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Rear hoof changes - trying to figure out what this means
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Redmare
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 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2021 03:04 pm
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Hello Dr. Deb! It's been a while. The roan QH gelding that we had quite a long thread about some time back has been doing well - we are ever working on the same issues but he has made some significant progress after we visited Harry for two weeks in TN last June. In the last 6-8 weeks, however, we've hit a block, and I am noticing some pretty significant changes in his rear hooves that have me a bit concerned as well as scratching my head.

The last few weeks this horse has been obviously uncomfortable in his body. I can tell he desires and is trying to stay with me mentally but there are kinks in his body that I can't seem to help him work out. His tendency to carry his head slightly to the right even in a left bend is back with a vengeance and I feel more and more lately like I can't ask him to push off that right hock. He's been rushed and unbalanced-feeling.

I trim him, so if I have neglected something it is entirely on me. He has never been quite straight in his hind limb boney column and tends to wear his hind hooves more on the lateral wall than the medial.

A couple weeks ago I noticed some pretty distinct bruising at the apex of his LH frog. It's obviously winter here and frozen poop balls and hard, icy snow can do this. He was not coming up lame so I kept an eye on it but didn't otherwise address it. Then I noticed the band of bruising growing out from the coronary band. I texted a farrier friend of mine who helps me when I run into a stumbling block with his feet and she said it looks like it was a couple months old, at least, but everything above it looked better.

Upon trimming him this weekend, I am noticing how much BOTH hind hoof capsules appear to be rotating outward. I looked at pictures from post-trim a few months ago and this was not happening then, so this is recent. He is not demonstrating foot pain but has definitely been uncomfortable on the LH especially. He is walking out sound from what I can see but I haven't been able to observe anyone walk or trot him in hand yet. I have not noticed obvious lameness under saddle but I'm concerned I've glossed over what I have felt now that I'm putting these pieces together.

I know enough to know this is likely coming from higher up, but beyond that I was hoping for some guidance. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated. My phone died before I was able to get all the angles I wanted but I attached pictures of what I could get.

Attachment: Soni LH dorsal view 1.jpg (Downloaded 88 times)

Redmare
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 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2021 03:05 pm
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LH lat view

Attachment: Soni LH lat view 1.jpg (Downloaded 88 times)

Redmare
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 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2021 03:06 pm
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LH solar view - you can see the additional bruising revealed after rasping on the medial hoof wall and heel.

Attachment: Soni LH solar view 1.jpg (Downloaded 88 times)

Redmare
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 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2021 03:08 pm
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RH dorsal view. This was directly after post-trim this weekend - I have since touched him up and lowed his medial wall as much as I could as well as touched the slight flares but he's still looked quite squished on the lateral hoof wall and rotated outwards. My phone died before I could get pictures after I went back and made these corrections.

Attachment: Soni RH dorsal view 1.jpg (Downloaded 87 times)

Redmare
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 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2021 03:10 pm
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This was where we were at at the end of December, and able to achieve this with some regularity.

Attachment: Sonisoft.JPG (Downloaded 88 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Feb 16th, 2021 12:38 pm
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Dear Redmare: Ahhhhh.....what a relief to see that last photo you posted. Yes, that's what it's always like: moments of sheer joy and sheer heaven like the one in that photo, at first "flicker" on for a few steps, and then are lost. As I say in The Birdie Book, it is as if a door in the heavens suddenly opens and light and music stream out -- and then, just as suddenly, the door slams shut again and NOTHING you can do, it seems, will make it come open again. That is what it is like -- always, forever, with every horse.

So you don't fret about it please. This is just how it is. However, the deal is -- over time, and if you're not pushing for it -- not trying to "make" the door come open but just riding to help him find his balance every single step -- what will also always happen is that these heavenly moments occur more and more often. Finally, they occur with every step -- I mean every INDIVIDUAL step -- so that, to an outside observer, like a movie film that is composed of individual frames, it looks like the horse maintains that level of balance and relaxation continuously. When in reality, he maintains it continually: one instance, followed by the next instance, followed by the next, ad infinitum. So you don't "blur" like the naive observer; but instead you ride every step, and if the heavenly door fails to swing open on the first step, then maybe it will all come together on the next step.

