Dare To Be Bare. Natural Hoof Care

SimplyHorses Podiatry Clinic  Sole_before-and-after-trim

As you know we are all very keen on allowing our horses hoofs to become the very best they can possibly be, with regards to genetics, local environment etc. A core part of this is Natural Hoof Care and this article featured on Simply Healthy Hooves is a great read and up to date summary of the state of the Barefoot horse.

It also tackles my favourite question why do we shoe our dressage horses working on a surface in an equine discipline that is supposed to illustrate all the natural athleticism and grace of our horses!

Read the article linked CLICK HERE is a wonderful summary.

Always remember “NO FOOT NO HORSE…”


Lisa’s diary: Spotlight on Strangles

Brian’s owner requested a call-out when the five-year-old Warmblood seemed under the weather.

He had arrived on his new yard 10 days before and seemed fine until yesterday, when he was a bit lethargic.

On examination his head was hanging low and he looked very sad. He had a thick nasal discharge and a high temperature (39.1C) He also had a mild swelling around the throat.

To start with, I prescribed some anti-inflammatory drugs. In this case, no antibiotics were given as it can prolong the formation of abscesses. Strangles was a concern so I recommended a nasopharyngeal swab to determine the cause of the nasal discharge.

A blood sample was taken to check the level of strangles antibodies.

Until the results were back, it was advised that the horse was kept isolated and that it was best that only his owner would care for and handle Brian, using strict biosecurity. This meant following a routine of changing clothes, as well as washing and disinfecting hands and boots.

The lab contacted us 48 hours later and confirmed a strangles infection. Strangles is an infection caused by Streptococcus equi equi and can affect any horse, at any age.

It is highly contagious and in one per cent of cases, proves fatal. It is spread via direct and indirect contact so on equipment, clothing and hands. The yard was asked to refrain from moving horses off the yard as a precaution. The horses were split into groups 1) affected horses 2) in contact horses and 3) horses that have had no contact. Owners were advised to monitor their horses’ temperature and if increased then to isolate them also.

In 10 per cent of cases, horses will become carriers. This means they look well but may still harbour bacteria in the guttural pouches. Horses can incubate the infection for three to 14 days and abscesses can take up to two weeks to form.

We monitored Brian closely and he recovered well. We carried out further swabs and blood samples to determine he was free from infection.

A horse with a suture line exostosis on the forehead

Horses and Unicorns

Today on rounds, we had the opportunity to meet this lovely lady. She had a lump on her forehead which had been there for a month. What do you think it is?

IMG_0147 A horse with a suture line exostosis on the forehead

This lump is called suture periosteitis or suture line exostosis. It is an inflammation of the suture lines of the nasofrontal bone of the skull and can often occurs in youngsters. Quite often the cause of this is unknown. In some cases the cause can be trauma. It is usually non painful and usually settles with time.

Could this be the origin of the unicorn 😉 as some of these masses can get very large and some young horses can have a horned appearance.

This condition or a related condition can occur in humans as the image below shows. No one is sure why they occur but it is thought some type of irritation to the line joining the bones in the skull occurs.

A lump on the skull of a human behind the ear

How dental care can improve your horse’s performance

Let’s try a little experiment. If you bring your chin to your chest, you will notice that your lower jaw will automatically move forwards.
This is exactly what happens with your horse when you ask him to go nicely on the bit, his lower jaw will move slightly forward.
head diagram
One of the more common problems we come across in a horse’s mouth is the formation of hooks. This means that part of the first molars of the upper jaw and part of the last molars of the lower jaw are raised due to wear and tear from eating. You could imagine a horse would struggle to bring his lower jaw forward when it is blocked by hooks on the first molars of the upper jaw (see picture).
This problem can be very easily solved by rasping the teeth, and this will make it a lot more comfortable for your horse to go on the bridle and make for a happier ride.
Another reason why it is important to get your horses’ teeth checked!


Don’t underestimate laminitis

Ref: Horse & Hound; 17 March 2015 Horse & Hound

Laminitis in horses is a very serious and potentially agonising condition. Every case should be dealt with promptly and the condition should never be underestimated — in a 2004 study, one in five horses with laminitis were destroyed.

Laminitis can occur in two forms:

Acute laminitis is the early stage of the disease when the animal is uncomfortable and showing signs of lameness, but major damage has not yet happened within the hoof. The chances of recovery are maximised if treatment is started early.

Chronic laminitis is when the pedal bone sinks or rotates within the hoof (pictured top), leading to permanent damage. These cases are not necessarily such an emergency as the acute attacks, as damage to the foot has already occurred, but a vet should be contacted if the horse or pony is in pain.

Recognising laminitis in horses

In severe cases, animals will be unable to move. They may be panting, sweating and leaning back on their heels, trying to take their weight off their feet. In the worst cases, they will lie down and be unable to stand — this can be confused with colic.

This is obviously urgent and you should contact your vet immediately. In milder cases the signs are more subtle, but they include:

  • Hooves that feel hot and feet that are painful with pressure to the sole
  • A tendency for the horse to stand with its legs stretched forward, while leaning backward, to ease his weight off his feet
  • Mild cases will constantly shift their weight from foot to foot as they try to find the least painful way of weight-bearing
  • The pain of laminitis means that the horse’s pulse and respiratory rate rise

Frequently, a prominent pulse is obvious where the horse’s digital artery runs over the fetlock. In a severe case, this digital pulse (which is where the blood flows into the foot) will be pounding on all four feet.

