What Was A Fire Horse?

Posted on December 3, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, history.

firehousephoto from Detroit News, 1910
Fire horses pulled the fire wagons through town and country directly to the scene of the emergencies. As fire companies grew the upkeep of the horses evolved and transformed to reduce response time to fire alarms.
At first horses were stabled near the stations. When the alarm sounded, it took valuable time to unlock the barn, fetch the steeds and harness them to the engine. Before long, the horses lived at the station and the reluctance to accept them was replaced by a deep affection for the noble animals.
The stalls were positioned behind or next to the rigs. In 1871, a quick hitch was developed. Two years later, Charles E. Berry, a Massachusetts firefighter, created a hanging harness with quick-locking hames. His invention was so popular he left the fire department and sold his patented Berry Hames and Collars nationwide.
Not every horse could serve as a fire horse. The animals needed to be strong, swift, agile, obedient and fearless. At the scene, they needed to stand patiently while embers and flames surrounded them. They needed to remain calm while the firefighters fought the blaze. This was the case in all weather conditions and in the midst of a multitude of distractions.  (courtesy firehistory.com)

Info from New Bern Firemen’s Museum:
Fred was part of a horse team that pulled the fire wagons in the early 1900’s. Fred was bought from a Gastonia, North Carolina, man in 1908. For years, he pulled the fire company’s wagon, marched in parades, and competed against other fire horses. He died on the way to a false alarm, apparently of a heart attack, at age 25. His driver, a man named John Taylor, died only a couple of weeks earlier. Fred’s contemporaries — Old Jim and Ben Hurst — were other fire horses whose legends are preserved in stories. The two belonged to Atlantic’s rival volunteer company — the New Bern Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1, which was incorporated just after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
During the war, the Atlantic company basically was inactive, with most of its members away in the fight and Union troops occupying New Bern for three years. After the Confederacy surrendered, some of those Union soldiers stuck around the area and continued their volunteer fire company with about 30 men. The New Bern Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 would eventually be nicknamed the Button Company after it bought a Button fire engine in the 1880s.

Fred, worked nonstop during the worst fire in New Bern’s history. On the morning of December 1, 1922, a fire sparked at a lumber yard and spread quickly. While firefighters toiled to put out the massive flare-up, a separate fire kicked up in a residential area about a mile away. High winds swept the sparks from house to house, and fires multiplied throughout the predominately black neighborhood. A newspaper account of the event in The News & Observer said flames “spread out like a giant fan” until they reached the Neuse River.

shoeing fire horse,1920's

shoeing fire horse,1920’s

Fire horses were replaced by 1929. The Portland newspaper wrote:
“Despite the thrill of watching motor apparatus roaring to a fire many recall the ‘days of real sport’ when horses started for a fire and deeply regret their passing.The horses will be sent to a farm to pass the rest of their days in easy work.” Feb 16, 1929, Portland Evening Newpaper.
On May 13,1929, the Portland News wrote: “[For the past six years] each night at 8:59, 20 juveniles would gather at the fire station to wait for the nine o’clock horn blow. The fire horses would come in, back into the stable for their run harness and the kids would go to the stable door to watch the big horses made ready. The attraction of the animals for the children has never failed during the last six years.Farewells have been said to the big black horses by more than a score of youngsters in the vicinity and tears were falling fast from the eyes of the kiddies in the neighborhood.”

Reliability of ‘One Day Training”

Posted on November 25, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, handicap, riding, training.
Police horses in training

Police horses in training

 

The methodology of horse training evolves continually and we at equi-works are always checking out the latest ideas or techniques that claim to shorten that initial saddle-training time for our horses. The potential of clashing or bonding between horse and trainer weighs heavily on the success of a one day training session. The flexibility of the trainer is critical in choosing the right training path that will reach the horse in the shortest period of time. A trainer may succeed with the use of force, for example, if they are working with a dull, belligerent animal, but can they be flexible and switch to using patience and understanding when working with a frightened, skiddish horse? We found a great article explaining the pros and cons of one day training and therefore we are passing it along.

“Can you train a horse in one day?”   check out Jerri Streeter’s probing article on this subject published at info barrel.

What is a Horse Whisperer?

