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Bronson, The Road to Recovery From Founder, 2003


Bronson is owned by Kathy Gallimore and John Stretch, Little Shavington Horse Care & Carriages, 144 Heald Road, Hunua, R.D.3 Papakura - Telephone 09 2924717, E-mail Little Shavington is an approved site by the International League for the Protection of Horses.

Bronson is a 20-yearold bay standardbred who has been with us for almost fifteen years. He has never been without shoes over that period. He has been taught to jump and was the best Pony Club Trotter in the business! He even spent twelve months at Riding for the Disabled, such is his wonderful nature. He was "free to good home" and had never been ridden when he came to our care.

Monday, 31 March
Bronson not himself for several weeks, probably dating back to last shoeing on 31 January. Rang farrier to arrange appointment for shoes to be removed. Some weight loss noted. Large, hard prominent crest. Very stiff behind and clicking evident. Urine cloudy. He had foundered once before and as the vet had previously recommended confinement on sand I decided to follow this course to see if there was any improvement. Bronson had been on Glucosamine for several weeks. Grasping at all straws, I truly believed that he had arthritis and over a period of about six weeks I believed there had been an improvement - probably wishful thinking! All in all a very unhappy horse, clearly in a great deal of pain and not moving around much at all.

Friday, 04 April
No improvement. Bronson now adopting "typical" founder stance, i.e. leaning back and making every effort to reduce weight at the front. Called vet who administered large intravenous dose of bute and recommended stabling on sand for minimum of two to three weeks - complete rest.

Saturday, 05 April
Some improvement, no doubt due to the large dose of bute given the previous day. On advice of vet, commenced one sachet of bute powder twice a day in lucerne chaff, as endorsed by the vet. Hay and fresh water available at all times.

Monday, 07 April
All four shoes removed and hooves trimmed by farrier. At the insistence of my friend, Keri Mapperson, a natural horse protégé, I contacted Jenny Lomas in Paeroa to arrange appointment for professional barefoot trim. Discontinued bute - last sachet a.m. today. Also discontinued Glucosamine. I felt guilty about this "cold turkey" treatment, but Jenny advised me it needed to be done in order to reduce the amount of toxins in Bronson's system. Turned out in small paddock with hay. Paddock mate next door. Bronson seemed a little nervous about having another horse in close proximity. He needed his "own space".

Wednesday, 09 April
Jenny Lomas trimmed all four feet and recommended brief walks of about ten minutes duration several times per day and to soak feet in water for ten minutes each day. I walked Bronson that afternoon in halter - I felt worse than he did, I'm sure! I could hardly get him to move and turning was the last thing he wanted to do. Ordered front walking boots and Detox Tincture through Natural Hoof in Paeroa. Commenced daily dose of Arnica. Began reading Jaime Jackson's book "Founder" - very enlightening.

Thursday, 10 April
Followed Jenny's instructions but very difficult to get Bronson walking. He was on minimum grass, all the hay he could eat and apple and carrot treats. Boots arrived. I fitted these and took him for a short, painful walk along our road, which is tarsealed and flat. His breathing was laboured and he sweated heavily. I decided it was too early to graduate to this and to wait until after his next trim in two weeks' time. Bronson very grateful, I'm sure! If horses cry, then there were definitely tears in his eyes. I spent the rest of the day apologising to him for letting him get to this stage.

Friday, 11 April
Commenced daily dose of Barefoot Detox Herb Tincture with the Arnica in a little dissolved molasses which, fortunately, Bronson enjoys drinking.

Saturday, 12 April
Very difficult to get Bronson moving but eating and drinking well. Introduced Shirley, our 22 yearold retired mare, into paddock with Bronson. Began sprinkling a small quantity of whole oats around for him to nibble. I was now living the nightmare of founder and spent every waking hour monitoring his progress.

Sunday, 13 April
At "wits end". Could not get Bronson to move in halter, although he was walking around eating hay strewn all over the small paddock. In desperation, I decided to attach long reins to the halter and gently coax him along with a driving whip. Bronson is used to being in harness so this was not foreign to him. He immediately responded with me behind him, gently tickling his rump with the whip. We proceeded to walk around our large lawn and he began to walk faster and faster and at one stage almost broke into a trot. After ten minutes I returned him to the paddock and rewarded him with an apple.

