Barefoot farrier

Barefoot trimming and alternative hoofcare for Leongatha and surrounds. Veterinary referals and difficult cases a speciality

Operating as usual


The Laminitis Site

An excellent site for anyone with horses.

Worried about horses prone to laminitis in cold weather? For tips to help you cope, see our article Cold Weather:

From Cold Weather:
What you can do:
- prevent or limit access to grass during and after sunny frosty weather until the weather changes to milder nights and overcast days, and feed analysed hay with sugar and starch levels below 10% instead. It is not the frost itself that is the risk, it is the weather conditions that cause the frost, so do not allow horses to graze once the frost has melted with the sun - wait until the grass has been able to respire and use up some of its sugar.
- keep feet warm and protected - use leg wraps/bandages, pads and boots on feet, warm deep bedding. Thick wool hiking socks can be great for keeping pony feet and legs warm.
- ensure feet are well trimmed/balanced - even the slightest tipping of the pedal bone onto the sole by high heels or pull on the laminae by long toes can exacerbate pain and discomfort when a horse is walking on hard rough ground.
- rug well, provide good shelter out of the wind/weather - particularly PPID/underweight horses. For overweight/EMS horses, cold weather can encourage weight loss so consider whether they really need a thick rug.
- soak hay in warm water.
- cut back feed (calories, not fibre) if exercise/turnout is reduced.
- provide warm water for drinking to reduce the risk of impaction colic (not such a great risk when soaking hay) - particularly for older/PPID horses that might have tooth problems.


The Laminitis Site

Fascinating new technologies helping understand more about the horse

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has pioneered the use of positron emission tomography (PET) on standing horses under sedation instead of anesthesia. PET is a powerful imaging technique that shows bone and soft tissue lesions and is able to distinguish between active and inactive injuries. Preliminary data has shown that PET is valuable in the assessment of laminitis.


Equine Consulting Services - Nutrition Specialists

For those with Diet sensitive horses...

Is exercise beneficial in the obese horse or is diet enough? Researchers recently reported at the 10th International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology that while diet alone reduced body fat in horses, diet plus exercise of just 15 min trot including a 5 min warm up and cool down 5 days a week was enough to significantly improve insulin sensitivity.


Ironbark Barehoof Trimming

More handy info on feeding laminitic horses :) 13/12/2018

All You Need to Know About the Hidden C6-C7 Malformation That's Bringing Horses Down

Interesting article What if you learned that your TB or TB-derived breed horse had an inherited skeletal problem that could directly lead to arthritis, instability, stumbles and falls? 11/12/2018

No Laminitis! Conference Proceedings 2017

Worth reading for all horse owners. Download various proceedings from the 2017 NO Laminitis conference..


Barefoot farrier's cover photo


Back for consulting as of this week. Not many vacant appointments left over the next month, so if you need an appointment please message and book in.😁


Hi Everyone. I am off work sick until around the end of November. Hopefully, all my clients have found someone for now. If you would lllike to make a booking for december or january please put your name into the appointments page. There is a button for requests. will confirm days and times closer to the dates.
Thanks for your support and messages.


Hi. For all of you purchasing hay advertised as low sugar or suitable for laminitic horses. The TOTAL SUGAR AND STARCH must equal 10% or less. Ie. Water solubasoluble and non-water soluble sugars ADDED together equal LESS THAN 10%. Non-wNon-water soluble is also called Ethanol soluble. 01/10/2017

Fresh Fruit For All As A Dietary Supplement

For all you owners who can'tcan't resist a treat for you horse..... Dr. Juliet M. Getty discusses the utility of a variety of fruits as equine dietary supplements.


Interesting reading

Newly published research "Incidence of laminitis and survey of dietary and management practices in pleasure horses and ponies in south-eastern Australia" found that 15% (35) out of 233 horses and ponies - 21.8% (31/142) of ponies and 4.4% (4/91) of horses - attending Pony Clubs in south-east Australia had had at least one episode of laminitis.
More than half of those 35 had had more than one episode.
71.4% had not had an episode of laminitis within the last year.


