Our goals for 2014 were to stay sound, have fun and I also wanted to achieve the following:
1. Complete a Novice dressage test
2. Score over 60% in a Novice test
3. Complete an ODE
4. Be consistently jumping 1m
All of which I am proud to say we completed! We only did one Novice test, I'd been planning on doing a few more but my lorry has broken so that's given us a few set backs at the end of the year but who cares - objectives achieved!
Looking forwards, the main ones are obviously to stay sound and have fun - these will form the foundations for every goal setting session forever more - but this year I want to up the anti and have a couple of stretches in there.
1. Be consistently competing at Novice
2. Complete a BE event
3. Get a top 10 place at a BE event
4. Be competing at 1m
5. Qualify for Badminton Grassroots (this is a mega stretch but a girl's gotta have a dream)
I can't say how we will do but if we can get his XC focus sorted we won't have any issue getting a placing BE - I just have to work hard to make it happen - I find the harder I work the luckier I get!!
Onto the here and now we've been pretty quiet as Buddy has most of November off as a mini holiday and just hacked - we upped the workload in December ready for our first planned event in March but haven't been out anywhere due to said lorry issue. In the meantime our story was in The Barefoot Horse Magazine (issue 5 which came out 1st Jan). I was really pleased with the article although it was a slightly tweaked version but nothing too far away from reality so that was great.
However it has caused a huge debate on their facebook page! So many people (who have only seen the screenshot of the first page!) thinking that Buddy was misdiagnosed, it cannot be true and we are deceiving people or that Buddy is a freak of nature and it's impossible for Navicular damage to be repaired. For everyone that's followed our story you all know that it isn't true and also that Buddy is not a one in a million and there are other horses showing the same improvement over time.
There have been so many comments about it and the farrier who shod Buddy three times post diagnosis has also waded in with some incorrect information so I would just like to clarify certain points here:
1. Buddy was diagnosed via x-ray in Sept 2012. We did not MRI. The reason for this was that my vet didn't think it was worth the £1K+ use of insurance money as it would not change the treatment path - we assumed soft tissue damage due to the bone damage. At no point did my vet advise that I should do an MRI (and even when I pressed him he felt it was a waste of money).
2. Buddy is self trimming. I do not have a farrier attending to him as, to be perfectly honest, I cannot trust them to not touch frog, sole etc. I have considered it and even taken the advice of others but they have always agreed with me and Buddy's comfort is far more important. However I do have advice from other hoofcare professionals and my vet who totally supports me at all times and I do rasp his toes to stop them chipping. He has never gone for 'months and months' without a professional viewing them.
3. Buddy has never been under the care of Hoofing Marvellous and I have never asked their opinion of his feet and they have no claim to our story (bar their involvement with the magazine). He went to Rockley Farm for his rehab and has since been under the care of Coach House Vets, Rockley Farm, Stormybracken Hoofcare and Natures Way.
4. Buddy's feet are not regulation. Although they do look far more normal now than they ever have done. They are still healing and are getting stronger with every new hoof cycle and evolve during the summer when they are flatter and winter when they re more concave and have small bars.
5. The x-rays. These were re done in August 2013 - 11 months post diagnosis and 9 months post barefoot. They are on the blog so you can see them but, as a recap, the second set of films showed a huge improvement to the pedal oestitis and also to the damage on the navicular bone. The navicular bone improvement wasn't as significant BUT it was there. My vet confirmed as did other professionals that were sent the films. It is not magic or deception but fact and there are other horses on the Rockley blog who have showed improvement on MRI and x-ray.
6. Buddy has not been, and is not, on bute, any bute substitute or NSAID of any kind at all. The only supplements he takes in addition to his hardfeed (copra, oats, um beet, alfa pellets) are Equivita, salt, cal mag and linseed. He was on propell plus Sept - Oct during coat change.
7. Bare foot is not cheaper! I spend more on Buddy's feet now than I have ever done.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and these will sometimes differ from my own, especially when I am putting myself out there and the story I am telling is so different from the traditional views on navicular and its treatment. But, if you are going to tell or make judgements about our story please do not fabricate lies or tell the story in a different way so that it suits your view - that is something I have a problem with!
I am completely open about Buddy, his training and care. I am not perfect and am constantly learning so I will make mistakes. I didn't touch Buddy's feet until the summer but rasping his toes seems to suit him better so that is something new I have learnt about his management. Every horse is different and what works for us may not work for you but it's a good place to start. I do not believe that every horse can go bare foot. I've blogged before about how much hard work it is, you have to be 100% committed, re educate yourself and go against the grain. I knew nothing about feet before Buddy went lame as I placed my trust in my farrier but I have learnt and now understand far more than I have ever done. Even if you get the diet and exercise spot on there can be underlying issues within the horse that will stop you ever being successful and so then it is only fair to shoe the horse to keep it comfortable.