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Kathy75
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Hi

I'm hoping Dr Deb or anyone can offer what possible reasons there are for a horse to stand like he's on an invisible pedestal... where both his forelegs and hind legs are not plumb straight but tucked under his body slightly.

 

My 12yr old Thb gelding has done this on and off for a long time, and I'd really like to figure out why. Sometimes he stands straight, and other times I see him standing at rest, one hind leg cocked with his forelegs tucked way under him.

Is this more likely to be hoof related, or could it be structural/muscular?

I'm afraid he may have a touch of low grade laminitis. He has a very faint pulse on all fours, maybe a 1 out of 5. Otherwise his feet are'nt too bad, the white line is not as tight as I'd like to see, but there is no deviation/flare of the dorsal wall angle to indicate possible rotation of the hoof capsule or coffin bone.

I tested his feet with the hoof testers recently, no reaction to pressure at the toe or heel area.

He's sound on all going except stones where he may be a little footy. I have been trimming him myself for 2 years, having studied Pete Ramey, KC LaPierre, and taken part in various clinics over the years. 

He gets a handful of unmolassed Speedibeet plus vitamin supplements, and a mixture of teff and oat hay, and he's on a rather overgrazed stressed pasture... kikuye unfortunately!!.

 And I'm a little embarrassed by how fat he looks... not cresty but more like a big grass belly. I'm sure if he actually got enough exercise, any possible, subtle metabolic issue would not be evident.... but at the moment, he's very unfit, and apart from living out 24/7, doing some long reining, in hand work and handwalking around the neighbourhood, he doesn't get enough exercise I know.... something I have to work on!

Anyway, I'm wondering about if there is a connection between any LGL and the way he stands - in laminitis they stand with the weight rocked back to unload the toes... here my horse is loading the toes on the fronts with his forelegs tucked behind. His heels are in the right place, not underrun, he lands heel first/flat and I do not suspect any caudal heel sensitivity.

 

So could the reasons be further up? In Dr Deb's Birdie Book, she says the muscles should not feel firmer than a hard boiled egg if I remember correctly - in my horses' hindquarters there are areas where his muscles feel harder than that.

If he's not standing properly or using his stay apparatus effectively, this must be taking a toll on his body?

Or could it be a chicken or egg story, maybe the problem originated in his feet, causing him to stand unnaturally, leading to his current situation?? And of course, it doesn't help that he's not '100% OK', he's always been highly strung and unpredictable, which is why I'm so glad to have found this forum and the Birdie Book (BTW I live in South Africa, so I cannot get help from the clinicians mentioned on the webite, much as I'd love to!).

So I'd really really appreciate any thought or comments on what could cause a horse to stand in this position, and what kind of toll it could be taking on his body.

(And I have every intention in the coming months, of ordering the DVD's and publications on anatomy and the biodynamics of the hoof that I've seen mentioned on this site, looking forward to it!!.)

 

Thanks for any help!!

Kathy

 

 

kindredspirit
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Hi Kathy,

This made me think of heel pain.  Anyy fungus issues?  Frogs are full and healthy?  I have seen horses do this when they are trying to unload the weight in the heel area and generally these horses have some thrush issues.

Best,

Kathy

(I trim too!)

 

rty

Kathy75
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Hi

Thanks for the suggestions.

Yes, the heel sensitivity is a possibility.... I'm thinking that just because he did'nt respond to the hoof tester, does not mean he is not sensitive there. His left front is a little more upright than the right (the right is his dominant foot, the one he normally has out in front when grazing, this one has a pretty healthy frog).

So the LF has a weaker frog, and the central sulcus is deeper than it should be, and there is some thrush, not too bad though. I've been plugging it with gauze soaked in stockholm tar, and it's improved a little. I know stock. tar is frowned upon by equine podiatrists, but I've heard of excellent results from a very reliable source, and I've treated a pony the same way and his central sulcus began closing up within 2 weeks. Plus I've heard how it was used by vets in the old days to plug wounds, so the stuff can't be that necrotising...?!

Have you seen horses which stand tucked under like this improve once the frogs have improved and the thrush gone? What have you used to treat the thrush?