This is because, as you know, collection is the child of straightness; and straightness, at its deepest level, is the child of the horse's desire being to be with you and not elsewhere mentally. When this is the case he will, exactly as you describe, desire also to find that perfect balance in which he can release all nonessential effort while making the effort to carry himself and you in movement.

So therefore, the first thing I'll say in way of advice is -- take care that you are not prying on him because you know the physical techniques for straightening and are good at applying them. The physical techniques for straightening are, by an older terminology, "helps"; that is what "aids" means. They are not imperatives and it is always a danger with the better riders that they would get tempted, when the horse does not respond fast enough to suit them, then they get tempted to pry, which is to say, to tattoo the horse with physical prods and pushes, or worse, to physically prod and push and when that doesn't work, then prod and push with more force.

Instead, you have to get a grips on yourself and consciously ask once, and WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT for him to reply. And then you evaluate the reply, and then ask again with the same or LESS force. And see what happens then! This is the commonest of all errors; Tom Dorrance used to ask people to cut their "aids" in half, and then when that produced pleasing results, to cut them in half again, and sometimes a third time. And that's what I'm asking you to do.

I see in the photo that you ride with a pinching knee. You must get over this. Stop trying to turn your toes forward. Let go with your knees, and the moment you do, you'll find that the horse's shoulders free up noticeably. Your knees and toes should turn OUTWARD as much as the roundness of the horse's barrel takes them, and this QH is in no manner flat-bodied, is he!

As to the bruise in the sole: looks to me exactly like "snow bruising" often seen in winter. To check up on your trimming, be sure you're not taking out ANY more sole thickness with the knife than absolutely necessary. The knife is the most dangerous tool in the box and the one that causes the most harm.

However, if it is not snow bruising (or bruising from some other cause, like being ridden on rocks or hard clods or whatnot), then what you're seeing is the descent of the anterior coffin bone, i.e. a positive rotation of the coffin bone. This often, but does not always, create dishing in the anterior wall; and as there is no dishing evident from the photos you post, the only way to really find out what is going on there is to have your vet come out with the portable machine and make XRays. These are a good idea anyway for any farrier to have on each horse they work on, at periodic intervals.

The most serious problem you show me is the anterior views of the hind hoofs and lower legs. Why in the WORLD are you lowering the outside wall????? I re-post them with anatomical orientation lines, the vertical line representing the midline plane of the cannon bone and pasterns, and the shorter cross-line demonstrating the line of the coronet band. Note how totally askew the left hind is. Why would you work toward this?????

The hoof is always, without exception, to be set square under, and in square and perfect alignment, with the midline plane of the limb -- wherever that plane may lie, and wherever it may orient. In other words, the hoof is nothing more than the projection of the limb. If it is not, with every step the animal is damaging his own joints through twisting and grinding.

Are you prey to the old and wrong idea that to have the midline planes of the hind limbs orient outward, i.e. hocks facing inward, toes and stifles facing outward, means that the animal is "cow hocked"? And that therefore you need to lower the outside wall so that his hind limbs orient "straight"? This is an enormous error. I post the correct concept below. NEVER NEVER NEVER try to change the orientation of the plane of the limb, which does as you say "originate from higher up", by screwing around with the hoof trim.

Now you'll need several months for the hind hoofs to reshape themselves as they were meant to be shaped and undo the damage from a wrong concept of hindlimb function. When you let the hoof grow back to where it is supposed to be, or use your trimming to guide it in that direction, you will find that the edema in the left hind coronet band will have also gone away (compare left and right coronet bands in this respect).

Further, you understand that as the horse has become more willing to move correctly -- straight, relaxed, and round -- this causes him to use his hind limbs more and more correctly too. Which means they will orient hocks in/stifles and toes out more than they did when he moved without properly using his back; and that in turn means that the ground forces acting upon the hoof, which stimulate the cells in the coronet band that generate horn, will also alter. Many is the time that I have taken in a project horse and had my farrier come out at the beginning of that process and trim and shoe him; and then six weeks later when he comes back, he says to me with a puzzled look on his face, "is this that same horse you gave me to trim last time?"

Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Attachment: Redmare QH Left hind ant view.jpg (Downloaded 85 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Feb 16th, 2021 12:39 pm
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Right hind marked.

Attachment: Redmare QH Right Hind ant view.jpg (Downloaded 83 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Feb 16th, 2021 01:00 pm
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Here is the same illustration I have been publishing for over 40 years. Make sure you understand what it shows: our whole system, all the shows, all the magazines (except EQUUS and ECLECTIC HORSEMAN and others who publish me) give out WRONG information. Terribly wrong, and terribly destructive. This includes the 4H manuals and the Pony Club manual.

For the horse's hind limb to be completely functional, and for it to have correct structure, ALL of its components must be bisected by the plane as shown. There are no mammal species in which this is any different; the horse is the same as people, cows, dogs, goats, giraffes, zebras, or any other mammal: as viewed from the rear, the hocks orient inward and the toes and stifles orient outward. This is to allow the hindlimb at the level of the stifle, when the limb is swung forward, to clear the ribcage.

Species in which the rear part of the ribcage is narrower (and this also applies to individual horses who are narrower-bodied) will have the hindlimb plane orient outward less; it will in them be more parallel to the midline plane of the body as a whole, the plane that bisects their back. Therefore in rear view, the hocks of such an animal will orient inward to a lesser degree and the toes and stifles outward to a lesser degree. Your round-bodied QH would carry quite a bit of outward orientation, and you need to be asking HIM what degree that is rather than trying to dictate it out of your own ideas, whatever those may be.

Several times in my life I have taught art classes for adult students. They all come in there insisting that they "can't draw". Bull hockey. All normal humans can draw. What happens, however, is that their brains are doing something to them that blocks their ability to see reality as it actually is, and constrains them to produce drawings that look like diagrams. Hence adults will at first almost always, when asked to draw a picture of their own hand, produce a circle with five sticks radiating out from it. In similar manner has the horse industry conducted its understanding of hind limb structure. This "engineering view" of the horse's hind limb began with Gobaux and Barrier's otherwise very useful book, "The Exterior of the Horse", in the 1890's and continues to today: they make the horse into a table, in which natually the hocks face straight backwards and the toes face straight forwards. But in reality the only horses that actually stand that way are those that have been bred, by an even more monstrous demonstration of this error, to actually stand that way; or those that have been forced to stand that way by giving them such "little bits of help" as trailers on the hind shoes or else lowering the outside wall. Either of which, as I have already said, do nothing but create conditions that will eventually cripple the horse by twisting its joints, causing them to grind rather than flex fluidly and without friction, and eventually rendering him lame and finally crippled. -- Dr. Deb

Attachment: Cow Hocks vs Correct for Forum.jpg (Downloaded 83 times)

JTB
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 Posted: Tue Feb 16th, 2021 10:40 pm
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Hi Redmare,
Awesome thread, thanks for starting it.

I feel your pain as I am the hoof trimmer for my herd. I've managed to get some wrong pictures inside my head and am paying the price now!
Back to the beginning, back to reading lots of what I know to be true. And asking for help, outside assistance can do wonders. :-)

Have taken photos of my mare and will have a look at the photos with new eyes.

Thank you Dr Deb for all the information and valuable reminders.

Kind Regards
Judy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Feb 17th, 2021 01:26 am
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So what you do, Judy, and I say this also to Redmare, is go get your camera. Have the horse tied if he ties quietly or else have someone else hold the lead line and wait for him to get comfortable and calm so that he stands just as would be most comfortable for him. He needs to not be "resting one hind leg" so if he does this, ask the handler to step him up or back a little bit until he squares up.

Then walk around behind him. You don't need to be all that close because your camera will focus from a distance, and I want in any case that the photo should take in everything all the way from the top of the croup down to the ground.

Now center yourself exactly between the two hind limbs, and squat down so the camera lens is at the level of the top of the hocks and take the picture.

Now walk a half-step or a step to your right, so that the camera lens is looking square-on at the "face" of the horse's left hock, and squat down and take that picture.

Now repeat this going to your left, so that the camera lens is looking square-on at the "face" of the horse's right hock, and squat down and take that picture.

