December Newsletter from Hoofing Marvellous
December Newsletter and Welcome to the ‘new look’ website
The last couple of months have been very busy for myself and all involved with HM. Lots of people have been asking me if they missed the newsletter last month....you didn’t, there wasn’t one! The reason for that was the launch of the new HM website. We hope it’s going to be much easier to navigate, fresher and full of interesting barefoot information. We have created an ‘Articles’ section which will include past articles from previous newsletters – we plan to keep this updated after each newsletter. There’s a ‘Hoof Pathologies’ section under ‘Natural Hoofcare’ which shows lots of pictures taken on first visits....you get a pretty good idea of the epidemic proportions of hoof issues that are blighting our domestic horses.
So go take a look and we hope you like it - feedback gratefully received!
Also since the last newsletter the HM herd has gained one (temporarily) on rehab....a lovely grey Arab mare, who had been chronically foundered and was struggling to heal under her current management, so she’s come to us for a few months, until at least a full hoof growth comes through.
Also in the HM herd we are starting to JUST breath a sigh of relief....one of our rehabs Chance (who has now become a full time member) had a setback when an area close to his nearside hind fetlock became badly infected. We think it was a blackthorn as the infection was so severe. We suffered some sleepless nights but we finally think Chance is on the mend....phew! Incidentally, just as an aside he remained with his herd at all times never once going on ‘box rest’....hmmm a subject for a future article me thinks!
The Barefoot & Natural Pony Club met on a rainy, cold Halloween but it didn’t matter. Instead of playing with ponies, we went off to a local beach cafe for hot chocolate and fun and games. So, into December we go, still fairly mild here in the SW UK...so mild in fact that a couple of weeks ago a crowd of us were on Bude beach in fab weather... 2 of us flying the barefoot flag!!
by Equine Behaviourist & Author Mark Hanson
I was up at my local feed store this morning.........and I notice there is a new line in horse 'treats'. They come in two different flavours, banana and liquorice. Now I'm sure even people who have never been anywhere near a horse would be able to tell you that horses do not naturally eat bananas or liquorice. Yet I'm sure my friends at the feed store will tell you knowledgeable horse owners buy them for their horse. Not only that they also buy other flavours including chocolate.
I'm sure you can see that these things are marketed to be sold to the owner not the horse. Many years ago I worked in the UK animal feed industry and I remember sitting in sales meetings brainstorming new product lines that we could sell to our customers and with which, we could hopefully attract new customers. I'm ashamed to say we were not actually that concerned with the needs of the animals; after all, they didn't actually have any money!
I see these kind of products all the time..... ....especially in the free magazines that most of us have seen around. They are full of advertisements for the products conceived in other feed company sales meetings. The question is, is there any harm in these human orientated products? Is it possible that they could damage the animals that ultimately consume them?
The answer is potentially, Yes! I will give one very clear and famous example that I had experience of personally. When you buy an animal feed there are 3 criteria that have to be met.
The first is a legal standard. On all bags of feeds you will find a white label that states the contents meet legal requirements as stated by the government, or in Europe the European standards.
The second criteria is a financial one. Obviously there is no point producing a feed that is so expensive nobody will buy it. All feed companies will know to the penny how much their feed costs to manufacture because the difference in the cost of manufacture and the retail price is their profit.
The third criteria is the feed must be saleable, this is where marketing comes in. The packaging, the advertising, distribution and availability of the product to the market place.
This is all well and good but I experienced one example where this system went spectacularly wrong. The problem was computers. The legal requirements and the financial costings are numbers and numbers are the basic data that is fed into computer programs.
As with almost all other industries the feed industry is reliant of computers to do their job. Feed manufacturing programs are even linked to the global grain markets. Very simply, a product such as a dairy cow feed can be modelled on a computer and the machine will formulate the product in such a way as it meets all statutory legal requirements and produces a product with maximum profitability.
The problem arose when the price of soya beans began to rise.........the products became uneconomical to produce. Soya mainly provides proteins so the computers simply recalculated the rations substituting a different form of protein; instead of vegetable protein, they substituted animal protein. In this case, something called 'meat and bone meal' a byproduct of the meat industry that included all the non saleable parts of the animal, bones, blood, hooves, horns, and nervous tissue including brains. So the product was produced in such a way that it still met all legal requirements, was economical to produce and could be marketed as before.