I was just wondering if there could be any other factors involved, like pelvic issues etc, but I'm probably reaching here. The way my horse stands with his hinds tucked under, his pelvis looks tilted, but is this chicken or egg situation, is it because of his feet....?

I meant to say that I'm not expecting a definitive diagnosis here, very difficult without seeing the horse in person I know, but I would love to hear all possibilities involved so I can increase my understanding and knowlege.

 

Thanks so much

Kathy

 

Leah
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The stance sounds more like heel pain and rings of hoof balance issues.

The description of his weight issues and diet (stressed grass) sounds like conditions perfect for laminitis. A horse will normally stand the opposite way when getting hit by laminitis-rocked back to unweight the toes.

The lack of frog healthy rings of diet issues and hoof balance issues.

Of course it can also be something higher up-and from your description of the hooves, chances are there are some body issues going on.

Either way, the lack of hoof health and diet needs to be addressed.

Pauline Moore
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Hello Kathy

I doubt your horse's stance is caused by foot troubles - he is increasing the loading on the flexor tendons which pull on the undersides of the coffin bones, the exact opposite of the posture of a laminitic horse and you report that he does not have underrun heels and lands heel first in movement so it's unlikey he's feeling too much heel discomfort whilst stationary.

Has this horse ever had an accident where his hind feet have slipped out from under him, such as when taking off over a jump, or even slipping in the mud while free in his own paddock?  How easily can this horse stretch his hind legs backwards, ie if you lift a hind foot, as though you were going to trim it, how far will that foot extend back past his tail?  Can your horse do that easily and stay relaxed if you keep the leg stretched out for a while?  Any difference between one hindlimb and the other?

I'm trying to figure out why he would feel more comfortable in that position and wonder if at some point he has torn or over-stretched one or more of the iliopsoas complex muscles.  These are muscles that are involved in tucking the pelvis under (coiling loins) and will be stretched when extending the hindlimb.  If there has been any injury here, the horse will be reluctant to hold a stretch and may stand with hindlegs under himself to take away any pull on those muscles - the front legs would then be placed under him also to keep his balance, rather than having to use muscular effort to maintain the stance.

Just a thought.

Best wishes - Pauline



kindredspirit
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Kathy75 wrote: Hi

So the LF has a weaker frog, and the central sulcus is deeper than it should be, and there is some thrush, not too bad though.

Have you seen horses which stand tucked under like this improve once the frogs have improved and the thrush gone? What have you used to treat the thrush?

Kathy

 


Hi Kathy,

Sounds like you are working on the thrush.  I use a product called White Lightning.  It is a chlorine dioxide product .  It works well.  Also using a mxture of Athlete's foot cream, (antifungal) mixed with a triple antiobiotic cream squirted into the central sulcus works too.  Pete Ramey uses this and it has been coined Pete's Goo.   I have seen horses stand tucked like this from thrush, some are tougher than others.

Kathy

 

Kathy75
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Thanks to everyone for the very helpful comments!

Pauline, I don't know of any accident he may have had to have affected him this way.

He did have 2 nasty accidents as a youngster before I got him, with some bad scarring and scar tissue on his one front leg, but I don't know if this is relevant at all.

I've had him since he was 3 yrs old, and it seems he has always worked in 2 halves - the hindquarters simply come along for the ride because they're attached to his body. His front end has always appeared more powerful than the hind end. He does not show that natural ability to coil the loins and collect, watching him in the paddock when he's playing or something spooks him, he hollows his back and sticks his head in the air.... where my other horse raises the base of his neck and back, and is a picture of elegance. It's interesting to note the difference in their way of going at liberty.

I think I saw a comment somewhere that horses do not need to be 'taught' collection, as horses they know how to do this naturally, but do some horses perhaps have less natural ability than others... like some people don't know how to use their body as efficiently as others, re. posture and breathing etc.

I have never jumped my horse much, he's never shown much inclination towards it, and I have to admit, that in the past three years I've hardly ridden him at all.... long story...... 

