Initial plan was shoes whilst we ran updated forage analysis (thought haylage sugars??) and a range of blood tests looking for a metabolic issue. And treated his SI problems.
However no forage or metabolic explanation was found. And he was so happy in his shoes. Mac’s sharer kept joking that someone had been feeding Remi happy pills?! His eyes gleamed and he became more playful in field. I am under no illusions that there must be something not quite right in his lifestyle or underlying health to make his feet sensitive, and happier shod.
His next bodywork treatment on his SI held. My vet (also a physio) came and pronounced him sound and SI fine but needing to build up and strengthen.
Remi has rubber plastic EPONAs in front. These provide frog stimulation and will allow foot to flex and deform and reform as move. And normal shoes behind. We love the EPONAs! My farrier loves them too, and ironically dislikes metal shoes (though a lot of his business is using them).
Remi is better through his body since being re-shod. Interestingly now he is less tight through his shoulders he is much happier to be stabled. Which ironically now gives me more management options. He has gone from refusing to settle in stable to demanding to be in when weather is terrible. We think that sore front feet meant he was holding his shoulders, which meant they were tight, which meant he struggled with being stabled without being sore.
He is also now eating and eating. Which is rare and great. Remi has long been a finicky eater when in discomfort.
It hasn't been a winter without various hiccups and I have struggled with him living out a on hill in rain. Never going to be easy with a big, long horse with a weak SI over winter. Now he will eat in stable, I am able to bring him in a lot more, but he is best out, in all but heavy rain, as moving is better for his joints. He has become a bit of a DIVA – he likes to be out, except when it is v wet, then he wants to be IN!
I am watching his feet and taking each week as it comes. I think being barefoot has massively helped his feet condition and shape. And being shod when was sore, has massively helped his body. Currently his feet look quite good. His landings and his plaiting behind is as good shod as they have been in 19 months he was barefoot.
It may well be his feet / movement deteriorates longer term in shoes and I have to rethink. Or it maybe that different issue catches up with him. At the moment, I cannot look my horse in the eye, and justify taking his shoes off. Nor can I improve his management beyond what it is (and I am already pretty damned OCD about his lifestyle!!!). Nor can I find what his footiness triggers are. Nor can I risk him being sore and re-injuring his SI from holding himself.
I am very interested in barefoot, as feet health, foot balance etc remain critical to Remi, and I want to stay as educated as possible, and to keep an open mind for the future.