Pip feet

Sadly, like many others, I never questioned the need for shoes. I never even suspected his feet to be the cause for his posture. After all, he was sound and I was competing dressage, jumping and cross country – surely he could not have any pain in his feet?

We never had any serious problems, no laminitis or lameness – just the odd ‘small’ issue here and there, that I put down to other things: His feet did not grow quickly enough – and the farrier started having a very tough time trying to nail on the shoes, since the nail holes were becoming too close together. On top of this, the front shoes kept coming off, so eventually he ended up having to glue the shoes on. Every now and then red/orangy ‘stuff’ would leak out of the nail holes for which nobody could give me an explanation. Also - in the winter, he would drop weight at an alarming rate, whilst in the summer he was fat, yet no real muscle would develop. And then there was the constant issue with back pain in the lumbar region which I put down to his weak topline.

Pip stance

It was only when my non-riding boyfriend commented on how brittle and terrible his hooves looked that I started to think. If even he could see that something was wrong… So I started to read up on the subject. I was still worried though – his feet were in a terrible state, I didn’t think he’d be able to walk without shoes, never mind be ridden or jump. I was always told a horse cannot hack across uneven territory, walk over gravel or have any grip on slippery surfaces without studs – and I was convinced it would take years for him to adapt. I had watched others take off shoes and fail, and, I have to admit, I was worried about what people might say (I already earned funny looks at even suggesting removing the shoes…). When I became pregnant I finally had an extra reason to go ahead with the barefoot idea – I couldn’t ride anyway, so now I had plenty of time (and I had an ‘excuse’ for the critics…)

In January 2010 we removed his shoes. As expected, he went lame instantly. He couldn’t walk, had heat in the left fore (the ‘issue’ foot), couldn’t even walk on tar-mac, never mind anything worse. We changed yard, and someone put me in touch with Trevor. Mid-march Trevor attended Picardo’s feet for the first time – his feet were terrible, but Trevor kept him sound and happy during the difficult transition.

Fast forward to January 2011. I simply cannot believe the change in Picardo. His feet are great – he is sound on any surface I have tried him on including gravel and even shingle, and his footing is much better than it ever had been with shoes. Only yesterday did he jump a 1m30 fence on a wet rubber surface, no issues at! What’s more – he is in better condition than ever before and his backpain has disappeared. He stands normally now and moves much better than before too – a new horse. I’m certain we were not far away from some more serious issues – In hindsight I wish I’d removed the shoes much earlier and not hesitated as long as I did.
 We are about to start the teacher’s course with Phillippe Karl – I never thought it would be possible less than a year after removing his shoes! And at least I now don’t have to worry that Picardo will pull a shoe before or during the course – and can concentrate on worrying about everything else ;-)

picardo sole web
picado hind web

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