Friday, 29 March 2013

Pondering in the sunshine

In the time since my lost post we've had some more snow, beautiful sunshine and more mud. Everyone is talking about the weather and it is really starting to get me down so lord knows how the horses are feeling. The glimpses we've had of spring are amazing but it is still oh so cold. I am definitely not putting my thermals away just yet!
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Buddy and Bert grazing in the snow last week
Buddy has fallen foul of the weather and we've been battling the smallest patch of mud fever the last week or so (so small the camera couldnt even pick it up to take a picture for the blog) but it has been persistent and wasn't responding to any typical, non vet, treatment. So, after another "Buddy's hopping lame" text from my YO (Buddy is the wussiest horse in the world) I called my vet, Chris. He has been so supportive and I may well do a whole post about him soon as he is awesome! Anyway, back to Buddy... Chris prescribed some flamazine cream and bute to help the swelling and time off the field. After a day Buddy realised his leg was no longer falling off (typical man) and we are *hopefully* coming out the other side.

Unfortunately for Buddy he isn't getting a holiday and it is work as usual - we're just avoiding mud and sand! So whilst on my hack this morning I was enjoying the sunshine and pondering.. As I often do. There was a post on the Phoenix forum a week or so ago about the definition of soundness, particularly in barefoot horses, which then led to a discussion about why shoes relieve discomfort and hide soundness issues in most horses. 
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Pondering about proprioception in the sunshine
Soundness in barefoot horses is an interesting topic and one I obviously have a particular interest in. As far as I am concerned Buddy is 'sound' at the moment but he would definitely not be able to trot over a rocky surface without looking uncomfortable.. There is where the discussion starts as is he truly sound if he is not 100% over all surfaces? We are getting better over more challenging terrain but we still have a way to go yet before we are rock crunching.

This then got me thinking about proprioception as this, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the key differences between a shod and unshod/barefoot horse. Nic has posted about this a couple of times on the Rockley blog and they were topics I read with a bit of disbelief prior to me feeling it for myself. When Buddy had shoes on he stomped over every terrain with the same stride pattern and there was no difference whatsoever. Now it is a completely different story, his stride changes depending on the surface he is on. He is even aware of the slightest change in type of Tarmac, when there is a bit of mud on the road and if the grass suddenly gets a bit boggier. I know from speaking to other Rockley owners that Buddy is not alone in this phenomenon. He is now protecting his body from any jarring that he simply wasn't able to do before and I wonder what impact that will have on his long term soundness... Surely it can only be a good thing?! But if a vet watched that change in stride would they consider it an awareness or a lameness...
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Handsome Horse (and doesn't he know it!)
I'm sure this is a topic I will come back to over time, I'm hoping especially so when I watch horses out eventing.. I'm wondering what the impact of increased proprioception will have on Buddy across country. I can't wait to find out!


  1. Hope the mud fever gets sorted.

    I saw that discussion on phoenix too, I just have to keep reminding myself that although my boy seems more footie now, he isn't, its just he hasn't got the shoes masking his problems.

    Its definitely not dull this barefoot lark.

  2. You're quite right lyndac - it's not dull at all! It's a tough journey but so exciting as you can see and feel the change as time goes on.

    Stress levels are definately higher though ;o)

  3. Definitely higher stress.

    Interesting re definitions of soundness.

    Remi seems mostly sound in school, on sand, grass, mud and smooth tarmac. And path with even small stones in the mud / hard earth with small stones and he is unlevel in front.

    I call that sound but foot sensitive, IMO.