Whole Horse Connection, LLC

Can protective boots really support joints and tendons?
by, Dr. David Marlin, Scientific and Equine Consultant

Many people apply boots to horses’ legs too tightly. This may be for fear that they will come undone or move, in which case they are likely either of poor design or a poor fit. However, people often say that they put them on tight to give support to the soft tissue structures such as the tendons or the joints, and these claims are even seen in the marketing literature and adverts of some companies. There is minimal information to suggest that boots designed for training and competing provide support for soft tissues or joints. A boot may reduce the range of motion (flexibility) of a joint for example, but this risks moving the load from one structure to another and this may not be beneficial. Tight boots can also result in discomfort and rubbing injury. Just try strapping your ankle tightly over the Achilles tendon area and then go for a run! You will feel pain in the Achilles with each stride and you will modify how you run. Afterwards you may developing swelling and significant pain around the Achilles and also have pain in your knees and hips. It’s not only boots; it’s not uncommon to see bandages applied over-tightly in the belief that this offers “support” for joints and tendons. So appropriately designed boots have the potential to protect the lower leg against both concussive and cutting type injuries caused by hitting objects such as fences or from interference from other limbs. But there are a number of potential downsides to using boots which should be considered and this may help when trying to decide whether to use boots or not or which boots to use.

Quote from Dr Rachel Murray, Orthopaedic Clinician and Researcher at the Animal Health Trust Newmarket: “There is minimal information to suggest that boots provide support for soft tissue or osseous structures. The anatomy of the limb has the digital flexor muscles located proximally. This means it is difficult to provide support for the entire limb taking account of the muscle body. If a boot is used to reduce the flexibility of the limb, then there is a risk of load moving from one structure to another that has not been adapted to experiencing this load magnitude or direction.”

The weight of boots
Firstly, any weight added on to a horse will require an increased effort on the part of the horse to move that weight. This is of course true of a rider and tack. However, kilo for kilo, weight placed on the end of the limbs will have a greater impact than weight carried in the saddle area. The reason for this is that the limbs are moving faster than the main body. The need to be able to accelerate the limbs quickly explains why they are so light when compared with the rest of the body. Animals with big heavy legs cannot move them as fast. This is also why there is not much on the lower legs other than bone, some tendons and a small amount of muscle. All unnecessary weight has been “removed”. Any weight added requires more energy to be put in to get the leg moving and more energy to stop it and make it swing back again. Thus, adding small amounts of weight to the end of the leg in the form of a boot increases the effort the horse must put in to run. It is possible to measure the difference in energy to run between a horse wearing ordinary steel shoes (~260g each shoe) and the same horse wearing aluminium racing plates (around 80g per shoe), a difference of only 180g per shoe. In addition, not only can weight increase energy needed for exercise it can also alter the way the horse actually moves its legs (i.e. its gait). Some of the cross-country boots on the market for example weigh as little as 130g each whilst others are over double this. We should also take into account the potential for boots or bandages to absorb water when in use. Boots that weigh only around 200g each when dry may well be able to hold 100-200ml of water and as 1ml of water weighs 1g, this could double the weight of the boots if the horse was exercising in the rain, on wet grass or going through water. And the weight of the boots is also likely to increase if they do not allow sweat to evaporate and it gets absorbed by the boots.

Restriction of movement
The next issue relates to restriction of movement. If boots are constructed of inflexible (i.e. stiff) material or if boots are applied too tightly, they have the potential to restrict joint movement. This can lead to abnormal loading or patterns of movement with an increased risk of injury. There are relatively few scientific studies in this area but Kicker et al. (2004) published a paper in the Equine Veterinary Journal in which they looked at 3 “support” boots and 1 “protective” boot. At walk, 2 of the support boots restricted the range of movement of the fetlock joint, whilst at trot all 4 boots reduced maximum extension. An undergraduate BSc student study at Hartpury college by Jadine Birchall also seems to support these findings. The average range of movement of the fetlock joint in five horses during walk, trot and canter exercise was 42° (degrees) without a boot and only 36° with a boot. Remember that restriction of movement may cause discomfort and injury.

