On the 9th of October Kingsley is going to hit the road. Many thoughts and plenty of educational materials later the decision is made: little man will go to Rockley Farm all the way in Exmoor National Park.
He will also take part in Rockley's rehabilitation research programme - Project Dexter.
From Rockley's Farm website:
"Project Dexter is our research programme into so-called navicular syndrome, deep digital flexor tendonitis and non-specific caudal hoof pain. With the help of Jeremy Hyde, at Eqwest Veterinary Hospital and Professor Peter Clegg at the University of Liverpool, we are running a research project which aims to evidence the effect of our rehabilitation programme, and whether its more successful than traditional treatments, such as remedial shoeing.
The research project started in February 2008 and a short-form table of the results is here:
The shoes can come off 2 weeks after latest shoeing. As Kingsley had his aluminium shoes put on at the weekend we chose to wait till second week of October with the journey.
He is much more comfortable in these shoes than in the previous ones - very small shoes + wedges. The theory was to unload the pressure to the DDFT (deep digital flexor tendon) but having read some articles on newest research on the subject it seems that such idea of the action of the wedges is now heavily challenged. Here is a link to a very interesting article by Pete Ramey:
To aid Kingsley's comfort and to spoil him completely I got Susanna to massage him.
He loved the experience last time and it was no different today. He is quite uncomfortable throughout all the large muscles in his back and neck with a couple of sore spots. They really get noticed because whilst he looks really relaxed and sleepy when enjoying himself, any pressure on the sore spots cause reaction.
I videoed Susanna trying to massage the bottom left side of his brachiocephalic muscle (his left fore is the one more severely affected). As you can see, he is very clearly showing his opinion:
The very immediate result of this sort of massage is the state of calm in the horse. Kingsley is generally fairly twitchy, fidgety horse which perhaps stems from being uncomfortable in one position for any length of time. He does relax when being groomed but massage makes him very calm and at ease with himself. It looks amazing when he pushes himself against Susanna when she hits the right spot as if he was saying "there you go, keep at it"!
I will try to film him for a bit longer next time as had to work during his massage today so only managed that short clip. I am curious to find out whether this sore spot on the neck will disappear when/if he becomes comfortable barefoot.
I also filmed him after taking him to the field as I thought the way he placed his feet heel first this time was interesting. He was very much toe first for a long time, including the period in the wedges obviously but these shoes do help him to walk better. They are also very light.
However, they are just a cover up and fight the symptom not the cause. His frogs are in bad condition and have soft areas on them that developed under the frog part of the wedges he had on previously.
For now, these shoes will hopefully keep him reasonably pain free until the 9th of October. I will try to arrange for another massage session before he goes - after that, all crossed it works as that's his last chance...