Usually, I take him handwalking, or work in hand. I try do plenty suppling work as well... leg yield and (what I hope is a correct) shoulder in, he backs up very easily, but he does not like to canter so much. He seems to find it difficult to sustain a canter, if I push him he gets agitated, I usually ask for one circle if he looks up for it, then let him fall back to trot.

*******I'm trying to figure out why he would feel more comfortable in that position and wonder if at some point he has torn or over-stretched one or more of the iliopsoas complex muscles.  These are muscles that are involved in tucking the pelvis under (coiling loins) and will be stretched when extending the hindlimb.  If there has been any injury here, the horse will be reluctant to hold a stretch and may stand with hindlegs under himself to take away any pull on those muscles - the front legs would then be placed under him also to keep his balance, rather than having to use muscular effort to maintain the stance.*********

Pauline I think you may have something here... he definitely feels tight with his hinds when I trim.... (my poor old knees, I can't lift his legs too high). I don't think he could sustain a stretch out behind.

Over the years he's had Chiropractic, physio, acupuncture, Body Stress Release, homeopathy... LOL I must sound like one of those neurotic owners whose horse is always sick. (But actually he has not needed the vet for 4 years). During all these treatments, issues have always been picked up in his pelvic/ back areas. He has been looked at by a vet, and there is nothing like kissing spines or neurological disorders.

What I am wondering is could it be something as subtle as a long standing combination of factors  - mostly perhaps from years of incorrect and insufficient exercise, working too much off his forehand, plus his ever present inner mental tension which manifests as physical tension. Plus throw in less than perfect hooves (slightly weak frog and a little thrush in the one foot), plus a subtle case of low grade laminitis, and continuous strain from standing unnaturally. I'm just thinking aloud here.

I am busy rereading the Birdie Book, and the thread on 'mannering' your horse. What Dr Deb has mentioned about the Greater Path and the horses mental state influencing their physical state, had me very interested.... I am hoping that this will all help with the way he moves and stands.

Thanks for the help

Kathy  



Leah
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I would really not dismiss hoof form too quickly ;-)

Indy
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Kathy,
Is it possible for you to post a picture of your horse standing in this position?
Clara

Kathy75
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Clara, that's exactly what I thought I'd do, so I took a few pics last night. Hope I've attached them properly, not very good at this....

 

Leah, you're right, I don't plan on dismissing the feet. I have attached a pic of his left front, the one with a deep central sulcus. (I should've included a solar shot) The other foot has less heel hight, but a healthier frog. You'll see how he's loading his toe area on his fronts, but then he's loading his heels on his hinds. Interestingly, his pulses are a touch stronger in his hinds compared to his fronts. (I am giving him some MSM to combat any inflammation).

If the problem is simply from caudal heel sensitivity, why then would he stand with his hinds tucked under..?

Would appreciate any thoughts on the pics.

Thanks

Kathy

 

Attachment: Reyk 4 May 2009 006.jpg (Downloaded 502 times)

Kathy75
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And another one...

Attachment: Reyk 4 May 2009 004.jpg (Downloaded 499 times)

Leah
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Kathy, feel free to email me on his hooves if you want (unless the list wants to continue a detailed discussion here).

I would love more photos taken just like you did that side shot-ground level and filling the lens of the camera. Photos taken like this reduce distortion as best you can with photos.

The first thing that jumps out is the length of his toe-it is way too far forward (also called 'too long'). His toe needs to be backed WAY up (over time of course).

A forward long toe will pull the entire foot forward. This will pull heels forward, creat a long skinny frog AND create conditions for thrush and infection. It also creates thin soles and all kinds of issues.

His posture to *my* eye reflects a horse very sore on his feet (from imbalances like the one in the hoof you posted). He likely has body soreness as well.

The good news is the feet are fixable! BUT any topical thrush treatments or body work will not be as successful without also addressing the hoof imbalances.

Leah
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I wanted to add-from the body shots his left front looks like an even longer toe and his hind toes also look long with long heels (possibly even a negative coffin bone).

Anyway....shots off each foot from the side, front and sole would be great.

If Dr Deb prefers not to take up that much space you may want to post your photos on a free website and just post the link here?

