Supporting horses' laminitis Rehabilitation with FormaHoof
By FCA & Hufschmiedin Aletia Reilingh, Germany
Staatl. gepr. Hufschmiedin & FCA,
A Canadian by birth, Aletia made the move to Europe in 2014. Before the big move, Aletia was head trainer and coach at Leatherstone Equestrian Center in Guelph Ontario – A premier equestrian facility catering to dressage and jumper clients. Here she produced horses from training level to advanced level dressage, including for FEI young horse competitions in the USA and Canada.
Once in Europe, Aletia trained to practice advanced farriery and went on to become a FCA in summer 2020. Since then, Aletia and her clients have played a key role in the development of our FormaHoof Academy materials. A superb applicator, Aletia is extremely passionate about horse hoof health and provides consultation and training services in the Northwest of Germany and parts of the Netherlands, and can travel to apply outside her regular location on request.
Biene – fighting for life with Laminitis and the help of Aletia
“In the spring of 2020 I took a leap of faith and added FormaHoof to my repertoire of farrier services. Little did I know how much it would exceed my expectations. One special case was a horse named Biene (meaning bee in German). She is a 25 year old Haflinger mare with big, brown, doey eyes and is a real fighter. I would like to share our journey with you.
On August 2nd 2020, Biene’s owner, Isabel, reached out to me. Biene was in a fight for her life. She had experienced a massive laminitic reaction and was affected on all four of her feet, the front ones being the worst. Isabel had been trying for some time to find a way to simply make Biene comfortable so the horse could live out her days pain free. She reached out to me to try FormaHoof as her veterinarian and I had worked together on another case with great results, and he suggested to give it a try.
I met Biene and the veterinarian on August 6th and we discussed Biene’s case. She was currently standing in an orthopaedic shoe, with the idea being to relieve pressure on her foot. It wasn’t helping. The mare found every step painful. It took all of Biene’s energy to walk around her little paddock and there was great sadness in her eyes.
The veterinarian and I discussed the plan of action, which was to remove the dished out, separated wall and apply FormaHoof to both front feet. We assessed the mare in walk. She was unable to trot and she also displayed classic laminitic load bearing on her hind feet in walk. She was very, very sore, even though she was on a pain management plan with the veterinarian.
Biene's severe state of laminitis - before FormaHoof
Applying the first FormaHoof on a horse suffering from laminitic pain
I remember the day! It was so warm and the bugs were terrible. Getting the first foot finished with FormaHoof is often a struggle, as you are battling bugs, a horse that is in pain, and as it was 30C I had to keep wiping the dripping sweat from my face! Farriery is not Barbie Doll work. We persevered and managed her with kindness.
As has happened before on other cases, once FormaHoof was applied to the first foot, Biene suddenly got quieter. She could actually stand on the foot with FormaHoof and lift the other foot with less discomfort. The owner noticed the difference immediately and so did I, as the sweating got less!
We efficiently applied the second FormaHoof and once both hooves were fitted, we assessed Biene at walk on the hard ground. The difference was noticeable. The mare shifted her weight from her hind legs and began to accept more weight onto her previously sore front feet. She began to take longer, sounder, normal steps. Our goal of making Biene comfortable was achieved! But it gets even better…
Biene’s second FormaHoof application – 8 weeks progress of laminitis rehab
September 18th was our next appointment. We removed FormaHoof and both Isabel and I were very pleased with the results. Firstly, Biene had dramatically improved. No more pain medication and her mobility had dramatically increased. She was a normal horse again! Isabel was ever so happy with the quality of life Biene now had.
From my perspective, I was very pleased with how the foot looked coming out from under the FormaHoof. The foot had maintained its integrity. During the first application of FormaHoof we had removed the “lady slipper” toe that is common with laminitic horses. You could see during the cycle that the hoof wall had stopped pulling on the white line and was now growing in a normal fashion – straight down from the coronary band. The frog had also doubled in size and the entire foot was becoming structurally sound. We reapplied FormaHoof with the intention that in the future we would brave Biene going barefoot.
Biene transiting from FormaHoof back to barefoot
Fast forward to early 2021 when we removed FormaHoof for the last time. Biene had maintained her soundness and grown quite feisty in the field. I was sent many videos from the owner showing just how happy the mare was. Biene had gone from a difficult horse to work on to happily standing and enjoying her pedicure days. Her feet had developed a concavity that would allow her hooves to function properly on their own (no longer with direct pressure on her soles) and the hoof wall was structurally sound and able to bear the load of her weight.
It was time!
We removed Biene’s FormaHoof and trimmed her feet. I didn’t take so much off because I wanted there to be some material to adjust if needed. Biene walked away sound and maintained the level of comfort she had shown in FormaHoof. Quite a remarkable feat.
As I write this, Biene has regular trims every 4 weeks so we can keep an eye on her feet and make adjustments if needed. This has been precautionary and so far has only needed normal balanced trims. She continues to play and gallop in the field and Isabel is thrilled! Biene’s personality is now described as ‘light and happy’, which is a far cry from the sad depressed, pain-stricken horse that we met 6 months earlier.
The benefits of treating laminitis with FormaHoof
Biene’s case is not an exception. By using FormaHoof in our plan, we were able to provide immediate relief and to aggressively make changes to the foot that we may not have been able to make with other methods. FormaHoof is non invasive and low risk. Biene was able to grow quality hoof to enable the transition to barefoot and we didn’t have to worry about broken feet due to nail holes that could potentially disrupt the hoof wall. And finally, at the end of the treatment cycle we could take the risk to let her go barefoot, because if it didn’t work as planned we could immediately reapply FormaHoof.
As I write this, Biene continues to live her best life. I’m lucky to have been a part of her journey and to have been able to help her so much. This is why I became a farrier: to help horses in the best way I can, because nothing beats a horse galloping happy and free in the field.”
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