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Reasons for the 'horse on a pedestal' stance?
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Kathy75
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 Posted: Sat May 9th, 2009 07:36 am
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Hi Charlotte

Yup, unless there are 2 EP's from the UK in SA right now, it's probably the person you're thinking of. I spent the day with her yesterday, was absolutely fabulous.

I was talking to her about this 'pedestal;' stance, and why would he load the toe area - apparently it's a situation where there is edema (sp?) in the soft tissue of the foot, which is makes up the rear part of the foot. Encased in a hoof capsule, it has nowhere to go and becomes sore. If it actually progresses to laminitis then the inflamed laminae make the toe area more painful than the heel area. This all starts higher up in the gut, she was talking about ulcers being a big culprit ( leaky gut syndrome would be similar in effect to this I would imagine), and the success they've had using the herbal products which the soothe and protect the gut.

We are probably seeing her again on Monday, and can talk more about this subject (we are bribing her with dinner up at our local pub, as long as we can talk hooves all night, poor lady!!)

Thanks Pauline for the tips about the other threads, I will look into that.

Kathy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun May 10th, 2009 08:24 am
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Kathy, you seem to be mixed up about what part of the body the horse is loading when adopting the stance pictured. When they place their front feet far back under the body, they are 'making like a chimpanzee' -- in other words, they are loading the FRONT feet so as to unload the hind feet.

I would like to applaud Pauline for her idea of a 'temporary heel wedge' experiment. If you are unable to listen to sense, or discriminate truth, here in the forum, then let us allow your horse to teach you. The horse is the best teacher in any case. I would highly encourage you to apply the heel wedges to the hind feet, just as Pauline has described, and then we would all certainly like to hear what the results of this experiment are.

As to Rowena's fears about what could happen if you reduce the horse's toes: it is 'theoretically' possible for a horse's feet to fall apart after removing toe, practically very rare; and the amount of toe we are telling you needs to come off is minimal. Neither is the style of foot you show us very prone, or very likely, to come apart. I mean if it hasn't come apart already, with the obvious high strain upon the deep digital flexor, it's unlikely to do so if you advance the breakover and ease the strain by taking back the toe!

You just need to keep the toe rasped back enough so that it is off the ground -- so that the 'chimpanzee walking on his arms' style of locomotion that your horse is currently exhibiting cannot perpetually pry the horny toe off of the underlying laminae. You see: there are two ways for a horse to acquire a dish in the toe. The classic way is laminitis, and you might call that the 'internal' way. The other way is what is colloquially in the southeastern U.S. called 'road founder', i.e. the mechanical tearing away of the toe due to chronic overloading of the forefeet and consequent late breakover.

Pauline and I have both told you what the cause is for the whole picture your horse presents: that is that his back is hurting him. When a horse's hind heels are too low, it exerts a constant pull on all the muscles, tendons, and yellow ligaments (ligamentized muscles) that lie on the caudal aspect of the chain of bones that form the hind limb. They are intimately connected, at the top, to the muscles of the horse's back, so that every time the animal swings a hind limb forward, it is pulling on, and hurting, his back. This causes him to want to "guard" by tightening his back.

It also throws the very closely-adjusted reciprocating apparatus of the hind limb out of kilter. The reciprocating apparatus of the hind limb is a tensionally co-adjusted set of muscles and ligamentized muscles that parallel the chain of bones that form the hind limb. In other words, Kathy, the 'elastic cables' that form this system, like the springs in a drafting lamp, exist on both the front and the rear aspects of the hindlimb bones. When the hind heels are too low, it raises the tension in only the rear cables, so that the system as a whole can no longer function well or comfortably. The first thing this does within the hind limb is make it far more likely that your horse will develop 'sticking' or 'locking' stifles or 'hitching' in the forward swing. It also throws strain into the horse's back, forcing it to compensate (there is nothing else he can call on to compensate).

As Pauline mentioned to you, Kathy, a negative or even "parallel" coffin bone is a disaster. How the supposed benefits of negative sole plane ever got to be believed in by anyone is a mystery to me; but then again, the gullibility and ignorance of many horse owners is also a mystery to me. For this reason I wrote, in 2003, a guide to orthopedic principles in horseshoeing, which is embodied in the 2003 "Inner Horseman" back issue. I would suggest that you might like to obtain that disk from our "Bookstore" section.

If you will do Pauline's experiment (it amazed me actually, that you did not take her up on this immediately and with enthusiasm) -- you very well may learn enough just from that, that you will find you don't need any podiatrist and you don't need to be spending money on herbs or other ineffective treatments. The edema in the feet (and edema also evident in the ankles) will VANISH the moment you get the feet back into better trim. Live and learn, my dear. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

Charlotte
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 Posted: Sun May 10th, 2009 10:02 pm
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Oops, apologies for the faux pas, I hoped a first name wouldn't break the rules. Thanks for the clarification - Charlotte

Kathy75
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 Posted: Mon May 11th, 2009 07:48 am
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Thank you Dr Deb for the explanation, it has been very helpful. Yes I have been mixed up about where he's weighting himself, so I appreciate the advice.

