Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Rockley Update - 10 weeks

Buddy has passed the ten week mark and his 10 week update can be found here

Once again, the growth in the last two weeks has amazed me, and I'm pretty sure when I go and pick him up there will be more change. I am planning on doing a montage of the changes so I can see, side by side, the differences and I'll put it on the blog and will keep recording the changes.

I was so pleased to see the video of him on a circle, although he isn't pushing through as much as when I went to see him last time but the arena is covered in snow and was probably a pretty hard work out! The most important thing is that he is sound and the Rockley surface is a true lameness indicator so he has improved from 2/10's he showed 10 weeks ago and all we have done is allowed his feet to do what they need to do. It's incredible and I'm in awe of Buddy and the work Nic does.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Feeding conundrums

I have always kept my horses on a pretty low sugar, high fibre diet and like to keep up to date with the latest feeds out there. I used to keep my old horse, Legend, on Simple System feeds but had to move away from it when I changed yards and could no longer store in bulk. As we haven't moved back somewhere that has plenty of storage I've stuck to commercial feeds that are easily accessible and that I can buy from my local feed merchants which I think is an issue many horse owners face.

However, I didn't realise how much sugar formed the basis of the commercial chaffs and mixes that I was using so my barefoot education has sent me on a nutritional journey as well. Nic at Rockley Farm states that diet and exercise are the foundation of  having a successful barefoot horse (you can find Nic's hoofcare essentials here) and as I want Buddy to succeed I want him on the best diet out there. For me, that has meant moving away from commercial nuts, mixes, chaffs and balancers and onto 'old school' straights. 

The upside is that I know 100% what is going into Buddy's feeds and I'm in complete control - those feed companies won't be sneaking anything in without me knowing about it! The downside is that it is a far more expensive way to feed, unless you can buy in bulk... Which I can't. But I'm hoping that when Buddy is stabled for part of his day, and it gets warmer, he won't need quite as much to be added.

I'm still waiting for Nic to send me Buddy's feed plan in detail so I may do another feed post later down the line but he will be getting the following (approx):
  • 1kg (dry weight) unmollassed sugar beet (I will be using equibeet or speedibeet)
  • 1kg (dry weight) Coolstance Copra
  • 1kg Dengie Alfalfa pellets
  • 1kg Crushed Oats
  • Linseed (amount TBC but I imagine around 200g)
  • 10g salt
  • 40g brewers yeast
  • 50g pro balance
  • 25-50g cal mag
Which is a fair amount I think you'll agree! I've done all my research and have found the best prices either online or at my local feed merchants so I know I'm getting the best deal possible. I'm looking forward to taking the lorry out next weekend and buying all my feed and shavings ready for Buddy to come home. In the meantime I have the best job ever (!) of cleaning my mats and sorting my stable ready for the big return and I can't wait!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Snow joke...

We have finally been given the snow we were promised and it is a real nightmare. This has been the worst winter I can remember and I'm honestly not missing doing the horse whilst it has been like this. We have gone from one extreme to the other from flooding at Christmas to Alpine conditions within weeks!

This is one of my dogs, Ebony, enjoying the snow. She is a 5 year old Patterdale Terrier and she is a real minx!
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Walking near Buddy's house

Nic also very kindly sent some pictures of Buddy through - you can spot him and his ginourmous ears here

Up to date - 8 week update

Buddy's 8 week update is online now

To celebrate his 8 week anniversary I went down for a long weekend so got to ride for three whole days which was amazing.

The change in the last two weeks is incredible and he is really starting to open his shoulder and power through from behind which he hasn't done for a very long time. On the Friday we did the same route we had done two weeks prior and although he still found the small gravel difficult he managed everything else with ease. Buddy's problem is that his hooves were so compromised and flat that it will take a while to get that concavity but as soon as we do he will be truly rock crunching.
We put him in the school on the Sunday, just to see what he looked like and, to my utter amazement, he is sound! He was a bit short when he fell down the holes that Alfie (Rockley Rehab on his way home) had kindly created but we are at the stage now, with four weeks still to go, that I thought we might be at the end. I can't tell you how happy it made me

Then, on Monday, we had our first off road ride Rockley style! The weather was interesting and the ground was obviously pretty wet and awful and I was a bit worried that he would slip all over the place. However, Buddy suprised me and was really steady on his feet. The only time we slipped was down the steepest slope I've ever ridden on a horse (almost vertical.. I kid you not! See Nic's pic here) and even that was a little slide and was unavoidable as there was very little grass cover. We then headed through a stream, through the woods popping over fallen trees and then had a canter up a hill at the end.

