The tenets of natural hoof care are based on observations of wild American mustangs. These horses manage to live healthy, active lives without metal shoes, and natural hoof care advocates argue that domestic horses can too. By removing shoes, trimming the hooves to mimic those of mustang horses (short toes, compact heels, careful angles...) and providing domestic animals with as natural a living environment as possible (hard ground, maximum movement, dry grass forage...) we can help to alleviate many of the hoof pathologies that plague pet and working horses today. David and I feed our dogs a diet of raw meat because we believe it's more healthy than conventional dog food, and I am pursing natural hoof care for Tonka because I believe it's more healthy than conventional approaches.
Our partners in this adventure are Dr. Schwichtenberg (possibly unusual in her veterinary support for barefoot horses) and Christina Cline, a certified natural trimmer (www.shoelesshorse.com). After seeing x-rays and photos of Tonka's hooves, Christina said this:
- There's a teeny bit of remodeling at the tip of the coffin bone, a little lip that curls up just a tad. That can make it harder to get a really tight white line connection, as that little "lip" will tend to push the dorsal wall out a little. However ~ it's not horrible by any means, and I don't think it will interfere with healing. Just may mean that we have the back the heck out of his toes for the rest of his life. :) Could be a lot worse.
- With toes that long (in relation to his bone), it's virtually impossible to NOT have underrun heels. The long toe pulls the heels forward ~ but as the toe migrates back over a few months, the heels should correct themselves.
- It's promising that the hoof wall has just pulled away from the coffin bone ("capsular rotation"), but the coffin bone and pastern bones are in alignment. Prognosis tanks when the actual bones have rotated ("phalangeal rotation").
As an irrepressible optimist I take all of this as good news. Jaime Jackson's little book "Founder: Prevention and Cure" arrived yesterday in the mail thanks to a gift card from the Thomson side of the family, and I am devouring the information therein. Highly recommended reading for anyone exploring alternatives for the prevention and treatment of founder.