1990, acquired by me as a 6-yr old. By age 11 his fragile hoof horn and contracted heels could no longer hold a shoe, so I was forced to try boots instead as he was extremely tender on bare, soft earth without any protection. He abscessed in 3 feet within days of the shoes being removed, sole bruising following the shape of the pedal bone clearly showing on all 4 feet.

After a few months he was comfortable for ridden work on grass or sand but needed boots for hard or stony ground. Over the next few years he had multiple mild laminitis episodes, and was found to have Cushings by age 17. Although his hoof structure had improved as the heels decontracted, the soles were still thin and flat, and there was the tell-tale soft swelling around the coronet indicating the bone was sited low within the capsule.

Rory is hard to keep weight on, and his quiet nature easily disrupted by even small amounts of sugar or starches, so feeding him has been quite a challenge. He grazed high-oxalate setaria pasture for over 8 years with little or no supplemental calcium and increasingly large amounts of magnesium.

Improvements to his digital cushion depth occurred after chromium was added to his diet and are clear in the photos of about 2 years ago, (shown earlier in this thread). This has enabled him to move with a confident heel-first landing at all paces on hard ground, when appropriate.

After the postponement of this discussion, further dramatic improvements to his overall hoof structure occurred within weeks after I changed from magnesium oxide to magnesium chloride in September 2010. The coronet swelling disappeared and the soles of all his feet formed a smooth, strong dome shape as he shed all built-up callousing.

The photo below was taken in October 2010, after 3 weeks of heavy rain at the beginning of Queensland’s wettest summer on record. I had never before seen the spotted pigmentation on his soles as this had previously been hidden under layers of deep protective callousing. That pigmentation has remained visible ever since; he no longer has any need for excessive callousing.

There is also no longer any deterioration in his feet through spring and summer, regardless of weather conditions. Another change was in trimming intervals. Prior to using magnesium chloride, Rory could not go more than 2 weeks between trims in summer, 4 in winter. He now easily lasts 4 weeks in summer, 6 weeks or more in winter.

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RORY'S STORY (continued)

Rory, at nearly 22, is now completely sound on all surfaces without shoes or boots. His feet are structurally strong, both internally and externally, as shown in the photos and radiographs below. The soles, frogs and bars of his feet have not been touched by a hoof knife in years, the domed shape has formed naturally and is self-maintaining.

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RORY'S STORY (continued)

Despite grazing oxalate grasses for a long period, with no high-calcium feeds, little if any supplemental calcium and large quantities of magnesium, Rory has excellent bone for his age and history. A recent traumatic injury which came close to ripping off the lateral hoof capsule did not fracture bone, as would have been expected.

This winter photo from a year ago shows him in good weight, trotting on a hard surface, happy to heel-strike, with a soft, brace-free body. It is now not so difficult to keep weight on him through the colder months.

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CONCLUSIONS

For both Hopper and Rory, the resolution of their decade-long soundness issues has been achieved solely through diet. Neither horse has ever been restricted in their 24-hr grazing of lush pasture, so much grass there is no need to provide hay. In addition to pasture, both horses are fed a plain, basic diet of oaten chaff and coconut meal (copra) that effectively masks the bitter flavours of magnesium and chromium. Neither horse is given a commercial or custom-made all purpose vitamin/mineral mix. Both horses receive daily supplemental magnesium chloride, chromium, unrefined seasalt and a prophylactic toxin binder. Both horses drink rainwater that has been adjusted with sodium bicarbonate to a neutral pH. Easy-keeper Hopper does not get too fat; hard-keeper Rory maintains weight more easily.

The surprise with Hopper has been to discover that his life-long short, choppy stride had nothing to do with his feet. Even the significant pedal bone demineralization was not the cause of his short step. Hopper’s short stride was the product of his chronic and severe body-bracing due to magnesium deficiency/calcium excess, and inability to neutralize the acidity of his drinking water.

The surprise with Rory is that if ever there was a horse who should have bone loss, it is he. Yet, annual radiographs prove that his bone continues to be mineral-dense and very strong. This is despite his history of susceptibility to laminitis, his Cushings disease, his age, and having grazed high-oxalate setaria for many years with very little supplemental calcium.

Both horses have defied conventional nutritional thoughts concerning the need to feed calcium:magnesium in a 2:1 ratio. Both horses are consistently maintaining their soundness and overall mind/body health with a low calcium/high magnesium diet. Both horses show visible improvements in DC depth, sole depth, and overall hoof function.

I have learned to not make assumptions about the function of the equine foot from its external appearance, and that poor movement or even a toe-strike is not necessarily originating in the feet. The whole body of the horse has to be assessed, preferably with radiographs to reveal what is happening inside the feet.

For the sake of brevity, I have had to leave out a vast amount of detail but I’m hoping this will give a brief glimpse of what is possible when the horse has access to the nutrients he needs.

Questions are welcome.

Best wishes
Pauline

(this is the last in a set of 9 posts today)

Last edited on Mon May 28th, 2012 04:26 am by Pauline Moore

DrDeb
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Pauline, this-all is simply marvelous....you shared a lot of this with us during the clinic in Canberra a couple of months ago, and I am very grateful that you have now also posted it here. Every way we can find to remove irritants and other 'blockages' to the horse's complete inner equanimity is of value. Thank you again for this excellent contribution & all the research that lies behind it. -- Dr. Deb

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What fascinating information, Pauline, thank you!

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Pauline,
Really great research in nutrition! If you interested in collecting further data I have a horse who I'd like to do a little investigating with.
I wanted to evaluate his conformation just to see what ideas I could come up with so I took some pictures of him this week. I'll post them after this post. This horse has a short, choppy stride and according to his owner has never been sound as long has she's had him (5+years). I don't know how old he is but I can find out.
When I watch him on the lunge line he just looks off and sort of ouchy all over. He actually does seem to move more freely at a canter than a trot.
There is just something weird about his front feet to me when he moves. I don't know really what it is,but his feet look seriously broken backed. I now think it might be that he's just trying to get his knees up quickly to keep his weight off his front feet, but I mentioned to the other that I thought it looked like he needed to build up the back of his hoof or something so that the P123 bones would be more in alignment, looks like something is wrong with the breakover of the toe? I was just thinking about Dr. Debs conformation books and the tension along the digital flexors. When I look at him standing still I think that I may have been deceived by swelling at the coronary band.
This is the 2nd time I had to write this because I accidentally erased my first post so I think that's enough info for now. I would like to take DC measurements if you are still interested in collecting data. I can take more pics too. It was very interesting to read your experiment and I'm glad for the outcome for Hopper and Rory! I'd love to see if it can help this horse become more rideable too.
--Jenna

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Sorry about the duplicate pictures, this should be better quality of the first, but if it's not I'll stop filling up this thread with useless pictures.

Attachment: IMG_0238.jpg (Downloaded 822 times)

DrDeb
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Jenna, what you're trying to do here is commendable but you need lots more experience. What experience does is it gives perspective, so that when we use adjectives such as "swollen coronary bands", for example, you have some kind of scale of comparison to tell you how much "swelling" might be significant.

Or, when you say "the hoofs are broken back" (i.e. the angle is steep), "steep" is an another adjective of comparison. How "steep" is "steep"? Experience tells this. The horse you present has fairly ordinary feet and is reasonably well trimmed.

He does stand under himself in front. But one photo a lifestyle doth not make. See if next time you can get a friend to help you by holding the lead rope as you take the photos. Deliberately ask the animal to stand square. If he'll stand square at your bidding, he's probably not in a great deal of trouble.

Also, Jenna, did you really pay attention to the more important parts of Pauline's posts? What was it that told Pauline that Rory and Hopper might need a change in diet? It was their stiffness when moving....their cranky behavior....hypersensitivity....aggressiveness. Is your old gray there giving you any of these signs? Not by the look in his eye, I'll warrant.

It was also that their feet were falling apart....crummy hoof capsule quality....shallow digital cushion depth....flat-footed with no doming to the sole. The horse you present, Jenna, so far as we can see has excellent-quality feet.

And Jenna -- did you investigate your water pH? Do you know exactly how many tbsp. of salt this horse ingests each day, on average? Are you or is his owner feeding him magnesium, chromium, or other special salts, and if so how much? Have you thought about why knowing these things (and being able to report them to us) would be important?

There's one other thing, too, dear. The horse is not yours, and you do not tell us that the owner has given you permission to discuss her property in public. It's not only impolite to jump in and try to do that -- it's forbidden here. So you go check with the owner and see if she really wants your advice, or ours.

I'm happy to have you read here as a student, and I'll be happy to have you post photos of your OWN horses or of any that belong to other people that you can assure us that you have permission to post and talk about. If you want to ask a question about these horses, please start a new thread. But before you do that, do make sure that you have a specific question or problem with the animal you present. Then you can post your photo, ask the question, and the discussion will be fruitful instead of "oh, what Pauline did is so cool". Yes, we know it's cool! But it's primarily up here to stand as an example for you to take home, think about, and then APPLY AT HOME to your own horses. Once you've done that, if you then have questions, go ahead and post. -- Dr. Deb

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Hello Pauline - I have found a supplier of Mag chloride flakes here in NZ. They state that they are the NZ distributors for ancient minerals with the product coming from the Zechstein seabed. Would this be one to puchase? Many thanks for your valuable information.

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Hi Delly

Yes, that brand is pure as its source was formed and subsequently buried millions of years before humans had the chance to cause industrial pollution. The link below gives an interesting account of how the Zechstein sea may have been involved in the mass extinctions at the end of the Permian period.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330102659.htm

There may be other sources of a similarly pure and less expensive product in NZ; I haven't yet found any but I'd be interested to know if you find something else.

If this product works for your horse, it may be possible to buy at a better price from the same supplier I use as buying in bulk brings the price down to less than a third of the advertised retail price. Most horseowners here in Australia who use this type of magnesium get together to form a buying group so they can get the best price. This may be possible in NZ if you can share with others. If this is of interest, please contact me privately so I can give you details. I'm sure Dr Deb doesn't want her website turning into a magnesium buying market!