DrDeb
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Kathy --

(1) Move fore heels back -- rasp. Remove the junk from the toe. The main problem is that the fore heels are somewhat under-run: a common problem that will cause the type of stance the horse shows.

(2) Move hind heels back and allow a little higher angle in the rear. This will drive a little more angle into the hind joints, and relieve the horse's back.

(3) Have you said above that this horse is lame, or has some other reason why it can't work? Greater general fitness -- conveyed by a few sessions with wet saddle pads -- will greatly help this animal's stance. Use the search function for this Forum to find threads on use of cavalletti in conditioning.

Consider the following axioms:

1. Back dynamics govern limb dynamics (in the sound horse)

2. If conditions in the hoof get bad enough, so that the horse becomes footsore for whatever reason, then hoof dynamics will begin to dominate back dynamics; the animal will have to compensate by the over-use or chronic tightening of muscles above the knee and hock.

I get the sense that you may be over-focusing on details of the frog. It is wise to step back and look at the whole picture. The frog business will clear up all by itself when you get the capsular cones back to where they need to be. -- Dr. Deb

Pauline Moore
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Kathy - You've been given good advice re his feet which may be sufficient to return him to a normal posture.  If not, we can delve a little further into what else could be responsible.  Please let us know how he progresses.  Best wishes - Pauline



Last edited on Tue May 5th, 2009 10:55 am by Pauline Moore

Kathy75
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Thanks Leah and Dr Deb, really appreciate the help.

Would it be ok to post pics, 2 of each foot, or maybe I should post on another website as Leah suggested?

Leah you definitely have a point about the hinds being long, and they are more underrun than the fronts. He always develops a very strong toe, with thick hoof wall. I have probably not been strict enough with keeping the toe plane at the correct height and length. So yes he has a narrow frog, the foot has been pulled forward.

Pressure is the stimulis for growth, so it makes sense that if his toes are receiving too much pressure, they continue to grow out of balance. I will work on rectifying this, try for a steeper heel angle as Dr Deb mentioned.

There's no reason he can't work Dr Deb, he's not lame... though I'm only working him from the ground presently. This is partly because I made the mistake of buying a treeless saddle years ago - I ordered it from the UK, had both the open cell and closed cell pads fitted in the numnah to create a gullet and spread the pressure etc... only to read all the info on saddles on this site recently... with the conclusion of course that I should not be using this saddle. So the plan is to buy the saddle fitting CD I saw recommended here before I change my saddle.

The other reason is that I no longer hack him out, I have lost my nerve a little over the years with him. And since reading the Birdie Book, which explains perfectly why I've been having these problems, (spooking, bucking etc) it is actually a relief to not feel obligated to take him out. Instead we are going to focus on the exercises I've read about here on keeping his birdie with me. Even walking out the gate to take him for a walk/jog around the neighbourhood, I see his breathing change and that faraway look appear in his eyes.

Thanks for the suggestion of the cavaletti, I usually try working him over poles and logs in the field where possible.

Dr Deb, I'm not sure what you were talking about regarding the 'wet saddle pads'?

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!

Thanks for all the help so far.

Kathy

AdamTill
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This visual might help, based on the last photo you presented. It could be more accurate with a sole photo to key off of as well, but should be close.

As everyone else is saying, toe looks long, heels about right if likely a bit high, but also probably lacking sole depth under the toe.

BTW - wet saddle pads tend to come from excercize sweat :)

Attachment: Reyk 4 May 2009 006 - Markup.jpg (Downloaded 442 times)

lighthorse
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I'm a little lost.  Dr. Deb:  If one took more hoof off the bottom towards the heel....where Adams torquoise line is, that would change the angle? ( Assuming that one cleans up the toe),  Making it less under run?   Is that what you would do Adam?  It sounded like you thought the angle was pretty much okay. 

If the hind foot heel is moved back....that would "stand him up" more...taking pressure off clear up to the stifle?  Maybe sort of like straightening the leg to offer more support to the back....kind of like a stronger/straighter pillar?

"Lacking sole depth under the toe"....would that be s concavity made by the overlong toe? 

Thanks.

