Real life testimony of Luna and Deb's story on how they journeyed to barefoot, straight from the horse's mouth!!
Luna :Criollo (Patagonian) Gaucho pony (imported from South America) 14h 3”, Bay Roan mare. Originally arrived as a barefoot pony and un-used to road work / traffic.
Use : Happy hacker, fun rides, Le Trek
Luna is a good doer, has a gentle nature and is very intelligent. She was in a ‘drop’ American style bit with long shanks – trained her to be bit-less as we neck rein for steering and she stops on command, leaning back in saddle.
Always been a bit ‘footy’ for a few days after shoeing. Maybe a combination of grass and road work contributed to the laminitis attack ….?
Age : Almost 15 yrs, had her since she was 6.
The Full Transition to Barefoot in Deb's words
Early Aug 2016
Luna contracted laminitis after a dry spell and then rain. Strip-grazed on very low paddock. She was a little overweight. Lived out 24/7.
X-rays showed pedal bone rotation with just 4 mm clearance from the inside of her sole on her left foot. This was the only affected foot.
Shoes were removed from her front. Left foot had gel pad moulded and fitted, held on with vet-wrap and gaffer tape.
24/7 Box rest on soft bedding (rubber mats beneath) for almost 12 wks – no signs of improvement. She was also stiffening up in her back and hind quarters from lack of free movement.
Late September 2016
I was advised to read ‘Founder – Prevention & Cure’ by Jaime Jackson, who is a respected author on this subject – believing in the natural method of rehabilitation and disagreeing with much of the standard vet treatment (box rest, restricting movement, binding foot etc.).
Made myself some relevant foot-notes from the book and created an ‘action’ plan to get Luna better the ‘book’ way – using its methods and my own knowledge of my horse.
10 October 2016
Removed all foot bandages (foot was crumbling), Luna was still on one bute sachet twice daily, digital pules still hammering.
Created stable and rubber-matted yard turn out for Luna to move about more freely and at her own pace, see the world outside, interact with her environment (good for her mental well-being).
Began soaking LEFT foot in salt water for 10 mins twice daily at each feed time (chaff, oats, barley, hoof supplement). Also rigorous brushing with stiff bristle brush of the fetlock area (to increase blood circulation). No manufactured foods. Salt lick available 24/7. Hay on demand. Continued soaking her left until end of November.
Stopped bute and only gave when pulses were particularly bad or Luna showed too much discomfort. Got bute down to one sachet 3 times during a week within 3 weeks. Stopped bute altogether after 4wks.
Week 1. November 2016
Allowed Luna full access to move round stable, rubber matted yard and surrounding gravel yard (greater space). More footy again once she tried to walk on gravel & pebbles.
Put old carpets out on the gravel yard where she walked the most. Including at the 5-bar gate which looked out onto the lane. This is where I placed her hay nets, so she could look out upon the world from an even bigger perspective. Keeping her mentally active within her surroundings.
Week 2. November 2016
Began lead-rein walking her around our 2 acre field perimeter every night in the dark to get her to loosen up in the back and hind quarters. Allowed her to graze at end of lead rope a little on paddock eaten off by cattle. Lead reining progressed to walking in tight circles to free her movement up more, along with serpentines and even a few steps at trot. She was becoming more confident in using her left foot/leg day by day.
Week 4. November 2016
Luna was stepping out really well on soft ground in the field when led. Almost looked sound. Still footy on the gravel yard and on tight turns on the rubber mats. Began occasional walks along the lane (barefoot) in straight lines only, not tight turns. She walked gingerly but without limping on smooth tarmac – but ‘footy’ if she stood on a stone. Began researching horse boots for convalescence lead-rein work on roads and to later use for riding Luna in.
Week 1. December 2016
Decided to turn Luna out freely on paddock for 10 mins am and pm, when I went to muck out etc. Literally turned her loose to be free and do what ‘she wanted’. She proceeded to gallop to the top of the field bucking, rearing and prancing with high knee action ! I feel this was our big turning point – and began to think she had a real chance of recovery. Not seen by vet since 6 October at this point ! Still taking her for walks along the lane barefoot at the weekends when I had daylight.
Week 2. December 2016
As Week 1.
Spoke to Cavallo on googlemail USA helpline. Immediate responses – very helpful. Also discussed how to measure Luna’s feet for new boots on front. Then asked my blacksmith, who advocated trying barefoot boots (not hot-shoeing or heart-bar shoes, which is what the vet wanted to fit), to help me measure Luna after her latest trim. He worked on getting her heels down and just filing the edges of her feet, nothing off soles. Working on the ‘less is more’ basis. Her sole on LEFT foot was convex with the pressure from pedal bone beneath. It is now flat and looking more like a normal foot.
Spoke to Liz from Horse and More Ltd. (recommended by Cavallo USA as my UK contact). Liz very helpful, even gave feed advice to try Fibre Beet. We worked out Luna needed size 3 boots. Bought a pair with a pack of gel pads included for £107. As cheap as anywhere I have looked on the Websites. Boots delivered promptly end of Wk 2.
Week 3. December 2016
I had to wait to the weekend to try the Cavallo boots on Luna - as needed proper daylight. They fitted well. I put an old pair of my walking boot socks beneath the boots to avoid any rubbing until the bulbs of her feet became accustomed to a boot she had never worn before. She looked a bit funny but who cares ! Sole of her LEFT foot now totally concave, frogs healthier, bars on the sole of the foot are much more well-defined. Growth rings from coronet band downwards are very visible, healthy over a ¼ of the way down the foot. Walls of foot strong/robust and much better than the crumbling foot in October.
22 December 2016
I let Luna walk round for 10 mins in new boots on yard – she did not seem to notice them or mind them at all.
23 December 2016
Same as 22nd
24 December 2016
Took Luna for walk in her new boots along the lane. She walked out far more confidently and looked quite happy/relaxed/ comfortable – still had my old socks underneath boots.
25 December 2016
As 24th but I put her saddle on to get her back used to it again as not used the saddle since early August. Luna was unconcerned at this new element and was calm and comfortable like 24th. I decided to get in the saddle once we returned to the yard after 10 min walk. I sat there quietly and allowed her to wander about with no reins or head contact at all, with me up on her back. She was totally happy with this.
26 December 2016
Tacked Luna up in saddle and bridle and went for a VERY gentle 10 minute hack at a walk along the lanes. She walked out confidently and was sound. Totally elated.
Between 27th December and 2nd January
I took Luna on 3 more rides, increasing the distance a little at a time until we did a 2 mile round trip. She has continued to walk out with confidence and soundness. Between riding her I have rested her or taken for short lead-rein walks, along with her twice daily short turn-out in the field. Keeping her moving is paramount to her recovery and blood circulation to the hoof. I just have to be very careful and not do too much.
I think she is literally on the ‘road to recovery’. I would recommend anyone to try Cavallo boots from Horse and More instead of metal shoeing a horse who is recovering from laminitis. Why would you want to put any trauma on a recovering hoof capsule ??? The padded sole in the Cavallo boots really helps too – and allows the foot to breath, expand and retract with hot and cold. That’s what the foot is designed to do by mother nature.