Best wishes
Pauline

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Dr. Deb, I don't know if those questions for me are hypothetical or not. I assure the forum that I have the owner's permission to discuss the gray horse. However, I'll admit I jumped the gun on it. Live and Learn--Jenna

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Hi all

Pauline has helped me a lot with my horse Maggie. And since Dr Debs clinic here is Australie 2 years ago when I asked Pauline to have a look at the way my little mare went. I discovered a whole new world. I have gone through alot to try and figure out what was causing Maggie to be grumpy/ sore in the loins. the list goes on. But to cut a long story short I have had her on MgCl for nearly one & half years now and the differnce is amazing in her muscles. I have got a good trimmer who is addressing all the flares and we have some sort of concavity going in the front at last. She no longer toe pints as much as she did and can take waking on gravel without winching.

Her digital cushions are still thin particulary in the hind hence my photos taken today.

RF 3.5 cm
LF 3.5 cm
RH 3.0 cm
LH 3.0 cm

With lots of undertracking, cantering, stretching she is alot more comfortable. Which she will do if I don't listen very hard to what she is saying to me or get my weight right.

My trimmer doesn't hold much hope to improve the DC in the hind but with the new diet of chromium, MgCl, ollsons salt, MSM, myco sorb, black sunflower seeds and oaten chaff we will see. These pictures will be my beginning to see if it will improve.

Have to work out how to upload the pitures. Sorry I can't understand why they won't up load. Each one is only 10-11KB



Cheers
Dorinda

Last edited on Thu Jun 7th, 2012 12:06 pm by Dorinda

Pauline Moore
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These are Dorinda's photos:

Attachment: Maggie's DCs.png (Downloaded 600 times)

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Oh Pauline you are a whiz. Thanks heaps for getting the these up as they show very thin DC's in the hind which would help to explain tension through the back. I have bought some boots for the hind to see if that will help her to weight bear more.

Cheers
Dorinda

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Hi Delly, I was wondering if you could please advise who the supplier is in New Zealand for the Mag Chloride as I would love to purchase a pure source. Thanking you in advance. Cheers JC

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Hi JC,

I purchase mine from an online pharmacy who give very good service. They are Pharmacy NZ.com (in Oamaru) Look under Magnesium Oil. It is called Ancient Minerals. After correspondence with Pauline this is the one that I went with as it is a pure source. You can buy 750g packets or 2.5 kg container. I purchase the latter as I have 2 horses and 2 ponies on it. I believe that it can also be purchased at Sydenham Pharmacy in Christchurch.

I dissolve the required amount in a little water before adding to feed.

Cheers.

Beaufields
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Hi, thanks for replying, really appreciate it:), could you please advise how much to give to a 16.1hh horse, he weighs approx 611kgs. cheers JC

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JC - please email me privately (address in the member's pages) so I can then send you the article I wrote about Magnesium for Horses. This includes suggestions on how to feed MgCl.

Genetics and management practices determine that every horse has different needs for magnesium so size and weight of the horse is almost irrelevant. As a rule-of-thumb I generally slowly increase the amount I feed until the signs of deficiency have disappeared. Softening of the stool is generally considered to be the first indication that the body is ingesting more magnesium than needed so I am careful to continually monitor my horses and reduce the amount I feed if I see any softening of the manure. This approach allows me to increase or decrease the amount of magnesium I feed as needed, depending on changes in pasture nutrients through the seasons, or other changes that might temporarily increase need for magnesium. Please note that no horse should be fed any supplemental minerals if kidney problems are present or suspected; a veterinarian should be consulted for advice first.

Best wishes
Pauline

JulietMacie
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Hello, I have a horse who's been toe-first-striking for some time now and am looking for some help understanding why and what I can do about it. I've had a long conversation in this forum with Dr. Deb (see the thread "toe-first striking") and am coming over to this thread to focus on deciphering the physical evidence and hopefully learning some solutions. I have several photos to post which will follow this post. Here's the data I have to report:

Digital cushion thickness:

right fore: 57mm
left fore: 51mm
right hind: 48mm
left hind: 46mm
weight approx 1150 lbs.

here's an overall photo:

Attachment: fullview_jan15.jpg (Downloaded 180 times)

Last edited on Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 05:30 am by JulietMacie

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here are photos of her feet:

Attachment: right_fore_jan15.jpg (Downloaded 342 times)

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left fore

Attachment: left_fore_jan15.jpg (Downloaded 337 times)

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right hind

Attachment: right_hind_jan15.jpg (Downloaded 337 times)

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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 338 times)

Last edited on Fri Jan 23rd, 2015 05:36 am by JulietMacie

DrDeb
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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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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 333 times)

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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

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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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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 291 times)

JulietMacie
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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

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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 260 times)

JulietMacie
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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 04:18 pm by JulietMacie

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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

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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

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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 227 times)

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Dear Pauline: many thanks for ,' we can use standing posture for an individualized guide for how frequently a horse needs to be trimmed." I had an eureka moment reading that.. My gelding stands habitually with left foreleg way extended and his right foreleg back under his body so as to reach the ground with his neck which I'm having difficulty getting to lengthen so he can stand with his front legs even and still reach the ground.. Dave Genadek surmised that if I can his feet fixed up and even then his uneven body posture issues will follow.
Sidekick( his name) recently abcessed on his left front so he's in a boot for the next few days. He seems to really enjoy the hand walking we're doing I suspect he developed the compressed neck and shoulder compensation as a means of dealing with his offset right front cannon. Prior to the abcess when he lost his balance at a slow posting trot he would begin tossing his head, while being ridden in a loose rein. The head tossing was much less when ridden in an outside arena, and practically non existent while being ridden in an open field. I will see what I can do to get some pictures taken of his feet and get them posted here..The forefeet heels are classically high on the right and low on the left according to my shoer..
best wishes
Bruce Peek

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Bruce, what we really need -- besides pictures of the feet -- is a photo of you riding the horse, comparable to the one submitted by Juliet. Would you be willing to do this? -- Dr. Deb

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Oh ok.. We're in the handwalking phase of post abcessism right now..Would you like pictures of us doing ground work as well.. I've had difficulty getting consistent head twirling/ flexions to the right with his ears still level, so I went to a lunging caveson with line hooked to the middle of the nose metal loop- found this enables me to get a better tilt of the bridge of the nose( like Buck talks about) which in my hands automatically tucks his jaw- but I think this is hard for him to do, cuz he pins his ears and makes faces sometimes when I do that..
I'll get going on the pictures..
best wishes
Bruce Peek

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Oh ok.. We're in the handwalking phase of post abcessism right now..Would you like pictures of us doing ground work as well.. I've had difficulty getting consistent head twirling/ flexions to the right with his ears still level, so I went to a lunging caveson with line hooked to the middle of the nose metal loop- found this enables me to get a better tilt of the bridge of the nose( like Buck talks about) which in my hands automatically tucks his jaw- but I think this is hard for him to do, cuz he pins his ears and makes faces sometimes when I do that..
I'll get going on the pictures..
best wishes
Bruce Peek

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Oh ok we're in the handwalking phase of the post abcess time now.. Would you like pictures of groundwork as well? I'm having difficulty getting good jaw twirling/ flexion with his ears level. I went to using a lung caveson with the line hooked to the middle of the nose loop so I can get a better tilt of the bridge of the nose, which I have found helps to tuck his jaw. However I think I'm not doing it right cuz he often pins his ears and makes faces when I ask for that..
I'll get going on riding pictures..
Best wishes
Bruce Peek

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Bruce, will you please actually LOOK at the photo of Juliet that I analyzed a couple of posts above. From that you will know what is wanted. I do not want groundwork for this purpose. It can be a photo taken at any time in the recent past, if you already have one. I need to see you on the horse at a trot. 

I have been well aware for a long time that you have had difficulty either fully understanding, or correctly executing, much that you have read about. This is an opportunity for you to get the direct help which will make it more possible for you to succeed.

Just do only what I ask, Bruce -- select ONE photo and post ONE. -- Dr. Deb

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Ok I'll get that done as soon as I can.
best wishes
Bruce Peek

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Hello,

here are photos of Macie's freshly trimmed hoofs. I'll upload each photo in its own post. You'll notice that my farrier didn't bevel the toe to the degree that's suggested in the Physiological Trim article (or maybe you need a lateral view to see that). Also, the red line on both fore feet has been worrying me for some time now, so any info on that would be appreciated. I haven't done any movement observations or padding the hind feet experiments yet but will do so soon and report what I see and feel.

thanks as always,
Juliet

1. Left Fore

Attachment: left fore.jpg (Downloaded 221 times)

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2. Right Fore

Attachment: right fore.jpg (Downloaded 221 times)

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3. Left Hind

Attachment: left hind.jpg (Downloaded 218 times)

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4. Right Hind

Attachment: right hind.jpg (Downloaded 224 times)

JulietMacie
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Hi - in the week since I posted the last pictures I haven't ridden because Macie seemed quite tender-footed, very reluctant to trot or even walk forward at liberty in the sand arena. I assume this is due to her trim. But yesterday, when I came out to her paddock she was her old self, galloping up to the gate through the deep snow looking like a Weatherbeeter advertisement. Since we'd both had a week off, and you (Dr.Deb) had kindly given me that extra time to ponder, it dawned on me what I'd been missing: head twirling! So in our session yesterday we explored the relationship between twirling and stepping forward and twirling at a stand still and twirling and backing and twirling and untracking around cones on the ground and twirling walking over cavalletti. Very fun and illuminating. Today I'm going to try padding her back feet as Pauline suggested, oh, and some more head twirling!
--Juliet

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I didn't remember if Macy got started on her magnesium,chromium, and sea salt yet. I can't see if her heels are even with the foot that has the small black spot.

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Instead of black spot, I should say I her frogs and heels are all dark and I have trouble seeing if Macies heels are even. Sorry, lol.

