Day Two of schooling. Eagles Moonmist Onyx had no more than halter handling on her before this. Our very first attempt at Ground Tying and Misty happily stood ´tied´ long enough for me to run and get the camera from the barn. She also had a rider on her back the first day, after a 6 km walk on long reins, and then on her second day of education, albeit intrepidly, took a rider around the arena learning to feel leg and weight signals. Appaloosa´s have to be admired for their intelligence. They learn so quickly. But this does have it´s down side - they get bored quickly!
Surprisingly not as healthy as it may initially appear! This mare was only shod for 6 months, yet her soles had become completely flat and her heels underslung. The sole is still very thin and the heels still slightly underslung - all things that will be resolved in a short time with a natural balance trim.
This PRE mare became sound on all surfaces within 3 months of removing her shoes at age 7, but it took a further 2 and 1/2 years until they were pathologically correct. She was toed-in and dished horrendously, this was causing excess calcium growth on the inside of her knees. During her last two years shod she never went a month without being either a little or a lot lame. Despite being toed-in, flat soled and having extemely thin walls, since her hooves became sound un-shod, she has never had an off day and she no longer dishes (or paddles). If you look carefully you can see a very slight flare to the left of the picture. This is a conformation fault that we have to respect, not a flare, due to years of being shod straight on pigeon toes!
The hind sole of a horse that was shod for 14 years. Since becoming sound barefoot this mare, now 20 years-old gives horses half her age a run for their money.
This is a healthy heel. The height is correct. The frog is in contact with the floor, so the hoof enjoys proper function. This is the hoof of a horse who treks out over rocky mountainous terrain every week and has been barefoot for 4 years now.
Still in transition this hoof shows the toe slightly to long and the frog still somewhat contracted, yet this gelding can happily perform on all types of terrain. He was shod for 18 years and is enjoying a new lease of life with his healthy naked hooves.
Still in transition but clearly very sound as this horse, EV Georgie, won Best Condition in his second only Endurance competition.
Georgie came to us 1 year ago, shod and with a jointed pelham, curb chain and rounders and strict instructions that he was not for the weak or nervous! He also had a very sway back and fist-sized dip in his sacral vertebra. Horse yoga and equine massage therapy has improved his back, part of the whole horse protocol that has improved his general health both physically and mentally. Georgie is barefoot and bitless. He is also 15 years-old and was laughed at when he appeared at his first endurance event!
Still in transition but you can clearly see the improvement in balance in this hoof. Already sound on any surface the movement of this horse has improved tremendously. The before photos are immediately after removal of shoes and the after are the same hoof 5 trims later. Which would you rather your horse had?
From these images you can see clearly see how much sole makes contact with the ground on a barefoot hoof - all of it! Imagine 450 kilos of weight spread between these four small contact points and then reduce it further by shoeing - peripheral loading - as per the images below.
I know which I prefer! All the above images are from horses at my clinic making the transition to healthy barefoot. Sound, and supporting the weight of a horse as nature intended. Their digital cushion functions, their frog functions, therefore the whole horse functions far better.
The peripheral loading of shod horses is clearly shown in these images.
Immediately before taking this photo this stallion (yes, it´s Hearty) had completed a 42km endurance competition over unforgiving terrain at trot and canter. This is a Barefoot Beauty.
Stark contrast to the previous photo! Someone had been riding this horse with it´s hooves in this condition. It just doesn´t bare thinking about. If your horses hooves appear anything like this it is time to change farrier at the very very least!
This hoof was shod. It makes me feel sick to think someone rode this horse in this condition. You can clearly see the downward rotation of the P3 (coffin bone) which should be nearly ground parallel.
The same hoof as above, before I dissected it down the middle. I have turned it slightly and drawn in lines to show you a ´healthy´ hoof comparison. This horse could have received the correct care that would have re-suspended the coffin bone and resolved the laminitis, instead of being sent to the meat wagon.
This shocking photo is the dock of Harly after travelling from the UK to Spain in the hands of professional horse transporters. The photo on the right shows his tail, amputated, due to the bandage these so-called professionals wrapped far to tight around his dock. If you bandage the tail to tight even for just a few hours for a show, repeatedly doing so can also cause the cutting of circulation and therefore the need to physically amputate the dock before infection circulates through the rest of the body.
Now this company, years in the business of transporting horses across europe and going by the christian and surname of it´s male owner, clearly needs to assess their staff better. They paid compensation, but it wont bring back Harly´s tail, or mend his owners heart. Had Harly kicked or maimed one of his staff I´m sure this would have gone to court and made headlines. Why should it matter less because the boot is on the other hoof?
The red stump you see is all that remains of Harly´s tail - not fun with the Spanish flies :(