When Murray’s leg hole turned into a more significant situation than originally thought, I was like “dammit, I’m not going to become one of those people who can only talk about her horse’s injury.” And here I am. Talking about his injury again.
But this week, we made some lemonade of this whole stall-bound situation. I pulled all of Murray’s shoes!!
You might not think that shoe-pulling is something to get excited about, but for me it really is. I have been obsessed with the idea of functionally barefoot horses ever since I started care-leasing Murray. It coincided with finding the Rockley Rehab Blog, the proprietor of which firmly asserts that all horses can become comfortably barefoot with the right care. And I really liked that idea. I lived in Kenya and saw zebra on the daily, and never did I see a lame zebra. I saw zebra running away from things (cars, lions, cheetahs) pretty damn quickly, over some pretty interesting (rocky, shale, slick, muddy, rainy, watery) surfaces, and very few of them ever slipped. This was pretty good evidence in my mind.
Over time, I came to realize that without being willing to undertake certain lifestyle changes for the horse, it may very well not be possible for Murray to have a competitive career barefoot. That is clearly not for everyone.
However, I can’t shake the inclination to believe those farriers and veterinarians and yahoos that say that barefoot really is good for the foot overall. Human podiatrists acknowledge that the types of shoes that many people prefer are not actually all that good for our overall foot health and strength.
So knowing that Murray only has to be sound in his stall, in arena footing, or hand walking around in the gravel, I really, really, really wanted to give his feet a break from shoes and see if we couldn’t strengthen up his heels and re-angle his upright RF. Farrier approves of this plan and hopes that it will help his particularly contracted RF heel spread out a bit.
Right now, we hand walk for 20-40 minutes 3-6 times a week. I’ll try to start doing that on a whole variety of different surfaces so Murray isn’t just standing in the cushy padding of his stall an paddock. I forsee another six weeks of this routine, which should give both of us plenty of time to harden up our feet and get into a rhythm! It’s certainly not the same as the Rockley horses being out 12 hours a day on tons of different surfaces, but perhaps we’ll be able to get there a few weeks after that with night turnout. Once we get back into real non-walk-work, the shoes will probably go back on. Fronts first, and we’ll see if we can make it through the winter without hinds.