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Hi Juliet
For some reason I did not see last week's photos so have only just found them. I'm sorry for that as the visible blood in the white line on both front feet reaches around from quarter to quarter, and needs to be taken as a serious warning that Macie may have some metabolic issues.

It's my belief that no horse should be sore right after a trim as it appears Macie has been (the excitement of a gallop in soft snow may have masked what she's really feeling). That is not a criticism of your farrier, but it is another clue that all is not well in her feet. Has that happened previously?

If Macie's hoof lamellar connection is weak, she may be feeling some discomfort in her feet. That can be enough to cause a shortened step-length and consequent flat or toe-first landing, plus compensatory muscle bracing throughout the body. It's exactly the same when we have a sore foot or uncomfortable shoe, we take much shorter steps and will feel tired at the end of the day.

I'll be very interested in the outcome of your raised hind heels experiment if you get time to do it as that will help us to isolate which part of her body might need some attention.

Would you like to discuss diet? If so, please let us know exactly what Macie is eating, literally everything that goes in her mouth including hay, pasture, drinking water source and any regular treats.

Pauline

Last edited on Tue Feb 10th, 2015 02:26 pm by Pauline Moore

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Hi Pauline and DarlingLil. I haven't done the heel padding experiment yet but will today or tomorrow and report back. And Yes! I'd like to discuss nutrition! I'll write up her current nutritional profile for you as soon as possible. As for metabolic issues, this is something I looked into with the vet last Spring when I showed him the red line in her front feet. He took a blood sample and reassured me that there were no metabolic problems indicated. Although he had no other explanation for the red line. I don't have the report with me at the moment, but I can tell you the test results when I report back with the padding and nutrition info. The vet is coming this Friday and I'm going to have him do x-rays of all 4 feet. Hopefully, we'll be able to get to the bottom of this! Thanks so much for your help. --Juliet

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Juliet, I am going to request that Pauline guide you through this, but want to respond to your repeated question about what the red line is. I assume you're talking about the arc-shaped redness that follows the "white line" at the toes of the forefeet. Redness is always due to effusion of blood, and redness in this area indicates that there is some tearing-away of the capsular toe (the tubules of the toe, the "insensitive laminae") from the sensitive laminae to which they should be attached. Bleeding occurs from small vessels lining the folds of the sensitive laminae when the two layers tear apart.

What is causing this tearing remains to be seen. I assure you that it isn't the trim; your farrier is doing an excellent job, so I agree with Pauline that we need to see XRays and review diet and supplementation. This is going to be a tough one in all likelihood, because out in New England as you are, generally speaking there is ready availability of Timothy and/or Orchard Grass/Cocksfoot that are usually quite benign, indeed the best grasses for horses that can be found anywhere. Much will depend upon how heavily you depend upon alfalfa, and perhaps also on the type of soil you're on. One thing Pauline is going to want to know is whether dairy farmers or beef raisers in your immediate neighborhood need to give their cows a selenium injection before they calve. Also, whether grass tetany is a common occurrence; these are things that the local cattle vet will be able to tell you.

As to the horse being sore right after a trim -- again I agree with Pauline that this is not normal and it certainly is not desirable. However, it is common for farriers, in their desire to "clean the foot up properly", to take more sole out with the knife than they really need to. This will to a degree be visible on the XRays. Pauline's question as to whether it occurs every time is germaine, as is whether she's unsound or less sound on certain types of substrate, i.e. sand vs. packed dirt vs. gravel road or driveway.

Onward and upward with this -- Dr. Deb

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Dr Deb - I don't know if this will be of any interest but I have followed this thread and Pauline's protocol with good results. However, for my location and my horse, the final piece of the puzzle has been eliminating all controllable sources of iron from his diet. I live in a high iron area. Not sure if it relates to Juliet's issues.

Thank you.

DrDeb
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Thanks, Evermore....this is exactly the kind of information that's always needed but usually lacking. Plants, meaning in this case the foodstuffs that the horse eats, cannot absorb anything not present in the soil they're grown in. Many types of forages have wide tolerances, meaning that they can be seriously deficient in certain minerals and/or other nutrients and still grow and be reaped and made into hay. Likewise, if forages are grown on soil that has very high percentages of certain minerals and/or nutrients, they may soak those up to a degree that makes an otherwise benign feedstuff actually become toxic to the horse.

The one and only certain way to know this is to have both the soil and the feed tested; and sometimes, this must be done repeatedly, i.e. at different soil depths (depending on how porous the soil is), or at different times of year. Ditto for the feeds themselves; one test may not prove all.

Obviously this is not only a nuisance, but can get to be expensive. Therefore, we also look for symptomatology, and in general, this is how we actually figure out what's going on. So you monitor your neighbor's cows and you talk to him or her about any supplements or other feed regimens that they feel are necessary or alternatively to be avoided, and you talk to your local cattle vet who will know all about it. Then you also talk to the older-type ranchers or farmers who keep horses and see if they're experiencing anything like y ou're seeing with your horse, and what they do about it if anything.

This may only elicit what seems like incidental data, but actually it's that one little piece of supposedly irrelevant info that may be just what Pauline needs to hear, or will suggest an idea or a direction.

I think Juliet's problem with soreness immediately after a trim is rather common; I've experienced it with Ollie and I know I'm not alone. I have less trouble -- in other words, he's sore for fewer days and less sore overall -- if I remind my farrier to take minimum sole with the knife, i.e. take ONLY the loose flaky material and do not get down into the "raw potato". This helps but it isn't the whole picture and I'm just as eager to hear what Pauline has to suggest as Juliet and everybody else is.

This is also why I listen far more to Pauline than to some of my other friends who have been concerned with these types of problems -- Pauline recognizes, where the others do not seem to, that everything in fact ultimately depends upon the soil type, which means that solutions to these kinds of problems absolutely must be different in different regions of one country and in different countries. General principles will apply but the specifics will almost certainly be different! -- Dr. Deb

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Hi Dr. Deb, thank you for the explanation of the red line. I'm in the process of gathering all the nutritional info for Pauline but wanted to add that my farrier definitely took more sole than usual in this last trim. I'm reassured by your assessment of his work as I've been using him with no problems ever since I bought Macie 8 years ago. The situation with her feet (red line, contracting under-run heels, deep central sulcus) began to develop about 2 years ago after I moved her from my home to the barn where she currently lives. Before that move my farrier's typical comment about her feet was "great textbook feet!". In my nutritional report to Pauline, I'm going to try and detail everything that changed when I moved her to her current home. -- Juliet

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Soil type; exactly according to my shoer, the soil here in Oregon- east and west- dry side and wet side is loaded with iron and manganese, which she says binds with the iron. So the nicer looking eastern Oregon grass hay picks up iron and manganese from the soil and the local hay here in the western part of the state does the same. This would explain why sidekick showed a toxic level of manganese in late October of 1.722, when a normal range of manganese ranges from.675 to 1.626. So my question then becomes if the manganese is high and binds to iron how come iron only showed up at 31.3. The report says the normal iron range should go from 13.8 to 42.1. So am I correct to think the iron is ok. In the same hair test sidekick also showed an arsenic level of .032 with the report saying the normal arsenic level should be no higher than .034. I surmise the arsenic came from his eating treated wood. Lots of commercial lumber nowadays is treated with arsenic to prevent termite infestation. The hair test Vet felt sidekicks recurring skin issues- scratches, hives and mud fever were made worse by a weakened immune system caused he felt by the high arsenic level and toxic level of manganese. Also the report said he was deficient in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and chromium. So the hair test Vet mixed up a supplement, to even out the deficiencies, along with chelation material to help remove the manganese and arsenic. The other question I have is does chelation really work?
Finally had some pictures taken riding sidekick, they came back dark and out of focus. So I'll see what I can do to get some better ones taken.
best wishes
Bruce Peek

Pauline Moore
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Perhaps this is a good time to discuss mineral supplementation in a little more detail. The concept of doing soil and forage tests and then supplementing to make up for any deficiencies is very appealing, and has certainly improved the overall health of many horses. It is also useful for revealing toxic levels of any one element. However, I have yet to see that approach transform a weak hoof into a structurally strong hoof.

As Dr Deb has explained, frequent repeat testing of soils and pasture/forage is just not practical or affordable for most horse owners. Soil and plant chemistry is extremely complex; mineral profile alone does not give a complete picture of nutrients available to the horse as other factors such as pH and anion/cation ratios are also involved. Added to that is the even more complex interaction with the individual biochemistry of each animal consuming the forage.

Even if we all did have free access to an analytical laboratory, that would still not tell us everything we need to know as it does not, and cannot, take into account the internal digestive efficiency of every individual horse in a multitude of different external environments. As Dr Deb has said, we have no real choice but to rely on local knowledge and the evidence of our own eyes when looking at our own horses.

A good example is my own soils and pasture. Although the soil test showed low iron, the pasture test of the same day showed high iron so some other element or factor must be causing the plants to accumulate iron. Pasture copper, zinc and calcium is very low but magnesium and potassium is high, yet I do not need to supplement copper, zinc or calcium but do need to supplement magnesium.

In conventional ‘mineral balancing’ terms, this makes no sense at all. Theory must be abandoned when the real experts, the horses themselves, are telling me loud and clear what they need. They ‘tell’ me by the strength and function of their feet, particularly old Rory whose chronically weak, tender feet transformed at age 20 into the consistently strong feet he still has at age 24. (See comparative photos on the next post about trimming).

Other horses in different regions or different countries, or even my horses moved to a different paddock over the hill, will likely have subtly but importantly different needs. In my experience, a one-size-fits-all mineral formula or a forage-customized formula just does not work despite pervasive and persuasive advertising to the contrary. We have to learn to evaluate each horse individually, and even then there will be some horses for whom nothing will work perfectly as prior damage to their feet is too great.

Pauline

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Another lesson received from my own horses is the matter of not removing sole tissue unless absolutely necessary. I’m glad you raised this issue, Dr Deb, because it’s something that appears to happen frequently and doesn’t help the horse.

