Hooves tell a story; some have a short one to tell, some are more like War and Peace. Either way, they help with piecing together a puzzle that goes deeper than hooves alone.
I look how a horse walks, stands, holds up their feet. I look at all the structures in the hoof and take a mental note of anything out of the ordinary, any changes from previous trims. Anything I didn’t expect to see. One structure suddenly becoming more pronounced versus the other ones, different wear patterns, different sized, shaped or angled opposite hooves, how diagonal hooves compare, changes to the hooves due to compensatory loading.
I ask you questions about any changes since I’ve last seen you. All those questions about what surface your horse stands on, turnout, when you last wormed your horse, if there’s a foot s/he finds difficult to pick up. I really welcome you telling me anything, and it doesn’t need to be in the foot. It could be shoulders, back, stomach, or even the poll. Behavioural changes are always a significant puzzle piece. Diet is the major one. Please tell me about those little details you have noticed!
I take trim notes after every trim, noting down anything of interest. “No changes” is of interest too. I take pictures of the hooves, and I look at these afterwards, and then again before the next trim, to remind me where we were at six weeks ago. The pictures also allow me to go back and follow developments, expected ones and unexpected ones.
All these things can give us an early warning sign to act, change and adapt something. They could give me the chance to recommend a physio/body worker having a look. Or simply show in a few months’ time how far you and your horse have come.
This is what holistic hoof care is all about – not just each hoof in isolation, but all four hooves in correlation to each other; not just the foot or leg, but the WHOLE horse, inside and out, as well as the environment it lives in. All playing together to make up the puzzle that is each and every individual horse.