Then trim the photos and post them here. Appreciate it if they're not posted sideways, it's hard for everyone to see anything when they come in that way. Once you post photos we'll have an interesting discussion as to the differences between all of the horses. Anyone who wants to participate in doing this is welcome to join in....the more the merrier. Learning for all is guaranteed. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Redmare
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 Posted: Wed Feb 17th, 2021 12:19 pm
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Dr. Deb, as usual, thank you so much for your response.

No - I don't follow the wrong-headed idea of trying to force the hind toes to point forward. I think this is an instance of me "not being able to see the forest through the trees". I do find the hinds slightly more challenging to trim than the fronts and I have spent so much time looking at and analyzing his hind feet in the last week or so that I believe I've just confused myself wholly.

HOWEVER - I remember us talking about this in a previous thread - this gelding wants to keep his left hind closer to the midline than his right. I'm thus realizing that I don't think I am "setting up" his hind limbs enough when I am evaluating him prior to trimming. The photo I posted of the anterior view of the LH shows that that leg is well under his midline and to my eye it makes it look like the pastern is deviating out far more than it is. When I sight down his foot when I have it off the ground, I'm over-relying on that pastern joint's plane instead of the plane of the entire limb. I believe this is part of my misreading his feet - does this seem accurate to you?

I have - to my great pleasure - noticed over the last several months that he is now naturally standing with his hind limbs on a much more outward orienting plane in addition to being much squarer and under himself.

My struggle is always in the fact that I notice the small details but then get too caught up in them. Thank you for the reminder not to get so focused I lose perspective!

ETA: I did want to ask (and forgive me if this is a silly question) if you think there is harm in riding this horse in the next few weeks given I've put him at a disadvantage having trimmed him this way?

Last edited on Wed Feb 17th, 2021 12:31 pm by Redmare

JTB
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 Posted: Wed Feb 17th, 2021 05:36 pm
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Brilliant stuff, the mare has more interesting front legs but as we are talking hinds I will get the photos today.
I have quite a number of bow legged Shetland's so will take some photos of one of them too.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Feb 21st, 2021 08:45 am
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Dear Redmare: The best window to the hoof is to look at it in rear view. This is true for both the fronts and the hinds. It is much harder to evaluate what the mediolateral balance actually is when you stand in front of the horse, so go ahead and walk around to the back.

What you want to notice first is whether one bulb of heel is higher than the other when the horse is standing square and has the normal amount of weight on the leg you are examining.

Second you want to notice how the tubules of the heels and walls orient: both outward like the letter 'A' or more like this: /  /. The slant on hind hoofs will often be toward the midline.

Third you want to notice how wide apart the bulbs are, in other words, is there a big scoop-shaped sort of dip between the bulbs, or is it narrow and slitlike?

Fourth you want to notice how deep the digital cushions are; the deeper the better.

Finally you want to notice whether the left and right bulbs, and (by projection) also the frog, are exactly split by the midline plane of the hind cannon bone and hock, as my illustration above. Do the pasterns slant off to one side? If they do then the hoof will likely slant off to the opposite side.

It's really rather difficult to get a good photo of the hind hoofs if you try to take the photo from the front, because it either means you need to almost crawl under the animal's belly, or else (much smarter) stand back a distance from him and use the telephoto function on your camera. However, even then you may not be able to get the shot because the front leg may block the view.

So again, you go around behind. I would really like to see the photos from behind that I asked you to take in the previous reply....I think you'll straighten yourself out just in the act of taking the photos, because you'll realize what you weren't seeing right, but I'd also like to see them because there may be some whole area you haven't noticed and therefore haven't mentioned. I never know for sure about anybody's report, you know, until I see the photos. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Redmare
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 Posted: Thu Feb 25th, 2021 08:57 pm
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LH

Attachment: 20210224_151026.jpg (Downloaded 52 times)

Redmare
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 Posted: Thu Feb 25th, 2021 08:58 pm
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RH. Apologies it took me a few days - I was having trouble getting the photos to stay oriented correctly so that no one was craning their neck to view them.

Attachment: 20210224_151015.jpg (Downloaded 51 times)

Last edited on Thu Feb 25th, 2021 08:59 pm by Redmare


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