When I first started to trim, over a dozen years ago, I was taught to remove all calloused areas to produce a smooth, even surface over the whole sole. Although difficult to remove, I dutifully did this but invariably noticed that some areas of hard callousing, especially the ‘lumps & bumps’ around the frog tip, would rebuild within days. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that if sole material was rebuilding so quickly, it must be there for a purpose, so stopped removing those hard lumps of built-up callous. From that point on, I never had a horse with any post-trim tenderness so assumed that a thick layer of calloused sole was necessary to protect the live sole and inner soft tissues – just as my ungloved hands develop calloused areas with regular use of gardening tools. It makes no sense to remove protective callousing in either horse or human.

Years later I was very surprised to see that for the first time Rory had shed all the layers of protective callousing in all four feet. The newly exposed sole was much closer to the ‘raw potato’ live sole than I had ever trimmed in earlier years, so I had never before seen the dark spots of pigment right around the hoof (he has striped feet). This happened in October 2010 during an intense wet period that followed a prolonged dry period. Although his feet were wet and soft, he was completely comfortable on all surfaces, even stones, but I expected the sole callousing would return once the rain cleared.

It did not return, and never has since then. More than four years later, I can still see that ring of dark pigment even in dry weather. The photos below show the same hoof over ten years.

1. The December 2005 photo shows a hoof with a significant amount of lumpy sole callousing, wall separation and poor structure. He was sound on gravel only because the extended drought conditions were masking the innate weakness of the foot.
2. The October 2010 photo shows the newly exposed ring of dark pigmentation on the sole; all sole callousing has disappeared. Sound on all surfaces. This was about 6 weeks after switching from magnesium oxide to magnesium chloride in his diet and about 2 weeks after eliminating all sources of supplemental calcium.
3. The 3rd photo was taken today, about a week after the last trim. Sole pigmentation is still visible; he is still sound on all surfaces regardless of wet or dry conditions.

My trimming style did not change in those 10 years; the improvement to overall hoof structure and function was entirely due to diet change. This experience has been repeated with many horses so I have to believe that sole callousing is there to protect a weak or thin sole, and that it will disappear by itself when it is no longer needed by the horse.

Pauline

Attachment: Rory LF.jpg (Downloaded 303 times)

Last edited on Thu Feb 12th, 2015 09:16 am by Pauline Moore

JulietMacie
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Pauline, this issue of sole callus is very interesting and something I've wondered about since my mare has never really built up significant sole calluses yet many of the pictures of hooves show them. Macie has always had somewhat concave, "raw potato" looking soles. Her farrier typically doesn't remove any sole but did so this time in his effort to shorten her toe more than usual. I'm almost done with gathering my nutritional info and will post that later today.

--Juliet

DrDeb
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Juliet, if your farrier takes his loop-knife out of the toolbox at all, then you can bet that he has been removing sole. Very few farriers on earth would feel good about leaving the foot in the condition you see in Pauline's no. 1 photo on the lefthand side of the series. This is because the farrier is trained when he goes to farrier school to believe that leaving all that callus would be a "bad" job, i.e. not "cleaning the foot up" enough, or at all. This is where Pauline is somewhat revolutionary, though not entirely unique; many a farmer and rancher knows to do the same, in other words, if they're not lame, then leave them alone. However, in the rural situation this is often also accompanied by a failure to trim the edge of the horn, so that the lower part of the foot looks ragged and often also is seen to be warping away from the sole.

In some ways here, you're caught between a rock and a hard place -- the effort to take the toe back is absolutely necessary, if you intend to keep the horse barefoot. The alternative, as I suggested above, is to use Gene Ovnicek's snub-toed shoes, which would instantly relieve the pressure on the toes which is causing the red lines, and would probably also instantly make the horse sound.

That would not let you off the hook with doing Pauline's protocols as to magnesium and chromium supplementation, and dietary changes as to removing calcium. This is because although the shoes are humane as being effective at relieving pain, reducing internal bleeding and/or stresses and/or tearing, they are to be regarded to some degree as being like Bute -- ameliorative but not curative. However, I will add that stub-toed shoes CAN actually create improvements in hoof shape and DO encourage the foot to grow properly.

So CAN boots, if you get the boots and pads working just right.

One of the bottom lines that, in the current enthusiasm for "no shoes, no nails", needs to not get forgotten is this -- that not only are the "ecological" conditions such as soil type and the nutritional content of feedstuffs, the presence of poisonous plants in the pasture and so forth important, so are the "economic" conditions. These include your time commitment -- in other words, how many days per week are you in the habit of being at the barn? Also your situation -- do you keep your horses right at home with you as Pauline does, or do you board/agist, so that there is a drive with a gasoline expense involved? And your budget for appliances, farriery, supplements and so forth must be considered. If we do not consider these things, we are just as remiss as if we had not paid attention to the quality of the feed.

The truth is that shoes, or shoes and pads if necessary -- demand much less of the person's time and money than do boots and pads. On the downside, they are less flexible; so that if what is needed is little daily adjustments that the person makes herself by rasping and/or adjusting the padding, then you must use boots and pads. To me, a sensible program would be to begin with boots and pads along with Pauline's Cr/Mg/no Ca regimen, and then judge by the degree of improvement whether shoes should thereafter be considered. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a horse in shoes or shoes and pads, if that's what the workload on the horse, the footing, and the horse itself tells you it needs. -- Dr. Deb

JulietMacie
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Hello Dr. Deb, I think I'd prefer to go with your recommendation to try boots/pads along with Pauline's recommended nutritional changes and see how far that goes toward fixing the problem. I'm up for the effort involved in boots and pads and more importantly I want, if at all possible, to get to the root cause of this and won't be content with treating the symptom. It seems logical to me that since this wasn't a problem for the first 9 years of her life, something has changed that is causing her feet to show these symptoms. I'd really like to understand what those changes are and fix them!

So, to that end, Pauline, here is what goes in her mouth (sorry, if I've erred on the side of too much detail!):

The changes in her feet started about the time I moved her to the barn where she currently resides. This was about 2 years ago and prior to that she lived at my house. The changes that were introduced around the time of the move were:
    new footing: we mostly ride in an indoor arena on a sand on top of hardpack crushed stone footing, we used to ride exclusively on trails and in fields
    new water: however both the barn and home water supplies are from dug wells and the two wells are only a few miles apart. If you think it’s a good idea, I’ll get the water tested.
    hay: this is unchanged since I supply her hay and have been buying from the same local farmer since I bought her 8 years ago. I spoke to a local dairy farmer who I know to be very knowledgeable about soil and forage. She wrote: "All hilltown (our area of Western Massachusetts) soils are generally deficient in calcium, and any regularly harvested hayfield that is not fertilized at least annually is definitely deficient in sulfur and boron.  If it is a nutritional problem related to hay, it shouldn't matter whether the hay is from Hawley or Ashfield or Shelburne or Heath or anywhere - what would matter would be a fertilizer/lime/trace mineral program. I know Jim Scott (the farmer I buy my hay from) fertilizes his hayfields with cow manure. I doubt very much that he spreads anything else (lime or trace minerals). ... a lot of people will skimp on fertility if they know they will be selling to horse owners. In case groundwater does matter - it's pretty minerally here (calcium, not iron)"
    pasture: at her current barn she has access to some grass during the summer months but it’s overgrazed and there’s not much of it. When she lived at my home she had access to as much grass as she wanted during the day but was in a dry lot/run in shed at night. My pasture is a typical New England unimproved pasture: mostly orchard grass with some timothy and lesser amounts of smooth bromegrass, tall fescue, perennial rye, and quack grass. There are probably plenty of other plants in there that I’m not aware of but in the 5+ years she was living in that pasture she never had any problems other than being a little overweight.
    supplements: since moving to the barn, she been getting 1 oz per day of Farnum VitaPlus. Here’s the analysis per ounce:
    Crude Protein (min) 10.00%
    Lysine (min) 0.50%
    Methionine (min) 0.20%
    Crude Fat (min) 8.00%
    Crude Fiber (max) 12.00%
    Calcium (min) 638 mg
    Calcium (max) 780 mg
    Phosphorous (min) 425 mg
    Salt (min) 567 mg
    Salt (max) 709 mg
    Potassium (min) 241 mg
    Magnesium (min) 12.5 mg
    Iodine (min) 1 mg
    Zinc (min) 20 mg
    Iron (min) 100 mg
    Cobalt (min) 0.05 mg
    Copper (min) 4.0 mg
    Manganese (min) 10 mg
    Selenium (min) 10 mcg
    Vitamin A (min) 25,000 I.U.
    Vitamin D3 (min) 2,500 I.U.
    Vitamin E (min) 25 I.U.
    Vitamin B12 (min) 200 mcg
    Riboflavin (min) 25 mg
    D-Pantothenic Acid (min) 62.5 mg
    Thiamine (min) 12.5 mg
    Niacin (min) 125 mg
    Vitamin B6 (min) 5 mg
    Choline (min) 106 mg

    Ingredients: Ground corn, dehydrated alfalfa meal, wheat middlings, soybean oil, dried whey, lysine, dl-methionine, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12supplement, riboflavin, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, potassium iodide, choline chloride, ground limestone, salt, monocalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, ferrous sulfate, magnesium sulfate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, cobalt sulfate, propionic acid (as preservative).
    Magnesium--for the past year or so she’s also been getting supplemental magnesium. I use Ancient Minerals and she gets 2T solution of a 1:2 crystals:water solution or about 23.375 grams of MgCl/day
    Since moving her to her current barn she’s been getting about 3 grams/day of Mare Magic which is dried Raspberry Leaf or (Rubus Idaeus)
    Salt: She has a redmond salt block in her paddock and a himalayan salt rock hanging in her stall. This hasn't really changed from home to barn.

Also, I tried the temporary duct tape pads on her hind feet and didn't really notice much difference in her movement. Tomorrow I'm getting her feet x-rayed and asking my vet for his ideas about what's going on. Thank you for any advice you can provide and please let me know if there's anything else I can tell you or try!

