Updated: Nov 1, 2021
When we see our horses everyday we may not always see the tiny incremental changes that occur throughout the year. I tend to encourage my clients to take a photo diary monthly to capture and keep a record of their horses overall condition.
What is overall condition?
To me, condition is not just about condition scoring their weight. Though that is definitely a good thing to keep a record of! However, there are so many other aspects you can include to get a comprehensive overview of how your horses condition fluctuates with the seasons, differing work load, diet, management changes and so fourth.
Condition can be inclusive of muscle tone/definition, muscle mass, weight/fat score and one that is often overlooked - body posture.
My client has very kindly given me the permission to share the photos she took as part of her records for her mare. This mare has had a few set backs, and didn't winter as well as her owner had hoped. However, with following advice from numerous professionals i.e. vet, equine podiatrist and equine body worker (me in this case). She has made tremendous improvements to her mares overall condition.
Again, this is not just about weight! Yes, that has been a factor throughout but it is also about building muscle, putting her in the right environment, providing her body with the essential nutrients, correcting any hoof imbalances thus improving her posture and the overall picture.
We want to see the picture of health; and humans by instinct really want to see that improvement quickly. Everything in life these days provides pretty much instant gratification - thanks to technology. The issue many of my clients run into is thinking that nothing they do is working. So they stop with whatever positive changes they've made and give up too prematurely.
My client had the same doubts, in her mind she was doing everything right - and she was! But she still was uncertain if her mare was improving or not. Que the photo diary!
She has done her research, she has put the time in - and results were evident thanks to the photo record she took over the first few months.
Firstly, the initial priority was focusing on improving her weight. My client would still like her to have a little more before winter sets in; but as you can see from the top picture in comparison to the bottom picture there have been major improvements in this area.
Secondly, my client wanted to start building muscle; and whilst it may not always look obvious day to day, there have been some improvements here too. Still a way to go, but her efforts are working! There is no need to be discouraged, small steps amount up to major accomplishments.
Are these pictures the squarest - no? But I don't think you can deny that this is not a picture purposefully made to "look like" an improvement. This is not an optical illusion, the horse is not posed in a particular way - they are completely unedited and natural. Which I think is wonderful as it captures the journey authentically. I think the changes in these photos are obvious to anyone who looks at them further validating the work this owner has achieved with her horse.
I know I work with horses; but I think half the battle is working with the owners mindset - making them want to seek further information, to allow them to be guided into making their own decision and not dictating to them what is right or wrong for their horse.
Most of all - it is about creating a healthy and happy picture for both human and horse. And that is what I love about my job!
Incredibly pleased with this result, and looking forward to seeing how this lovely mare and owner duo progress.