History will tell you what happened next. You have probably heard of BSE or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, AKA 'mad cow disease'. Basically the result of feeding dead cows to live cows.
Here is an extract that reports the current state of the disease..... The BSE epizootic in the United Kingdom peaked in January 1993 at almost 1,000 new cases per week. Over the next 17 years, the annual numbers of BSE cases has dropped sharply; 14,562 cases in 1995, 1,443 in 2000, 225 in 2005 and 11 cases in 2010. Cumulatively, through the end of 2010, more than 184,500 cases of BSE had been confirmed in the United Kingdom alone in more than 35,000 herds.
The financial cost worldwide of this disease runs into Billions not to mention the millions of unnecessary deaths of cattle and the human variant of this disease CJD.
Among domesticated horses, colic is the leading cause of premature death. The incidence of colic in the general horse population has been estimated between 10 and 11 percent on an annual basis.
Turnout is thought to reduce the likelihood of colic. It is recommended that a horse receive ideally 18 hours of grazing time each day, as in the wild. The incidence of colic can be reduced by restricted access to simple carbohydrates, providing clean feed and drinking water.
Horses that bolt their feed are at risk of colic, and several management techniques may be used to slow down the rate of feed consumption.
This moves us all a rather long way from banana flavoured horse treats..... ....and I'm not for one minute suggesting that feeding them to your horse will result in a global epidemic of some as yet unknown nightmare disease. (My deepest apologies to the manufacturers of banana treats and for using you as an example). But it in theory at least, a similar scenario could happen because humans continue to feed unnatural materials to animals. If you had told me back in the day what the effect of using blood and bone meal as a protein substitute would be, I probably wouldn't have believed you because it had been done for many years. At the time nobody saw anything wrong with this, just as they saw nothing wrong with the routine addition of antibiotics into pig feed but that is another story....
I might be pushing my anthropomorphic conspiracy theories.........a bit far but I'm going to suggest that one of the reasons we saw very little wrong with feeding meat products to a vegetarian species was that meat is part of our natural diet. I know the Victorians were fond of brains as quick snack (yummy).
I also know most people don't feed bananas to their horses but I have seen them feeding kitchen waste including potato peelings, cabbage, tomatoes and so on and don't get me started on the subject of cereals and molasses! I know horses will eat these things and even show enjoyment in consuming them (much to the positive reinforcement of their owners) but it is not what they should eat, it is not what they have evolved to eat.
I mentioned the phrase ‘global epidemic’ just now..... ....well the global epidemic is already here, it is called colic. It is the most common reason for the death of horses around the world. There are many types of colic (125 so far!) but I believe only one basic cause, feeding foodstuffs to horse that they were never designed to eat.
Which is why my horses are happily eating hay at the moment and not bananas.
Interesting Horse Feed Facts:
• Over 250,000 tonnes of compound feeds are now sold in the UK alone!
• Common pelleting and binding aids include molasses, lignosulphonite and clays.
• Molasses has very limited nutritional benefits.
• In addition to ammonium nitrate fertilisers, sugar beet crops in the UK receive on average 5 herbicide sprays, 1 fungicide and 1 insecticide spray.
• Strong chemical preservatives are needed to stabilise the by-products and refined oils in processed feeds, to prevent them going rancid.
by Equine Behaviourist & Author Mark Hanson
Mark Hanson is an Equine Behviourist and Author. He writes regular blogs on his website www.hiddenhorses.com, owns 4 horses and has just written a book ‘Revealing your Hidden Horse’. For more information on how to get hold of the book visit Mark’s website.
The Hoofing Marvellous herd SUNNY’S STORY
Sunny was the turning point of my professional career. As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, Sunny was the reason I became a Natural Hoofcare Practitioner. I had been a Science Teacher, pretty content with life, until Sunny became laminitic and then everything changed. When the vets finally told me I had to have Sunny put to sleep, I found myself embarking on a journey that was to change mine & Sunny’s world forever. Let me take you back to the beginning......
Sunny entered our lives in 2000. We had moved to the country and for the first time had our own bit of land. I hadn’t really been intending on owning my own horse back then, I thought my horsey days were over, left behind well before I went to University. I had been ‘into’ horses since I was 8 years old. Going riding whenever I could and spending my teenage years heading off to a local riding stables at weekends, helping out all day just for the chance of a ‘free’ ride. When I was 15 I did my work experience at another riding stables and I truly thought my career would involve horses somehow....then everything changed when I started experiencing chronic back problems and my much loved horsey life took a very big back step.
