This is an aged pony suffering from Cushings disease and LOF disease (lack of farrier). In fact his feet were being farrier trimmed, but at long intervals. He has had laminitis in the past. A friend of his decided to get his situation sorted out. He was prescribed pergolide, had his summer grazing restricted and I was asked to trim him on a regular cycle.
The ripples in his hoof walls that have been produced over the summer indicate that he still had too much grass (its likely that any grass is too much grass during the spring and summer), but his situation has been greatly improved, and he is sound and full of life. I believe that all horses and ponies, whether valuable competition horses or elderly pasture pets, deserve a decent quality of life, and this includes regular hoof care. Other aspects of his lifestyle are ideal - he lives out 24/7 with access to a field shelter, and has a companion.
21st March 2011 3rd November 2011
Above left: The toe is beginning to curl up.
Above left: Heels and toe are too long. Above right: Hoof is a better length. Ripples half way down hoof wall indicate stress from early summer grass growth.
The long toe affects how the horse moves. The foot has to be picked up higher for the toe to clear the ground. This requires more effort, and puts more stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments. It also shortens stride length. There then isn't enough time to reach the foot far enough forward for a heel first placement. The foot is placed down toe first. This puts strain on the navicular area and risks development of navicular syndrome.
Above left: The long heels have prevented his frog from touching the ground. Without the stimulation of ground contact the frog has fallen out of function and become weak. Above right: The frog is level with the heels.
Above left: The lack of stimulation has caused the heels to contract, the hoof is narrower at the ground surface than at the coronary band. Above right: Gradually lowering the heels at each trim, and lots of movement, has strengthened and developed the area, correcting the problem.
Above left: The hoof is too long, heels have contracted, frog is narrow and weak. Above right: The hoof has been brought easily back to health by regular trims and lots of movement (24/7 turnout). He has not grown a full new hoof capsule let, and there is still stretched laminae growing out at the toe. I expect to see further improvement over the winter.