Lindsay Cotterell DAEP, Dip.IAZ
PAT - HOOF IMBALANCE - POSTURE PAIN
Pat is now a 14.2 hh 16 year old Criollo imported from Uraguy. If you have read any other case studies or testimonials his journey and that of his owner will by now sound familiar, however, the difference is that his owner kept her own record of hoof photos spreading over the 5+ years of hoof issues during the whole time she has owned him from being imported and they feature in this case study.
A good starting point is to describe my first meeting with Pat and his very anxious and concerned owner. First impressions can say so much and on seeing Pat for the first time he made it clear he was not that happy to see me! He had a 'pinched' tense expression and tried several times to nip me with an underlying intention. It was very obvious on assessing his hooves that he was suffering from excessive growth, imbalance and heel pain and his posture and body replicated that in his stance and movement. He was tense all over and the excess length of his hinds was causing significant stifle pain and on palpating his left front cartilage and digital cushion, he was very uncomfortable. He objected to every hoof being elevated and made that point very clear when I asked for his left hind! - which made complete sense seeing his left front was the most uncomfortable. He was very unhappy, stiff and stilted in his movement. His ability to turn was very compromised, short and completed with difficulty. His owner close to despairing on what to do next. On reading the background information to date, photos, thermal imagery and xrays along with the huge expense incurred, with little positive results, I could totally understand why.
Pat selected Violet Leaf Essential Oil -often selected when there is fear of anticipating pain.
From looking at past photos below over the 5 year range and an example of each change of approach, his hooves had changed very little despite trying a range of methods from shod to shoeless including a brief spell in very expensive Imprint shoes - all had little or no long term benefits and the same cycle of excessive growth, imbalance and pain continued.
My first visit to Pat was in February 2013 and his fronts shoes were removed and the process began to address the excessive growth and address hoof balance to his internal foot print. Due to long term imbalance and negative stimulus to his hoof structures and internal soft tissue, Pat's left hind frog had atrophied (shrunk) due to complete lack of stimulus.
Pat's posture before trim. Tense, head raised and obvious body asymmetry, snappy and misreable. A very close stance all round particularly with his hocks
AFTER FIRST TRIM - An immediate and extreme reaction indicating the level of relief - We thought Pat wanted to urinate but as soon as I finished trimming his final hind, he spread his back legs and stretched his stifles, hocks, hamstrings and lowered his head then returned to a much improved posture, changed his stance and began to relax his body and he became animated, looking around and already losing that pinched look. It was still VERY early days but the foundations had been set for improvement to continue. He repeated the hind stretch pattern but to a lesser degree, for the following two visits.
8 weeks on from my above initial visit and Pat began ridden work in fields and he has continued to increase his ridden work, onto lanes as well as being ponied from another horse. His posture and comfort levels continued to improve and his brighter attitude to life is unrecognisable to that he previously he endured. He is relaxed to trim and I feel totally at ease around him. He has now started light canter work. His owner 's progressive comments are as follows:-
Feb 2013 - He walked out beautifully in his boots today and seemed delighted with the change of scene
March/April 2013 - Just a quick update on Pat. He’s now walking out without his boots, for 25-30 minutes on the road every day ....generally happy to step out briskly
May 2013 - Fabulous! I’ve never seen him so square, and where are his pigeon toes ??
Pat is now working without boots up to an hour a day 4-5 per week incorporating lanes, tracks and fields. He's been a bit naughty and demonstrated a skill at cantering sideways downhill and bucking his owner off in excitment - I was relieved to hear that his owner was delighted that he felt balanced and forward going enough to do so !
However, as a whole, he's been really good and is enjoying his hacks out only using his front boots for longer sessions and a fun ride is planned shortly. His turning is smooth and comfortable, his stride elevated and he tracks up well.
A latest pose June 2013 - A relaxed, soft and chilled Pat who is gaining in strength, particularly noticeable in his hind quarters, improved symmetry with a good top line developing. He is now a consistent 14.2 hh !
Pat often rests his head near my neck and face when trimmed and offers me each leg in turn - he even enjoys a cuddle too - A dear boy!