I recently got a barefoot rehab book as an early Christmas present to myself (which is part of the reason I’m on a full spending freeze right now; early gifts get me like woah). This, of course, made me think much more on Murray’s foot progression, and where we’re at in this little experiment.
Excitingly, we now have a just barely heel-first landing on the RF (upright foot). It’s not consistent, but it’s pretty much there, and definitely there in soft footing. Unfortunately, the LF is still decidedly toe-first and will take a while to change, I suspect, as the LF heel is particularly weak.
I had thought the RF was our problem foot, but data proves me wrong again. Farrier was right — it’s the LF that causes us issues! (And honesty, wouldn’t that explain why he short steps with the RF? Doesn’t want to put too much pressure on the LF!!)
Most importantly, Murray returned to overnight turnout on 12/1, and I am very, very, very excited about it. His leg hole is holding up (still bandaged as you can see — I was not about to risk scraping the scab off and having the proud flesh come back) and healing nicely. The movement he gets in pasture (at least an hour or so a night, even if he’s out there for a full 12) will be far more than I could ever have given him in an hour or two at the barn, and movement is key to palmar hoof development!
I created a handy little line-guide to show the changes in the frog in particular. The red lines are based on the frog as of 10/23, and I’ve copied that exact image over to the following weeks so you can see how his frog is (literally) bursting the seams.
Interestingly, I haven’t seen much progress in the angle of this foot. It’s a little distressing, but thanks to my new book, I have some ideas on how to improve nutrition and movement to help the dorsal hoof move along better.
The right front appears to be making less progress but might have been a healthier foot overall, so perhaps it isn’t too worriesome. Things I really like about this hoof’s development are that it’s rounding out a fair bit, which means it will become less upright overall! I also think that I’m not going to see a much bigger frog until after there’s space for it between the bars (and this weak icky frog has scraped off… whenever that will be).
I’ve applied the same line system above, and while it looks like there’s not as much going on here, you can see a serious widening of the bars and lateral grooves to make way for a new frog (I hope. I’m not a farrier or vet!).
Because we got new sand footing, Murray is now back to light work. We started with some lunging, and he’s not sound sound, but he’s pretty sound for Murray. Work is good, and as long as we’re on a supportive surface like sand, I’m going to keep the groundwork going and add in more and more under saddle work. One of the best parts of this clicker training business is that Murray is actually listening to me when I get in the saddle, so he’s not thinking “oh, how do I not do this thing?” he’s thinking “oh, how do I do this thing and acquire more goodies?”
Murray was not only happy to work, but pretty confident in his work. At one point down the long side I felt him really propel himself down the arena with great, for lack of a better word, purpose. I’m not sure if it is because he knows I like to ask for forward, or if perhaps he was feeling particularly comfortable and confident on the footing, but he felt fantastic!
There’s a lot of work to do before we can be sound anywhere other than our lovely and supportive indoor, but I like what I’m seeing here. I need to make some feed changes if I’m to expect Murray to keep making progress (notably increasing mineral intake and decreasing sugar — bye bye, barley), but the outlook is good!
The book I keep blabbing on about is Nic Barker and Sarah Braithwaite’s Feet First, which feels like a great starting resource. I’m tempted to buy the “sequel”, but not sure if I deserve more Christmas presents just yet…