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Reasons for the 'horse on a pedestal' stance?
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Tutora
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 Posted: Wed May 6th, 2009 07:43 pm
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This is what I wanted to add.  I sometimes see my horses standing in the doorways of the free access stalls, which have a concrete floor just in the doorway. It's the hardest place they could put their front feet. Today, for example, my mare stood in the doorway, front legs plumb, one hind cannon plumb and the other hind leg cocked. I easily found a faint digital pulse on her. She has no flares, no thrush, no abcessess, no puffiness anywhere on her legs, no cuts. She'd been resting for a while.

So I'm still wondering if a faint digital pulse in a resting horse--by itself--is always a cause for concern. Thanks--Elynne

Rowena
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 Posted: Wed May 6th, 2009 08:43 pm
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I would think that if your mare is not unsound, feels well and shows this by being active year round, is not overweight and has sound feet without any flare - that you have no cause for concern.

The degree of pulse felt can vary from horse to horse, and in general it is better to look at the horse as a whole first. No horse pretends they are healthy and sound when they are not, and the high spirits shown in Spring are soon followed by trouble if issues are present.

Lots of horses rest a leg in repose. But if the horse doesn't have a problem, just thank your lucky stars and give yourself a pat on the back, remembering the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't try and fix it".

It sounds like you must be on the right track :)

Tutora
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 Posted: Wed May 6th, 2009 10:01 pm
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I think- I hope- things "ain't broke" but if they show themselves to be, then I will fix them. (Heck, I just removed, sharpened, and replaced my lawn tractor blades myself...I wasn't that impressed with myself, but several friends claim to be impressed, so now I'm feeling pretty empowered. I can take on any incipient laminitis with one hand tied behind my back.)

Kind of in line with the "Guilt and the sick horse" thread, I've had some concern about recently being able to find the digital pulses consistently, simply because I feel stupid and neglectful for not being honest in my willingness to find them before. I would indeed feel for them quite often...I'd locate the structures and tissues correctly, but at the same time as my fingers were pressing, my mind was retreating from the pulse I didn't want to find.  When I recently decided I could handle laminitis if it found me despite my vigilance, I sent my attention-my birdie, so to speak- to settle quietly into my fingers and the junction between my skin and the horse's...and without much problem I've been consistently finding a quiet pulse. So I hope it's just because I'm paying attention better.

If someone else thinks the discernable pulses are a problem in horses who seem otherwise comfortable, please weigh in. Thanks--Elynne

lighthorse
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 Posted: Wed May 6th, 2009 10:16 pm
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I've had a chance to read all and digest.  Thanks, I've got a better grasp on the sole depth, hind leg angle, and rasping those heels.  So logical once it gets straight in the brain.  I'm thankful I've got good professionals to help me.....as I ain't got the eye!

Rowena
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 Posted: Wed May 6th, 2009 10:25 pm
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Tutora wrote:
I can take on any incipient laminitis with one hand tied behind my back.

When I recently decided I could handle laminitis if it found me despite my vigilance..


Take care and don't ever,ever, think of Laminitis as some sort of challenge. It is abject misery for horses and is never a red rosette for owners even if they can get it sorted out.
Lots has to do with the lucky stars I mentioned you thanking and very little to do with ones ability to detect a pulse. The whole environment is the cause of chronic Laminitis, and some owners just have all the odds tipped against them. If everyone could ask for and have the perfect environment for their horses, I'd bet Laminitis would be a rarity.

Tutora
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 Posted: Thu May 7th, 2009 12:52 am
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Hi Rowena--In what I said, I'm writing from 17+ years of fearing laminitis above all else when it comes to horse management...I've owned the "easy keeper" types for that long. For me, being able to leave horses out on pasture for hours and hours is something I chose to forego when I chose these horses. So, for me, I DO need to---not let down my guard---but realize that laminitis is not the end of the world. It IS something I can look full in the face and deal with should I ever need to. Yeah, I am pretty selfish pretty often...but it never even crossed my mind to view laminitis as a challenge that would reflect on me or be about me.