Trapping of material between the skin and the boot
Materials such as stones, twigs, sand, arena surface, mud, etc can become trapped between boots and the skin leading to abrasion and infection.

Restriction of blood supply
Tight boots and bandages can restrict blood flow in superficial blood vessels leading to pain and tissue damage.

Insulation and heating
The next issue with boot and bandage use during exercise relates to heating. Tendons are elastic structures and as they are repeatedly loaded/stretched (when the limb is on the ground) and unloaded (when the limb is in the air), they generate heat. Some work at the University of Bristol showed that the temperature inside the tendons of horses galloping without boots on could reach 45°C, second only in the body to muscle temperatures. The tendon temperatures are very high not only because of heat production within the tendons but because tendons have a relatively poor blood supply, which in any other tissue would help remove heat. In 1997 the same group published the results of a scientific study in which they showed that tendon cells in a test-tube were sensitive to heating. When the tendon cells were heated for 10 minutes at 45°C, around 10% died, but when they were heated to 48°C for 10 minutes then around 80% died. These results were also confirmed by a more recent study of equine tendon cells in Japan. This study also showed that the higher the temperature, the more tendon cells that died and furthermore, showed that inflammatory mediators were released after heating. Inflammatory mediators are chemicals and hormones within the body that cause inflammation (heat, swelling, pain) and tissue damage. If tendon core (central) temperatures can reach 45°C during a few minutes galloping without boots, it is almost certain that they will get even hotter when boots are being worn. It would therefore seem important to make sure boots are used only during the period of actual exercise and not left on for long periods when the horse is not active, especially after exercise. Removing boots soon after exercise and cooling the legs would also seem to be advisable.

Sweating and skin health
The fact that the lower leg gets hot during exercise and even hotter when boots are used presents another potential problem: sweating. When boots are removed the leg underneath is often very wet from sweat. When skin is in contact with moisture for a long time it becomes hyper-hydrated; this is the effect you see if you stay in the bath for too long. Wet skin cannot “breathe” normally, and it becomes more permeable allowing greater absorption of anything on the skin. Wet skin is also more susceptible to mechanical damage, with an increased risk of abrasions and grazing. Finally, wet skin is also more susceptible to bacterial or fungal attack and hence a potentially increased risk of conditions such as mud fever, caused by the bacterium Dermatophilus congolensis.

Riders should weigh up the pros and cons of using leg protection on horses. Different types of leg-wear give different protection. For example, bandages will clearly not offer the same protection as a cross-country boot. In addition, the level of protection offered by the same type of boot from different manufacturers can vary dramatically. Unfortunately, at this time there are no universal standards for equine leg protection as there is for example for hats or body protectors. It is also not possible to judge the effectiveness of boots based on appearance, price or advertising claims. At present, the best advice is probably to look for a light boot that is flexible, allows air to circulate and sweat to evaporate, that is not too absorbent and ask the manufacturer what form of testing for concussion and penetration protection that they undertake. 01/09/2017

Should pergolide be increased for the seasonal rise?

For owners.. Notes from a short video by Andy Durham on Boehringer Academy. Q: Should I seasonally alter the dose of Prascend in my PPID positive patients? A: There is clear evidence that pituitary activity...


This is interesting.

