Sunday, September 03, 2006

Magical changes

Lutine's hooves have been producing some wonderful changes over the last few weeks. The first little sign was a small area of crumbly sole that appeared on the lateral (outside edge) of her offside fore hoof. With the kind of natural hoofcare approach I've been using, the healthy sole is sacrosanct and is not trimmed and we look for changes in the natural sole plane to tell us where and when and how we can trim the adjacent wall or other structures. Lutine had a medio-lateral imabalance on this hoof, and it had been there at least 3 years. I found a vet report from 2003 in her passport when she was given to me that noted this imbalance at the time and recommended remedial farriery to sort it out. The photos I have of the hoof when I first went to see her in January 06 show the imbalance was still there. However, by trusting the sole, finally it decided the time was right, the coffin bone had migrated to a more balanced position and the sole powdered up a little, allowing me to finally work on that imbalance.

This is something that I love about natural hoofcare. The French have a saying "Compose not Impose". That's exactly what, for me, good hoofcare is about. As with all good horsemanship, you 'set it up and let it happen'. We always seem to get in trouble with horses when we try to dictate and control through mechanical means according to a man made frame of reference. I like the saying 'Rarely does wisdom dictate one thing and Nature another'.

A couple of weeks following this little event, I picked out Lutine's feet and noticed that on 3 of her hooves the soles and the frogs were starting to shed out a significant amount of material. This was very exciting! (OK, it's very quiet where I live and I don't get out much! :-D) In particular, Lutine was forming crumbly sole around her overlaid bars, meaning I could finally get to trim them without invading healthy sole and in the heel corner area, meaning I could potentially lower her heels a little, which in turn would bring them back, away from the centre of her foot. What was also very significant was that all this crumbly sole was also leaving a lot more concavity in its wake, meaning Lutine's feet were becoming stronger, tighter and with the coffin bone much higher within the hoof capsule - all 'tucked up safe and sound in her hoof'. :-) Finally, the whole outer layer of her frogs on each front hoof sloughed away, revealing a new frog that was healthier with a more well defined central sulcus.

I was sweating a bit about what exactly I needed to do with these hooves now. Instead of just diving in, I returned to my books, papers and articles and developed a plan of action. I wouldn't dump the heels on to the new frogs because those guys, whilst a lovely new shape, needed to get a little fatter and more callused. Also, if I did that I would be in danger of creating the 'low heel, long toe' situation I'd been trying to get rid of for 8 months. I would work on smoothing and trimming the bars, check the toe and wall height relative to the depth of the collateral groove at the frog apex, and then make sure I kept rolling that toe back to keep encouraging the flared forward toe to grow out. I also made frog shaped inserts out of some gym mat material for Lutine's boots to provide extra stimulation and vibration damping for the new frogs.

Now for photos (Jan 06 on left, Sept 06 on right):

Off fore

Near fore


Blogger Salkeela said...

Excellent photo comparisons. Even Lutine's stance seems to have improved... at least her cannon bones look more vertical in the more recent shots. Sal.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Lulu's friend said...

The stance has definitely improved Sal. In the front view shot of the off fore, that weird leg position is how she would stand almost all the time. In the last few weeks, she's finally started to stand up square at the front on a regular basis. 'course, in turn that's started to help everything else.

Nice to have you pop in. :-)

6:43 PM  
Blogger cloud_cirrus said...

There are loads of similarities between Lutine and Ru's progress. Ru is one of those horses that feels well, goes for a hooley around the field and steps on a stone then pulls up short. It's always two steps forward and one step back.

That's an amazing transformation in the pictures, you must be very excited, I can't get over her heels in the early photo's how could the vets/farriers think they were ok?!!

We have just gone through something very similar with Ru's soles and frogs although I have to confess that the OH got a little over excited with the new found concavity and hoof wall, that he couldn't help but take the heels down and balance them. Took the toe back as well and rolled it but I think it may have been a little bit too much too soon for the new frogs to take. He was much improved following the trim but the next day was sore. Course it coincided with a sudden growth surge in the grass and we probably weren't quite quick enough to get him off it ~sigh~ it's never easy with these project horses, a huge learning curve but possibly lessons I really don't want/need to learn! :)

We tried your tip with the triangular frog support today, once he was moving he moved ok, but I wouldn't say he really wanted to move.

Not helped by him going for a little trundle and then coming back to a small feed so I think we have trained him not to want to walk, or he has trained us not to walk him, just to feed him ~another sigh~.

Still good news is we have got PL at least in Europe now and on his way to the UK soon. I have had great fun sourcing a meat band saw for the dissection day, and not quite so much fun sourcing cadaver feet to trim. Need to go and pick them up and I really hope some of them have got shoes on.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Lulu's friend said...

Hi Tracey, I think the triangular frog support would possibly be better when you've left the heels that bit higher. It means you're still giving the frogs some gentle stimulation whilst the heels are still a bit high. If you took the heels a bit lower than the frogs can cope with, personally I'd just stick to same thickness comfort pads in his boots until the heel height and the frogs grow back. But, see what makes him most comfortable and go with that... We want the heel first landing. I've ordered Lutine some Epics now so that she can go back to wearing them in the field, see if we can push for another step improvement in the feet..

Oh dear, bad pun! Sorry! :-D

Have more exciting updates to add though..

12:16 PM  

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