Jump back to 2000 and enter Sunny. Browsing through a free ads one day and there I saw advertised a young black Shetland gelding in need of a good home....at the spur of the moment, we went to see him and agreed to take him on. We realised straight away that it wouldn’t be right for him to live on his own, so we found Poppet, our lovely little chestnut Miniature Shetland mare. On the day they both arrived it was like something out of Mills & Boon. They saw each other across the paddock, nickered and ran full pelt to each other and groomed - they’ve been together ever since.
For a couple of years I was very content with my little herd of two. Then Sunny became laminitic. The only farrier I could get to trim them turned up very occasionally (not many farriers were keen on Shetlands!) - each time telling me they were fine.
I told the vets I though he was suffering more in his hinds........but I was told that ‘laminitis rarely occurs in the hinds’....well that told me!
Until the x-rays proved me right again. I remember standing in the consulting room with the vet trying to explain to me how ‘rotated’ Sunny’s pedal bones were and how this was very bad and yes he seemed worse in his hinds but all four feet were ‘rotated’. He recommended a ‘remedial farrier’ who turned up and insisted heart bar shoes should be nailed on to Sunny’s already poorly feet....I agreed, although I didn’t like the thought of it, he’d never had a shoe on. I remember watching the farrier hammering hard into Sunny’s sore feet and watching him flinch from the vibrations alone....I felt helpless. I had to agree he seemed more comfortable...for a little while. Nowadays I can make a poorly pony comfortable just by putting boots and pads on if necessary with no intervention into the hoof capsule at all...but what did I know back then?
His heels were very high, his frogs non existent.........I knew things weren’t right. I couldn’t be sure but his hooves looked very odd to me. I was right. At that time I had no idea what a huge part diet and management were going to take in his longterm recovery. Both Sunny & Poppet lived out 24/7 never being stabled or rugged but the grass was just too much and the poor hoofcare was adding to the problem. The truth is he had been showing all the signs of low grade laminitis for a long time - even before we brought him home - but I didn’t know how to read those signs back then and it seemed nobody else did either, even the ‘experts’.
All of the above I was told to do all those years ago.........and I did as I was told. I now realise asa practising Hoofcare Professional ‘fighting’ laminitis out in the field that these practices have not changed at all....not even one little bit in all those years. Hundreds upon thousands of horses still go through the same scenarios.
It didn’t take long before Sunny was becoming increasingly more sore in his heart-bar shoes..........and when the farrier changed them he was crippled. I kept thinking this couldn’t be right, he seemed to be getting worse not better and his was still confined away from Poppet, calling to her if she went out of sight and I started to noticed that he was losing his spirit...he was clearly becoming depressed. My worst fears became a reality when we had him re-xrayed.... the ‘rotation’ was worse.
So then the vets told me that there was no hope for him and he should be pts.........I went home and cried...again. I had already shed lots of tears. Now, as I go out into the field and meet other owners in the same situation as I was back then, I can really feel theirs and their horse’s pain. I was hurting for Sunny and Poppet, my little dream had become a nightmare. So that very night I started trawling the internet, sending out SOS emails and finally, slowly, they begun to be answered by ‘barefoot’ enthusiasts.
Then I found Jaime’s book ‘The Horse Owner’s Guide to Natural Hoofcare’ and ‘Founder, Prevention & Cure the Natural Way’ and I read them from cover to cover in hours. We sacked the ‘experts’, took the shoes off and started to rehabilitate Sunny ourselves, with initially my husband trimming and me helping. When I look back now...crikey it would take us hours to do his feet, quite literally but we were determined and we were getting somewhere......then the tracks went up and the rest, as they say, is history!! He’s never looked back and has stayed sound ever since. He has never had to be separated from Poppet again and now he has a big herd to ‘play’ with every day....hmmm they keep telling me I can’t save them all....but I do keep trying! Thanks JJ.
MECHANICAL LAMINITIS: IN NEED OF A FUNERAL
— By Jaime Jackson
The rationale for what is called "mechanical laminitis" is rooted in the bogus science of the conventional “hoof mechanism” model. It's been around as long as I can recall, but finally "put to death" by Dr. Christopher Pollit's research and genuine Natural Hoof Care (NHC).