It was an amazing weekend, I felt like I had my horse back and it has given me renewed hope for the future that we *may* get to event again.

Dear Santa...

All I want for Christmas is a ride on my pony

I must have been a VERY good girl in 2012 as I got my Christmas wish.. albeit slightly delayed as Rockley was under water prior to Christmas but we squeezed it in just before the New Year!

Buddy has now been at Rockley for 6 weeks and I was really pleased to be back on board. As he was so flat footed he finds the teeny stones and gravel difficult but the good things are that he is landing consistently heel first (wahoo) and on the easier surfaces (smooth tarmac / grass) he is simply flying.

Donks and I reunited

We still have a long way to go, but we are certainly headed in the right direction.

Fast forward - Four weeks!

I am totally amazed at how much they've changed in the 10 days since I saw him. This was always the hope but I had in the back of my mind that it wouldn't work and tried to quash any hope just in case it didn't.

This whole journey has been so emotional so far and now every time Nic posts a blog I have a little cry as I am so happy this is all working out! I am so grateful to my husband for funding it (!) but also to Nic for providing me with some hope for the future. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel and its getting bigger and bigger.

Can't wait to see him again.... Maybe I'll get my Christmas wish after all!

The first visit

Well after Nic's amazing news I was like a kid at Christmas that whole week.. I could not wait to get to see my boy. I'd had a brilliant week with Nic's update, I then got Robbie tickeys (yay) and then I saw my pony...

20503bb46a94b2b18ca68c219467498a, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App
Check out the toothy grin

I think my grin says it all!

Two weeks already?!

So after week 1 (like a diet) I had week 2 to look forward to. The light at the end of the tunnel was our first visit to Rockley and my first view of Buddy's changing feet.

However Nic sent me a message on the Sunday telling me that she'd be putting Buddy pics on the blog on the Monday. I was over excited - imagining that there must be some fantastic changes for Buddy to have a 2 week update. It was better than I hoped, such a change in his feet already.


11 weeks, 5 days, 15 hours, 30 minutes and 10 seconds to go....

Before I'd even left Devon I was missing Buddy dreadfully... I had no idea how I was going to cope for 12 weeks! It was the first time I'd been without a horse for over 10 years and the thought of all that extra time on my hands was horrible.

My husband promised me that the first week would be the hardest, much like a diet, and so if I could get through that then the rest would seem easy. So I chanted 'like a diet, like a diet' for the first week whenever I though about Buddy and got a bit teary eyed.

He was right, it did get easier but it was still so tough. I filled my time in the evenings running with the dogs and eating!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A fresh set of eyes

In the week prior to his departure Buddy decided to pull off both his front shoes which sent me into a mild panic as I wasn't meant to be doing it alone! Quick text to Nic to see if she wanted the shoes back on or if we could leave them off meant I had a barefoot pony a week early but he seemed to cope ok across our yard so I was hopeful it wouldn't be too much of a nightmare when he started his proper rehab.

His first blog post can be found here

A waiting game

As I said in my last entry, I'm a decisive person in certain situations and I can also be incredibly impatient! Buddy was scheduled to go to Rockley in the first week of December and so I was planning my shoeing schedule to fall in line with that (Nic likes them to go down as they are due to be shod) and getting impatient that time wasn't moving quickly enough!!

As well as all my research, I found that some people are incredibly negative about barefoot horses and honestly feel that they cannot be a performance horse without the use of shoes. I must admit its something I had believed but I'm pretty open minded and so wouldn't have shot someone down just for hoping their horse could return to competition without shoes. The thing I found hardest was that Buddy and I had no other option.. he wasn't sound in shoes, the vet had run our of treatment options apart from a neurectomy (shudder).. so what else did people want me to do - just shoot him and be done?!

