Huckleberry is a solid Clydesdale cross, who developed intermittent lameness as a six year old and was diagnosed with navicular syndrome in both front legs. He was treated with “Circulon” and shod with elevated bar shoes but remained lame whenever worked.
His owner made contact with us (again just by coincidence) and his shoes were removed, beginning the process of returning the correct form and function to his feet. He responded favourably and was back into work after a couple of months and he has not been lame since.
Huckleberry’s owner gradually took over the responsibility for his hoof maintenance. He receded into the profusion of horses successfully rehabilitated via a barefoot lifestyle and we lost contact.
We recently met up with Huckleberry again (by pure chance!) when he was being trail ridden in the Victorian high country – some of the toughest country in Australia. There would not be a better way to test a horse’s soundness!
He is now nine years old and remains bare foot with the occasional use of Easycare Epics on his front feet.
ABOVE: X-Ray showing a prominent marginal osteophytosis
RIGHT: Elevated bar shoe
Old side view
New side view
Huckleberry’s owner’s words
We bought Huckleberry as an 18 month, 15.3hh Clydesdale X in August 2000 for my husband to ride & to do some pleasure harness work. He was broken & lightly worked until fully mature doing many rides & drives over 1-2 days.
In September 2004, I noticed he was getting reluctant to ‘stretch out’ both under saddle & in harness, got him treated by a chiropractor & decided he may as well have his shoes off & a couple of months rest it being winter. End of October he was still short in stride & exhibiting some very slight & intermittent favouring of his off foreleg! Alarm bells were ringing & x rays taken in Nov’04 showed bilateral Navicular syndrome of his forelegs.
Needless to say we were devastated amidst discussion of various expensive & mostly unsuccessful treatment options. A six week course of Circulon paste was commenced to try & improve blood supply & our farrier put bar shoes with elevate heels on his front feet. After 8 weeks we started Huckleberry back on some very light work. He was still having problems lengthening stride & we could see that he was not really enjoying work. ‘Pleasure riding’ was no longer a pleasure for him… his heels were starting to get very contracted & we were thinking that things would start to go downhill rapidly.
At this stage I happened to meet a couple from Mansfield who came to buy one of my Connemara foals in April 2005 & asked about the black horse standing the paddock. They were keen advocates of ‘bare footing’ which I’d never heard of & had some very positive stories of horses that had been rehabilitated using this method. I immediately contacted Andrew & Nicky Bowe at Mayfield Barehoofcare Centre & Andrew started trimming initially every 2 – 3 weeks & then started to encourage me to gradually take over. After a couple of months we brought Huckleberry back into work with the aid of some boots to get him by on the rocky tracks until he developed some more sole.
He is now 9 years old & going great! He’s done a wedding in harness for a girlfriend, had a stint on loan as a replacement dressage horse for a friend & has just completed a 4 day ride at Mt Stirling this Easter. I now barefoot all my horses & must say it’s working very well for them.
ABOVE: Before – dysfunctional hoof; lame horse
BELOW: After – functional hoof; sound horse