I trimmed him a couple of days ago and backed up the toe as much as I felt was safe.

I do plan to use the experiment Pauline mentioned, I will probably only manage this weekend, the past few weeks have been a little crazy, there's barely enough time to muck out the paddocks.

Kathy

Sam
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 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 08:44 am
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Hi Pauline,

I had a go with the wedges in 'Muffy's' hinds today and it has given me a lot think about.  To start with he was eating his hay, with his fore feet well under him and one hind right under the tummy and the other resting.  After putting the wedges in and taking him for a walk the fores were much more straight up and down, while he was eating.  I have a sort of mound in the paddock with lots of different grades on it, so before I put the wedges in, I walked the path I was going to take.  The thing that sticks out most with this horse is how he goes down hill, he sticks his head in the air and takes teeny tiny steps.   Going up hill his pulls himself up on his forehand, but head is lower than it used to be. 

Once I put the wedges in he found it easier to step under his body shadow.  He did lots of licking, chewing and ear waggling. There was a lot going on in his head!  Each time I walked him up a rise he had to stop at the top and sort of 'process' the whole manouver.  Lots of yawning, not the letting out butterflys type but real yawning.  He didn't really look a lot different going up hill BUT Going down hill, his head was low and his stride was a stride not a step!  His face softened, and he looked very happy. I couldn't put my finger on why but he sounded different when he walked. 

In a previous thread Dr Deb has told me if I fix the feet, the horse and I will have a promising out come.  So am off to do more study on the orthapeadics disk.  Any suggestions for further exercises I can do with this horse would be great.  I have taught him spanish walk and that has freed up the fore hind, was teaching the bow pilae but had to stop as he was just trying way too hard and was going to do himself a mischief, but once I attend to the hind feet, and the heels a bit of height on them, we look forward to starting this again!  Thanks for all the info here, its much appreciated.

Regards Sam

Helen
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 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 09:28 am
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Great to hear about your findings Sam!

Pauline I think I understand the theory behind the wedges but am just having trouble with the phrase "thin end at about mid-quarters level" - is mid-quarters a hoof term I am unfamiliar with? In the context of horses I think of quarters as hindquarters and that makes no sense of course.

Thanks as always for sharing so much of your knowledge with us.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 10:19 am
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Helen, go have a look at the Orthopedics disk and learn the parts of the hoof. Or look at the most recent edition of Equus Magazine -- they just did a feature on hoof basics, including terminology. Or take the trouble to look in any ten-dollar coffee table book on horses (this won't have all the parts, but it would have the term 'quarters'). The 'quarters' of the hoof capsule are the portion that composes the sides, that is the parts that lie between the pillar and the buttress on either the medial or lateral side.

And Sam: for goodness sake, what 'mischief' might he have done? The plie bow is just what he needs to be doing. He will not hurt himself by going deeper than he should, not even in hopes of receiving a treat. So my advice would be to continue bowing him, unless you can tell me some major reason not to.

Also: when I talk about 'stepping under the body shadow', I am NEVER talking about the hindlimb going from the rear to the front. The phrase is intended to indicate that the inside hind leg is to be swung obliquely forward-and-across. 'Stepping under the body shadow' has nothing to do with 'tracking up' or 'striding up'.

Also: technically, a 'step' is the distance between the footprint made by the left front foot to the footprint made by the right front foot. Or, it could refer to the distance between the footprint made by the left hind foot and the right hind foot. A 'stride' is the distance between the first footprint made by the left front foot and the NEXT footprint made by the same foot. So what you mean to say, I think, is that when you put wedges on your horse, he moved more freely and took longer steps.

To clarify to everyone working on this, again: inserting wedges/raising the angle of the hind feet drives more angle up into the hock and stifle joints above. Lowering the angle of the hind hoofs sucks angle out of the hock and stifle joints. It is precisely the same effect that high heels have on women: high heels make you want to walk with your knees a little more bent all the time than you would walk if you were wearing sandals or pumps. The difference though, with the horse is that this is good for his lower back -- high heels make women want to hollow their backs, but raising the hind heels helps a horse to do just the opposite, i.e. it helps him to round his back. This is why, when you put the wedges on, the horse that had previously been high-headed will go with a lower and more relaxed carriage of the neck and head: the loins govern what goes on in front, not only with the head and neck, but also having an effect on the forefeet.

I'd like to suggest to anyone contemplating this whole business, that you take a few minutes at this time and go over again to "knowledge base" and look for that illustration of the horse in levade compared to a cantilever bridge. I think it's in "True Collection" but it might be in "Ring of Muscles" -- I don't remember which. But look at it. That hind wedges should work this way, and have these effects, are one of the insights that illustration may help you to gain. -- Dr. Deb

Last edited on Wed May 13th, 2009 10:32 am by DrDeb

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Thu May 14th, 2009 12:05 pm
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Hello Sam - That's a very interesting response from your horse, he is clearly telling you what he needs to be happy in mind and body.

