This is about my Arab Shiraz, who I’ve had since he was five years old, and is now 21 years young. He has been barefoot for 11 years. The decision to remove his shoes came after researching alternatives and I came across K C La Pierre and luckily my holistic vet had met him and recommended I get in touch with Trevor Jones DAEP who handed over Shiraz's care to Lindsay.
In May 2008 Shiraz became lame on one leg which the vet thought might be an abscess. It then became apparent, three days later, this was not the case and he was diagnosed with laminitis. For me (and I guess for anybody), the news was heartbreaking.
Lindsay had only just taken over from Trevor and had only visited us twice, but I called and was immediately put at ease by her care, understanding of the situation and attention.
For the first five weeks I did everything that the vet recommended. Shiraz improved greatly over time and Lindsay trimmed his feet as normal, but she did have concerns.
Lindsay liaised with the vet and requested X-rays and explained how she would like to continue the approach to aid recovery. As an owner it is very difficult, Shiraz had thrived barefoot but his recovery had levelled out using the conventional approach and although he didn’t go backwards, he didn’t go forwards either.
The X-rays showed that, according to conventional interpretation, there was rotation of P3 in both front hooves. Lindsay explained the impact of laminitis on the internal arch apparatus and the hoof capsule as Equine Digital Elastosis. My vet now decided he had a clear picture of what to do, which was to call a farrier out who specialized in trimming a laminitic foot and put glue on shoes on immediately. But I just couldn’t do it. All my instincts were screaming not to go down that road. I had seen three horses with glue on shoes and all had eventually been destroyed as their feet repeatedly abscessed and deteriorated. To my mind, the glue on shoes would restrict movement of the hoof, wouldn’t allow natural growth and distortion essential for the health of the internal foot which would continue to weaken and put us on a slippery slope to nowhere. So, I said no.
Lindsay requested that the vet be present and Lindsay trimmed according to the X-rays removing as much of the dead laminae as possible, utilising the good structures. Shiraz was fine, his history of well managed hoof care had reduced the potential impact of a laminitic attack. He benefited hugely from it straight away and no pain relief required.
We also re-evaluated why this had happened as Shiraz had never suffered a bout of laminitis before and he was placed on a detox program, gradually we increased his turnout area using carpets and rubber matting and began exercising him in solemate therapeutic hoof pads and boots. His muscle tone had decreased and we looked at helping him using Equine Touch to also aid his well being. None of it was easy. I had to keep Shiraz’s feet immaculate and his bedding pristine clean in order to keep the risk of infection down as areas of sole had become weak and vunerable.
Of course I had bad days. There were days when Shiraz would become exuberrent especially as health returned but thankfully as a whole is a very laid back chap. On my down days the person I turned to was always Lindsay, gawd knows how many emails and calls she got from me! Her support through all of this was unprecedented and she was always at the end of the phone and worked in all weathers to trim and guide us along the way. I honestly could not have coped without her.
Then one day, ten months after the original diagnosis, following a program of exercise to return hoof health and fitness, I saddled up and off we went for our first ride. It was worth the wait and strangely enough it felt like I’d only ridden a couple of days before instead of ten months.
Now, another eight months down the line, I am out hacking for anything up to three hours, walk, trot and cantering on the Downs having a wonderful time. His feet are the best they have ever been. And since Christmas 2008 Shiraz has been living out 24/7 combining field, hardstanding and stable for conditioning and maintining his hoof structures.
I truly believe that none of the above would have been possible if I gone down the conventional route of treating laminitis. And I’m telling this story to give hope to everybody whose horse may one day get laminitis and that there are alternatives out there to conventional treatment.
And of course, none of it would have been possible without Lindsay and her true dedication to horses and their owners. HAZEL AND SHIRAZ