--Juliet

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Hi Juliet
There can never be too much detail when trying to figure out what has changed in a horse’s environment that might then have created changes in the feet, so thanks for all the work. I view the feet as a built-in barometer that signals the overall metabolic health of the horse; if the feet are strong and functioning optimally, there’s a good chance the whole horse is equally healthy.

Great that you did the experiment with raising the hind heels. Providing the radiographs do not show anything significant, it’s likely we can knock low palmar angle off the list of possible problems and concentrate on the front feet. Macie appears to have intrinsically good feet so I doubt there will be much difficulty in restoring them to full function.

Visible blood in the white line at ground level can occur as a result of mechanical leverage on a long toe, as Dr Deb described previously. However, I’ve seen many shockingly neglected feet with horrifyingly long toes and stretched white lines – but no blood. Conversely, I’ve also seen many well-trimmed feet with short toes that do have blood in the white line, so clearly there are other factors involved.

I’ll digress here for a moment to relate a recent experience with one of my own horses, a 10-yr old who rarely gets a mention because there’s never anything wrong with him. He’s an easy-keeper type with very strong feet who’s never had a long toe in his life. This horse has always needed less magnesium than my other two (based on manure consistency and lack of any deficiency signs) so I was rather shocked to see blood in the white line of the toe area in all four feet when I trimmed late last year. There had been no change to his movement or willingness to heel-strike on any surface, or any other magnesium deficiency signs that might have alerted me to the impending issue. However, I had become complacent and did not notice that his manure pellets had become harder/smaller. That should have been a warning sign that something had changed as this horse had thrived on the same small amount of magnesium for several years. I immediately increased his daily magnesium and was happy to see at the next trim that most of the blood had disappeared. The support of his strong digital cushions and lateral cartilages prevented any lasting lamellar damage but this experience is a timely reminder that no horse is exempt from the need for daily monitoring.

Back to Macie – comments below on each of your list of items.

Footing
The footing itself should not make any difference, but would you say that Macie gets more or less movement/exercise now than she did before the move?

Water
Water testing might be good as wells or bores quite close together can provide completely different water if they are drilled to different depths. Perhaps save this for later if needed, as a good rule-of-thumb guide to alkaline mineral content will be if there is any build-up of crusty lime deposits on taps etc?

Hay
If you are using the same hay as previously, that is not likely to be the main culprit so we can probably forget about hay. I was intrigued by the comments about soil calcium deficiency but high calcium groundwater in the same area – unusual.

Pasture
Pasture forage is also unlikely to be a huge issue, especially as she seemed to cope with an abundance previously, including the perennial rye which is often a problem.

Concentrated feed
I could not find an ingredient list on the link, but there may be one on the bag itself. However, even without that the 22% NSC level is way too high. Maximum non-structural carbohydrate levels of around 10% to 12% are usually recommended for easy-keepers or laminitis prone horses.

The calcium content of around 1% (ie 6.8g of calcium in 1.5lbs) is also likely a problem as it will be reducing magnesium absorption.

Supplements
This product contains another 638mg of calcium per daily feed (making 7.4g calcium from concentrate + supplement alone).

Dr Tom Levy (Death by Calcium) states that adult humans need only 250mg of calcium per day from all dietary sources, any excess being toxic. The official recommendation is for a daily intake of 1000mg. The official recommendation for adult horses is 20 grams per day from all sources. If we extrapolate the same ratio to horses, their ‘real’ need may be somewhere around 5 grams per day (this is not researched or proven but certainly accords with my own observations over several years).

Forgetting about calcium from pasture intake as it’s too hard to calculate for Macie, but looking at likely intake from hay at about 0.3%, Macie is probably consuming around 27g of calcium from her daily 20lbs of hay. (Average grass hay calcium content of approx. 0.3% x 20lbs hay (2% bodyweight 1000lb horse) = 27g calcium).

So, we are up to around 34g of calcium per day from all food sources, plus whatever is in the drinking water if it is a high-calcium source.

Magnesium in the supplement is 12.5mg from gut-irritating magnesium sulphate. We don’t know how much is in the concentrate feed or what form. Magnesium from grass hay is not likely to be more than half of the calcium content, let’s say 14g for Macie from her daily hay. Elemental magnesium content of Ancient Minerals magnesium chloride is about 12% so Macie will be getting less than 3g of magnesium from that. Total magnesium from feed, hay and supplements could be as low as 18g per day.

In summary, Macie will be getting around twice as much calcium as magnesium from her overall diet – just what is officially recommended, but the exact opposite of Dr Levy’s findings with people and my experiences with thousands of horses worldwide. Perhaps Macie is telling us that this inverted ratio does not work for her either.

I’ve found that it is almost impossible to achieve meaningful improvement in hoof structure unless all sources of excess calcium are eliminated. Simply adding magnesium to an existing diet rarely produces any great difference.

If you would like to try something different, I would suggest you replace the concentrate feed with a feed that is less than 12% total NSC. Others have told me it is hard to find unprocessed feeds in USA so it may be difficult to find something that is low NSC and also has no added calcium. Many low NSC feeds are soy based which creates its own set of problems. I’ve reported previously how well horses do with copra coconut meal and I believe this is now available in some areas of the US, but perhaps there is something else locally.

Most horses do not need any form of supplement other than magnesium chloride, chromium, iodine and unrefined sea salt. If your local soils are deficient in boron, that could also be worth adding. If Macie does not get any fresh grass, then maybe Vitamin E would be a good idea. You might also consider giving her a good quality kelp supplement to make up for what she’s missing from grass. Look for an organic cold-fermented liquid kelp with a stated iodine content if possible

You might find that Chastetree berry would be more effective than raspberry leaf, but with the reduced NSC content of a new feed she might not need anything.

We can talk about boots & pads after we’ve seen the radiographs; I have a hunch she may not need them, or at least not for long.

Anytime I see horses with badly deformed and collapsed feet, I’ll recommend the owner stays with shoes for a few months as I know the horse will not cope even with boots. Not only is it unethical to leave a horse in pain, it also prevents rehabilitation of the foot as the horse will be unable to use the foot properly. Those few months give time for diet change/magnesium to initiate growth of a stronger lamellar connection from the coronet down. By the time that new growth is about half-way down the foot, the horse may be OK to transition to boots and pads before finally being completely sound barefoot some time later.

Macie does not have badly deformed feet so I’m hopeful she will become comfortable quite quickly once the source of the problem has been eliminated, and the farrier persuaded to leave his knife in the toolbox.

Best wishes
Pauline

JulietMacie
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Hello Pauline,

thank you for your detailed and informative post. I truly appreciate your generous help with my horse. Below I have a couple of answers to your questions and some more questions about carrying out your recommendations.

x-rays: I saw the vet on Friday (day before yesterday) but it was too cold for his x-ray machine to work! (it continues to be a brutal winter here). I’m going to reschedule with him as soon as it warms up a little. He did hoof-testing with the big pincers and found no tenderness or pain in her feet. He was rather at a loss as to what’s causing the red line but guessed that it’s bruising from the toe-striking.

treats: I currently give her an apple or a couple of carrots whenever I see her which is between 4 and 6 times/week. Should I stop doing this? or are there other treats that would be better for her?

exercise: she gets more exercise since moving to the barn, but her work load is still quite light.

concentrated feed: I’ll replace her SafeChoice with cocoanut copra which I think I can find locally. But I wanted to ask you about whole oats instead of the copra. They’re less expensive and easier to find -- would these be a suitable replacement? if not, I'll go with the CoolStance copra. I’m assuming I should do a gradual replacement over 7 - 10 days, right? and follow suggested amount per day.

magnesium chloride: I’ll stick with the Ancient Minerals solution, but can you recommend an amount per day? or should I follow the “increase until her poops are soft” technique?

chromium-yeast: I’ve ordered this and will feed as per your website: 5 grams (1 tsp) per day.

kelp: I couldn’t find liquid kelp except as a plant fertilizer. Would this be a suitable substitute? http://www.4source.com/products/sourceoriginal.shtml I can buy this locally so it would be convenient. Also, would .5 oz/day (the manufacturer’s recommended dosage) of this take care of her iodine needs?

Unless you say otherwise, I’ll hold off on the Vitamin E, boron and chasteberry for now until I see what these other changes do.

I'm going out of town for a week starting Tuesday 2/17, so I won't start making these changes till I get back on 2/24. I'll be in touch after that and tell you what I see.

thanks again,
Juliet

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Hi Juliet
Will be good to get the radiographs done when the weather permits, probably no great urgency. In my experience, localised spots of blood in the white line can be due to bruising, from toe-striking or other forms of trauma, but the uniform spread of blood from quarter to quarter on both feet that Macie displayed suggests stress or minute tearing of the lamella.

Treats: I'd suggest giving her a couple of chunks of carrot rather than a couple of whole carrots, at least until her feet are better.

Concentrated feed: Oats can be up to 45% starch so that would be worse than her current processed feed. You can feed as much or as little copra as necessary to maintain ideal weight. A cupful or two might be enough if Macie is an easy-keeper - just keep an eye on her weight and adjust accordingly. You could mix the copra with timothy pellets or some other form of fibre and add all her supplements into that. For large quantities it's best to mix with water also. As always, change the feed slowly over a couple of weeks.

Magnesium chloride: I would suggest staying with the existing amount while you are changing the feed, but then monitor her manure consistency to determine whether she needs more or less. Incidentally, extremes of cold weather can increase need for magnesium.

Chromium: Just check on the product packaging for suggested dosage as not all chromium yeast products contain the same amount of elemental chromium.

Kelp: This product should be OK provided the manufacturer can verify the source weed is grown in unpolluted waters. Heavy metals contamination is a huge issue for all of us, our horses no less so. The iodine content may be enough to prevent goitre, but may not be enough for whole-body iodine needs. This is a controversial area so everyone needs to make their own decision after reading the research.

