Today I enjoyed the winter sunshine and hacked out on Billy, my 15 year old, 16.2hh WB gelding. Only 8 months ago, I would never have thought this possible, in fact, I was on the verge of making "that" horrible decision on his future.
I have had Billy for 8 years. He has been the perfect "all rounder" and adapted himself to anything, from hunting and eventing, to plodding round the arena in the odd riding school lesson! He has been worth his weight in gold.
In the summer of 2007, Billy developed a large splint on his right fore. Following 3 months box rest, his soundness never returned and he was then booked in for x-rays. My worst fear of the dreaded "navicular" seemed suddenly a distinct probability. The x rays and vet reports confirmed navicular disease as there was severe deterioration in both fore navicular bones and coffin joints. So we embarked on a gruelling winter of repeated vet appointments for steroid and adequan injections. My normally perky and enthusiastic horse who would bound onto the lorry, became a depressed and grumpy horse who would no longer load. Sadly the treatment did not work and Billy continued to deteriorate. I was sent home with wedges in his shoes and sachets of bute and told there was nothing else to be done. It was painful to see him so miserable and I spent less and less time with him as it was so upsetting. I felt if I wasn't around him, it wouldn't be happening, but it was, and one evening I tried to get him out of his stable to muck out and he could barely move. Turning him round to get him back in the stable was pitiful and I realised that I was going to be faced with a tough decision. But I wasn't ready to give up on my beautiful horse just yet. Horses like Billy are hard to find and I had to have one last try. Thankfully, a friend of mine had gone through similar heartache with her Andalusian brought over from Spain. The horse had arrived crippled due to years of poor shoeing and vets had said there was nothing to be done and that he would never be rideable. She had been using a DAEP who had transformed the young horse's feet and he was showing signs of improvement. It was my last hope. I spoke to Trevor and he offered a ray of sunshine. He passed me on to Lindsay who covered my area and so in March 2008 I booked an appointment for her to come and have a look at Billy. Lindsay was quite shocked by the state of Billy and said she would try her very best but could offer no guarantees. All I wanted by this point was to have a horse with a reasonable quality of life. My aim was to get him comfortable and had no expectations.
Taking his shoes off revealed rotten and shrunken feet and heels. Even after taking his shoes off and treating his feet with "clean-trax" he seemed so much more comfortable and after each trim, he continued to improve. He wore Perfect Hoof Wear for the first 3 or 4 trims but is now completely bare-foot and has progressed to hacking out on the roads without the need of hoof boots.
From the moment Lindsay took his shoes off, I haven't looked back. I still can't quite believe that barely 6 months after starting treatment, a crippled horse on the brink of being put down was now not only comfortable, but rideable. Putting his saddle on for the first time was nothing short of a miracle as far as I was concerned. Even just walking him round the school on a loose rein was amazing. I now ride 4 days a week due to work commitments but my old Billy is back to his old cheeky self, full of character and is healthy and happy. A far cry from the tense, agitated horse he had become.
I am so grateful to Lindsay and the Science of Applied Equine Podiatry for bringing my horse back from the brink and offering a glimmer of hope. Billy was really as bad as they get and who knows what the future holds from now on but I can safely say he will be around for some time yet! Sarah with Billy
Jan 2010 - Sarah and Billy still enjoying the winter sunshine !
BILLY YOUR MEMORY LIVES ON HELPING OTHER HORSES AND OWNERS
PLEASE SEE BILLY AND SARAH'S MOVING STORY at http://fightingforthebarefoothorse.com/billys-story-as-told-by-sarah