Posted on November 20, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history.

nezrova2.jpg
photo of Nevzorova & horse courtesy,Lydia Nevzorova

Near the beginning of the 19th century, the slow and bulky oxen used for farming began to yield to the use of draft horses. The horse’s greater efficiency and speed was welcome but their belligerent attitude was not. Many an agriculturist found themselves in dangerous disagreement with their plow-horse. A collection of horsemen in Scotland collaborated to design a new, and soon to be, powerful profession. They named it simply:  The Society of the Horseman’s Word.

The aim of the “Society” was to gather the local blacksmith, horse tamer, and dealer together under one listing, and offer the public a core of qualified horse professionals. The Society’s fees for membership guaranteed its members a place in the forefront of all public inquiries for horse services.  The public would gain a standardized quality of work and the coveted use of its members’ mystical, ‘supernatural’ power. You see, Society members were taught to practice incantations and rituals to give the impression that magical spells could control cantankerous horses. As local farmers signed on to the Society’s services, they felt the members did indeed fix their recalcitrant horses. In fact, they coined and attached the words  ‘horse-witchers’ to Society members to describe the magical way the horses seemed to settle down during such magical sessions. For instance, a Society member would draw a circle round the horse, then they would chant while shaking a magical object, until at last they would whisper a special ‘word’ into the horse’s ears. The phrase ‘horse-witcher’ then evolved to ‘horse whisperer’ as members modified the sessions to just whispering into the ears of the horses. The popularity of the ‘Society of the Horseman’s Word’ escalated, not only throughout Scotland but into parts of England as well.  When the technique crossed the ocean, the phrase ‘horse whisperer’ became the highest endorsement of a horse professional’s talent.
Of course, the industrialization of the 20th century brought an end to the era of the horse. The invention of the tractor and the car permanently changed the course for horses. Even the cavalry disbanded after the 1940’s, leaving horses to become just another expensive luxury. The Scottish ‘Horseman’s Society’ that had monopolized and ruled the horse industry for so long with its “horse whispering” techniques slipped quietly into oblivion by 1930.

So, was horse whispering actually “discovered” by the Scottish? Only the phrase ‘horse whisperer’ originated from The Society of the Horseman’s Word. It was nearly two thousand years before the Society was even formed that Alexander the Great, and Xenophon the Greek, (both horse masters from around 300-355 BC), showed such compassion and logic in their training that they are considered among the first documented “horse whisperers”.  In fact, Xenophon was the first horse master to write a book on meeting the horse through its ‘soul’.  Fast forward to the mid-1600’s and you find another application of horse whispering techniques. Known only by the name Pietro, a young Neapolitan gained notoriety through his singular success with a wild barb horse named, Mauraco. An intensely dangerous animal, Mauraco was the great ‘untameable’. Many professionals failed with their use of both torture and deprivation to make this black horse submit. It was Pietro who decided to see if a rewards program might gentle him. Through use of treats and kindness, he successfully educated the horse to respond to subtle hand gestures that indicated a certain trick to perform. Mauraco is one of the first known horses who could sit, kneel, lie down, jump through hoops, and even take a glove to someone Pietro pointed toward in the audience. Pietro completely won the horse’s co-operation and gentleness with his rewards method.  He promoted his training technique in public with shows throughout the European Continent. Unfortunately, the trainer was too far ahead of his time. Performing his show in the city of Arles, France,  he induced hysteria in the townspeople. It was black magic, they claimed. The casual hand movements and ear-whispering were putting demons into the horse. The town demanded the horse and master be executed, and sadly, both were burned to death on the spot.

Today’s current use of the term ‘horse whispering’ resurfaced through such individuals as Tom Dorrance and Monty Roberts. Both authors have written excellent books promoting the harmony of horse and rider. They have renewed the message of using intelligence in horse training. Tom’s book “True Unity” is a must read for every horseman. Monty’s book, “The Man Who Listens To Horses” explains: “A good trainer can hear a horse speak to him. A great trainer can hear him whisper.” Monty learned the body language that wild horses use to communicate among themselves, and began using this same horse ‘language’ to teach his horses in training. It was a  revolutionary breakthrough, bridging the gap between the human and the equine, creating a common ground that connects the horse straight to the ‘human intent’.  “Capture their willingness and …make them happy to work” wrote Xenophon of the horse. Here is a definite and clear declaration of both the spirit and origin of the ancient art of horse whispering.

monty-roberts.jpg

Monty Roberts & horse

Prepared for Winter?

