Once your horse goes barefoot a whole new world opens up to explore and learn more about your horse and one of the fundamental parts of horse anatomy, the hoof.
Beth with her two horses Kali and Twig kindly invited me to film and photograph their regular trim by Equine Podiatrist Barefoot Trimmer Tracey Pettipher of Natural Neddies Equine Podiatry.
Tracey is a final year student and soon to become a full member of EPAUK.
Generally your trimmer will carry out an assessment of your horse such as body condition scoring, gait analysis, diet, exercise and general care and routine of your horse to get an overall picture and a record of changes and improvements identified on each visit so that your trimmer can advise where necessary on some simple changes to maximise your horses potential barefoot and help with things like shoe pulling, transition to barefoot and ongoing maintenance care, rehabilitation, diet and exercise throughout the seasons.
This is Beth leading Twig for gait analysis before Tracey begins trimming to check for soundness, lameness, comfort and how the foot falls.
Twig had a beautiful even and comfortable heel to toe landing, completely sound on the uneven and stoney track.
Twig was first walked up and then trotted.
I see Beth's got a nice heel first landing too!
So whats next.... Well as this is Twigs 2nd trim the overall indepth assessment in detail was carried out on the 1st visit so its a quick check over to make sure we are still on track with weight and general body condition.
Time to take some photographs of the feet prior to the trim, these are invaluable pieces of digital information to monitor progress, changes, hoof growth between trims and to catalogue each clients horse, fabulous for looking back to see your horses feet and how they have dramatically improved over time or otherwise.
Your horses digital pulse will also be checked and recorded, no pulse or a slight pulse is generally good but if it is easily felt or pounding this is a signal to check for injury, abscess's, or brewing laminitis, its so good to learn this simple diagnostic tool yourself, ask your trimmer to show you.
So lets get under the horse and see what we have. Twig has fabulous feet and Beth hacks out regularly barefoot without any problems. Here we can see that there is some growth to the wall but also a lot of self trimming. Nice even wear all round giving us clues that she is comfortable and correctly landing. Having just come out of winter I would say that's a pretty nice hoof and and the frog is what you might expect coming out of winter and muddy conditions.
A little bit of action and a breezy sunny day is perfect for both Twig and Tracey to be comfortable, although I have to say Twig was an absolute diamond, perfectly relaxed and beautifully mannered.
Stay tuned for more action and insights in part 2 coming shortly where we will look in closer detail of Tracey trimming, the tools used and how you can get more involved and informed in your horses barefoot journey, courtesy of Tracey Pettipher, Beth Hedges, Twig and Kali
See Traceys website and facebook pages for more information on the services she provides and the areas covered
If you would like to learn more or looking for an equine podiatrist in your area then contact http://www.epauk.org/