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Erica first contacted me back in August 2016, following a recommendation by her newly found barefoot trimmer (who coincidentally is a good friend of mine, and was also my trimmer for years until hubby took over).

Foxx is Erica’s much loved boy, now aged 21 and they’ve been together for 8-years. As Erica first said when she contacted me, “Foxx has been unlucky enough to be one of those horses that has the ‘He's not lame but something's not right In his front feet’ syndrome for years.”

Poor old Foxx has been through the wars and back. He's had time off with holes in his front tendons, shoulder lameness, ulcers, tripping over his front feet and the recurring ‘something's not right’ syndrome.

For Erica it was soul destroying to say the least, as every time Foxx wasn’t right he had to have time off, then slowly be brought back into work. They’d just get to the point where it was all going well, they were just back out on the dressage circuit, then wham; "Hello syndrome."

Back to square one. Erica had literally lost count of the times this had happened and the times she’d wanted to break down and cry. The vets had looked, x-rayed, poked and pushed, yet shrugged their shoulders with a 'no idea'. And apart from costing thousands in vets fees, Foxx had also by now become very grumpy and miserable, even sometimes nasty which wasn't like him at all. He was plainly in real discomfort, and as fed up as Erica.

March 2016 and Erica changed vet practices. The new vet took one look at Foxx and said the Navicular word. X-rays confirmed this in both front feet, so vet medicated both feet and said the longer the injections lasted, the better. Foxx was prescribed wedge shoes that Erica’s farrier expertly put on, which, although horrendous monstrosities on Foxx’s feet, within a few weeks they did seem to help him.

However, it didn't last long and by July he really wasn't happy. Erica finally stopped riding him and sent for the vet, who basically said Foxx's working days were over and putting him to sleep was probably the best option.

In comes Erica’s friend and instructor Nicci Phelps, who had been gently nudging Erica to go barefoot for a while. Nicci introduced her to Deborah Fowles, UKNHCP qualified barefoot trimmer. After investigation, Debbie said to Erica, “If you’re not prepared to put the hard work in and be prepared not to ride for however long it takes, don't start on this journey.”

On the 30th July 2016 Foxx had his shoes removed and their transition to hoof health began.

The day the shoes came off - you can clearly see the event lines on Foxx's hooves

5-weeks later - the event lines are growing out

His diet changed to our EquiVita forage mineral balancer, an organic chaff and linseed. Understandably, Erica found the new regime very confusing and scary, but as she says, “The difference in his personality within a few weeks was a lovely thing to see. Back was my old soppy loving boy instead of the grumpy old git that had been hanging around. The new growth of his hoof wall is outstanding and amazing to watch take shape.”

I get very attached to my equine – and human - clients, especially when they’re going through a major trauma and transition, and I always ask for updates on how their experience is going. Erica and Foxx were no exception; here’s their timeline: Sent: 06 October 2016 19:44

Thank you once again for the really quick delivery of my order of Equivita. Foxx wasn't overly keen on the supplement to start with and it’s only now that I'm able to give him his full quota. He's quite opinionated!

However he is doing remarkably well and on the road to recovery. I am now walking him every day and slowly building it up and by Christmas I really hope to be able to work him as normal. Keeping everything crossed.

Thank you again, Erica Erica sent me the Before & After photos of Foxx’s hooves (above), and the improvement was significantly noticeable. It all seemed to be going brilliantly. But then … Sent: 01 November 2016 17:35

Hi Carol

I wonder if you can help me. Foxx has been getting quite grumpy with me when I tack him up or put his rugs on and I was worried that he was having trouble with his ulcers again.

He doesn't seem sore on his feet but something’s not quite right, I would say a bit depressed for want of a better word. I have stopped walking him until Debbie sees him; he's just going out in the field during the day and in overnight.

Erica After careful consideration, I felt Foxx’s pout could be down to many factors. For starters we were on the cusp of seasons changing, the cold/damp air could profoundly affect mood, hormone levels were also changing and … the dreaded mud had already hit.

His depression/lethargy indicated to me that it would maybe make sense to eliminate the obvious possible onset Cushings, and also maybe get a bodyworker out to ensure he'd not pulled anything out of alignment anywhere, as long term grumbling pain could also significantly affect mood.

However, as Foxx had a history of ulcerogenic state, I suggested starting Foxx on a 4-week course of our UlsaTonic herb blend to help gently clean up his gut. After speaking with Debbie, Erica also got Foxx tested for Cushings, which thankfully came back at the top end of normal. Happily his feet were still brilliant and on track, so despite this setback, Erica was still really excited with his progress.

Then, just before Christmas, great news! Sent: 17 December 2016 13:28

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the help and support you have given Foxx and myself.

He has been given the official thumbs up to start trot work and that has really made my Christmas. I know we still have a long way to go (I think I'll be saying that even when in full work!) but I still find the journey we are on amazing. Oh, and on a happier note Foxx does seem to be coming out the other side of his Grumpy Git Syndrome!

Erica I’ll leave the last words to Erica, who at this point I’d asked whether she’d like Foxx to be a Case Study for us, to maybe help anyone else struggling with a similar situation. She was only too happy to help, and here’s her summary: Sent: 29 January 2017 15:48

“I won't say it was easy as there was a lot of prejudice against me going barefoot, but on the whole my friends were behind me and you really need them at this time.

I really cannot thank Carol enough for being at the end of an email and listening to my wafflings about Foxx, offering advice and, well, for just being there; and Debbie and Nicci for keeping me motivated because it has been hard and there is no quick easy fix, just time, patience and doing what you've been told, but most importantly listening to Foxx when he says “actually mum my feet hurt today can we please not do any walking”.

Six months on I can now ride Foxx every day in the school, hack him out on most surfaces without the use of boots, and he is now very happy to walk out instead of the shuffling he used to do on the road, and I'm looking at taking him competing dressage again by the end of February.

It's early days but Foxx is still here and that's the main thing. Sent: 28 February 2017 17:07

Hi Carol

I don't know if you realise how elated and excited I am at the moment but I wouldn't be surprised if you can.

I took Foxx out to a dressage competition on Sunday and just did a walk trot test HC. He was amazing, not only did he warm up beautifully on the sand school but also went with no stumbling or tripping in the arena during the test.

This is an arena which I had to stop competing in as it is quite deep rubber and he would always trip, really wasn't worth paying the money to enter.

But not only did he stay sound the judge didn't write anything about unlevel foot falls but she said he had a lovely rhythm.

We did a test that had the half circles from E to X and X to B in trot !!!

Oh I'm so so pleased. We also came 5th. Not bad for a horse that should have been put to sleep.

I'm slowly coming back down to earth and I'm sure we will speak again soon.

Thank you, Erica x