Due to Wizards previous tendon injury I have been very carefully keeping a close eye on his lower leg and had noticed that after fitness work there would be some heat. Concerned and with a closer inspection I noticed that his hoofs on the inside sloped at different angles to the outside. The more I looked, the more obvious the difference seemed. How had I not noticed this before? I then questioned this with Hilary Westropp (BHSI) who explained in further detail about hoof balance and what to look out for. We both could clearly see that Wizards hoofs where out of balance causing him to be putting more strain on the outside of his legs and hoofs, perhaps resulting in the heat.
Hilary suggested specialist shoeing and referred me to Oakham Veterinary Centre where Martin Deacon holds weekly clinics for horses that have come to the hospital with problems that stem from incorrect or poor foot balance. Martin is a Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (the highest accolade for farriers in the UK) and runs a progressive farriery practice in Leicestershire. "Correct foot balance is the key to soundness and performance." Martin is also co-author of the book 'No foot no horse. Foot balance; the key to soundness and performance', Specialised shoeing after removal of a keratoma, shoe fitted with lateral extensions to improve foot balance.
Martin gave Wizard an assessment; watching him walk and trot up. He then removed Wizard's old shoes, explaining each step he then trimmed and rebalance his hoof. I could see the difference immediately! Amazed and if I'm honest then feeling guilty for overlooking this, I should have realised sooner. Poor Wizard - now I've learnt a huge valuable lesson "never over look anything & question everything!" Martin said it would take a few sessions to make a big difference but was happy with the results and his hoof balance is improving - but as you can imagine it's a slow process.
Now Stephen Hill (recommended by Martin) has taken over the majority of Wizards shoeing. Continuing to make improvements, adjusting the shoe rather than Wizards hoofs to retain correct balance. Stephen and Martin work brilliantly together to keep Wizard comfortable and I'm very grateful to them both. Thank you!!
As the saying goes "No foot, No Horse" I would highly recommend Martin and Stephen to anyone and would like to stress the importance of finding the right farrier for you, your horse and discipline.