TopHuf Case Studies
Proof, as always is in the pudding ... here are a few examples of what we've been up to and fixing at TopHuf
A very cute, unraced 7yo thoroughbred mare 15,3. Came to us as a rescue case with a massive crack up her left fore hoof. Coming off five acres of lush grass she was a classic laminitic. Rings on her hoof wall, cresty neck, large belly and in this instance a rather large hoof crack up the Left Fore (LF) wall and terrible "lazy" movement!
Before we de-shod her we changed her diet for a month, taking her off the grass, reducing her sugars and giving her a balanced diet with the right minerals (Magnesium Oxide, Zinc and Copper).
The middle photo on the left shows how her foot had grown into a Charlie Chaplin foot or Clown Foot (compare the angles of the Right Fore hoof wall). Her bio-mechanics were a hollow back, braced neck, high head carriage, this meant the back end could not come through. So she was high stepping in front and trailing her back feet. Although technically sound she wasn't right - and she was objecting strongly to all aids
In the bottom left picture you can see how high the nails were in the hoof wall - almost half way up the hoof. With the amount of teeth grinding she did while we took the shoes off it is possible the nails were hurting her. In the walk up after the de-shoeing of the heart-bars her head was lowered and she was walking much more comfortably.
After four months the new hoof is growing at a much better angle (lateral view photo on the middle right) and with a good diet and exercise routine both on the track and ever-so gentle hacking in her funky Fusion hoof-boots her hoof wall is growing quickly which is speeding up the healing process.
The pictures of the front of the hoof show seedy-toe and the "gouges" at the top of the hoof made to take the pressure of the sides of the wall to stop it splitting - unfortunately all this has done is weaken the hoof wall and we can see now it has grown down, the thinned hoof wall is so thin it is flaking off, exposing the underneath structures ....
More pics and updates to follow...
A successful, handsome and strong willed 16hh racer whose syndicate had fallen on hard times. With odd feet, sub-clinical laminitis (notice the pedal bone rotation in the top left X-ray and the apparent amount of space between bone and outer hoof wall on the bottom left X-ray), he was landing pigeon toed and had very contracted heels and typical TB flat feet as seen on the middle left had picture.
His Right Fore (RF) was, for a horse his age and size very small, and upright, like a Red Bull can. X-rays showed a spur on his RF pedal bone - this could explain why he was not landing/loading properly and so sore in his back and neck. With no weight going down the hoof, it was growing upright. Massage and physio was being used to treat the back and neck but these were symptoms of problem that was in the foot. Without getting the foot balanced and working properly we could easily continue for years to treat the secondary effects of the incorrect hoof mechanism in the back and shoulder.
Our journey didn’t start well, he pulled two shoes off in his first week and then an invasive and incorrect de-shoeing crippled him and he abscessed. The repercussions of this and some bad advice lasted over 18 months. But with time, rest, change of diet and following the lines of a natural trim, exercise and diet, the hooves recovered and have healed themselves.
By allowing the hoof mechanism to work correctly the knock on effects on the back and shoulders were significant and made them easier for physio and massage therapists to fix.
Nine months later the new X-rays (right hand side) showed that the bones had aligned themselves correctly, the pedal bone had un-rotated and was in line with the hoof wall. From the front view you can see how the foot had straightened itself, de-contraction either side of the pedal bone in the bottom right X-ray. With his foot decontracting he can now land/load more squarely.
From the underneath pictures you can see the heel bulbs (middle right photo) have de-contracted and there is better hoof wall growing. In the middle left photo shows how compromised the foot is. You can’t blame the farrier for huffing and puffing about this horse's bad feet or the vet telling me I'll have problems keeping shoes on...
The laminitis is an on-going management issue but so-far-so good. He is now comfortable doing six miles a week barefoot on the roads - working in the Sand and CLOPF manege, doing approx 1.5 miles a day on the 500m multi-surface-track and jumping soundly in the arena.
I hope the before/after pictures and X-rays show you the differences in this foot. The points in this rehab case are threefold. 1) The vet telling us that by taking the shoes off we had AVOIDED any Navicular issues and have extended this horses life significantly 2) Diet and exercise are as important as the trimming 3) Trust in your horse and respect the healing powers of mother nature
An 18yo TB ex racer, polo and eventer. He stopped competing once he started stopping at jumps. X-rays showed arthritis in knees and hocks and degeneration of the pedal bone and so he was shod with pads. Barefoot was attempted in 2005 but there was limited information, choice in hoof boots, people or groups to connect to and my trimmer at the time lived a long way away. So we ended up going back into shoes....
But the questions didn't go away : why is my dark bay, black hoofed horse got white toes? (picture left). Why is it necessary to file away a key structure of the hoof, and why after 13 years of being told the same thing : he has bad feet, shoeing will encourages the hoof to grow at a better angle .... but after 13 years (and therefore 13 hoof growth cycles) have the farriers been un-able to fix these alleged problems. The final straw was seeing this horse pull back, breaking the twine whilst being shod? .... So I de-shod him myself.
What we uncovered with the shoe off was the complete absence of hoof wall, white line and water line (left pictures) around the toe and quarters and the length of heel. The foot is compromised in the following ways a) there is nothing left to attach the shoe onto, putting the horse in danger of nails touching the internal structures. b) the horse is being forced to load onto its sole c) wedging/long heels create a man-made pedal bone rotation
With all the research done it is a fact that "Fiddling" with the breakover by shortening the toe and putting the shoe further back (natural balance) is a false economy - Without being inside the horses body, it is a guessing game how to balance 500+ kilos of horse! Once you take away the horses natural form of foot you are in effect playing God with their bodies. Respect of the responsibility is essential and extreme care is needed
... Compromised toes and heels are evident in all the cadavers I have worked on. The pathologies vary greatly. It is very sad to see especially as each hoof was without doubt treated with all the best intentions. But missing is one point, and that is to follow the path of nature, the horses ability to naturally balance their own feet and heal itself. The effects of un-comfy feet can come in all shapes and sizes : napping, laziness, anger. Its not uncommon to link sore feet with any body issue: back, shoulder, neck, hock, movement, navicular issues and even in some case over-friendliness ....
Because of GoldCoast's age, length in shoes, cushings, sugar sensitivity (laminitis) and recent life saving surgery for gutteral pouch mycosis all we want for this horse is an easy life and "comfy" steps - Out hacking he is booted with pads and gets limited grass time. Most barefoot literature will tell you to get them walking over different surfaces as soon as possible and for some this is fine but Gold Coast has struggled with this, so we have focused on giving him comfy steps and as many as possible (ideally 3miles per day) so he spends a lot of time on the Paddock Paradise Track where he will do between 2 to 3 miles a day.
We use a combination of the Renegade Hoof Boot and the Equine Fusion boots, two great companies with practical, funky products.
All horses mentioned here have recently started on the ARCEQUINE MCT healing programmes - results to follow -
For any questions feel free to call me on +44 (0) 774 777 0987 and I am sure anyone on the team would be more than happy to talk about these cases as well