AdamTill
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"I'm a little lost.  Dr. Deb:  If one took more hoof off the bottom towards the heel....where Adams torquoise line is, that would change the angle? ( Assuming that one cleans up the toe),  Making it less under run?   Is that what you would do Adam?  It sounded like you thought the angle was pretty much okay."

The change in heel angle that I'm suggesting would make a trivial change in the standing angle of the hoof. It's backing up the toe, and thus changing the forces experienced by the hoof on loading IN MOTION as a result of altered breakover and capsular loading forces, that allows for a healthier hoof to grow in.

I wouldn't concentrate on what the horse standing square on concrete is telling us. Watching him move, and focusing on the forces experienced in motion is what, in my experience, leads to down a better path.

"If the hind foot heel is moved back....that would "stand him up" more...taking pressure off clear up to the stifle?  Maybe sort of like straightening the leg to offer more support to the back....kind of like a stronger/straighter pillar?"

I'm a touch confused. By trimming to a future plane (like I've indicated) you can setup a better landing pattern, and move the point of setdown further back, but talk of "standing him up" by trimming tends to indicate to me that you're talking pastern angle?

If you drop the heel vertically then you'll tend to steepen the pastern angle, but do remember that these tendons are attached to muscles further up, and that attempting to adjust pastern angle mechanically tends to be pointless if the body doesn't support the changes. Again, too, I'd prioritize how the hoof lands as opposed to how it looks when it's resting.

""Lacking sole depth under the toe"....would that be s concavity made by the overlong toe? "

I mean that the distance between the tip of the coffin bone and the outside world is likely a bit too small right now. The flared toe almost guarantees a lack of concavity, which in turn tends to bring the inside closer to the outdoors. The general shape of the average coffin bone and the growth angle indicated in the photo also support my estimate, but without more info, it's only an estimate.

DrDeb
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Lighthorse -- if you don't rasp the heels back to the widest part of the frog with each and every trim, you will lose ground over successive trims with a horse that has under-run heels/curly bars. The only way to get the heel tubules to stand back up properly is to doggedly persist in moving the buttress support back.

Adam's lines of analysis are absolutely spot-on. You will notice where he suggests taking off the toe to: this is what I meant by 'please remove all the junk from the toe.' A mistake that I consistently see made by amateur so-called 'hoof trimmers' and professional farriers alike: to be afraid to remove ALL the junk from the toe. The person may be afraid that they will make the horse sore, or even cause a bleed; you probably won't do the former, and are extremely unlikely to do the latter. Unless the excess toe is removed, the breakover will continue to be late, and this will feed back not only to continue to create a junky toe that continues to be partly disconnected from the underlying sensitive laminae, but will also alter flight and landing dynamics so that the horse continues to land too early on the heels, which perpetuates crushing them and can neutralize all efforts to get the heel tubules to stand back up properly. You understand that the heel tubules are too low whenever their angle is more horizontal than those of the toe and pillars, irrespective of the apparent "silhouette" outline of the capsule. You judge by the tubules; another mistake often made is that the "trimmer" only perceives the silhouette capsule shape, as if the foot had no biogenic "grain". But the "grain" -- the tubules -- is (in any foot that is not actually gangrenous) an infallible guide to what is going on inside, as well as to breakover, wear, and the general health of the foot and the animal as a whole.

As to the hind hoofs: these require less sophistication in most cases from the trimmer, as weight tends to exacerbate any unhealthy tendencies -- so that while the front feet, which carry most of the animal's weight, may not be able to self-maintain, the hind feet often do so. My suggestion here is to play with the hind feet within the limits they can tolerate, raising the angle slightly so as to push more angle into the hind joints, which will act to relieve the animal's back and also protect its stifles from getting to where they start to chronically "stick". Any animal in as low a state of physical fitness as the one under discussion here, and with as low and "soft" a back, is in danger of sticking stifles.

Moving the hind heels back "a tad" can be accomplished easily while also raising the hind angle "a tad". We are talking here about one degree of angle or less. This is an example of the use of orthopedic principles and of the principles of whole-body biomechanics to assist a horse to greater comfort and better movement.