Pauline

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Hello Pauline,

I’ve been waiting to report until I felt a degree of certainty about what I was seeing. I now feel fairly confident that things are moving in a good direction. Macie’s been on her new diet since March 1st: copra with supplemental magnesium, chromium and kelp along with hay and salt. Her feet were last trimmed March 5th, which was four weeks since her previous trim. The farrier did much less this time, mostly just taking her heels back a little. The photo of her hoof was taken today, two and half weeks since her trim on 3/5.

Her movement seems freer to me and once warmed up, she appears to be landing more heel-first (see fuzzy photo). The red line is still there but I think it’s not as intense or distinct -- it’s sort of hard to tell though. When I bring her in from her pasture where she’s been standing on snow, her feet are very clean and the line is pretty apparent. The photo in this post is of her foot after working in the sand arena so her feet are dirty and the line is harder to see. I’m wondering how to interpret this line: is it a current redness, or is it possibly a “growing out” redness? in other words, could the redness be from the past and is just now growing out to her sole and becoming visible? If her new diet is helping, would the redness be gone? or do you think this would take some time? Thanks for any insights and info!

--Juliet

Attachment: left_fore_mar2015.jpg (Downloaded 147 times)

JulietMacie
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closer to heel-first landing than before? compare to earlier photos I posted in the "toe-first landing thread"

Attachment: trot_left_mar2015.jpg (Downloaded 405 times)

Last edited on Mon Mar 23rd, 2015 04:24 am by JulietMacie

DrDeb
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Hey hey hey, Juliet -- time to go get the bottle of champagne, for you deserve congratulations.

I went over to the original thread and pulled your very first photo. Then I did something you should learn how to do -- scrupulously level the image. This means, you run the photo up into Photoshop and you rotate it, either clockwise or counterclockwise, until any structural vertical (i.e. a post or paneling or doorframe that would normally be installed plumb) is vertical. Use the pull-out guidelines to assure yourself of this, and/or right-click on the eyedropper tool and select the "measurement tool" alternative. If you use the measurement tool to run a line down the edge of whatever structural vertical, you can look above on the Photoshop screen and verify that the simultaneous angle measurement is 90 degrees.

Nobody should EVER look at an image of a horse, whether it's a conformation photo or a movement shot, without the photo first being leveled. Anything else is deceptive, and sometimes deliberately so (i.e. often in advertising photos, or I had a good laugh the other day while idly flipping through an issue of "California Horseman", a cheap magazine that runs non-paid articles by "experts" who prepare such articles just so that they can appear in print: this is how the well self-advertised guru builds a following, because lies repeated often enough become truths, as the saying goes. So, in this infomercial-article the "expert clinician" is praising one of his clinic attendees for having "good hands and a good seat," when in fact what the reader is seeing is a photo tilted more than 30 degrees, so that the fenceline behind the horse appears to go "uphill", and thus the horse appears to be "light on the forehand". When this photo is leveled, it becomes evident that the rider is hanging on the reins, her seat sucks, her legs are totally in the wrong place and not properly applied, the horse's nose is rolled under so that the face is far behind the vertical, and the animal is heavily on the forehand).

We want the truth a lot more than this "expert", so I've leveled both photos. The first photo, which you posted in July of 2013, needed to be rotated 1.6 degrees clockwise to bring it to level, i.e. the way you presented it makes your mare appear to move more "downhill" or more "on the forehand" than she actually did.

The second photo, which you posted today, needed to be rotated 6.1 degrees counterclockwise, in other words the way you presented it makes your mare appear to move more "uphill" or less "on the forehand" than she really does.

These corrections in our ability to perceive what is truly going on having been made, as I said, I have only praise:

1. Overall, the mare's muscling is much improved. She's lost the lumpy, "segmental" look to the neck muscles and she carries the base of the neck higher. There is more muscle on her back -- which as you now know, you get by NOT trying by any direct means to "develop" her back -- and there is better muscling on her butt, too, particularly gluteal and femoral biceps.

2. The mare's carriage is much better, meaning, she carries more arch throughout her spine, from poll to dock, than originally; the raising of the base of the neck is one part of this, but so is noticeably better loin-coiling and, more subtly, a higher back.

3. Now I would teach you more about how to "read" a horse's gait from a still photo. As became evident from our "what do you want for Christmas" thread, a lot of folks think that they would prefer video, but as a teacher, I would lead them straight to stills, from which they would get much more if indeed they only knew how. So, the first thing to realize is that the two photos are not comparable in terms of the phase of the trot that the photos catch the horse in. In the original photo, the mare's left hind and right fore are grounded, with the other diagonal in flight; today's photo catches her in suspension phase, with no foot in contact with the ground. It is the very last instant of suspension, a mere flicker away from left hind and right fore grounding, but they have not grounded. This is important.

Having realized this much, we can then safely make comparisons because we will know what we are comparing.

Notice that in the original photo, the grounded feet are not equally grounded: while right fore is planted good and heavy, the heels of left hind have already begun to lift up. What this tells you is that the horse is bearing more weight upon its forelimb than upon its hindlimb, and because of this, breakover of the right fore will be later than breakover of left hind. This in turn will mean that while the mare is still standing on its right forelimb, both hind feet will be in the air. This is the very definition of "on the forehand".

In today's photo, we look at left fore and right hind and see that the forelimb has actually broken over BEFORE the hind limb. Yay!!

In fact, breakover of the forefoot is so early that the mare actually is not moving crooked. She does not, in other words, have to offset her hindquarter to either left or right in order to avoid the hind foot in flight coming forward and stepping on the heels of the left fore -- because, of course, left fore has broken over long before the left hind will arrive. And yet you also notice that the mare is moving MORE vigorously in today's photo than in the one from two years ago! If "impulsion" ever meant anything -- THIS is what it means; this is a picture of it.

Now I would also direct your attention to the right hind foot in today's photo as contrasted with the left (contacting) hind foot in the original photo. In the original, notice how far behind the body the contacting hind limb has come, and yet it has not broken over. This is what it means for a horse to "move out behind itself" or "not 'use' itself." In today's photo, the right hindlimb has broken over BEFORE it passed under the arch in the dock of the tail.

This has one meaning, and one only: your mare has learned that what you want her to do, and what you're setting her up to do every time you work with her, is that whenever it comes time for her to plant a particular hind foot, she is to well and truly PLANT it and push DOWN NOT BACK.

Further: In the original photo, the mare is pushing back not only with the contacting hindlimb, but even more so with the contacting forelimb -- this must be so, since there is more weight upon the forelimb as we already saw; and where there is greater weight, there is always, in the same proportion, greater effort. In today's photo, the mare has borne comparatively much less weight upon the forelimb than upon the hindlimb, and we can tell this even though the time for her to be standing on those two limbs has already passed, so that she is in suspension phase.

4. As a result of all of the above, the mare's expression is much better: more attentive, more workmanlike, more relaxed, and I would say -- happier or more content. You might say "more comfortable."

Now, Juliet, all this good progress is the result of two things: your consult with your vet and farrier, in quest of speeding up the breakover; but breakover is equally affected by the manner in which you ride the horse. No longer do we have the woman who rides like I showed you by making a tracing of your original under-saddle shot: you're learning how to coordinate your hands and legs, what the flaws in your seat and balance were, and also learning more about what the true goals of High School training actually are. They especially have nothing to do with "going more forward." Happily today's photo shows that your mare is no longer going nearly as much "forward" as in the original photo! She has instead begun to learn to go "UP"; to place her contacting hind foot under the haunch rather than behind it, and to push DOWN NOT BACK. Meanwhile, your better balance, the fact that you no longer tilt forward from the waist, that you ride with your hands at the level of your navel, that you are aware that your hands are SEPARATE and that each hand has a different job than the other one at all moments -- this is what teaches the mare to raise the base of the neck.

You will remember that the day you came out to ride Ollie we had a little talk in the car about what sort of a horse your mare is, in terms of conformation, and I said "there is nothing to be said about her", by which I meant, neither bad nor good. But now we are beginning to see where you, Juliet, might have the ability to make her beautiful. Then there WILL be something to be said about her; for all horses have the potential to be made more beautiful, but only by good riding and good management.

Keep us posted, for there is still much to do: but you are well on the road, and greatly do I wish that there were more students like you, who can stand having the facts told to them, who endeavor to obey directions, who go to see Buck and/or Harry when I tell 'em to, and who will hang in there in the belief that it WILL all work out, for the better if not indeed for the best. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

 

Attachment: Juliet Macie Mare Progress 2013 to 2015.jpg (Downloaded 398 times)

JulietMacie
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Hi Dr. Deb!

pop! glug, glug. clink! here's to you! This never could have happened without your knowledge, generosity and patience, for which I'm extremely grateful. I know Macie and I just setting out, but it feels pretty great to be confident we're on the right path!

I wanted to upload another hoof pic that show's her foot cleaned by the snow so the red line is more visible.

thanks again!
Juliet

Attachment: right_fore_mar2015.jpg (Downloaded 393 times)

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Hi Juliet
The subtle changes you have observed in Macie after only 3 weeks of diet change is precisely what most owners initially report, so I think we can take this as a positive indication that Macie is benefitting from her new diet.

As we discussed previously, the redness in the white line results from damage to the lamina, and was quite extensive. This should progressively disappear over several months, most likely shrinking in from the quarters towards the toe before finally disappearing altogether. It will be important to remain vigilant about maintaining her new diet to ensure there is no new lamina stress, and for your farrier to continue keeping the heels back as far as possible.

Best wishes - Pauline

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Thank you Pauline, for all your help. I'll stay the course and look forward to the disappearance of the red line!
--Juliet

DrDeb
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....and by the way, anyone else reading here would be welcome to ask a question about the photo analysis/analysis of Juliet's horse's trot presented above. In particular, I want you all to be able to see that, while the extended forelimb of the horse is in approximately the same position in both photos -- the hind limbs are in VERY different positions. I want you to understand why this is, or what goes into creating the change. If you do not quite see this....please go right ahead and start a new thread with that query as the thread title.