After sobbing into Buddy's mane on multiple occassions, I developed a thicker skin and have tried to ignore the negativity and treat those who are ignorant and unwilling to understand a different perspective as I would a small child (smile and nod whilst laughing internally).

There have been several people who are genuinely interested and despite the standard questions around working a barefoot horse on the road (no, his feet won't be reduced to bleeding stumps and will actually thrive with roadwork) which always causes a bit of incredulity they are totally supportive which is great.

Amongst all this, there was a cancellation so Buddy was off to Rockley on 16th November. Eek. I was scared...

Moving Forward

After the rubbish prognosis from my vet it was time to make plans..

We decided that we would inject the joint and see if that made a difference. He would need a week off work (which coincided nicely with my holiday) and then we would bring him back into work. Whilst I was on holiday Buddy decided he hadn't had quite enough money spent on him at the vets (!)so decided to try and amputate his hind leg which required about 14 staples and more time off. I'm sure fellow horsey people will understand that this put a slight dampner on the holiday and I just wanted to get home..

On my return we started the walk work and spent the first seven days plodding in the school and hacking. He felt freer in front despite the swollen leg behind and I was quietly confident that he would be sound when the trot test was conducted. Ten days later, the hind leg had healed sufficiently and so it was time... He was still not right. I was gutted. I stopped riding and called the vet back out.

In the meantime I started doing some research.. I'd read about Rockly Farm on the Horse & Hound forum and had actually been in touch with Nic Barker when Legend was diagnosed but she had said he wasn't the right candidate at that time. So I went back, read the blog, and got back in touch with Nic. She felt that she could help Buddy but he would need to be referred by the vet.

I'm pretty decisive about certain things, especially if I have a gut feeling about something, and that feeling was really strong that I should send Buddy to Rockley. So I told Nic I wanted to send him but my vet was on holiday so I had to wait for him to come back. In the meantime I did lots of research, realised how ignorant I had been about feet, and was armed for a fight with my vet.

Luckily I didn't need to battle with Chris - he was concerned as he had come across horses trimmed in the Strasser method which had left horses crippled but once he spoke to Nic he was happy and the referral was done. My farrier has also been really supportive and I'm really hoping we can all continue to work together moving forward.

So.. I had a plan..

An Introduction...

In Spring 2012 I felt that the world was at our feet. I was on the edge about to get everything I had wanted and dreamed of for so long after years of heartbreak and disappointment. I was making plans, part of a strong team that had great potential. I should have realised that horses are the world's best grounders...!
A few short months later I had come crashing down from my high and was looking at a chronically lame horse. I have owned Buddy for two years and he truly is my horse of a lifetime. I trust him implicitly and we make a brilliant team. He came into my life as a wobbly, immature 4yo and to replace my old horse, Legend, who I had PTS due to navicular and hind leg issues.
In August 2012 Buddy started looking slightly short on turns in the school whilst ridden. I hadn't been entirely happy with his feet for a while, but had total trust in my farrier who rebuffed any queries I had. It was only when we moved yards and the YO made a comment about his feet that I started to think I shouldn't be trusting my farrier at all. Anyway, pretty convinced it was just his feet that needed rebalancing, I got the opinion of another farrier and my vet. They agreed that he had 'shocking' foot confirmation and felt this was the cause of his lameness. My vet wanted him sorted immediately but new farrier was going on honeymoon so we called around and luckily another local farrier said I could box to his house and he would do him for me at home. He put him in graduated egg bars and immediatey Buddy looked more comfortable. Brilliant.
However, it was not meant to be so simple and Buddy remained slightly off after another cycle of shoeing so off we went to horsepital for further ivestigations. My vet believed it wouldn't be anything serious and had faith it was collateral ligament damage and would come right in time. Nerve blocking was positive to the back of the foot and so we x-rayed to see what was going on. Unfortunately both front feet showed pedal oestitis and his left fore also showed changes to the Navicular bone. The vet's prognosis was poor to guarded and, if we got lucky, Buddy may return to light dressage on a surface.
I was utterly devastated but managed to hold it together until I got Buddy safely on the lorry. At that point I drove down the road and the door broke on my lorry and it finished me off!! I broke down, totally hysterical, and my husband had to come and rescue me. So much for being a strong woman...