Copper is a heavy set quarter horse who had progressive lameness that was eventually diagnosed as navicular syndrome. He was treated with traditional corrective shoeing but his condition deteriorated. Ultimately it came down to either cutting nerves or euthanasia.
Euthanasia was chosen, but a series of coincidences led to an eleventh hour reprieve and he went to Mayfield bare hoof care centre. He simply needed to have treatment for the painful thrush that was active deep in the clefts of the frogs and then learn to walk correctly again (landing heel first instead of toe first).
After just six weeks of treatment and walking on a rubber lane way, he returned home under saddle and has been going strong ever since. He is barefoot with the occasional use of front hoof boots when the going gets tough.
After set up trim
After 6 weeks
Copper is a big red QH/TB, well proportioned, young and plenty of misrepresentation or as we like to call it attitude! I brought Copper and off we went on an adventure that has led me to write this story.
From day one there were issues of lameness, so I got the dentist, the chiro and the best farriers around and had the works with corrective shoeing. Surely this trio could fix what appeared to be an all round lameness. At times the lameness appeared to come from the back then the front shoulder then the leg itself, everyone around was scratching for answers.
Meanwhile this horse surprisingly just got on with any job asked of him, struggled but never refused and we began to bond.
Seven months after meeting Copper, we tottered off to an Equine Clinic for some answers. His front nearside foot was nerve blocked only for the lameness to shift to the other foot. Next that was blocked also, but he was still not sound. Numerous X-rays were taken without any conclusive results.
Home we went and the months that followed brought about no change; in fact he was progressively worsening. I changed farriers to a great guy whom gave me optimism having himself encountered many navicular victims and had witnessed some success with corrective shoeing, although we still unsure of the diagnosis yet, and over many months I went about trying different footwear from egg bars to raised heels to heart bars.
I continued to challenge the vets for a diagnosis and returned some five months later for further x-raying. Finally – it was discovered that Copper had a cyst the size of a small pea on his navicular bone. Treatment was not an option according to my vet; expensive and not successful. It was suggested that I consider euthanasia! I needed to know more about navicular disease and contacted other good vets for advice. Cutting the nerve was mentioned and considered, however this practice is only a short term fix and the negatives far outweigh the positives in any horse lover’s view. I read many books and spoke with other horse owners to collect all the information I could to make choices that would be of benefit to Copper. We also went on a unique feeding regime with a concoction of crushed vitamins, blue rock and Borax, which together were to increase the blood flow, strengthen the bones and relieve the nerve of pain. This all appeared to work temporarily but of course the more riding we did, the more apparent it became that we were just not gaining ground! He was now lame in the paddock as well!
Not wanting to put Copper through any more bright ideas and pain, I regrettably decided to have him put to sleep.
A group of friends went on our last ride before D day and whilst out met up with a friend who said that she knew of this guy named Andrew Bowe who was a barefoot specialist and was tackling such issues with horses as mine and that he was having success. It was worth a go!!!
I contacted Nikki and Andrew Bowe and shortly after Copper went to stay with them. Quietly optimistic yet not over zealous I had detached myself from the idea of having a sound horse, however that was not to be the case.
Copper spent a mere six weeks with Andrew and then came back home and it has now passed 12 months and I have quite literally not looked back.
I have been trimming Copper’s feet myself for several months now and eight months after we began bare foot I attended a two day 50km ride over the hills of Flowerdale and Mt Disappointment, some of it quite rocky and without, I may say, a lame step!
I write this story in the mere hope that other GREAT horses, just like mine may be saved from the gallows with the two simple words “BARE FOOT”
It is also worth mentioning that there are many people I know who have changed to Bare Foot Trimming that have horses without underlying issues and their results have been outstanding also, including my children’s ponies.
Near fore on arrival
Near fore after 6 weeks