Bob Childs - ESA/AHA/PHCP Certified Hoof Specialist


Iron Overload by Dr Eleanor Kellon

"The only way to accurately diagnose iron overload is with the correct blood work. Serum iron alone is not accurate. It reflects iron in the diet but not how much is stored. Transferrin is the protein that carries iron in the blood. When transferrin and iron are both measured, the percent transferrin saturation can be calculated by dividing serum iron by transferrin and multiplying by 100. That % is useful in interpreting the third test that is needed, ferritin. Ferritin is a measure of the body’s total iron content. High ferritin can mean iron overload but chronic disease involving inflammation or infection may also elevate ferritin.

With true iron overload, transferrin saturation is high normal or elevated. There is currently only one laboratory in the world that can measure equine ferritin, the comparative hematology laboratory at Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. "

Regarding the trim cycle…
By admin | | Hoof Care |

Question: Is it possible to extend the trimming cycle longer than 5 weeks?

I've been known to say that a mediocre trimmer who comes every 3 weeks can accomplish more than that a great trimmer who comes every 8 weeks. A horse can go out of balance within a couple weeks post-trim and unbalanced hooves can stress joints, ligaments and tendons causing soreness elsewhere in the body. A short cycle can reduce joint damage and avoid soreness. A short cycle also eliminates the need for a big correction which may cause the horse to compensate while he adjusts to the corrected hooves. Horses in the wild trim their hooves daily as they trek long distances in search of food and water. They don't have to wait weeks to balance their hooves nor do they need to adjust to a sudden balance or breakover correction. Regularly balanced hooves promote steady growth and proper hoof mechanics. These are only a few of the reasons why I recommend a trim cycle of 5 weeks or less.

In regards to my work schedule... all my clients are on a 5 week cycle and I organize each workday by geographical regions. Each 5 weeks I return to that same region but after 6 weeks I would be in a different region. Therefore it would not be possible to lengthen the cycle for some - but not all - clients. As I maintain a full roster, I must be as efficient as possible to properly treat all the horses in my care.

However, there are occasionally special cases where it is absolutely imperative to the owner to extend the trim cycle. In those cases, I'll recommend (when possible) a competent colleague with a more flexible schedule.

Early Trimming and Movement
By admin | | Hoof Care |

A great quotation from Pete Ramey...

"Remember that all foals are 'born crooked'; they've spent their whole life wrapped up in a ball! Movement is essential for straightening them out. Unless directed by a veterinarian for a specific injury or reason, do not confine foals in stalls. Every aspect of their proper development requires movement. I also firmly believe that if every foal received routine competent hoof trimming from the very beginning, angular limb deformities in adult horses would virtually disappear from the horse world; I've seen this with my own eyes in my own clientele. Birth defects do happen but they are far more rare than most people think. Instead, what is very common is that foals get off to a slightly wrong start, this skews the hoof balance and then their joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles are allowed to grow and form on the imbalanced, neglected hooves. Eventually the horse matures and the conditions are effectively permanent.

Most people think that hoof trimming for adult horses is a necessity and foal trimming is a luxury. If anything it should be the other way around."

Do you need hoof boots when you ride?
By admin | | Hoof Care |
Study: Barefoot Trimming Shows Positive Effects
By admin | | Hoof Care |

This article was reposted. Read the original article on The Horse.

A team of researchers at Michigan State University's (MSU) McPhail Equine Performance Center offers hope to horse owners facing underrun heel and flat-footed woes with a 16-month study examining the short-term and long-term effects of a specific barefoot trimming technique on hoof conformation.

In the study, seven previously barefoot horses were trimmed every six weeks with a technique that leveled the hoof to the live sole, lowered the heels, beveled the toe, and rounded the peripheral wall. The sole, frog, and bars were left intact.

"This study has shown that a group of school horses performed well and remained sound when trimmed so that the frog, bars, and sole of the foot were engaged in the weight-bearing function," explained Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, MRCVS, the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at MSU. "We believe it is important for these parts of the foot to contact the ground, not only to distribute the weight-bearing forces and to support the coffin bone from below, but also to provide the horse with proprioceptive input from receptor cells in the heels."

The first four months of the study established the hoof shape representative of the barefoot trim. From this baseline, morphological (shape and structure) changes in the hoof's response to the trim technique were monitored from months 4 through 16. At 0, 4, and 16 months, the researchers measured hoof morphology from lateral (from the side), dorsal (from the rear), and solar photographs, as well as lateromedial (side to side) radiographs.

As the study progressed, subjects showed palmar/plantar migration of the heels, meaning the heels shifted further back underneath the limb, with increased support length, heel angle, and solar angle of the coffin bone. "This research has shown that the feet do indeed adapt and become healthier," Clayton noted. "One of the interesting findings was that in response to weight-bearing on the frog and bars, the entire heel region migrated back underneath the limb, leading to an increased weight-bearing area and an increase in heel angle. These findings offer hope for treating underrun heels."

Horse owners interested in giving barefoot trimming a try shouldn't expect immediate results, Clayton cautioned. "It is important to realize that it takes a long time--months or sometimes even years--for a horse's hooves to adapt to being barefoot if the horse has been accustomed to wearing shoes for a long time," she remarked. "Owners who contemplate changing to a barefoot trim need to find a farrier who is trained and experienced in this manner of trimming, and they need to be prepared for a period of adaptation.

"There is great research potential in this area. One area where I would like to see more research is in comparing different types of barefoot trim in horses that live in different environmental conditions (desert vs. wet) and on different types of ground (hard, stony, sandy, soft)," Clayton added. "We know quite a lot about wild horses' feet and how they differ according to habitat, but less is known about managing the feet of domestic horses under different conditions."

This study, "Effects of barefoot trimming on hoof morphology," was published in the Australian Veterinary Journal. The abstract is available here.