I do realize I'm fortunate--I've worked at home for the past decade so I can let horses out and herd them in according to a schedule that seems to work, and when I did work away from home I just got up very early and got them in before I left. And, yeah I'm fortunate in this case that I inherited a "morning person" tendency as well as  love of walking these beautiful rolling hills to herd the horses in.  For all the trouble horses are, anybody who has the priviledge of being around them falls into the fortunate category.


As an edit, perhaps I can say something about my lawn tractor blades... All last year, though I knew they were getting dull, I shied away from trying to take them off to sharpen because I thought it would be hard and perhaps not possible. When I finally decided to try to remove them, it was, with some persistence, perfectly doable ...and another lesson in not being a spooky, shying horse (if I were a horse), refusing to even face a perfectly manageable obstacle. My willingness to face laminitis, to let my fingers be settled and quiet enough to really find whatever degree of digital pulse may or may not be there, is not a rosette for me..it's an example of a weakness that I'm well acquainted with--my spooky, shying tendency--loosening its grip.

Last edited on Thu May 7th, 2009 01:25 am by Tutora

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Thu May 7th, 2009 01:04 am
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Kathy - You might like to try this little experiment which would give you a fairly clear indication of how much your horse's low hind heels are influencing his overall posture.

You'll need a roll of duct tape and some type of packing material from which to make two small triangular wedges.  Cardboard or newspaper will do, as will some old toweling that you can cut up, anything that won't squash down too much but is lightweight and not hard.  Make a rough wedge that can start with the thin end at about mid-quarters level, ending with the thick end being about 1/2 inch thick under the heels.  If you are using toweling, you can fold it so you have 3 or 4  layers at the heel end, tapering to one layer mid hoof.  Use the duct tape to fix the wedge across the bottom of the foot, wrapping around several times so the wedge won't come off when the horse walks.  You don't have to be too fussy about being accurate, the wedges only need to last for about 10 minutes of easy walking.  Once both wedges are in place, allow the horse to just stand for about 5 minutes, then lead him around for about 10 mins - if you have a small, low incline you can lead him up and down during this time, so much the better.  Note how he holds his neck and head during the uphill stage compared to his normal manner of going up this same incline.  Note any differences in how he moves whilst walking, also note any differences in how he looks, the softness in his eye.  When you've finished walking, let him stand again for another 10 minutes or so, tied up loosely if necessary, and note if he is choosing to stand any differently.  If you wish, you can leave the wedges on until they wear off by themselves over the next couple of hours, and just watch how he chooses to move and stand in his yard/paddock.

In recent years I have done this experiment on a couple of occasions with client's horses, both where the hind feet did not 'look' obviously too low but where I could not find anything else that could be causing the reported problems.  Both were part-bred arabs with basically good feet and no laminitis issues.  X-rays would have been great, but in the absence of that, this gave me a good idea of what was happening.  In both horses, the change in 10 minutes was astounding.

The first horse had been bucking off all riders for a couple of years, moved with a head-high posture even when walking up a low hill and was generally tense.  Within a few minutes of wedging his hind feet he had visibly relaxed his whole body and lowered his head to shoulder level when walking up a low incline.   The other horse did not buck but was always tense under saddle, wanting to jigjog rather than walk, no matter how hard his owner worked on relaxation and softness.  I watched the horse being ridden at a walk on a long, soft rein and could see she was not happy.  We wedged the heels, hand-walked her for a few minutes, then the rider got back on and repeated the previous walk route.  For the first time ever, this mare plodded along slowly with a lowered head, showing no desire to jog.  I then removed the wedges while the rider was still aboard and the horse immediately went back to a jigjog.

If you try this experiment, Kathy, and find no difference in your horse's posture, and no difference after adjusting hoof mechanics as discussed previously on this thread, then maybe you do have a laminitis issue - but of the back feet.  The stance shown in the photo where your horse has his front legs way back underneath himself clearly shows he is loading his front end.  As you would know, the metabolic issues that cause laminitis affect the whole horse but are usually more evident in the front feet, but it can be seen in the hind feet only.  A couple of years ago I very nearly missed a laminitis case because the horse was lame in a hindlimb only - in fact she was the horse I had at the back of my mind when I asked you previously about stretching out the hindlegs, that horse could not take either hindfoot more than 6 inches past her tail, despite being an FEI dressage horse.  One of the many occasions that has taught me never to make assumptions about any horse.

