Thursday, 2 February 2017

Four years on...

At this time of year, I get a lot of reminders on Facebook from Buddy’s time at Rockley and I realised that I’ve not really done a ‘feet’ update for a while. We are entering our fifth year of rehab and as time goes on I have never lost the appreciation or amazement of just how dynamic a hoof can be and how they change and adapt according to very small changes in management, environment or situation.
Nov 2012 - Buddy's first shot from Rockley, he pulled his shoes off a week prior
You would never look at Buddy’s feet and think they were capable of handling the majority of terrains and the level of work he is capable of. His feet have always been flat and I think they will always be, his frogs aren’t huge and beefy and plenty of people have had their opinions on how his feet have looked over the years! However, his function has always been good and he has always been heel first. His first hoof capsule still showed signs of the damage that had been done and he was sensitive to stones on a hard surface and even now he can have a stumbly step if he steps on a sharp stone on the road. It definitely bothered me at first as I felt that he should be perfect over all terrain and it didn’t help that I had people telling me how cruel I was being but now I have very little problem with an odd step as I see it as protection and it happens so rarely.

Buddy grows a new hoof capsule every 7-9 months and so what I’m seeing today is his 5th hoof capsule since returning from Rockley. I started to notice a change in his feet and their shape last year at the start of his fifth capsule, they were starting to become more upright and shorter than ever before. He has grown proper bars which used to only appear when he was jumping on grass regularly. Initially I thought this was only due to his work changing – we weren’t jumping and Buddy was focused on dressage so we were working more on getting him to sit and collect – but now I think it’s a combination of this and the fact that the damage has finally grown out, plus he is working harder than ever.

January 2017 - excuse the tatty frog!
He is in medium-hard work and he is probably fitter than when he was eventing. He is schooled three times a week for 45-60 minutes and is training at medium level. He does fast work once a week (gallops or hill canters) and jumps every other week for around 40 minutes at 80-100cm. In the winter he hacks 10-20 miles plus he goes on the horsewalker (concrete surface) for 30-60 minutes 3 times a week (more if he's not turned out). Feeding wise not much has changed, although I did drop Copra last summer after he went through a fussy period and I haven’t needed to add it back in. He’s on alfa pellets (1kg), oats (500g), unmollased sugarbeet (2kg soaked) and omega rice (200-400g depending on workload and time of year). Supplement wise he’s on equivitA-Ultra, magnesium and salt.

He is self trimming and only gets a rasp around the edges to keep them looking neat and stop sharp bits. He has a fraction more wall on the inside near the heel (near my hand in the picture) and he needs this to stay sound and functioning, it has always been there and I've never been inclined to remove it as it stays at the same level and rarely changes so he must need it. He is prone to thrush but spraying Forever Living Veterinary Spray a couple of times a week really helps keep on top of it and I have found it much better than sole cleanse from red horse. His feet are cared for by Steven Leigh from Natures Way Natural Hoofcare and he comes down to see us every 6 months.

I am so pleased I listened to my gut instinct even though many people doubted what was possible as it has led me on such a journey on which I have learnt so much and met some really amazing people who I am blessed to have in my life. It's very rare in life that we can look back and say, without question, that we wouldn't change a thing but I can honestly say that I wouldn't. 



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