It has been a very interesting trip up to the Pilbara for another reason. I have been really shocked the last 2 years in the difference in horses with peripheral caries between Perth and Tom Price. When I first started going up to Tom Price in 2010, I believe that all horses were on export oaten hay and there was a similar percentage of horses with peripheral caries to what we see in Perth (the prevalence here is around 60%). The last few years, the mine up there, Rio Tinto started growing Rhodes grass hay and most of the members swapped over. Last year only one horse of 24 had peripheral caries, this year only 5/ 33 had peripheral caries (so 4% and 15% respectively), so substantially lower levels of peripheral caries than what we see in Perth. All of the horses with caries had been on oaten hay and most had only come to Tom Price this year. The other interesting thing is that the ones that had been in Tom Price and on Rhodes hay for a few months, were starting to get a new layer of healthy tooth erupting down- the caries were growing out! Not one horse that had been on rhodes hay for more than a year had peripheral caries.

Maybe it's coincidence...? 28/08/2017

I Owe You How Much? The Cost Of Shoeing Horses - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report Your farrier finishes shoeing your horse and hands you a bill for the work. You look at the bill, muster a smile, and grab your checkbook even though you may be thinking, ‘A set of horseshoes costs about $15 and he spent less than an hour putting them on. Why is the bill so much?' …


ECIR Group - Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance

Lots of conversation last week about free, ad lib, unrestricted feeding. Here's more:


Jodie Halton Equine Massage

The importance of the sling.

Most riders know that horses lack a clavicle. The shoulders of a horse are attached by soft tissue; the horses body is slung in a soft tissue sling. This means the horse can swivel his chest in the sling, and rest on the sling. I'm about to tell you why this is so important so read on.

As a therapist I will always check on the health of the sling. I will use myofascial release to help the sling reduce tension so it can do its job of shock absorption. If the sling is jammed down the horse will be relying on only its joints and hooves to absorb impact from the ground. As the horse is front heavy, a horse not using his sling will suffer more concussion which creates further problems. The goal of riding should be to have as healthy a sling as possible and have the horse use his sling as much as possible.

Riders may often focus on the hind end pushing through and 'over the back' or more often the position of the head. Learning to feel when the sling is engaged could prove more useful and help the horse carry you whilst strengthening the necessary muscles. Horses default to the easiest method to move. However this is proven to not be the most healthy for long term riding. Good riders actually train the sling all the time. Average riders will gain many benefits for their horses by concentrating more on the horses sling and shoulders and feeling when it is in use and thus strengthening.

During ridden work, for example when riding a circle, much is made of correct bend. The inside eyelash just visible, the horse following the arc of the circle, the contact of outside rein. All true. If the horse is performing the circle well, or a shoulder in or other exercise, the horse will swell underneath you. This is the thoracic sling working. If a horse bulges his shoulder to the outside and jack-knifes his neck to the inside, he is leaning on his thoracic sling (to the outside) and the swell is lost. In other words he finds this more comfortable because he's just hanging in the hammock of the sling. When the sling is central, the horse cannot help but use it and you will feel the swell. You are now strengthening your horse! You will know that the horse is using himself well. It's essential to be aware of this fact as the horse will cheat when he can and the gymnastic aim of the exercise is lost.

Some horses have a very jammed up sling. Their withers are down and their chest is down and they hang out in their sling. The horse on the forehand is hanging in his sling. To see proof of this while standing at your horses head ask your horse with a touch on his chest to rock back. The sling shifts back. You can touch the horse on the side of his chest and he will shift to the opposite way. He does this in riding. All good and correct riding keeps the sling in the middle so that the subscapularis and serratus muscles can lift and engage the sling into a bouncing, floating shock absorber which generates freedom and lightness in front.

These photos are from Gerd Heuschmann's book 'Collection or Contortion', an essential read. They show the sling when lifted and when just hanging there. The second photo shows the sling being shoved to one side, and hence not engaged or lifting. It's just hanging, the horse is cheating. In correct bend the sling can be used because it is central in the chest and hence the muscles can be used to lift the horse instead of jamming the muscles on one side. The inside hip is also allowed to advance in correct bend, this is important for collection training. Riders must learn the difference if they are to help their horse and progress effectively. All disciplines need to understand this.

Jodie Halton Equine Massage.
Release the Potential.



Leongatha, VIC

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