Best wishes - Pauline



Kathy75
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 Posted: Thu May 7th, 2009 07:40 am
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Rowena and Pauline thank you for the posts!!

Pauline that's a very interesting suggestion about the heel wedges, I would like to try it. What are the implications when raising the heel angle on the lever forces (breakover) at the toe I wonder? I'd really like to know what's going on inside the foot when wedges are used, why are they (temporarily??) successful in alleviating pain? Is it just because it's relieving tension on the DDFT. I know this is used for navicular horses, but the tension of the DDFT is just a pain response according to what I've read, and the real cause which is the weak soft tissue structures in the rear part of the foot is not dealt with.

Pauline what happened with those 2 horses you mentioned? Did they manage to bring the heels back or did they have to shoe with wedges?

If I remember correctly from my notes, having the heel forward just 6mm from where they should be affects the haemodynamics of the foot up to 80%!! And it's very interesting what Rowena said about having the tubules at the heels crushed and constantly running forward because he is weighting the foot incorrectly.

I could be wrong here, but I would suspect in my horses' case, the hinds are worse off - he has a slightly stonger pulse there, and I think his toe plane could be high (not just long, whereas the fronts are just long). But if as Rowena commented lowering the height of the toe could make him sore, I would rather just keep the toe backed up as much as possible, to relieve lever forces on sensitive laminae, wait until the inflammation has gone, and make sure I always use the hoof testers first at the toe before taking off any height.

Maybe I should be trimming more often, even just a swipe of the rasp at the heels to ensure the tubules are not starting to run under.

Rowena, I am hoping my lucky stars will permit me to never be faced with with having to find a dry lot for him, or a grazing muzzle.

Now that the rains have begun, the grass is growing like crazy, so it's no surprise these symptoms have become more evident. I did the thumb test the other day, ran my thumb along his belly, and he flinched toward the gut area, he did not do this a month ago.

We have just covered the paddocks in old manure and they've been closed off and supposedly resting for the next month or so. So with reduced grazing, this should help, plus the grass will hopefully be less stressed once we reopen the paddocks. I'm going to up his MSM levels, which should help with the inflammation, and I know I need to focus on increasing his exercise.

Cheers

kathy

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Thu May 7th, 2009 11:53 am
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Kathy - I am not suggesting that heel wedges should be used for anything other than a brief experiment.   To wedge permanently is to apply a bandaid rather than fixing the cause.   For the two horses I referred to, who were both comfortable without shoes, I recommended that the heels should be progressively raised through appropriate trimming.  Initially this could be done by weekly rasping of the toe to ensure breakover was kept as far back as possible without any chance to creep forwards.  Rasping of the heels would be less frequent, maybe alternate weeks, but would have to be monitored closely to be certain the heel buttresses were kept right back at the widest part of the frog.  Normal trimming intervals could be resumed once some heel height had been achieved, providing the horse was moving well with no return of previous problems.

I do not know the longterm outcome for the first horse, the owner was organizing for her farrier to do as suggested and I have not heard anything further - a silent phone usually means the problem has been resolved.  The second horse was a beginner endurance horse whose owner was doing her own trimming.  This horse improved immensely over several months and was starting to do longer distance rides when I last spoke with the owner.

I'd really like to know what's going on inside the foot when wedges are used, why are they (temporarily??) successful in alleviating pain? Is it just because it's relieving tension on the DDFT.

When the solar plane of the hind distal phalanx has become negative, the horse will feel a strain in all of the joints of the hind limb right up to the hip as all of these joints will be in an abnormally 'open' position.  He will also feel a pull, or stretch, in all of the interconnected soft tissues from the attachment of the tendon of the deep digital flexor muscle at the distal phalanx right up the limb and over the back as far forward as the withers.  You can feel this in your own body if you walk around on your heels for a few minutes with your toes raised - you'll feel the strain in your calves initially, then probably behind your knees as your knee joint is held in an over-straight position.  If you were to keep doing this for a few hours I can guarantee you would become very sore, and fatigued, all over your body.  Raising the heels so that the bone inside the hoof is no longer in a negative plane allows all of the horse's hindlimb joints to function normally and removes the pull from the interconnected fascia, ligament and muscle/tendon tissue of the hindlimb.  Please note that a ground parallel distal phalanx shown on X-ray of a stationary horse is in fact too low, given that the bone should show a low positive plane when standing.

