When Sallie met Percy back in 2013 she fell in love with the very handsome Percheron gelding. She bought him even though he had a severe case of thrush, and a week later her farrier gave her the bad news that it was a hoof canker.

At that time she was living in Nimbin where conditions are often hot and wet, perfect for all hoof problems. Sallie researched the problem extensively and so began the long road to try to heal him, trying myriad different treatments with little success.

Fast forward to March 2018 when a chance meeting with Sallie led me to treating Percy. They had moved to Tenterfield so I went to meet Percy, and Sallie was happy for me to treat him even though I explained I had never treated this incurable condition before. I was pretty shocked when I saw the canker in his hoof.

hoof canker

In this photo, it is clear how the frog has been pushed off to one side, which of course means that all the underlying hoof structures are also unbalanced because of the size of the canker. My fabulous farrier Jamie Foster shod Percy several times in custom-made shoes which started the process of bringing his hoof back into better alignment and helped him to walk with less pain due to the support of the shoe. X-rays of horses with chronic canker show irreparable erosion to coffin, navicular and pedal bones.

I started work on him around the same time with a combination of VF Natural Diet, systemic herbal prescriptions to cleanse the blood, modulate the immune system and provide anti-tumour herbs. The topical treatment was a mix of essential oils directly syringed which penetrate the canker very well.  The essential oil mix is Lemongrass, Garlic, Eucalyptus and Yarrow Blue which Sallie is still using to this day.

“I saw an immediate improvement in Percy and all my other horses when they started on their VF Natural Diets, and they stay on that for life” Sallie observes.

Canker is a common affliction in UK & USA with no definitive cause identified, with the random occurrence, it is not contagious and usually starts in the central sulcus of the hoof with chronic thrush.  No bacteria have been identified and biopsies haven’t revealed any answers.  Vet treatment is surgery that produces massive bleeding, and confinement to a stable for months with ongoing caustic chemical topical applications.

“The whole time Percy has been treated with Victoria’s herbal program he has been free-ranging with my other horses over the rocky country. These drier, cooler conditions are actually very good for him, there was no hope in a hot, wet, humid climate, where he also got a lot of abscesses and the Qld Itch.“

Regular, refined trimming followed on from the shoeing, and Percy is now able to walk with the correct heel-toe footfall. He has been sound for the past 8 months and the hoof looks completely normal from the outside. There is a very small pocket of canker remaining which is hard to see in this photo taken recently, which also shows the huge improvement in the shape of the frog and the strong walls of the hoof.  It is religiously treated daily, with the essential oil mixture alternately with Bloodroot paste.

correct heel-toe footfall
It is extremely important to only use top-quality essential oils from specialist suppliers, as the market is flooded with synthetic oils (not stated on the label) which can cause damage to skin and metabolism. Recommended supplier is www.ahimsaoils.com.au

Reserve Champion Heavy Horses
To celebrate this milestone Sallie took Percy (Sir Percival) and his best mate Buddy to the Tenterfield Show where they won Champion and Reserve Champion Heavy Horses.

Sallie says she knows she will need to continue to treat Percy for the canker forever because there have been instances where it appeared to be cured and came back years later. But she is very happy indeed that she has a sound, healthy horse who is enjoying his life and has never seen the inside of a stable, and doesn’t want to. He is after all a horse!

Sallie’s advice? “I chose the natural healing path for Percy which isn’t a quick fix, but neither is surgery. The secret is patience, perseverance and positive energy.”