Posted on October 27, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: Uncategorized.

winterhorses

It’s not unusual to feel apprehensive as the temperatures drop and the threat of snow and ice becomes reality. If you find yourself wondering the best plan of preparedness,  we found a great site with tips on protecting your horse during the deep freeze.  Ocean State Equine Associates put out this PDF of checkpoints titled:  Winterizing Your Horse .  From medical preparedness to dietary requirements these are tips from the experts on how to help your horse defray the harsh effect of bitter cold temperatures. During the depth of a winter blast it’s good to know you have done your best to prepare.

Mark Russell’s “En”-lightening Approach

Posted on October 16, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, therapy, training.

“..elicit a calm thoughtful movement from the horse..”

While he is no longer with us to teach in person, Author and Horse trainer Mark Russell continues to explain the value of suppling the horse before and during the riding session in his book, “Lessons in Lightness”, available through his website. The book delves into the bio-mechanics of both saddle and ground work with engaging additions of his own personal life lessons that helped to shape his riding talent.   His web site: naturaldressage.com still provides insights through his articles. Here is an excerpt of one that was published in PRE Magazine:

The Pursuit of Artful Riding  (by Mark Russell)


author demonstrating: Lessons in Lightness

Artistry and lightness in riding is often an elusive goal for riders although paving the path to its development is really very simple. The integration of a few basic principles and adherence to them throughout the training process will create a scenario in which responsiveness and lightness will flourish.  The Reality We Present to the Horse is the Reality That He Lives In.. One of Natural Horsemanship’s most significant contributions to the development of the horse is its approach to the training process from the perspective of the horse. This includes an understanding of who our horse is and how he learns: qualities to which we temper our approach. The horse learns from us every moment we are with him and each of his behaviors, no matter how subtle, reflects a message he is sending us.  Importantly, this process includes mindfulness of ourselves: where we are emotionally, what information we are sending the horse through the reins and through our seat. There is a continuous back and forth conversation between us and our horses every moment we are with him whether intentional or not.

Artistic dressage forsakes force. A horse that has been brought down the path of learning in his comfort zone will easily learn balance without brace. Channels of energy will be opened in the relaxed horse which the rider can then direct. Once the basic principles become a staple in the horse’s training we can begin to advance the concept of relaxation through releases of the jaw, poll, neck, through the back and hind end of the horse. Flexion, impulsion, balance, and freedom of movement will thus come easily. An attentive and conversant rider creates a scenario where their requests can comfortably be followed by the horse. The outcome will be a horse who will be able to express free flowing energy and movement which is a pleasure to ride and beautiful to watch.

You can read the entire article at: Mark Russell Dressage

 

 

 

What is Riding ‘Forward’?

Posted on October 10, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history, riding, training.

excerpts from:        Charles de Kunffy’s article in Dressage Today magazine:

photo from Dressage Today

photo from Dressage Today

Straighten your horse and ride it forward” was dressage master Gustav Steinbrecht’s admonition to equestrian scholars in the 19th century. Riders understood what he meant because they lived in an equestrian culture that spoke its own scholarly language with established meaning by tradition. However, in recent times, those not familiar with the intentions of Steinbrecht’s command have managed to misinterpret the urging of “forward” as a command to chase the horse into rushing, and then they have to pull on his mouth because he goes too fast. Remember, speed is also the enemy of impulsion.
When driving is misguided into demanding speed and agitated toward restraining hands, horses have nowhere to escape but upward with their croups. Their buttocks bounce with stilt-like, open-jointed hind legs—what we call “out behind” or “butt bouncing”—while heads are pulled behind the vertical with over-flexed necks. While these speedy chargers  often display a high, short and forced neck posture, let me assure you that they are the very documentations of horses on the forehand.
While this misplaced devotion to the “forward” part of the admonition has been championed, the “straighten your horse” part has been disastrously, continuously ignored. Yet straightening a horse is a precondition for the correct achievement of forward, the real meaning of which is locomotion with correctly articulating joints propelled by supple muscles. In other words, going forward means moving forward with strengthened and, therefore, engaged haunches.
Sadly, we often see a caricature of what was meant as guiding advise to those who lived in an equestrian culture of the past when horses were vastly important and horsemanship was an academically sound discipline. Too often we see tense horses running away with passenger riders balancing on their mouths. However, there are reasons for this misinterpretation and remedies for it.