Monday, 14 April
Further improvement - more animated, alert and eyes brighter. Some softening and reduction in crest noted. Urine becoming clear, probably due to release of toxins. More receptive to having feet lifted and placed in water bath. Offered broccoli today which he enjoyed. Looks forward to his Arnica/Detox Tincture and molasses drink in the morning. Coped well being long-reined around lawn today. Cornering well, particularly when faced in the direction of his paddock! Eating more hay - little to no grass remaining in paddock. Clicking behind reduced. I was starting to feel a little more relaxed and cautiously optimistic so celebrated by giving Bronson a little left-over garlic bread which he loves.

Thursday, 17 April
Continued regime. Now walking comfortably in halter. Introduced watermelon but not too keen. Breathing calmly when exercising, compared with heavy breathing on first couple of days following removal of shoes. No sweats on exercise in last four or five days. In the last eight days there has been such an improvement. When walking he is turning with much less difficulty and is beginning to revert back to his old cheeky self. Lying down and standing up. Not witnessed him having a roll as yet. On virtually no grass and eating plenty of hay with intermittent treats and a sprinkling of whole oats once a day.

Monday, 21 April
Continued regime. We have turned the corner! Bronson now walking freely in a small paddock in the company of Shirley. Personality returning. Careful to ensure no clover available and providing hay. No need to soak feet today - torrential rain overnight. Urine now normal. Hoping to witness him rolling soon! Had a call from Jenny Lomas who is coming on 28 April to give Bronson another natural hoof trim. Have also booked trims for Shirley and our other standardbred, Derfel.

Wednesday, 23 April
Bronson has now graduated to a large, mostly eaten-out paddock, along with Shirley and a six-yearold thoroughbred gelding called Jack. Today, Bronson observed trotting and cantering in order to keep Jack away from Shirley. I couldn't believe my eyes! In fact, it must be almost three years since Bronson has taken on the role of number one in the pecking order. The other two horses on our property, however, if allowed to join in, would almost certainly cause him to become submissive as they, Reg and Derfel, make quite a dominating twosome. Continuing herbal regime. All four hooves showing good growth and Bronson is now able to tolerate walking about four paces from paddock to paddock over small stones. Trotting with very little discomfort in sand arena.

Monday, 28 April
Second hoof trim by Jenny. Took photographs before and after. Bronson tolerated trim well and no problems lifting his feet. Since 9 April there has been half an inch growth which is great. Now able to walk over small stones with very little discomfort. We are all delighted with Bronson's progress, particularly in view of the fact that all four feet were affected. Still a long way to go but gratifying to know that we have achieved these excellent results without medical intervention. Jenny returning in four weeks for further trim.

Monday, 05 May
John due home from England tomorrow after spending three months with his elderly Dad. Bronson has taken another "U-Turn" and is sore all round. I was hoping that he, Bronson, would be fit and well for John's return.

Thursday, 08 May
Bronson not himself and I leave for England for three weeks today to carry out some research for a book. Bronson showing signs of weight loss - most unusual for him.

Friday, 16 May
John calls me in England to say that an abscess has "blown" out of one of Bronson's front coronets. John continues three or four ten-minute walks around the garden each day and some days notices a little improvement in Bronson's walking ability.

Tuesday, 27 May
Third hoof trim by Jenny.

Wednesday, 28 May
I return from England five days early as both John and I are concerned about Bronson's progress, particularly the weight loss. Bronson is lame behind and in desperation we call the vetwho lances an abscess and bandages the hoof. By now Bronson's ribs are very prominent and he looks in pain and is extremely lethargic. The vet suggests we have Bronson put out of his misery. It is agreed that I recover from my flight and that John and I will make a decision over the next three or four days. We call Teresa at Natural Hoof and she gives us a "recipe" to make up for Bronson to encourage weight gain. Teresa also sends us a supply of Natural Mineral Mix as prescribed by Pat Coleby. So, Bronson is introduced to a regimen of bran, oaten chaff and Natural Mineral Mix twice a day and we agree to let nature take care of any further hoof abscesses.

Thursday, 29 May
It's full on now. Bronson has developed a further abscess which we left to its own devices and 48 hours later "bingo" out it "blew". By now it has become apparent that founder is not the only issue here. Each day Bronson's four hooves are soaked for a minimum of ten minutes in cider vinegar and water. Sometimes he would lift his feet, sometimes he refused to do so. What a game.

