Soundness Success Story


Rusty is a registered quarter horse who came to me 8 years ago at age 12.  I had him vet checked before I bought him.  He checked out fine with the exception of slight lameness in a front foot and leg.  The vet diagnosed the problem as arthritis and that it wouldn’t be a problem as he was going to a non-competitive home.

After riding him at home a few times he seemed to be falling down on his front end and stumbling a lot.  We took him to our regular vet who diagnosed him with navicular syndrome.  I was heartbroken.  She assured me we could mitigate the symptoms with proper corrective shoeing and daily doses of Recovery.  So that’s what we did.

For a few years Rusty wore aluminum wedge shoes on his front feet and seemed to do quite well.  When he needed a trim he would stumble again.  Our vet assured us we were doing the best for him and that our farrier was doing a good job balancing his feet. 

Then Recovery started to upset Rusty’s stomach.  Much money was spent trying to sort out this new problem but a locum vet suggested stopping the Recovery and just feed him grass hay.  Problem solved.

About 4 years ago my poor horse seemed to be suffering and our farrier suggested a visit to a vet who had good success with navicular horses by doing shock wave therapy on their heels.  So off we went.  Rusty loved it, tolerating the treatments without sedation.  It was expensive too.  We also had his front feet x-rayed and degenerative changes were definitely present.  I was able to ride him a bit which was great.  All this time he still had aluminium wedge shoes on his front feet.

Around 3 years ago I decided to quit riding him altogether.  He was just too sore.  Our vet told me to euthanize him but I just couldn’t do it.  He was my very expensive pasture ornament. 

A year ago I was ready to put him down.  He had become cranky and I knew he was in pain.  A friend suggested I try barefoot trimming.  I had nothing to lose so I contacted Dana from Nickers Saddlery Ltd..  She was so encouraging and told me she believed she could rehab my horse, based on what she saw. 

So the shoes were pulled and we started the journey to get my horse happy and healthy again.  He has made an amazing and quick recovery with Dana’s help and expertise and I have my horse back again. 

Rusty is now 20 years old and is sound.  I am riding him again and he is happy to go out.  He has an amazing big trot that we call his thunder trot.  It’s his favorite gait.  My husband has started riding him too and finds him to be a fabulous horse.  I am grateful to my friend who made the suggestion to have Dana assess Rusty.  And many, many thanks to Dana for helping Rusty get his feet under him again.  We are converts—our other 2 horses are now barefoot too.  Dana, you are amazing at what you do.


Dana's Note:

Kudos to this owner for not giving up on her horse. Rusty is a fabulous horse and the care his owners give gave a lot of encouragement toward a successful outcome. 

Despite the diagnosis of navicular, it was apparent to me that this horse had many features in his hoof which were exacerbating foot pain and strain on the navicular bone. Namely: run under heels, overlaid bars and layer upon layer of compacted dead sole. He started out with a dorsal hoof wall length of just over 4.25" with zero concavity and currently has a hoof wall length of 3.25" with good concavity. These changes took place rapidly - under 1 year. 

The owners used hoof boots regularly during the transition and gently increased his time out on the trail, so his body could adapt to the new hoof angles and forces on his joints. 

Today, Rusty often goes out on the trail without hoof boots and moves freely, willingly and happily. :-)