As to Kate's reluctance to ride the horse: Kate, you need to get yourself some horsemanship help. If the animal you show us has actually bucked in the last decade, I am a monkey. Many beginners get afraid of their horses and (my experience in a previous life as a wrangler at various livery stables) hints to me that what really happened was that he shied a little bit or maybe took a stumbly step going downhill, so that you fell off (which then gets inflated in the person's mind to "I got bucked off"). Please see the recent thread on 'guilt and the sick horse' and read my essay at the bottom of that thread, and think about what it says. It is not fair to your horse to leave him so unfit that he becomes prey to lameness of the back or limbs, and even though I'm all for your plan to longe him, etc., it does not sound to me like you really know how to construct a conditioning program whether from the ground or from the saddle. Go find Harry or Josh, pronto, and find out again what fun riding was meant to be. -- Dr. Deb

 

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Adam,
Is it possible for you to explain what each line represents?

Dr. Deb,
Is "all the junk of the toe" the amount that is between the two turquoise lines that cross?

I am in awe of the knowledge that you both have (and so many others here). Thank you for sharing.
Clara

Last edited on Wed May 6th, 2009 04:28 am by Indy

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Kathy,
Thanks for posting the pictures and sharing your issue. Having a visual helps.

Was this horse having issues (soreness, inability to move comfortably etc) due to the treeless saddle?
Clara

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Hi Adam,

Could you also mention what program you're using to diagram the hooves?

I really enjoy studying the various examples you've provided over time. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us.

Thanks,

Erin

DrDeb
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Indy & Blaze: I'll let Adam go ahead and tell us where he learned what he knows, but I'll also add that whatever else he may say, Adam has "the eye", which the person develops from appropriate practice (and maybe from "guided" practice, i.e. from working with a teacher who also has the eye).

Indy, "all the junk on the toe" is that portion of the toe which Adam marks off between the blood-red line and the green line. This whole part of the toe of the capsule has become a 'bubble' -- in a way like a blister -- disconnected from the underlying "sensitive" tissue (the tissue that has a blood supply).

When performing an analysis such as Adam provides, the place where you start is to locate that portion of the toe tubules which is most upright. This segment will be found to exist between the coronet band at the top, and anywhere farther down that the capsule of the toe appears to flare outward (Adam's blood-red line). The last place where the laminae of the capsule have a firm and live connection to the underlying sensitive laminae is the place where the tubules first flare outward; i.e., the declivity or 'deepest part of the dip' in the contour of the toe.

Having found the line that represents the "connected" portion, you then project that line downward (Adam's green line).

Adam then draws in the isoceles triangle (blue) which represents the position of the coffin bone. There is a little "art" to this part, because without an X-Ray, one cannot know exactly how high the upper apex of this triangle lies, nor either exactly how far toward the heels the whole triangle may lie. Adam has said in a previous post that he must "guesstimate" in the absence of other data, so I know that Adam knows what the limits of this method are. The widest part of the capsule (where the quarters flare outward the most) can be seen in the photo, and this is usually a good indicator of the position of the 'bridge' which directly underlies the center of the coffin joint. Based on that, I might locate the blue triangle a little farther forward, but that wouldn't change the whole picture of what needs to be done very much.

Further, I would direct you to one VERY important statement that Adam makes in his previous post: he mentions "a future line". In other words -- Adam is not thinking merely in the three dimensions of height, depth, and width, but in four dimensions, i.e. including TIME. The hoof is going to grow, and the good farrier must be able to foresee where the growth is going to go, so as to be able to direct that growth.

This latter ability is even more important than having an 'eye' for the real meaning of what the horse shows you when he walks up to you the first time. One of the great deficiencies (that we can repair) in the present system of education and training for farriers is that the concept of creating a treatment plan is hardly ever mentioned. Nobody should ever trim a horse's foot "for today" or "just to neaten it up." There must always be first, meaningful assessment (understanding what walks up to you), followed by a treatment plan (what you're going to do today, what you're going to do next time, and the time after that, etc., until your treatment objective -- which will always be to restore normalcy according to orthopedic principles -- is achieved). -- Dr. Deb

 

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Adam thank you, your diagram is so helpful!! I really have underestimated how much the foot has travelled forward. (Though they have improved compared to years ago, the hinds had virtually no heel, and quarter cracks up to the coronary band, with long flared toes.)