I would rather just keep the toe backed up as much as possible, to relieve lever forces on sensitive laminae, wait until the inflammation has gone, and make sure I always use the hoof testers first at the toe before taking off any height.
Horses with mild laminitis will usually not react to the pressure of hoof testers so this is not a reliable guide for where you can trim.  If you are unsure about where your horse's coffin bones really are relative to sole depth then it might pay you to get some X-rays done, making sure you mark the position of the frog apex and the toe dorsal wall from ground to coronet.  Absence of inflammation does not guarantee the bone will be held high up in the hoof capsule - a strong laminar connection not weakened by metabolics or inadequate trimming is the only way to obtain and keep a good depth of sole.  Speaking of metabolics, I think you mentioned oat hay earlier on - be careful of this, oat hay can have extremely high sugar levels.

Best wishes - Pauline






Kathy75
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 Posted: Thu May 7th, 2009 02:21 pm
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Hi Pauline

No worries (as you say in Oz?), I understood what you meant about using the wedges as an experiment. I quite agree this is only a band aid as an actual treatment plan in shoeing, I just couldn't assume you thought the same way. I also did'nt want to come across as an anti-shoe barefoot fanatic. I do though recognise that artificially raising the heels is not going to solve the underlying problem.

Thanks for explaining the ramifications of a negative P3, that's very helpful. And I know that a ground parallel coffin bone is favoured among some trim methods (actually only one I know of - XXXX), but I quite agree with your comments on this - in fact I remember KC saying on one of his DVD's that the feet he's found with ground parallel P3's are some of the worst he's seen!

And thanks for the tip about the oat hay. It's frustrating, but we have a lack of decent grass hays in this country - pretty much only teff (eragrostis is the same thing I think, but only available up north), oat hay and lucerne, and rye (which I won't feed to my horse), and then teff is really difficult to get hold of out of season. I do try feeding 2/3 teff and 1/3 oat hay usually. I get the impression you have far more choice of hays in the US, UK and Austalia etc... very lucky!!

Trimming weekly to keep the toe and heels back is a good plan, thanks, this is exactly what I was thinking of.

Kathy

 

 

Last edited on Thu May 7th, 2009 09:13 pm by DrDeb

Sam
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 Posted: Fri May 8th, 2009 12:50 am
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Hi Kathy,

Thanks for starting this thread, learning heaps as usual.  What is the thumb test you mentioned?

I just can't imagine what it is like keeping a horse in South Africa.  Are the horses in paddocks or yards, stables, etc do they eat predominantly grass or hay? 

Thanks for the info re the hoof wedges Pauline, am going to give them a try, as I am still battling with my horses underrun heels and head high posture, it hadn't occured to me to check to see if the hind heels were too low.  I am slowly working though Dr Deb's orthapeadics disk, one of the Inner Horseman CDs, it is well worth purchasing and having a study.

Regards Sam

 

Kathy75
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 Posted: Fri May 8th, 2009 06:19 am
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Hi Sam

The thumb test was shown to me by someone to test for any gut sensitivity that seems to go hand in hand with LGL symtoms. I often think some days he looks more bloated around his tummy than other days, and I really don't know enough about this, but I think it's all linked to this metabolic syndrome, die off of bacteria and leaky gut etc. Run your thumb midway across his body horizontally from his elbow to his flanks to see if he flinches around the gut area. I've tried this on days when he seems 'fine' to check that it's not just a tickilish response.

I've printed out loads of papers I need to read on this subject, but this pile of papers keeps growing instead of shrinking!

