Meet Rummi! She has been around 5 years now (they grow so fast!) but is the new kid on the block as she is just starting her ridden career and making her debut in this blog.
We all know my best mate Denny, but he is really glad there is a second horse in the team that is more athletic and suitably designed for eventing.
Here is the thing…. Rummi has been going amazing for a young horse, however I had noticed some recurring back tension. After changing saddles and multiple saddle fits, I decided that the pain could be coming from a lower limb issue and although not lame I booked her for some baseline foot x-rays.
From the outside her feet looked in good balance and she had never skipped a beat with her soundness. I am also extremely happy with my farrier, he had always said to me x-rays would be helpful as then he knows exactly what is going on, rather than guessing based on external conformation. Like many horse owners I put it off.
Horses are expensive and juggling a vet visit for ‘no real reason’ isn’t usually in the budget.
Rummi and I are very fortunate we did visit, because although the angles from the outside looked balanced, she was moving toe first, had negative palmer angles and was broken back. This in her short time being started and ridden had already resulted in some minor joint changes as a result of the angles and impact on her movement.
My wonderful farrier made some conservative changes to her feet and we went back for a quick x-ray a few days later to make sure we had improved her angles.
I am sharing this story because the outside appearance of her hoof now looks like she is broken forward. The pastern angle is now steeper than the dorsal hoof wall, and it is this angle that we often externally use to gauge.
But for Rummi, internally it’s pretty close to perfect in one shoe change.
X-rays are so important!
All along there were some small signs she was imbalanced in her feet. She struggled to soften her body on the left rein in trot, and evaded a little in the right rein canter transition. Young horse… still learning….
Her x-rays showed her foot pathology wasn’t even, and that can be normal. Many horses have different feet, in fact riders do too! I am a 9 on one foot and the other 9.5… go figure! In Rummi’s case her left hind had worse angles than her right hind. This would explain why her right canter was tricky, that left hind has to load to strike off and it hurt.
I have now managed to hopefully halt the minor changes in Rummi’s left pastern joint early. If I had left this longer, we would no doubt be visiting the vet with a left hind lameness to investigate, and irreversible changes to then manage for the rest of her career.
Please… put away some extra money over the next few months and get those baseline x-rays early! You won’t regret it, and your horse and farrier will love you for it.
Jem and Rum xx