And thanks for the tips about wet saddle pads...I see what you mean (I don't think you call them numnahs in the US?)

Clara, I don't know if the treeless saddle impacted on him in any way (probably didn't help), I've only used it a dozen times the past few years, and not longer for about an hour at a time I think.

Dr Deb, I would love all the horsemanship help possible, and if I didn't live a continent away I would have already been to many of these clinics you mentioned ages ago. I have tried in the past to get help from 'natural horsemanship' instructors here - coming from a well known American based husband/wife team source (not to be mentioned on this site... and I think I understand why...). 

My first lesson with one of these instructors ended up in a huge vets bill, he got away from her, tore around the yard and gashed open his hindquarters, needing to stitched up! So I've been looking for help in all the wrong places, have made more mistakes than I can count, and yes I've read the 'guilt' thread,  there's a lot there that relevant for me. I won't go into any more about why I still have my horse, don't want to take up any more space.

But while we're on the subject of getting the *right* type of help, would it be OK to ask, if any other South Africans that happen to be reading this site, could they contact me if they are keen to attend a Josh Nichol clinic? I have contacted him last year, and just recently again, and he's interested in coming to SA, maybe in 2010. I would like to organise clinincs in Cape Town and Joburg... nothing definite, but I'm very hopeful it'll work out.!!!

 Email: kathadams75@gmail.com

I really appreciate the amount of detail shared on this thread, I will be reading it many times over to be sure.

I would like to trim this weekend, then would it be ok to post more pics  - 2 per foot, or will this take up too much space?

Maybe I should post them elsewhere?

Thanks again

kathy

 

lighthorse
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Thank you, Adam.  I'm off to work and haven't had a chance to read the other posts besides yours.  When I asked about the upright pillar so to speak...I was asking about Dr. Deb post relieving back strain.  Thanks again, everyone.  Mauri

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Hello everyone, I'm new here and am so glad to have found this insightful and open-minded forum!

Reading through this thread I totally relate to the observation's that Adam and Dr Deb have made, but (if no one minds?) I would like to venture a small reservation...

Kathy mentions a pulse, an unfit horse and the dreaded Kikuyu grass. This got my attention as I have had similar problems.
Firstly the pulse indicates a degree of inflammation - (is this horse also lethargic Kathy?)
And then that dreaded Kikuyu grass... which is so sweet you can taste it by human standards. Horses can derive a massive amount of sugar 24/7 this way even on short grass.

This combined with the stance and 'pregnant' belly all suggest that a digestive overload has brought about some temporary inflammation in the front feet. The pedestal-stance is good way for a horse to alleviate the weight off his front feet - as the hind feet stand further toward the center of the horse, this will automatically lighten his forehand (the fundamental principal of dressage).

So while his toe does need to be taken back as suggested, I would venture that the timing is not right.
Taking the toe back at this point will unavoidably lower P3 and render it more available to trauma and with any inflammation present this could make things even worse.

I've noticed this with my own horses - when the toe needed to be taken back and if any inflammation was present, it pushed things over into the wrong direction and caused a great deal of unnecessary pain (which increases the uncomfortable stance).

I would therefore caution Kathy to wait until ALL inflammation is completely gone before making any changes (even if they are for the long term better).

I absolutely do not believe the overlong toe is the root cause of this on/off situation that Kathy describes, as I have many seen horses with far longer toes and more imbalanced feet (but no inflammation) that are quite sound in spite of it. And even though the imbalance could not have been quite comfortable Mother Nature combined with the dynamics of Movement soon did the work of breaking and chipping away the long toes and nothing but a shoe or forced inactivity can prevent this.

Of course this is not the answer, as Dr Deb pointed out it does not address the corresponding heel issue, but my point is that it did not cause the kind of issues that Kathy has presented, and every single horse was quite happy to carry their weight independently on either end of the body in spite of some (temporary) trim imbalance.

