I always wonder what an X-Ray of an equestrian’s foot looks like. Is it a tangled knot of white scars from numerous toe fractures? Are the joints knobbly with arthritis? Or perhaps toe bones are even misaligned?
The reason I ask is of course, that Otis and his great clodhoppers bounced around his stable the other day, using my foot as a trampoline. After a yelp and a curse I got on with grooming him. After all, it’s part and parcel of being around horses, and usually happens at least twice a year, if not more.
Sometimes you’re lucky, and it’s the edge of your boot they step on, which doesn’t hurt as much, but anchors you to their side so you fall over on your next stride forwards. Laughable really. Well, to everyone else!
Other times though, they manage to squash several phalanges and metatarsals, possibly causing hairline fractures. So whilst you aren’t lame, flexing your foot in walk causes that familiar burning sensation across the flattened toes, and it’s impossible to scrunch your toes for a couple of days. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a bruise or a purple toenail, which all helps to get the sympathy vote.
My worst toe crushing incident was more of a foot crushing when my pony stamped on the middle of my foot, right on the arch. I’m sure you can imagine the pain. I was definitely lame on that occasion and my Mum lost a few bags of frozen peas to that foot that evening.
But apart from a few groans most of us get on with life and we never get ourselves checked out, which is why an X-ray could be very revealing, especially for a seasoned equestrian, highlighting just how many injuries our feet have sustained over the years.
The only slight limitation I find with squashed toes for the first few hours is rising trot, because you put pressure on your foot as you stand up in the stirrup. An excellent opportunity for sitting trot, or work without stirrups … Or walk to canter transitions! When I was a teenager one of the girls at the yard broke her toes. A proper break, not a squashed foot, which meant that she could only wear loose fitting shoes. She still wanted to ride, so we put a black ski sock over her foot and got her to ride with only one stirrup. We didn’t think anyone would notice, but now I think back I doubt we deceived anyone!
P.S. No photos today of my feet, but Google can show you some yukky actual broken toes instead of my flattened ones!