Mechanical laminitis is one of many explanations proposed by veterinarians, farriers and others for the separation of the hoof wall from the sole. The "mechanical" rationale for this pathology is, for the most part, not new, and has been described by many authorities for generations. One purported cause is riding horses, shod or unshod, on hard ground. Another states that it will happen to horses with genetically “inferior” feet. More recently, and widely believed by generic barefoot trimmers and their clients not grounded in NHC science, it is attributed to extraordinary lever and weight-bearing forces acting upon the hoof's lamellar attachment mechanism (LAM).
Here, the direct cause cited is excessive toe length or a toe that has advanced too far forward of its natural position, of which "slipper toe syndrome" and "long toe, run-under heel syndrome" are classical examples.
The LAM has been studied extensively for nearly two decades by Dr. Christopher Pollit of the Australian Laminitis Research Unit (Queensland University). It refers to the manner by which
the hoof wall is bound to the lowermost of the three bones in the horse's foot, that is the coffin bone (aka the Distal Phalanx and P3). The inner hoof wall is combed with a vertically oriented net- work of some 600-plus parallel, epidermal leaf-like structures, called lamina (Latin - "a thin piece" like a blade of grass). These epidermal leaves of the inner hoof wall are called the primary epidermal lamina, or PEL. The PEL interdigitate ("connect") with another set of parallel dermal leaves (DL) that are attached to the coffin bone.
Pollit discovered that the PEL and DL are themselves separated by yet another structure identified as the basement membrane (BM). Moreover, that the BM itself extrudes a thin layer of epidermal connective tissue called the secondary epidermal lamina, or SEL, which intermesh with the PEL (Figure 2). The LAM, then, is comprised of the PEL, SEL, BM, and DL. Pollit has shown that the LAM disengages between the PEL and SEL during normal wall growth (Figure 3). This separation, which allows the wall to grow past the stationary coffin bone is “momentary” and perfectly natural. It is caused by the proteolysis (Gk, -lysis, “breaking down” of proteins) of the attachment by a class metalloproteinase enzymes.
Pollit showed that the same proteolysis of the LAM also occurs during laminitis, calling it a “normal process gone wrong.” This laminitic separation is visible as the tell-tale "stretched white line" between the sole and hoof wall, particularly in cases of chronic laminitis. The "stretched lamina" are actually disorganised epidermis, according to Pollit.
Significantly, Pollit has demonstrated that the LAM breakdown is caused by dietary toxicity, including sugar enriched feeds and fructan rich pastures (green grass). NHC advocates also point to chemical and biological toxicity as causes for the separation — any agent that compromises the bacterial balances responsible for normal fermentation in the horse's hind gut. It is important to note that Pollit did not show that mechanical forces were responsible for the LAM attachment failure, or that they contributed in any way. This is consistent with what is well known among professional NHC practitioners and farriers alike: many hooves with long toes have no abnormal separation of the LAM or other confirmed symptoms of laminitis (e.g, bleeding in the white line, stress rings in the outer wall, and pain). I have personally trimmed hooves with toes in excess of 10 inches on more than one occasion with perfect LAM conformation — surely there would be "mechanical separation" if there were any substance to that rationale?
Many farriery and veterinary texts such as Lameness In Horses by O.R. Adams of a generation ago cited "mechanical separation" (also known as "road founder") as a cause of laminitis. But their authors lacked Pollit's recent research findings and the abundance of NHC anecdotal evidence that demonstrate clearly dietary toxicity lies at the bottom of all laminitis. This is not to indict the science of that generation as bogus by intent -- only that they wrote what they understood with the information available to them in their time. Unfortunately, those texts are still with us today, and many vets, farriers, and generic barefoot trimmers continue to believe what they read or hear. Until the arrival of NHC, I believed them myself at one time!
Long toes, and pathologically forward migrated toes, nevertheless, do exert unnatural lever forces that do obstruct the natural gaits. Couple these to unnatural horsemanship practices, and they can contribute significantly to Navicular Syndrome and devastating clinical lameness. As a near 40 year veteran farrier turned NHC practitioner, my observation has been that horse owners have a responsibility to feed their horses reasonably natural diets (sans sugars
and green grass pastures), keep shoes off of their horse's feet, learn to ride in harmony with the natural gaits, and insist on proven NHC guidelines for their hoof care. Most problems faced by horses today are simply man-made.
Following nature's way is a good way to put them, including "mechanical separation", to rest.
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