Clare & Elli


Elli RF Sole Then

Elli is a 15.3hh Irish Sports Horse. She was a 9 year old at the time she went lame after we had owned her for just over a year. Her lameness was quite acute to begin with, but subsided with a few weeks box rest and coming back into work slowly, however it kept re-occurring from May to September. My vet was treating her fetlock, and he did x-rays and ultrasound and seemed to think there was a tendon injury, but by September I wanted a second opinion.

I got another vet out, who put a nerve block at the lowest point, and she came sound so we knew it was in the heel. He mentioned the DDFT, which generally has quite a poor prognosis. So she went back on box rest with hand walking out to graze, and as we were going into winter I decided to keep this up for the whole winter to give her a chance to heal.

By January, she took a sudden turn for the worse after the farrier put natural balance shoes on her when I wasn't in attendance. We called him back and he refitted the shoe in case it was a close nail, but there was no improvement. She went on like this for a few weeks, hardly able to put one foot in front of the other, then I asked the vet if I could be referred for an MRI scan to decide if she had a future as I couldn't bear to see her suffer any more. In my head I had resigned myself to having her PTS and had even planned what to do with the corpse, and to donate her leg for dissection etc.

The MRI was done on insurance, otherwise we couldn't have afforded to spend £1,000 on a condemned horse.

Elli RF Dor then
Elli RF Sole Now

While I was waiting for the results I bumped into an Applied Equine Podiatrist who visits our yard - Trevor Jones, and I was quite upset at the time as I thought my horse was going to be PTS. Trevor thought Elli could be helped, although he thought her immediate lameness was due to collateral ligament damage, something no one had mentioned before.

When the scans came back, she did indeed have collateral ligament damage. She also had arthritic and navicular issues and a small tear to the DDFT. I didn't think she would get back on the lorry having had her front shoes off for the scan, but strangely she was more comfortable already with them off. A few weeks later, Trevor removed her shoes and she had her first consultation.

We had to then work on conditioning, which was basically hand walking with sole mates pads. She found immediate relief in pads and our walks out to graze became more pleasurable.

From there she went from strength to strength. She was turned out in March, and Trevor said he no longer considered her a remedial case, just a normal barefoot transition. I had almost sold her saddle, but he suggested we start riding her again for the good it would do her mentally.

Elli RF Dor Now
Elli at the beach

So initially she was just ridden in walk, then trot, then canter and back to jumping again - even coming away in the ribbons.

Going barefoot literally saved Elli's life. It was January 2006 when her shoes came off, and every summer since when I see her grazing leisurely in the evening sunlight, I know it is a summer she might never have enjoyed.


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