An Otis Update

As promised, here is the Otis update.

He’s had a happy summer in a huge field of good quality grass. The vet came out at the beginning of September to see how he’s progressing. In walk, Otis looked really good but there was still a limp in trot, which didn’t please the vet.

He had a look at Otis’s feet, and whilst he’s been shod very well with the eggbar shoes, his heels haven’t grown out as much as anticipated. When his contracted heels grow out there should be less pressure around the sidebone, which hopefully means he’ll become sound. Obviously, hooves take a long time to grow so it’s a matter of patience, and best supporting them.

The vet recommended a type of shoes called Flip Flops, which are half metal and half plastic. They don’t provide support to the heel like the egg bar shoes, but the plastic heels mimic the ground and encourage more blood flow to the hoof because the frog and heel are expanding and contracting with each stride.

So I rang my ever patient farrier and asked him for advice and further information. He said, which had already sprung to my mind, that if the flip flop shoe is mimicking the ground, why not put Otis on the actual ground and take his shoes off? Then the ground , which is no longer rock hard, will cause the expansion and contraction of his feet thus increasing blood flow and hopefully the heels to grow out.

I agreed wholeheartedly. I think the flip flop shoes would benefit a horse who has poor horn quality so can’t go barefoot, but as Otis has strong hooves and the time of year is right, why not just go barefoot. When he saw the farrier this morning, the farrier told me that Otis’s hind feet are looking a better shape for being barefoot all summer. He also has plenty of hoof growth so must be on a healthy diet too, which is always reassuring. We took photos of his front feet with rulers, so we can measure the (hopeful) improvement in his heels.

In other news, Otis decided last week that fly season was over and he didn’t need his fly rug on. Which has allowed his coat to get even thicker, so he has a good winter coat and fat covering going into the winter. I’d like him to stay rugless if possible, but obviously he’s used to being rugged in previous years so if he needs a rug I’ll put it on.

I had thought that if he needed to be brought back into work around now then I would, but obviously he can’t but looking at him, I think he’d be too wide for me at the moment with my stretchy pelvic ligaments, so he’s got until April to sort his feet out and then we’ll go from there.

Otis’s Rehab – Weeks 5-8

It’s been a while since I updated you on Otis and his rehab.


Matt has taken priority for the last few weeks, which I think has benefited Otis because it’s given him more time with a gentle work load to hopefully build up his strength. Weekdays, I’ve done three 30-45 minute hacks, sometimes riding, sometimes leading from Matt. Then on the weekends he’s gone out for an hours hack. 

The farrier felt Otis’s feet were better balanced last time he came, but did say that he had taken more hoof off the left side of Otis’s dodgy foot so I may notice a difference…

I can’t say I did, but it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve felt a wonky step. 

This last week I’ve upped Otis’s workload, starting with an hours hack on Sunday, and then on Monday and Wednesday I rode him and led Matt out on similar length hacks. He still felt fine, and I managed to have a couple of trots with them both.


Then today, most excitingly, I took Otis out without Matt, and we had a canter! Two to be precise, one on each lead. Apart from the dodgy transitions, the canter felt good. And the subsequent trot felt fine too.

Onwards and upwards! He is having his pelvis tweaked again next week, and after Matt goes home on Sunday I will carry on with four hour long hacks a week, possibly doing a longer one on weekends, and see how Otis copes with this level of work. I’m also planning on boxing him to some new hacking routes on some weekends just for a change of scenery and to provide a bit of variety to his work.