All rehabilitation projects start with an identified need.
An unfortunate truth is that horses are often not identified as “in need” until many of their mechanical functions are begin to unravel. Without the benefit of an entire team, most horses issues are viewed piecemeal.. as behavior, as training, as chiro, as orthopedic, as hoof problems. By the time we are asked to see them, they often present with a myriad of issues that have led the owner, trainer or other caregiver to question what is the root of the problem. But now there is rarely a single root, instead, a complex set of compensation patterns and secondary lameness issues.
Chasing down the origin of the problem almost always begins with us evaluating the horses feet and the way it chooses to stand and move at liberty. Often a veterinarian is involved at this point to take radiographs and share thoughts on orthopedic issues. If the horse is in pain it must be managed during rehabilitation. Removing shoes and trimming at this point is an information gathering session from which we will make a tentative plan.
Although all horses are different, it stands to reason that the longer a horse has been dysfunctional, the longer it will take to return it to soundness. For example, if a horse is 15 and has had poor hoof balance for 5 of those years, it is going to take at least a year to grow an entirely new foot in a better balance. It is likely that 6 months of that year will be complete rehabilitation with no riding and a controlled environment. A 5 year old horse with the same issues might be resolved in a few trims and turnout.
Once the horse is evaluated and a plan is made, we will work with all the caregivers to return the horse to soundness. We ask that a commitment to the horses recovery be made first and any performance goals be set aside at this time. Updates to the team are made at each appointment and at turning points in the recovery process.
We prefer most horses to stay wherever they are, as change for horses is stressful and can be counterproductive at this point in their recovery but sometimes the quickest road to a better foot involves intensive care that is unrealistic in most boarding barn settings. Gayle has a private farm in Orange County, just a few miles away from Mike’s home, where horses can go for short term boarding and hoof care if necessary.