The ability to correctly analyze still photos is the whole basis for being able to correctly analyze either video footage or film footage! -- Dr. Deb

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Hello Pauline and Dr Deb,
the farrier came today to trim (4 weeks from last trim) and here are pics. Her feet look somewhat better to me in terms of their shape: in her fore feet, the heels seem to be widening a little and are less under-run and the farrier has less to do to bring them back, also the sulcuses are less deep. However the dreaded red line is now in her back feet as well! On a brighter note, the red line in her fore feet seems to less intense and shrinking a little. Would you agree? Why would the line show up in her hind feet now for the first time?

oi,
Juliet

Attachment: 4Apr15_all.jpg (Downloaded 289 times)

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Hi Juliet
If you look closely at the photos of 2 February, especially the right hind, I think you will see the tiniest specks of red in the white line.

Damage to the laminar connection from metabolic causes, eg. chronic intake of excess dietary sugars/starches, tends to affect the entire laminar surface as the problem is at a basic cellular level. The resulting blood and exudate seen in the white line is therefore seeping down from an extensive area, possibly from all around the coronet right down to the lower edge of the coffin bone, and will be visible in the white line almost the whole way around.

In contrast, simple laminar tearing from the mechanical leverage of a long toe may only affect the lower regions of the toe laminar surface, so the area of damage is much smaller with much less volume of blood and exudate seeping down to the visible white line. There may only be an inch or two of 'red' at the toe.

If the metabolic challenge is mild and the horse has basically good, strong feet (like Macie), the damage is minimised as there is sufficient substance in the back-of-the-foot, i.e. thick digital cushion and strong, wide lateral cartilages, and thick, strong sole, to give support to the coffin bone - the bone cannot rotate so lamellar tearing is minimal. The horse may be only mildly footsore and/or short-striding, or not lame at all. The same mild metabolic challenge in a weak-footed horse may result in severe laminitis or even full founder with downwards rotation of the bone and massive tearing of the lamina.

As most horses are carrying the greater proportion of their weight on their front feet for most of each day, the front feet are more likely to show evidence of lamellar damage than the back feet. The volume of blood seepage may be greater in the front feet, and therefore more visible and seen earlier than in the back feet. I suspect that the new emergence of visible blood in Macie's back feet is simply that a smaller volume of blood has been slowly seeping down from wherever the original damage took place and is therefore less visible and less extensive. It's likely the red lines on Macie's back feet will disappear before those on her front feet, but will still take many months to eliminate totally.

Provided the primary cause of the damage has been removed, the new lamellar growth will be tightly connected. In another month or so you may see a slightly straighter profile to the hoof wall emerging from below the coronet.

Pauline

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Hello Pauline,
thank you for this clear and thorough explanation. You've cleared up a couple of questions that have been confusing me for awhile about how to interpret the visible blood in her feet. Armed with this more detailed knowledge, I will patiently wait and watch and continue enjoying the toasty aroma of copra mixed with warm water!

cheers! Juliet

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Hello Pauline,

I'm writing to try and clarify the amount of Chromium Yeast to feed. I'm confused by the fact that different Chromium Yeast products contain varying amounts of elemental chromium. The product I'm using is by HorseTech and there are no feeding instructions or suggested amounts on the packaging. I just called and spoke to a knowledgeable man from that company and he explained that this product contains 2mg of elemental chromium per 1g of chromium yeast complex (or in other words its potency is 0.2%).

On the Gravel Proof Hoof website you say:

Chromium could potentially be toxic if overdosed so 5 grams (1 tsp) of chromium yeast is considered to be maximum dosage per day for a 550kg horse. Reduce this amount if chromium is included in any vitamin/mineral mix that is also being fed. As an approximate guide, note that one level 5ml teaspoon holds 4g of chromium yeast. One rounded 5ml teaspoon holds 6g of chromium yeast.

So given the potency of HorseTech's product, 4 grams of Chromium Yeast contains 8 mg of elemental chromium. Is this the amount you'd recommend? The man from HorseTech thought that sounded high and said an amount in the range of .6 to 1.6mg of chromium sounded more appropriate.

thanks for your help with this!
Juliet

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Good question, Juliet, as the elemental chromium content of chromium yeast will vary with manufacturer. The supplier of the product I use consulted an equine nutritionist here in Australia to determine appropriate feeding rates, and found the industry standard is for a maximum of 5mg of elemental chromium per day for a 550kg (1210lb) horse, from all sources. My own horses have received this amount consistently since early 2009.

The yeast I use has an elemental chromium content of 1 milligram per 1 gram of yeast, hence the recommendation for a maximum of 5 grams of chromium yeast. If your source has 2mg/g then you will need to feed 2.5 grams of yeast per day, or 5 grams on alternate days if that is easier to measure. If Macie weighs less than 1210lbs then you will need to factor in that calculation.

Pauline

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Thanks Pauline. I'm relieved to hear I've been feeding a reasonable amount--4 mg per day (she's about 1000 lbs.)
cheers--Juliet

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Hello Pauline and Dr. Deb,

here’s a photo from a few days ago and I’d say things are progressing just as you predicted! I’m happy to see that the red line in the rear hoofs has cleared and it’s much reduced in the front hoofs. I’m pleased and grateful.

In a few weeks I’m going to move Macie from the barn she’s been boarded at for the past few years back to my home. This means there’s going to be a significant increase in her access to grass and I’m looking for some guidance about this change to her diet. Since I haven’t had any horses at home for the past three years, even the dry paddock has grown up in grass. To try and prepare for this transition, I’ve been letting her hand graze to try and acclimate her to grass. However once she’s back home at the end of this month, it’ll be difficult to control her grazing access at least until the dry paddock is barren again. When she used to live here the grass was never a problem and her feet were great. What do you advise?

thank you, Juliet

Attachment: 1May2015_allfeet.jpg (Downloaded 149 times)

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Hi Juliet
Good progress!

You are right to be concerned about the impending change to her diet that will be unavoidable; having come this far forward we really don't want to see her deteriorating. There is no guarantee that the extra grass will not adversely affect her, even though she was fine previously. She is 3 years older so her metabolism may have changed, and the sugar content of the grass may also have changed in that time.

It's a good idea to increase her current grazing time as much as you can in a controlled way; I would suggest you also increase the amount of magnesium you give her, monitoring her manure for signs of any undue softening that could indicate excess magnesium intake.

If Macie will tolerate it, you could use a grazing muzzle for part of the day when she arrives back home with you - maybe for the first few weeks, then slowly reducing. If this stresses her, then don't do it as the stress will cause her liver to release glucose so she won't be any better off than if consuming grass sugar.

Could you organise the move so that you are home with her for the first few days? I'm thinking that it might help if you could give her a tiny feed (just a handful of hay pellets or whatever) with some extra magnesium, every couple of hours through the day. That way her total intake of magnesium for the day will be higher than if just split over the usual one or two feeds, but will be easier for her gut to tolerate. This may give her some extra protection while she is adjusting to her new surroundings. If that's not possible due to work commitments etc, then whatever you can manage will still be better than nothing, e.g. two small feeds in the early morning, more small feeds & magnesium through the evening.

Hope all goes well.

Pauline

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Maybe a track pasture? I'm about to do one myself.

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Maybe a track pasture? I'm about to do one myself.

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Hi Pauline and Darlin Lil -- yes, I'm in the process of making a track pasture, which I'm pretty excited about. The immediate problem is that the track will be grassy until it's eaten and beaten down to dirt, so there will be an unavoidable period of access to grass.

This is why Pauline's practical suggestions are so valuable. I'll continue to hand graze my mare until the move and up the dosage of Magnesium. Once she's back home, since I work from home I'll be able to do whatever's necessary throughout the day to manage her diet. I'll continue to post her progress.

thanks,
Juliet

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Hope its not too late to ask about giving supplemental magnesium.. I've been hand grazing Sidekick for 20 minutes a day to prepare for the horses getting turned out on grass. As I understand it giving supplemental magnesium should help with his processing sugar. I plan to start with a tablespoon of magnesium dissolved in water to be poured over his beat pulp. Should I then increase the magnesium while watching his manure for looseness. Is there a certain limit to the magnesium, or should I continue adding a few flakes as long as the manure stays consistently solid looking?
best
Bruce Peek

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Hi Bruce
It would be good to start giving magnesium several weeks before the exposure to new spring grass as horses who have previously been deficient will need time to adapt to increasing levels of magnesium. Monitor manure consistency as a way to ensure magnesium is not overdosed; there is no need to keep increasing the amount if there are no deficiency signs. This is discussed in detail on the updated Magnesium article on my website:
http://www.gravelproofhoof.org/#!magnesium/c1dwe

I would like to emphasise that feeding any high-calcium items will drastically reduce or eliminate any benefit from the magnesium being fed - beet pulp is naturally high in calcium.

Pauline

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So if the beet pulp needs to go what is a good feed source? I'd like to stay away from a lot of the commercial choices cuz it seems like you can smell the molasses in them when you open the bag..
best wishes
Bruce Peek

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What kind of hay do you have access to, Bruce? In other words, what types of grasses are in the grass hay in your area?

Remember that horses only really are meant to eat two things: grass and water. Everything else we do or don't do is in reaction to this, in other words, to balance it or to make up for not having it.