Mild, chronic laminitis can be confused with other sorts of lameness. Look out for the following:

  • A pony that ‘feels his feet’ and so may be intermittently lame, especially on rough ground
  • Foot soreness or lameness after shoeing
  • Odd shaped feet — indicated by rings in the hoof wall that are wider at the heel than at the toe. Dropped soles, with wider than normal white lines, and flat feet are also common
  • Recurrent hoof infections, due to the weak horn growth
  • Visible red bruising within the hoof, particularly obvious when the farrier trims the horse’s feet

If you suspect laminitis

First, contact the vet. Severe cases will need painkillers and other treatment urgently — this may include frog supports, medication to control blood pressure, and treating any underlying illness that may be causing the laminitis — while mild, chronic cases will require planned action involving both vet and farrier. If laminitis is suspected, never force the horse to walk or exercise.

It is possible to tape frog supports onto the feet to help relieve pressure on the laminae. There are now several types of tape-on support available, from purpose-designed pads or rubber wedges to homemade bandage supports. Purpose-designed frog supports can be obtained from the Laminitis Clinic – visit: www.laminitisclinic.org. If you are unsure how to apply frog supports, consult your vet.

If your horse or pony appears to be reluctant to move due to laminitis while out at grass, it may help to fit frog supports before slowly bringing them in or travelling them home, ideally in a low-loading trailer.

All laminitis cases should be box-rested, ideally on non-edible bedding. A very deep bed (40-50cm) of dust-free shavings is best. This can act as support for the feet nearly as effectively as — and more simply than — frog supports. Allow affected horses to lie down and rest their feet.

Total box rest is important. This should continue for at least 30 days, during which the diet needs to be adjusted to ensure that the horse’s weight is controlled. It is crucial that any overweight laminitic loses weight, but this must be a gradual process. Consult your vet or equine nutritionist for advice.

Plea for horse owners to worm wisely

Ref: Horse & Hound; 12 March 2015 Horse & Hound

“Routine testing, not routine worming” is the message industry experts are trying to put across after a recent study found that 81% of owners are not conducting frequent faecal egg counts (FECs).

Nearly 1,000 owners were questioned on their current worming procedure and knowledge by equestrian supplier Countrywide. The results showed worrying trends.

“The survey has brought out the disparities in current practice against best practice and how this is leading to the rise in resistance to wormers,” said Countrywide’s Sara Blackshaw.

Only 31% of owners said they conduct regular FEC tests while nearly 60% of owners said that they routinely worm — interval dosing at set times of the year.

In 2010 the British Veterinary Association (BVA) launched a campaign telling owners that, in order to slow resistance, all worming treatments should be based on veterinary diagnosis.

The owner of Westgate Laboratories, Gillian Booth, is concerned the results show that owners have still not updated “their worming practice to match the increase in resistance and improvement in testing technology”.

“Previous worming practices have led to the resistance problems we now have, so it is vital that there is change,” she said.

Countrywide’s Mark Hawkins added: “Without testing there is no way of knowing if a wormer is being effective. The implications of not worming if it is required, or ineffective worming, can be severe.”

Lack of knowledge

The research also found that a worrying number of owners do not know the accurate weight of the horse they are worming — nearly 40% of people questioned were unclear.

Director of BW Equine Vets, Chris Shepherd, said this figure was “very concerning” as “dosing plays a large role in the increase in resistance”.

“If you do need to treat, accurate dosing is essential. Under-dosing promotes resistance and is similar to giving the worms a vaccine allowing resistance to build up to that particular wormer,”
Mr Shepherd added.

Industry experts want owners to take an active role in preserving wormers that are currently effective.

European veterinary advisor at Norbrook Pharmaceuticals, Rebekah Dudek, warned: “If we continue to worm simply ‘as we always have’, there is a chance we will eventually be left with no efficacious wormers in our arsenal, meaning we would have to rely on management strategies as the only option to control worm burdens.”

The Wednesday read

Some great articles here to keep you going until the weekend.

Click here to find our how Nicola Wilson teaches her horses how to keep a rhythm and avoid rushing at jumps.

Check out this popular blog written by a dedicated horse owner, and find out why she thinks there’s more to equestrianism than technique.

Major hat rule changes, all you need to know here.

Lisa’s diary: The mysterious missing haynet

By Lisa Paterson

On my rounds I get reassigned to an emergency call. Molly, a 4-year-old cob, has started to show signs of colic.

Her owner Mike is concerned as there is a small portion of fluorescent green haynet that has gone missing overnight.

On examination, Molly’s vitals are normal. She has passed some normal faeces and seems to be keen to eat. I give her some pain relief and buscopan, an antispasmodic drug, to settle her abdominal discomfort.

We hunt the area for the haynet – has it been eaten or blown away?

I chat to Mike about the options. We could do endoscopy to see if it is in Molly’s stomach. If the colic signs don’t settle then the worst case scenario would be surgery. We decide to monitor Molly closely for the next 24 hours.

Luckily, on the follow up call, Molly is settled and shows no further signs of colic.

Mystery of the missing haynet…UNSOLVED!