from artuk

from artuk



The urge to run:
We all know the horse is an animal of flight. He survived by early notice of lurking predators (startling instincts) and outrunning them (the flight instinct). If he were to be overtaken and contacted by the predator while in flight, he would fight by bucking, kicking, or striking. Hence, when a startled horse takes flight his rider should not act as his predator and try to pull him down, but rather accompany him in an unrestricted partnership in flight fully reverent to the horse’s survival instinct. Had horses not been strong and swift, we would have nothing to ride today for their ancestors would have been eaten. Only those horses alert enough to be startled in time to run fast to escape their predators remained in the genetic pool. A horse can take off in full speed even from a halt. Therefore, the halt is also a “movement” because it is latent energy, potential for flight.
The instinct to flight was what attracted mankind to riding horses. A fast-running horse was a treasure for traveling and military action. Desire for speed became one of the guiding principles in breeding horses. Indeed, it was racing that contributed considerably to the creation of the contemporary “super horse.” Without the horse’s forward instinct and energy for flight, we would have nothing to tame, shape and ride for our precisely controlled transportation. However, the horse’s ability to speed is just the starting point. It is the energy reserve and the raw material that by taming and training is groomed and altered into the wondrous variety of movements a correctly gymnasticized horse can offer his rider.

GreyEagle2

Kyra Kurkland riding

Kyra Kurkland riding

How to avoid running: Begin by developing an adhesive seat. The rider’s seat is a “transformer” whose role is to modify the energy emitting from the horse’s haunches. Remember, riding is controlled transportation, not just where we go and at what speed, but how effortlessly we arrive due to the schooled use of the haunches. The horse needs a relaxed, well-balanced tempo in order to take a longer stride and step with his hind legs past or into the footprints left by the front legs. Riders must learn to induce the correct posture of the horse (longitudinal flexion) and only then influence the level of engagement in his haunches. Horses not in a correct posture should not be driven, because they cannot engage to move and are forced to proceed under duress. With gradually increasing strength and skills, the horse begins to shorten the distance between his hocks and the bridle. That distance could be likened to the string of a bow, which could be “tightened” or “loosened” by the rider. According to the engagement of the horse, the “bow string” will determine the amount of kinetic energy in the longitudinal flexion of the horse’s body. To achieve this, riders must slow the horse to a tempo that allows him to move by articulating the joints in his haunches evenly and unencumbered by the reins. Slow the horse until he is balanced, taken off his dwelling shoulders and gathered more weight toward his haunches.  Slowing the tempo allows the rider to create impulsion, the indispensable foundation of engagement of the haunches. “Impulsion” refers to the horse’s ability to use all joints in his haunches with equal and unhindered articulation and thereby produce an efficient—not rapid—source of energy. Impulsion improves with the gradual increasing articulation of the joints. Impulsion, not running, is the source for strengthening and suppling the joints. Impulsion is based on the taming of the flight instinct and altering it into effortless efficiency. The rider’s understanding of the goals of training and his knowledge of the means to attain them comes from Baroque ideology. This means that the horse’s natural potential can evolve into a monument of art only by the intelligent schooling of his rider. In other words, correct schooling makes the horse more beautiful. It all begins with “Straighten your horse and ride it forward.”

Classical Equitation by Charles de Kunffy

Posted on October 8, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history, riding, training.
image from equinethos

image from equinethos

(Excerpt)    Classical equitation is an art. Humans have unique attributes that take information (knowledge) and analyze it, then form syntheses and arrive at understandings, insights and the possession of wisdom. This is what enables mankind to create art. For the classical equestrian, his horse is his source of information, but without analysis, synthesis, insight, understanding and, finally, wisdom, he will never know the art of riding. Instructors are custodians of the equestrian arts. They must encourage, inspire and advise their students, but they cannot make them great riders. That remains the pupil’s job.  The word “dressage” is used precisely because of its double connotation for taming and training. One cannot train any animal without having its full attention and focus on the trainer. Taming—focusing the horse’s attention— is difficult because he is genetically determined by instinct and is programmed for multitasking. The rider’s job is to gradually replace the horse’s instinctive behavior with one of utter focus on his rider. This enormous change in the horse’s behavior— disconnecting from his instincts and focusing instead on his rider—can be earned only by a rider deserving of the horse’s total trust. Teach your students that horses trust consistency of behavior and kindness much like people do. A good rider teaches the horse by showing him what he wants patiently and repeatedly. A good rider does not overreact. He controls his own emotions and impulses much like a well brought up person should. Success is born out of empathy for the horse to the point of understanding the world through his point of view. The humility that comes from understanding that there are points of views in variance with our own is a guiding virtue in equitation.      Horses progress by being taught. It is a process opposite of disciplining. It is based on repeatedly showing what we want them to do and aiding, not punishing, them. This is what helps them figure out how to do what the rider wants. Horses are not proactive; they are merely reactive. The horse has no plan to disobey.    The rider must discover the reason for a mistake, and the instructor must assist him. The rider must show the horse what he wants, help him understand it and give him the skills to perform it. This means developing a plan for your student that gradually and systematically increases the horse’s strength and skills to reach the goals we want to achieve (while avoiding the monotony of drilling).