I'm thinking about how best to help you help your horse, so maybe you could let us know if this horse is shod or barefoot, if you employ a farrier or trim yourself, whether there have been any underlying laminitis events, etc.  Either way, there is no quick way to raise heels and return caudal tubules to a more vertical orientation, it will take many months at the minimum, maybe even a year or more.  Metabolic issues may also be involved in this, if the laminar connection is weakened by the consequences of exposure to high-sugar feeds/pastures, it will be doubly difficult to raise heel height as the coffin bone needs to be positioned high up within the hoof capsule before heel buttresses can be kept far back, allowing height to be increased - if sole depth is too shallow, your horse will not want to weight his heels; landing toe-first will perpetuate the problem of unused, underrun heels.

If your horse has hind heels that are too low, he will be uncomfortable in many areas of his body.  Moderate amounts of exercise are helpful in speeding up the rehabilitation process but the excessive mileage advocated by some is simply not necessary if metabolic issues are controlled.  While your horse is feeling uncomfortable, I would not advise ridden exercise, there is plenty to be done from the ground and you can monitor the softness of his eye more easily.  Another alternative is hoofboots with an inserted wedge, this would allow you to ride and do whatever you want training-wise.  If this is appropriate we can talk about that next time.

Best wishes - Pauline



Kathy75
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 Posted: Mon May 18th, 2009 07:39 am
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Pauline, thanks for suggesting the heel wedge experiment - I tried it yesterday. He did seem more comfy - I worked him in hand in the field, mostly walk and a little trot, circles, backing up, leg yielding etc, and he appeared more forward moving and willing. His body looked more relaxed too. The wedges stayed on for about 3 hours til they started to rub off, and during that time he definitely seemed to be standing straighter. Thanks for the help, it has been very interesting!!

Kathy

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Tue May 19th, 2009 08:45 am
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Kathy - Just like Sam's horse, your horse is telling you clearly that he feels more comfortable in his body when his hind heels are raised.   Trimming the feet so that the tubules will start to grow down in a more southerly direction is the only way to permanently increase heel height so that the pull, and consequent discomfort, will be removed from your horse's back.  As you already know, this is not an instant fix but will take several months at least, some people have battled with this for years and still not succeeded in getting those heels back where they belong.

A necessary part of the process that will speed things along is to encourage the horse to use his body as he should, i.e. take normal length steps where the heel is the first point of contact with the ground.  If the horse is uncomfortable anywhere in his body he will be likely to take shorter steps where the toe may hit the ground first - this can be hard to see when watching the horse move but sometimes can be seen in the wear pattern on the feet where the toe has been worn down more than the heels (if the horse lives on steep, rocky ground then the toe will wear anyway).  I suspect this is why your horse does not like to canter, the pull on his back will be greater in canter than either walk or trot.
 
To help your horse feel comfortable enough to take those normal steps, maybe you would like to consider investing in some well-fitting hoofboots so that you could buy/make some wedges to put inside the boots.  Boots should not be left on 24/7 but most horses will be fine wearing boots for 12 hours a day.  Some will cope with 24 hrs on, 12 hrs off, etc. - it all depends on how well the boots fit, how humid the weather, etc.  To guard against fungal or bacterial infections from prolonged wear, shake a couple of spoonfuls of hydrated ag lime into each boot every time they are put on.  Although wearing boots will not give the horse a totally normal step due to the extra length all around,  boots with wedges to raise the heels will give your horse several hours each day where the strain is taken off his back which will encourage him to move in a manner that is closer to normal.

Best wishes - Pauline



Kathy75
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 Posted: Wed May 20th, 2009 08:36 am
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Hi Pauline

Yes I still struggle a bit to see whether there is a toe or heel first landing, a video camera with slow motion playback would be handy to have around for this! He's not wearing his toe, in fact his toe is the strongest part of his foot, he develops very thick toe wall. Though he does not live on hard rocky ground, so not much opportunity to wear properly, except when we walk on the tarmac outside the property. So I've been bevelling the toe far more than usual, I will do so again this weekend.

I think the confusing part for me has been that the trim method I studied does not advocate a steep bevel, but more a 'dressing' of the foot, flush with the wall, to deal with flare and finished off with a little mustang roll. Maybe fine for a healthy hoof, but obviously not working for my Thb with his long toe/underrun heels. Different measures need to be adopted.

A friend is lending me a 10 DVD set from another well know American trimmer, and I'm told he goes into fantastic detail about this very issue..... really looking forward to seeing this!! 

I was thinking about boots too - I have access to a few pairs I could experiment with, plus i have a sheet of pad material which I can cut to fit the boots. Thanks again!

Kathy

 


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