Well I think the horse scene is SA is pretty much similar to what you'll find elsewhere - fancy yards where you pay a fortune and the horse is stabled mostly or let into a small square pen so he doesn't damage his valuable self by playing with other horses, blanketed at the slightest sprinkle of rain or chill in the air etc etc.....or the other end of the spectrum - gorgeous huge farms, native grasses and the most amazing countryside to ride in. I used to keep my horse further up north in the country, and when riding we'd come across Reedbuck lying in the bush, they blend in with the foliage so well you'd be on top of them before you know it, then they'd leap up like a Jack In the Box and bound off, giving me and my horse heart failure... interesting times!!

Unfortunately, kikuye paddocks are the norm here, especially around urban areas. It looks good to have a nice green paddock after all.... then add a concentrate rich diet which is typical at many yards, and bags of carrots as treats after every ride.... not the ideal situation.

A friend organised a truck load of hay to be brought down from a farm up country where she keps her horses, they have loads of native grasses which we don't get here. (Her ponies, part of a big herd there, are easy keeper types, yet despite the 24/7 grazing in sometimes knee high grags, they never show LGL symptoms. Probably a combination of good low sugar grasses, and constant movement.) It was cut at a certain time of day to ensure lowest sugar levels possible. Our horses were less than enthusiastic about it (others reported their horses wouldn't even eat it) - one wonders if it's because they are so spoilt with the taste of sweet kikuye and oat hay.... must be like a kid being faced with brussel sprouts when he's been getting McDonalds burgers and chips!

Cheers

kathy

 

 

 

Rowena
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 Posted: Fri May 8th, 2009 06:45 am
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Kathy75 wrote:
It was cut at a certain time of day to ensure lowest sugar levels possible. Our horses were less than enthusiastic about it (others reported their horses wouldn't even eat it) - one wonders if it's because they are so spoilt with the taste of sweet kikuye and oat hay.... must be like a kid being faced with brussel sprouts when he's been getting McDonalds burgers and chips!
Cheers

kathy
"

Yeah, I can relate to that!
I have my first horse - a 25yr old THB, now retired and turned out 24/7 on pasture. He is a sugar junkie and shows the effects of LGL. I stopped feeding concentrates many years ago, but no amount of concentrates I ever fed compared to the sugar he derives from this kind of grazing. Kikuyu is the worst because its a hybrid with plenty of muscle (the ability to survive everywhere due to a high sugar output).

Since my horses are turned out 24/7 Ive noticed they leave their hay in preference to the Kikuyu grass, and their manure has become smaller harder balls (due to much less fiber). They drink plenty of water, but now with eating so much less oathay - they have less fibre going through their gut. This is a very bad situation as I noticed they are guided by what is sweetest to eat. My THB who is the worst for this sweet tooth - actually smells sweet, which means the insects plague him.

If I had a magic wand I would move lock stock and barrel over to that kind of area which Kathy was describing.

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Fri May 8th, 2009 07:31 am
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You have my sympathies, Kathy, about obtaining low-sugar hay.  We have exactly the same problem in my part of Oz, predominantly pastures growing imported tropical grasses, cereal hays and lucerne - great choices! 

There were some long discussions last year about using various supplements in an effort to buffer the effects of high-sugar grasses in areas where there is little else - you might be interested to have a look at the Bone Measurements and Locking Patellas threads.

Best wishes - Pauline

Charlotte
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 Posted: Fri May 8th, 2009 08:52 pm
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Kathy75 wrote: We have a Equine Podiatrist visiting from the UK this week, I'll be shadowing her while she's consulting, and there's a good chance she'll be able to take a look at my horses feet while she's here, looking forward to that

Is that XXXX by any chance? If so, small world, she's my EP (and terrific - but you know that...!)

I've spoken to her about this site in the past and I know she admires Dr Deb's work so maybe you could print off this thread for her for interest -  I don't think she gets time to browse forums.
Best,
Charlotte

Charlotte, I'm glad you're pleased with all the members of the team that care for and support your horses. However, we don't know the person you mention, and they are therefore not on our 'recommended' list. It is not permitted in this Forum to name any person who is not on that list. This does not necessarily mean that we disapprove of them; it only means we do not know them. If you want to talk to someone on the Forum regarding a practitioner or clinician not on our list, you can do that by private EMail. Thanks for continuing to obey our rules. -- Dr. Deb

Last edited on Sat May 9th, 2009 05:13 am by DrDeb


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