Guest Blog: No foot, No Horse!
Guest Blog: Sam Perry & Marco "No Foot, No Horse: The Journey to Equine Foot Balance"
As equestrians, we hold dear the timeless adage, "No Foot, No Horse." It's a sentiment rooted in the profound understanding that the foundation of a horse's well-being and performance lies in the health of its hooves. In this blog post, I'd like to share my recent exploration into the realm of foot balance, as I've embarked on a journey with my beloved equine companion, Marco.
Marco is an impressive Belgian-bred warmblood, standing at approximately 17 hands high. Born in late July, he recently turned 11 years old. With a robust physique, he embodies the ideal image of a horse, sturdy with a leg at each corner. However, Marco tends to carry his weight on his forehand. In my opinion, he possesses a potent and energetic spirit, a genuine passion for work. Our primary focus is Dressage, complemented by a variety of pole work exercises, and an occasional foray into jumping. I must confess; I need to summon my courage when I decide to take those "big girl pants" out of the drawer! Our weekly routine includes three days of schooling in the arena and a couple of days spent hacking, all supplemented by a refreshing visit to the water treadmill at Brook Farm Therapy.
Diet and Care:
Marco's diet is refreshingly simple, tailored to suit his "good doer" disposition. He thrives on lush grass whenever it's available. His daily regimen includes:
Morning: One scoop of Dengie Hifi Senior
Evening: 6 cups of Boz Merix Balancer from the outstanding professional range at Hestevard.
Taking Care of Marco:
Realizing the importance of maintaining Marco's peak performance, I entrusted his well-being to my wonderful veterinarian, Ben Payne, from Essex and Suffolk Vets. We embarked on an MOT-like workup for Marco, ensuring his health was in optimal condition, much like how a classic car demands meticulous attention to its mechanics.
Ben's comprehensive assessment encompassed several key elements:
- Trot-up with front and hind flexion
- Lunge work on both soft and hard surfaces
- Palpation of Marco's back to check for any reactions
- X-rays of the stifle, hocks, front, and back feet
Fortunately, Ben's assessment revealed nothing of major concern, and Marco passed his MOT with flying colors. We were eager to chart a course for Marco's future success. Our journey began at his hooves. By analyzing the x-rays (which I've shared photos of), it was evident that there was an imbalance in his hoof alignment, resulting in a broken back hoof pastern axis. The weight distribution was not falling correctly, with too much angle, and the foot had become flat, with excessive toe and insufficient heel.
To address these issues, my veterinarian Ben and my farrier devised a plan. Marco would be placed on a four-week shoeing cycle during the summer, as his hoof growth was exceptionally rapid, making them resemble flippers by the six-week mark. For a few cycles, a bar shoe would be applied to support the heel, with the understanding that this would not be a permanent solution but rather a means to restore the foot's correct balance.
Furthermore, Ben recommended injecting the coffin joints to mitigate inflammation caused by the foot's imbalance.
Supporting Marco's Joints:
To further aid Marco's joint health, he's been taking Boz Merix, a reputable supplement known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to support horses of all ages. I've personally witnessed significant improvements in Marco's way of moving and his overall posture and well-being since he began taking it. Importantly, this supplement is FEI legal, allowing us to compete in affiliated events.
It's crucial to remember that your horse may not always show lameness or pain, yet they may benefit immensely from your proactive care and attention. Treat them like a classic car; a little occasional "oiling" goes a long way in preserving their health and performance. After all, as equestrians, we understand that in our world, "No Foot, No Horse" is a timeless truth that resonates with profound significance.
Many thanks to Sam Perry for sending us this great blog about her horse Marco, and we look forward to following Marco’s progress. For reference, Marco’s vet is Ben Payne BVSc MRCVS from Essex & Suffolk Equine.