Horses are expected to startle. Startling is a life-preserving, inherited behavior that we must understand and accept. However, shying is induced by incorrect rider behavior. A shying horse perceives his rider as an enemy or attacking predator. When a horse is startled or takes flight from an imaginary danger, the rider is supposed to take flight with him, becoming a partner to the behavior. This reassures the horse of his safety. However, if the rider tenses and attacks his mouth with rein restrictions, the horse learns to fear his rider. That is why horses begin to shy. They will never understand why you want them to visit an object of imagined danger.  When a horse startles or shies, he becomes tense and stiff. Making him supple again starts with first calming his mind. Suppleness is a concept based on changeability, adjustability and controllability of the horse’s energies, which include his posture, his strides and his level of collection and engagement. The horse’s rhythm and tempo should also gradually become more precisely adjustable. There is no end to the development of suppleness through changeability. The rider should pursue suppleness— adjustability and energy freely flowing through the horse—from the first day of training to the last. Anything done with a tense, stiff horse is harmful to him. A young horse’s mind may wander, and he will alternate between periods of attention to the rider’s aids or attention to the environment, but a well-trained horse will remain on the rider’s aides because he trusts them. for the full article go to Facebook: Dressage Today

Why use a Dressage Whip?

Posted on October 4, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, training.

*article by Karl Mikolka

photo Amd Bronkhorst

photo Amd Bronkhorst

 

Why Riders Need Whips
I frequently encounter riders who refuse to carry a whip for two main reasons. The first is always that their horses are afraid of the whip. I tell these riders that their horses’ fear stems from lack of trust, confidence and obedience: the three pillars that a rider must erect to ensure success in training. 
The second excuse is that the horses do not need the whip. This might be correct: The horses might not need a whip, but the riders do. Riding with a whip in the proper length of three to four feet requires a very relaxed wrist and a good feel in the hand. Feeling exactly when the whip makes contact with the horse’s side and maintaining this contact while in motion is possible only when a rider has acquired a proper arm-elbow-shoulder alignment and is relaxed in the wrist. All of that, of course, will improve sensitivity in the hands and, in the long run, will benefit the horse tremendously.

The gateway to the circle of aids is a horse well tuned to the whip. This is a horse who…
• is in front of the whip. He moves forward without fear or hesitation to a soft touch of the whip.
• is responsive to invisible aids. He pays attention to the softest movement form the rider.
• is guided by the rider’s legs. He withholds nothing that is possible and exerts himself as directed by his rider’s legs.
The ultimate goal of this type of training is to create a horse who “drives himself,” a horse who goes forward merely because he respects the presence of the rider in the saddle. Of course, this response shall not even remotely resemble one in which a horse races in fear of his rider. Forward always indicates a dignified, positive reaction on the part of the horse.

Each horse reacts differently to the touches of the whip. Some twitch their skin, others swish their tails, a few kick out and some react not at all. None of these is correct. The only correct response is one in which the hind legs become more lively, stepping more forward and under and flex more visibly. This is a true forward response. It is never correct for a horse to react to the whip by trying to run from it or by throwing himself into the rider’s hands. 
The old masters used to advise: “Do as little as possible but as much as necessary to reach your goals.”
It will take constant alertness on the rider’s part to never allow the horse to forget his level of sensitivity. If the touch of the whip creates liveliness in the horse’s hind legs, resulting in free forward motion, then the first stage of the circle of the aids has been established. Only then can the rider proceed to the second stage: the use of the legs in order to bring the horse on the bit, to make the horse relaxed and to prepare the horse to accept the half halts, in other words, to close the circle of the aids.

