Success Stories from the UK
by Anne Kempton

Anne Kempton, SHP, Desford, Leicester, UK provided us with some success stories:

Anna, 16hh mare age 26, diagnosed with having ‘navicular syndrome’ 10 years ago, and the vet said she needed to be put down. The owner refused, and brought her to my yard about 7 months ago, where she went barefoot and had natural living. I initially trimmed the mare, and then showed the owner how to trim the horse herself with my guidance. The mare is now able to trot soundly on concrete and has had a new lease of life. The owner cannot believe it, as she had never thought it possible.
Brambles, miniature shetland 15 yrs old, foundered for 12 years, was diagnosed as incurable, and veterinary advice was to put him down. After a long road of healing he is now moving around very easily, and keeping up with the herd and playing with the other horses. He has regained his sparkle, something I thought we had lost forever. He still has a long way to go as there has been so much damage to repair, but he is well on the way to regaining his former self.

Lucy, Arab x QH, 14.1hh aged 6, highly under- developed when I bought her, and she had been ridden and shod before the age of 5. She used to stand under with both front and back feet. She had very high heels and bars, paper thin soles, and hardly any foot to work with. She has had a long and difficult transition, with a lot of work on her feet, and also her muscles. She still isn’t strong enough for a rider, but is sound and now stands properly. Muscularly, she is much stronger and is holding a good body weight.

Wisper, 14.1hh Arab X, aged 8, rescued from a market at the age of six. He had severe behavioral problems and had been shod and ridden before the age of 5. The vet warned me that he was dangerous and strongly advised me to return him. He had one ‘boxy’ foot, and high heels and bars all round. He is now my most advanced horse in terms of schooling (parelli level 3 work), and has four lovely feet. He is a dream to handle, although is still anxious about having his feet trimmed. He is the most wonderful little chap who, without the combined knowledge I gained through natural horsemanship and Dr. Strasser, would most probably not be alive now.

Little Guy, miniature shetland gelding, aged about 2, came to me with high heels and high bars, and very shut down emotionally. He is now trimmed regularly, and moves about with the herd with ease (how he keeps up with the large horses is always a wonder)! He has lovely conformation, and always lets me know when he wants his feet trimmed - he comes and loiters by the gate giving me ‘do my feet’ vibes! He is really sparkly and happy.

Tia Maria, aged 14, TB X, foundered since the age of four, and having had a resection and conventional treatment, the vets considered that she was incurable and advised putting her down. Five years on, there is still damage from the resection which is taking a lot of time to heal, but she has improved so much since I started trimming her. The hoof that had the resection now looks like a real hoof!

Fray, 14.hh Icelandic pony, aged 7, came to me originally as his owner wanted to learn natural horsemanship. The first thing I noticed about the pony were amazingly high heels, and that he was, unfortunately, shod. The pony was very shut down and nervous, and his owner worked with him for a while, but left him with me for a week while she went on holiday. She agreed that I could take the shoes off the pony and trim him. When the heels were trimmed down and the bars were trimmed to their proper height, he had lovely feet. After the horse had gone home, the owner rang me to ask what I had done to her horse, as he was very relaxed and happy and had developed a curiosity that she hadn’t seen in him before. She was really pleased and is now keeping him barefoot, and his training is coming on really well.

Frodo, 13.2hh, 2 yr old Arab, rescued by his present owner via an animal welfare organization, and was told by the farrier that the horse would never amount to anything as he had poor conformation and badly deformed feet that were too small and would never grow. He had high bars and heels all the way round, and one back foot that was badly turned out, and an old injury to one front leg that had caused a conformation problem. He was very underdeveloped and had marked muscle wastage on the right side of his pelvis. After one trim, his back foot had straightened out and he was able to move much better, has now developed muscles equally on both sides of his pelvis, has put on a lot of weight and his hooves are much bigger. He is now running around and playing, and ready to start doing some ground skills.

Paris, 17 yrs old, 15.2hh mare, has had turned in front feet all her life, and we were told that nothing could be done. She has been trimmed for eighteen months now and her feet have straightened out considerably, and she is still improving.

Life is so amazing, sometimes. I had been asking the universe for a young TB for some time, during which I had been nursing my old racehorse Bally, during his last years. Unfortunately, on Feb 6th, 2003, he collapsed in the field, and I had to make the painful decision to let him go. He died very peacefully...

However the very next day I had a call to say that there was a 2 yr old TB (almost 3) that was “incurably lame,” and had been advised by the vets long ago that it should be shot. Thankfully, the owner was desperate to get this horse better and race it, so she persevered with treatment. This included a years box rest, operations on both flexor tendons (subsequently found to be undamaged), and then found to have an old shoulder fracture which was arthritic and had fibrous tissue growing within the joint.

The prognosis was still very poor, and the horse was again pronounced incurable. He then went for essential oil therapy, which helped, but did not keep him sound. The owner decided to give him away as a companion.

Henry arrived at my yard on 12th February, 2003, and he was trimmed immediately, although he had to be sedated to be able to trim his hind feet properly, as he had muscular pain in and around his quarters, and could not stand on on three legs.

He has had osteopathic treatment on his shoulder which, one month later, he is not limping on, and he has muscular pain in his back and off hind pelvic area. This has been treated several times now, and he is improving daily and continues to appear sound on his fractured shoulder.

He was quite shut down when he arrived, and he is now developing a sparkle and behaving like a two year old again. He took to natural living as though he had always lived out! He has a woolly coat, and defies the belief that Thoroughbreds cannot live out. He has started doing some natural horsemanship ground skills and has jumped a couple of small jumps. He trots up “sound” on concrete and grass. Can’t wait to get him out and about competing barefoot...

This mare has come on leaps and bounds since then. She has much more hoof height, her damaged lateral cartilage has almost dropped down to its normal place, her feet have expanded and her movement is lovely—better than I’ve ever seen it. She is also much more settled in herself and has been able to let us put a tarpaulin over her and also walk through a very narrow passage which has a roof of tarpaulin over it blowing in the wind. She went through this at liberty very quietly and gently. When she arrived here, she was scared of her own heartbeat! It’s been a tough time for her, and for us, with her feet having been as deformed as they were. Plus the fact that she’s had to work through a huge amount of emotional stuff. So much for her being dangerous.

Lucy (Update)
Lucy has had a lot of problems with her feet, but since the last edition she developed a lump on her side which eventually turned out to be cancerous and was removed. Since then, she has started to muscle up and put on weight slowly. Her feet are improving and she has much more height than she did. We can actually get some concavity which stays!

Wisper (Update)
Wisper has let go of a lot of emotional rubbish now, and with this, his feet have suddenly expanded all over the place! He is so sensitive now that even the slightest scoop that is not deep enough or bar that is half a millimeter too high causes him to be grumpy and off colour! He’s lovely to handle and is a great personality! A far cry from the dangerous pony that the vet advised me to return to his previous owner saying “you’ll never be able to do anything with that...”

(April 28, 2003)

Note: Photos are provided for reference and educational purposes only, and are not meant to indicate guidelines for trimming. Every horse should be trimmed as an individual. Opinions vary as to what constitutes "correct" but keep in mind - there are NO PERFECT FEET, not even in the wild. Owners are cautioned to seek professional help for the trimming of their own horse's feet. Owner trimming of pathological feet is not advised. Photos may not be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any way.

©2006 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

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