Remember also that alfalfa, though like grass can be made into hay, is not grass. -- Dr. Deb

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Dear Dr. Deb: The hay is eastern Oregon orchard grass. My shoer/trimmer has years of experience in analyzing Oregon hay and says she has found high levels of iron and manganese in all Oregon hay- both eastern( on the dry side of the state) and western- here on the wet side of the state. This to me explains why sidekick showed a toxic level of manganese in his hair analysis test.. So since Pauline says the beat pulp has lots of calcium I'll switch to orchard grass hay pellets to use as a base for his chelation powder- to take away the high arsenic level, and for giving him his biotin, copper, zinc and other trace minerals that came back low on his hair test. The plan is to retest the hair again this October and see if the chelation has made a difference.
I've noticed in the hand grazing that sidekick goes after the grass, now at its most palatable- green and juicy- like a shark after a wounded swimmer. The shoer commented on his last trim three weeks ago that he was starting to show incipient fat deposits on his sides so we cut back on the beat pulp, but we'll switch to the orchard grass pellets today, with the magnesium solution poured over the top.
Oh also I've been working on getting him to lift the base of his neck, to avoid that breaking at the third vertebrae business that you mentioned at the anatomy clinic. Changing back to the loose ring French link snaffle seems to have helped with that as the loose ring has less poll pressure than the Baucher snaffle did.
Thanks and best wishes
Bruce Peek

DrDeb
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Bruce, I hate to disappoint you, but I believe in the type of hair analysis that you've had done about as much as I believe that pigs can fly.

The following is a quote from the article in Wikipedia about "hair analysis":

 "Using the results [of hair analysis], as part of a proper examination or test protocol,practitioners screen for toxic exposure and heavy metal poisoning. Some advocates claim that they can also diagnose mineral deficiencies ....These uses are ...controversial, and the American Medical Association states, "The AMA opposes chemical analysis of the hair as a determinant of the need for medical therapy and supports informing the American public and appropriate governmental agencies of this unproven practice and its potential for health care fraud."  A recent review of scientific literature....highlighted analysis of metals/minerals in hair can be applied in large population studies for researching epidemiology and groups of chronically exposed populations, however any attempt to provide a diagnosis based on hair for an individual is not possible.

So, if I were you Bruce, I'd be inclined to not throw my money away in that direction any more, and to use whatever the results you say you got only as the broadest possible guide.

Further, even if the results of hair testing proved to be valid or in any way accurate for your individual horse, you're barking up the wrong tree in trying to "compensate" for any deficiencies or excesses you think you have. Bruce, listen to me please: all anybody can really ever do is give the horse as close as possible to what a horse is intended by nature to eat, and that is, quality grass or hay that consists of grasses and/or forbs that are nontoxic, and clean water.

None of this is to deny anything that Pauline has been advising us on. For example, her discovery (corroborated many times all over the world) that there's a good chance your water is too acid -- and therefore it is advisable to add soda bicarb -- is excellent advice. Why we can say this is that number one, it is easy to test the water to determine whether or not it is too acid, and the results of such tests are accurate. And number two, the soda bicarb "fix" is cheap and relatively practical and easy to do.

The giving of magnesium, chromium, sodium salt in the right amount, and to try to reduce or eliminate calcium in the form of beet pulp or alfalfa also often works to the horse's and the owner's benefit. If your horse has been diagnosed BY A VETERINARIAN as having metabolic syndrome, founder-prone, pre-diabetic, or has a known history of chronic hoof inflammation, chronic sore feet, chronic unsoundness, or repeated founder, THEN you have the evidence -- not hair testing! -- to tell you that you need to get the horse on the magnesium/chromium protocol.

On the other hand, if your horse can't keep a tail on, always looks like another horse has chewed off his tail, has dry shelly feet, the hoof color is off toward the blueish end of the spectrum, or his feet have the texture of driftwood -- THEN you have the evidence that you need that says that the horse is suffering from excessive selenium or manganese.

And again, if your horse is lethargic, gains weight easily, has a "greasy" feel to the skin and hair coat, and is showing onset of arthritis-like symptoms in all joints of his body before the age of 15, THEN you have the evidence to say that you may need to test for arsenic poisoning.

And when you have the clinical signs which I have outlined above, Bruce, then you go TO YOUR VETERINARIAN with the query, and you request whatever blood or tissue tests the veterinarian tells you are going to be diagnostic, and you be willing to pay for them.

Otherwise....let's just get about training the horse, OK? You keep him at the proper weight, you feed him quality hay and clean water, and that will be the end of it. You will remember, Bruce, that although I asked you for photographs of yourself riding your horse, I promised not to show those photos to anyone else and that would mean not posting them here and not making an analysis of your riding similar to the one you've seen us do here for Juliet Macie. I respect your desire for some privacy in this area.

Nonetheless, you will remember the basic outlines of what I told you at the time that I viewed the photos -- and that was two main things:

(1) Your horse is too small for you.

(2) You have many basic and serious deficiencies in your seat and balance that must be corrected before you can make further progress as a rider.

THESE and not "hair testing" and messing around with trying to micro-titrate your horse's diet are what you should be focusing on at this time, Bruce. You will find that if and when you actually become able to ride, all the other difficulties that you think are due to 'mineral imbalances' will no longer be part of the picture. -- Dr. Deb

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Ok so what is the next step? I presume taking lessons to fix the seat and balance issues, and then selling sidekick? The chelation and feeding supplements can be easily fixed.
Best wishes
Bruce Peek

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Yes, Bruce, that would be a good plan -- to sell Sidekick and obtain another animal that is more suitable for you -- in terms of size, in terms of the horse's temperament, and in terms of your level of ability.

 Let us address each of these three areas. Size: you are an easy six-foot-two with proportionally very long legs, while your horse is barely 14 hands as would be typical of an Arabian. His smallness under you would ULTIMATELY not make it impossible for you to ride him well -- the greatest Arabian rider/trainer that I know of, Gene Lacroix, was also a fairly tall man although not as tall as you are, Bruce. But Gene Lacroix was a "horseback genius", the son of a professional horse breeder and trainer, had ridden under best tutelage since childhood, and had exceptional balance, feel, and timing which you, Bruce, simply cannot bring to your horse's benefit at this time. So what I am saying here is that it might, someday, be possible for you to find your balance and seat upon Sidekick, it is not possible at the present time. You need to find a bigger horse that can "absorb" your long arms and legs, so to speak.

The second point is temperament. Sidekick is also typical in having the active-reactive temperament -- but you don't have the feel or the timing to assist him when he gets in trouble. Not only does he get himself into trouble every single time you ride him or attempt to do any kind of work on him, YOU get him into trouble because you simply don't have the experience or the insight to prevent that from happening. I know, Bruce, that you've been good enough to try to participate with me, Harry, Buck, and others whom we recommend, but you are the sort of student who needs one-on-one instruction for a long time. The reason for this is your own mentality and temperament, which causes you frequently to misunderstand instructions and prevents you from gaining insight as to the true import and purpose of many of the training exercises. Has it ever seemed to you that you're being told "random things" by me or other instructors, like as if one exercise with the horse does not really relate to any of the other exercises that had previously been suggested? I ask because this is what it looks to me like you're experiencing -- it's all just a loose bag of marbles, all these separate things, with nothing fitting with or leading to anything else. "Insight" is the thing that suddenly causes all the marbles to fit together into, for example, a DNA spiral -- in other words, into a PATTERN.

The third point is your level of ability. As I've indicated, you have serious issues with balance. Some people who want to learn to ride do have this problem. You begin addressing it not on horseback at all, but by work with a qualified physical therapist. You go to her and you tell her what I've told you, and you ask her to work with you on a balance board or a "ball board", and whatever other tricks she may have up her sleeve for increasing balance and coordination in older adults. This may involve teaching you to play "catch" or kick a soccer ball into a target net -- that's where I would start with you, as well as on the balance board, if it were me, but you'll have to find a therapist in your area.

The other thing I'd very strongly suggest to you, Bruce, is that you go enroll in a Tai Chi class. Try to find an instructor who does not view Tai Chi as a way to warm up for fighting, but just as a class in balanced movement. I'm a Tai Chi fan myself. If you go to your local Senior Center and inquire, you'll find a class you can sign up for probably right there, and and I can 100% guarantee that will help you.

Now, once you've got these two areas lined up, it will be time for you to go find a riding instructor in your area who offers lessons for adult beginners AND who has a horse big enough for you to ride. She will put you on a big, quiet old galoot, which is just exactly what you need. She'll spend a lesson or two assessing your physical problems, and then she may opt to start longeing you a-horseback in order to develop a proper seat. When you are mounted upon a horse of sufficient size, and the reins are taken away from you, then will come the first opportunity for you to get over the habit of hunching forward. You will also find out what it means to SIT DOWN on your seatbones, and to get your legs lying in the proper way gently against the sides of the horse, extending downward to their full length. Your current too-small horse induces you, by contrast, to hunch, lean forward, only half sit, and scrunch your legs up in order to keep your calves on him.

The last point is when do you go shopping for your next horse? My answer to that would be -- six years from now. You don't need to own a horse, Bruce, unless you just want to keep Sidekick around as a pet, so you've got a warm furry beast to pet, feed, nurse, and mess with. But Sidekick would be much happier with a more skillful and insightful owner -- and a smaller-sized person. You realize he can't balance very well either with your great tall body up there above him! Try to visualize some happy teenager with him instead.

There is no human being, Bruce, on Earth -- at any time, now, in the past, or in the future, who ever learns to ride well in less than six years. So the six year period I'm suggesting to you is no different than anybody else. I'm telling you that now is the time in which you may BEGIN -- getting it right this time, beginning from the true base, which involves fixing basic problems, such as balance, seat, timing, coordination, and insight -- before going on to try something more difficult, like real work or performance. At the end of the six years' work with one or more qualified riding instructors, gaining experience on an array of horses that are the right size and temperament for you, you will develop an eye and a taste for the sort of horse that can help you do what you want to do, and at that time you will be able to walk out and buy that sort of horse -- and be happy and satisfied with that choice. -- Dr. Deb

 

Kuhaylan Heify
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OK
best wishes
Bruce Peek

JulietMacie
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Behold! The red line is gone! I only hope it stays that way once she starts eating more grass.

gratefully,
Juliet

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Kuhaylan Heify
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Dr. Deb you have quite the eye for conformation- but we knew that- The physical Therapist says my left hip is higher than my right hip causing crookedness, and I have a Kyphotic curve in my upper back..Am going to the P.T. too-morrow for our first session, She will no doubt have a list of core, shoulder and spine stuff for me to do.
best wishes
Bruce Peek

JTB
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Bump so Redmare can find this :-)




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