When we say that the legs should mainly act as guiding rails, we must not forget that guiding a horse on something like a circle involves a certain degree of bend if the horse is to conform to the circle. The bending around the rider’s inner leg is the foundation for all two-track movements, which are best achieved when the inner leg of the rider guides the inner hind leg of the horse slightly in the direction of the rider’s outside heel when working on a circle, riding a turn or passing through a corner. This action, known as “enlarging,” will bring the inner hind leg of the horse better underneath the rider and closer to the center of gravity.

bending around garrocha pole

bending around garrocha pole

Without acceptance of the rider’s outside leg, no horse can be truly on the outside rein. It is indeed a wonderful experience to be able to control the entire horse with just a single rein and the seat, of which the outside leg is an extension. Every dressage horse must eventually reach this stage, and the best way to achieve it is through work on the circle. We see here again the interrelationship between the circle as a ring figure and the circle of aids. Forward on the whip, enlarging away from the inner-leg pressure into the outside rein and from there to and through the rider’s seat over the horse’s back and—with half halts—into the horse’s hind legs to complete the circle of aids.

If the use of the whip is misunderstood, so too — among a broad majority of riders—is the application of the legs. Nothing is more detrimental to the training of a horse than legs that constantly kick, push, squeeze or noodle. Not only do such legs kill all sensitivity in a horse’s sides but they also teach a horse to stiffen his belly muscles in order to block against these pushes or kicks. Such tightening in the torso renders all influence by the rider ineffectual.

Credit: Micki Dobson As you hold your hand slightly away from your normal rein position, twist your wrist to the left (in this case) to lift it up, then flex your wrist to bring the whip down, onto your thigh

Credit: Micki Dobson As you hold your hand slightly away from your normal rein position, twist your wrist to the left (in this case) to lift it up, then flex your wrist to bring the whip down, onto your thigh

Which One? How Long?

Whips come in all shapes and sizes. When choosing a whip, find one that fits your hand. Also, look for a length that is appropriate to your build and your horse’s size. If you are a tiny person on a big horse or a person with rather large thighs, you probably need a longer whip. If you are small and riding a small horse you should choose a smaller whip. A “good” whip also stings a bit and bounces well when you flex your wrist and use it against your thigh. So be sure to try several whips before buying. Another aspect to pay attention to is the button or knob at the end of the whip. The button should be large enough that you don’t have to grip it to keep from losing it. When allowed in [USEF] or USDF competitions, the whip cannot be longer than four feet. Editor’s note: Today your whip can be no longer than 47.2 inches (120 cm) including lash.

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This story was first published in the November 1996 issue of Dressage Today. Austrian-born Karl Mikolka was a chief rider with the Spanish Riding School and later coach to the Brazilian Olympic dressage team. He later moved to the United States and worked with the Tempel Lipizzan Stallions in Wadsworth, Illinois.

Dangerous Horse at Mealtime?

Posted on September 30, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: health, history, therapy, training.

Some horses are a threat to both people and other horses at mealtime. Behavior disorders that you may see displayed range from pinning ears back and shaking heads to an all out assault as shown in the statue in the photo above. Animals who cannot be trusted are a serious menace to others around them. If they cannot be rehabilitated quickly, they may end up euthanized. Of course, the larger the animal with dangerous behavior, the more quickly the decision to remove it must be made.

Training methods for correcting defensive eaters abound on the internet.For an intelligent and humane approach we recommend the article: “Re-training the Defensive Eater“.  You can also visit our Equi-TV page for some great training videos this month.

Dorsal Wall Lifting

Posted on September 20, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, health, history, hoofcare, therapy.

Theory of laminitis explained

(exerpts from: equinehoof.co.uk)

The easiest way to explain this new model for laminitis is to look at the hoof as a simplified structure, broken down to its basic components, this enables an easier understanding of what is happening.

Fig 1: Normal hoof section growth

Fig 1: Normal hoof section growth
Fig 2: Chronic laminitis hoof section growth

Fig 2: Chronic laminitis hoof section growth

To examine the effects of normal and laminitic hoof growth, a flat rectangle of hoof can be used to represent a section of hoof (Fig. 1), as new horn is produced in equal amounts on each side of the rectangle, the hoof section grows without distortion.

