WoooHooo it’s Friday!

I wanted to tell you all about a very interesting and eye opening conversation I had yesterday. I think, it could be one of the most important things I’ve come across when it comes to understanding horse health. I’m going to need to set the scene a little bit before getting to the good stuff, which is in fact the wrong way round to write a blog post.

When writing a blog post you’re supposed to put all the good stuff in the first 2 paragraphs as people apparently have such short attention spans they often don’t read any further than that… So I’m trusting that you all have much higher standards!! 🙂 Read on…. It’s short and sweet I promise! (are you still here?!?!)

For the last 13 years I’ve been going to a weekly class in Okinawan Bodywork Dynamics run by a man called Paul. In the beginning each class was 2 ½ hours long, and over the years it’s shortened to 2 hours. There’s at least 48 classes every year. There’s supplemental Tai-Chi, Qi-Gong, Yoga, Meditation and Breathing classes and seminars, not to mention private treatments and classes.

I qualified as a Master of Okinawan Bodywork Dynamics at the end of last year. I’m not telling you this to toot my own horn, I’m telling you this to put into perspective just how much training and knowledge Paul is able to offer. There are few people who could continue teaching new material for this length of time, and still have more to give.

Although I have reached the top of qualification available, I’m still going to the classes as there’s still so much more I can learn, not a single person who attends the class or knows that I do, has even questioned why I’m still going even though I’ve qualified…

While Paul specialises in humans, after 14 years of seeing so much of me, he’s obviously come to know a fair bit about horses, and he remains my go to guy for all the ‘no-one has a clue what’s wrong’ cases, we’ve even been called abroad to deal with such cases.

He recently went to see an impossibly flashy dressage beastie, (for reasons we never got round to discussing…) There was something troubling him…

Horses have huge amounts of muscle – they’re muscle machines. However, if you scaled down a horse heart to be human size and put it into a human – the human wouldn’t survive, even if the human didn’t have the proportional muscle density that a horse has. Basically – the horses heart isn’t large enough or strong enough to supply the necessary blood around the body.

Troubling indeed! Here was my response…

Well, hooves pump blood too – in a fashion. More accurately, correctly functioning hooves pump blood. Which explains many things, like why horses are healthier when they have free movement. (and why competition horses are often amongst the least healthy I ever see – but I never said that – hush!)

It’s not quite that straight forward of course – what is!

Just as horses aren’t really trickle feeders, they’re trickle digesters, which seems a pedantic point, but actually can give you a very different perspective on things if you think about it. Movement doesn’t create good health, movement is essential for good circulation and good circulation is essential for good health.

Exercise is well known for improving hooves, however it only works if the exercise is within the comfort levels of the hooves. This I’ve known for a long time, but it makes so much more sense when you apply the knowledge that without the good hoof function, exercise is a strain on the heart, thus the movement must be kept within the comfort levels of the heart too.

Simply put the body will prioritise heart function over hoof function. So it will give it’s healing shizzle to the heart before it gives healing to the hooves.

Boots and pads can help a lot, but that doesn’t mean hacking is going to promote healing within the horse, it may mean that you’ve found a way for your horse to comfortably and effectively wander around the field, which may in fact be enough ‘exercise’ to promote the necessary healing.

When you’re trying to improve the hooves, don’t forget to pay attention to what the whole horse needs too!

What do you think of this?
Have lightbulbs flashed about in your brain like it did mine?
Did you know about it already and you’re wondering why it took me so long to catch up?
Tell me what you think…


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About the author

Debs is a practicing Equine Podiatrist with over 15 years experience, author, and educator.

She’s here to show you how to simplify your horse’s management painlessly so you feel in control and have a straightforward system that works for you.

When she’s not working you can find her playing with her own horses, watching geeky sci-fi or baking epic cakes.

  • Hi Debbie

    Yes, knew but hadn’t really thought about it in great detail as for me, it comes under the banner of “holistic approach” and if there is one thing wrong, you have to consider all the things you do with your horse and constantly reassess and refine to aim for perfect health.

    Incidentally, exercise is great but lets not forget massage as a boost to circulation, especially first thing in the morning in this cold weather to get the heart pumping before we turn out and especially for non-ridden barefoot horses. A good brushing before bed is also helpful, as are magnetic boots overnight.

    In past times “strapping” was carried out for 20 mins after exercise and they certainly had the right idea. I just use a firm-ish body brush and start at the rump and work towards the heart for 15 mins morning and night.


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