Wednesday, 18 June
We are living and breathing Bronson. All the food we are pumping into him doesn't seem to be helping him gain weight. So, on the advice of Teresa and Jenny we collect sample droppings from the five horses on our property for analysis.

Thursday, 19 June
Laboratory results back. Guess what? Bronson is the only one positive for worm eggs and lavae. I must add that we drench and paste regularly here at Little Shavington and could not believe this news. So, all horses drenched today and we are reassured by the vet that the ingredients used in today's drenching formulae are "horse-friendly". We were concerned that introducing chemicals into Bronson's diet might be detrimental but are satisfied that we have done the right thing. We trust our vets so much and yet we have had to juggle advice and recommendations from them and other sources. To say we have been a little confused is a gross understatement. At the end of the day, we managed to strike a happy compromise and Bronson seems to have benefited from it.

Tuesday, 24 June
Fourth hoof trim by Jenny. By now Bronson is putting on a little weight and Jenny is happy with his feet.

Monday, 07 July
We are confident that we are on the right track this time. Bronson is rolling over and over, cantering around the paddock, bucking and kicking out with both back feet. On Saturday morning he "escaped" from an area sectioned off by electric tape. We are having some excavation work carried out at the bottom of our property adjacent to a neighbouring farm. A section of the fence has been temporarily removed and Bronson was observed cantering up the hill next door. John tried to catch him but he was having none of it. Eventually, however, we managed to gather him up and bring him home.

He has this knack of pulling stakes out of the ground and releasing the tape with his mouth. Last week he actually jumped over the tape! It wasn't connected to the mains, fortunately! Ordinarily we would be quite annoyed at these demonstrations of misbehaviour but we are so happy he is feeling well! Over the last week or so, to me, he seems to have returned to his "childhood". It has taken since the end of January to get him back to his best. We have learned so much and feel that sometimes over the last five months we have let Bronson down so badly. We will have to be so careful once the grass starts to grow again and already are developing strategies and contingency plans to ensure that Bronson, or indeed any of our horses, never has to suffer in this way again. One thing is clear, Bronson definitely improved and deteriorated several times over these months. We learned not to get too optimistic too often just because he seemed better on some occasions. However, having said this, we really do believe we can relax a little now. Spring and summer will be the challenge!

If anyone reading this would like to discuss Bronson's story in more detail, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Kathy Gallimore

Trimming Bronson, By Jenny Lomas

I had a call in April 2003, from Kathy Gallimore. She was extremely worried about one of her carriage horses that appeared to have foundered.

Keri Mapperson had introduced her to Natural Hoof Care and suggested that her horse Bronson could benefit from a 'wild horse' type of trim.

When I first met Bronson he was in typical founder mode. The farrier had already removed his shoes and trimmed each hoof. I had been told that while shod he had developed very high heels so I was surprised to see that his hooves had been trimmed as low as they were. His hooves looked like solid blocks with absolutely no concavity. All four feet were affected.

APRIL 28th
Bronson was more comfortable during his second trim and was able to hold each hoof up for trimming.

MAY 27th
Bronson had started a nasty bout of abscessing. He had already had an abscess burst out of his front hoof at the coronary band and was brewing a very painful one in the off hind. Because of the pain in his hind foot he wasn't able to pick up his near hind for trimming. So he only had 3 hooves trimmed that day.

JUNE 24th
Much improved, though still a small amount of filling in each leg. Bronson held up each leg easily and a small amount of concavity was noticeable in both front feet. Both hind hooves had improved dramatically with an even greater amount of concavity evident.

Regular Natural trims can go a long way towards encouraging foundered hooves to grow back with a better laminar connection and eventually developing into healthy hooves again, but trims are only a small part of the rehabbing of any founder horse. The horse's chance of full recovery depends on how much the horse owner puts into the horse. Lifestyle changes, exercise, managing feed issues and helping the horse through any setbacks.

It has been a privilege for me to be able to help Bronson though his healing and as his pain levels have begun to decrease his charming personality is really starting to show. Kathy and John have done a fantastic job ensuring Bronson has every chance to regain his health, not an easy path and pretty scary for them as the more natural approach is so different from "mainstream" founder treatment. Congratulations Kathy, John and Bronson on your progress so far.

Jenny Lomas

Related founder article: Natural Treatment of Laminitis/Founder by Jenny Lomas.

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