And with regard to the hind heels being too low... my guess is that Kathy has not been lowering these, but that the habitual overloading of these heels (when the horse is standing too far underneath himself) has driven the tubules forward and so now they do not properly support the back of the foot.
My guess is that she can wait till-the-cows-come-home but those hinds heels will never gain in height and will only creep forwards, until the main cause of the problem is dealt with.

Just my tuppence worth...
Cheers,
Rowena.

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Hi Rowena. Thanks to everyone for this interesting thread.

I have a couple of questions. Firstly, does a faint but clear digital pulse, on horses who have been resting just before I feel for it, necessarily indicate inflammation? I've been periodically checking digital pulses on several horses for a few years, and most of the time I've had a hard time feeling it. This spring, however, I've been able to find a faint but distinct pulse on each horse almost daily.

One thing has stayed the same this spring--I've strictly limited the horses' grazing time as I have for many years (having owned Morgans, ponies, Iberian horses).

One thing has changed--I'm feeling for the digital pulse differently: I was often pressing too hard before. So I'm pretty sure the reason I'm finding it consistently is because I've gotten better at feeling for it.

The horses are VERY playful--running,bucking, doing unnamed airs--in pasture, they horse around in their paddock, and they seem comfortable in work. Other than the fact that I've been wondering if I should be finding their digital pulses so consistently, I'm not seeing anything that makes me think they're footsore.

So do the pulses just mean they're alive, or should the pulses in themselves be a concern?

To Rowena or anyone--My second question is this: Kathy said in her first post that her horse sometimes cocks a hind leg when he's in the stance being discussed. If he's placing his hinds under himself more to take weight off the front as you brought up, would he still cock a hind leg?  I ask this because when I see my horses standing at rest with a cocked hind leg, I've been taking that as another indication that they're probably not sore in front from low grade laminitis.--Elynne

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My experience has been that a light but distinct pulse in a standing horse (not after exercise) is indicative of low grade inflammation. A bounding pulse is faster and much more noticeable, and as you rightly say - requires a 'sensitive feel' to be certain. Most owners who check the pulse regularly get to know their horse and can tell the difference easily. But even with a sensitive feel, those horses who appear to have no pulse at all - don't have any inflammation.

The problem with Spring time is that with all the added energy (from sugar&carbs)horses feel full of life and they do silly things. This is only regrettable if it results in any small loss of connection - which it very often does. The on/off footyness, flaring of the hoof capsule and sometimes flat-footedness testifies to this - I've seen it a lot.

You are wise to limit the grass intake, as this is the only control you have over sugar intake. Perhaps Global warming is the cause of the fact that nowadays we have high grass sugars pretty much all year round, but particularly at Spring and in Autumn.

As to the cocked leg...my own observations have led me to believe that horses 'stand-under' when wanting to relieve the weight off the front feet, and sometimes cock a leg once they settle into it (generally once the inflammation backs off and they get lazy) - depending on the amount of inflammation present. But it can become a bad habit if chronic, and horses that sometimes look as if they are standing on a pedestal are more uncomfortable then.

And very often a trimming/correction can be just the thing to push things over the edge. I learned the hard way that it is always best to consider timing. Never take too much toe if the horse has any inflammation present get the inflammation down first.

Tutora
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Hmm...more food for thought. That seems like a good observation--that the spring grass could make the horses playful enough to temporarily override discomfort. My horses are just as playful year round, though. Even when they're not wound up, I often see them walking actively in the large dry lot. They get no grain, just nice grass hay, scheduled morning grazing, and a supplement in the winter. They're not overweight, but their coats and hooves are shiny. Their feet have no flares.

I certainly don't want to deceive myself, but I am sure that the method I started using to check their pulses a few weeks ago has made a big difference in why I'm now feeling them consistently. But yeah, I do get concerned when I see people talking about any digital pulse as a cause to suspect hoof inflammation.

I've been waiting for "the hay guy" and now he's here. I want to add something else when I'm done with the hay stacking. Thanks, all.

Tutora
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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

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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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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

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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!

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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.

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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

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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



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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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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






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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

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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

 

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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

 

 

 

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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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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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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

Kathy75
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 09:32 am by DrDeb

Pauline Moore
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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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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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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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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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