When laminitic hoof growth is examined in the same way, one side of the hoof is growing faster than the other, horn produced under these conditions will grow in a curved or distorted manner (Fig. 2), the lower extremity of the horn will be deflected forward.

By increasing the complexity of the model to a simple hoof capsule consisting of three sides, a front or dorsal wall and two sides that represent the medial and lateral quarters, we now have an approximation to a hoof capsule.

In the normal simplified hoof the dorsal and quarter areas are growing at similar rates and the hoof grows down in a consistent way (Fig. 3).

Fig 3: Normal hoof capsule growth

Fig 3: Normal hoof capsule growth
Fig 4: Chronic laminitic hoof capsule growth

Fig 4: Chronic laminitic hoof capsule growth

In the laminitic foot the quarter areas are growing faster than the dorsal wall and the hoof grows in a curved manner to accommodate this difference (Fig. 4). The dorsal wall now has a dished dorsal surface, caused by the curved shape of the medial and lateral walls deflecting the dorsal hoof wall forward.

A revised interpretation of acute Laminitis

It is proposed that when a horse encounters a systemic disease that is known to cause laminitis, one of the first events will be an increase in rate of growth at the quarters (Fig. 8).

Fig 8: Simple acute laminitic hoof capsule model

Fig 8: Simple acute laminitic hoof capsule model

This increase in heel growth does not initially cause pain but eventually after a period of time, which may be hours or several days, the hoof capsule will distort beyond the limit that can be tolerated by the laminae. The distorting hoof capsule will then traumatise the laminae and tissues that are situated between the hoof and distal phalanx (pedal bone). In the early stages, any hoof distortion may not be obvious to the naked eye but at a laminar level it will cause pain. (Fig. 9).

Fig 9: Acute laminitis hoof capsule growth

Fig 9: Acute laminitis hoof capsule growth

This delay between the triggering event and the onset of pain is consistent with a developmental or pre-acute phase of laminitis, while the trauma induced in the sensitive tissues will cause the symptoms that have previously been identified as a vascular crisis.

In the early stages of the acute phase, distortion will be concentrated at the distal border of the dorsal hoof wall. As the heels continue to grow the dorsal wall will be elevated away from the distal phalanx in a peeling motion as the distortion migrates up the dorsal wall (Fig.10 – Arrow B). Peeling provides a better explanation for the separation observed between the distal phalanx (pedal bone) and the dorsal hoof wall, it is the most efficient method of mechanically separating two strongly bonded surfaces and requires less force, peeling would also be very painful. When the peeling process has separated enough laminar attachment, the distal phalanx will be detached from the dorsal hoof wall.

As the distal dorsal wall is lifted, the solar horny plate will be pulled upward towards the distal border of the distal phalanx. This upward movement of the horny sole will compress the solar corium, causing pain within the solar corium and compromise blood flow by entrapment (Fig. 10 – Arrow C). Bruising is often subsequently seen in this area of the sole after laminitis and is evidence of this trauma to the solar corium.

As the distal dorsal wall is lifted, the proximal border of the dorsal hoof wall will be pressing inward, again causing pain and compromising blood flow (Fig. 10 – Arrow A). Horn growth at the proximal border of the dorsal hoof wall is often restricted in severest forms of acute laminitis.

Fig 10: Acute phase - Hoof distortion

Fig 10: Acute phase – Hoof distortion
By including the hoof capsule in a causal role in laminitis, the qualities of the hoof can be seen as influencing the intensity of pain felt by the laminitic animal. The level of pain experienced during the initial phases of acute laminitis can be correlated to the shape and strength of the hoof capsule. In round feet, hoof distortion will spread from the toe medially and laterally towards each heel, causing the whole hoof to expand open, this will predispose the distal phalanx to sinking as a greater area of laminar attachment is lost. Long narrow hoof capsule shapes will tend to predispose the foot to rotation as most of the distortion will be concentrated at the toe of the hoof.

This new interpretation of laminitis is still in it’s formative stages, it is hoped that further research will be directed toward confirming that this model is a more accurate account of the changes seen in the feet of equines suffering with laminitis. Time will show how accurate this proposed model is. Whatever the outcome of this research, we must continue to look for ways to help the laminitic equine.

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