Whole Horse Rehab at Rose Farm College of Equine Studies

UPDATE : After a week home his owners sent me an up date - I thought you would be pleased to hear that Mr M and my daughter came 8th individually and their team was 1st in the 90-95cm Jumping With Style class at West Wilts today. They were marked 19 out of 20 for rider and horse combination and 10 out of 10 for appearance and turnout. There were 39 in the class so quite a decent result. They had to do 8 show jumps and 5 cross country jumps showing a change in style between the two.

The owner of a lovely 11 year old , 16 hh Irish Sports Horse gelding asked me to carry out a hoof assessment due to her concerns over the condition of his hooves. It was very obvious from initial observations that his issues started from the hoof up. His hoof score was a very low 2.5 which means structures were weak to the point of missing. His body and posture indicated he was uncomfortable, tense and fidgety. Shoes were not staying on due to very little if any structure left to nail to. Understandably, his ridden work had stopped completely and even though the farrier had removed his shoes, without a structured program to help support and rehabilitate structures as poor as they were, he was not going to progress.

His pedal bones were ground parallel, illustrated by underrun heels, internal soft tissue atrophied and bruised, hoof walls displayed significant cracks, were riddled with fungal infection along with his frogs that also had substantial sulcus splits. His owner was very concerned that nothing they did was helping with this situation and if anything, it was getting worse. He had no peripheral wall left and when bedding and muck stuck to his soles it made him lame and uncomfortable. He was in a very vulnerable state.

Lotty Merry of Rose Farm College had recently installed ideal facilities to help rehabilitate unhealthy hooves and offered a range of therapies that this horse would need and indeed any horse in this situation. So instead of trying to co-ordinate different therapies required, his owner jumped at the chance to take advantage of a vacant slot at Rose Farm for her horse to receive a structured rehab program with all his needs in one place and where hoof care is paramount. From my perspective as a Podiatrist it's an ideal situation and so rewarding to see rapid changes in his overall well being, hoof health, posture and movement.

Lotty's in depth understanding and experience of the impact that unbalanced and weak hooves has on the body and dynamic movement makes Rose Farm a great place to rehab horses that are rapidly declining in overall functionality to the point of discomfort and pain.

After a few days after his arrival to help support his very weak hoof structures, he wore Poly Flex Wraps for 3 weeks. The support these provided to his hoof structures enabled work to commence in the sand horse walker and for him to be turned out and utilise that time in comfort. The Poly Flex Wraps also promoted the rapid hoof growth he required to make the most of this time period. He received vital daily hoof care, thermal imagery , Bowen, laser and light therapy, massage rugs, infrared sauna therapy rugs, saddle fitting, Zoopharmacognosy and a structured excercise program in sand horse walker and school. As his fitness, strength and symmetry improved he commenced ridden work in the school exercising up to 40 mins to an hour per day including canter work. 12 weeks before, he was so sore, walking up the smooth concrete yard for a gait assessment was all he could manage.

This very kind and lovely horse stayed at Rose farm for just over 3 months and has left transformed with a continuing and structured hoof care program for his owner to follow. We all miss him! Photos below illustrate his journery to recovery very well.

First visit - his heel bulb periople is close to ground contact, with acute under run heels, soles totally weight bearing and flat. Sulcus split is deceptively deep. Immediate relief once PFW applied enabling light work on a sand surface to begin the repair of soft tissue atrophy and return heel health

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11 weeks later - Both fronts due to improvement of soft tissue, cartilage, digital cushion, connective tissue his heel height is restored Pedal Bones are no longer ground parallel. Consistent wall matrix and improved posture. His assessment score is now 4.8/5 for his fronts

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Right Hind displaying substantial quarter crack, wall loss and separation and fungal infections. Soles flat and frogs that are concealing area of infection at sulcus and again, acute underrun heels and similar issues to both fronts.

11 weeks later - Quarter crack reducing and sealed and well on the way to growing out and down. Good frog bulk and wall matrix. Improved posture. His assessment score is now a 5.5/6 for his hinds.

It was virtually impossible to get Mr M to stand still as he cannot stand supporting his own weight comfortably with right hind elevated as he moves weight from one side to the next. Just one week at Rose Farm, a set of front wraps and a range of therapies has resulted in much appreciated relief, a change in top line, a relaxed body and a happier boy !

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