Saturday, April 10, 2010

My herd...Part 1

Hoanna on her first 50 at the Bryce Canyon XP

Well, thought I would throw in some pics of my own horse's feet. And one of Terri's, LOL...basically the mare band I posted about earlier, that hang out in the "mare pasture". I have to admit, I let them go a little long when I took these pics and did the trim (8wks instead of the usual 5-6...they need it every 4 or so if I ride lots and they grow more, but 5 is ok right now). The old saying about the 'cobbler's kids are the last to get boots' sometimes rings true. I get so caught up in stuff and since I don't really write down when they were done or are due (ug, I know, set it on the calendar like with clients!), I sometimes just forget when I did them. If I ride all the time, I notice it more (cleaning feet all the time and such), but not when they are lazying about the pasture. Anyway, I will start with Hoanna, my 13yo, 14hd MOrgan/QH cross. She is my steady eddy, do anything horse. My first horse actually (didn't "own" horses til I was in college!) and my perfect pony in many ways. She was what got me really convinced about barefooting...she would wear her hind shoes thin enough to shave after 6wks of good riding, only on the outside branch though. If doing endurance, I had to pad her as she'd be tender over rocks/gravel (she is borderline insulin resistant, which had a lot to do with that, but this was before I knew about IR and nutrition). I never thought this horse could go barefoot, so I used her as my main guinea pig when I started all this. I figured if SHE could go bare successfully, most any horse could! Well, as you can see, I still am a barefoot fan, so it worked! Happy Barefoot horse! :)

This mare is interesting....leaving her long is actually good as an example trim... She tends to grow LOTS of toe and wants to run her heels under, so I try (when I am less of a dunce and remember!) to keep her toes back and often... It has made her feet SO much better! And on her hinds, she "twists" with every step, so she REALLY wears the outside of her feet (and twists off every boot of every brand I tried...or twists them around on her foot...sighhh..only glued/foamed boots stay on properly with her....though I have a few simpler tricks for endurance rides... I just ride her bare behind if on trail rides) . This means trimming mostly the inside of her feet, trying to keep everything relatively balanced.... The pics might be of left or right side, as I didn't really take total pictures of ALL feet the whole time. But she doesn't really vary much from R/L so I do the same thing on both sides and you can get the idea :)

From the front and side.. here you can really see how she shoots that toe out and her heel actually makes her look even longer than she is (as you'll see when I show you the solar view).

Front feet...she has about 1/2" too much wall height, but about 1" too much toe length... frogs have the typical "tattered" look most our local horses have (I still think it has to do with acidic soil...there is not really much thrush in there, though sometimes they will get it...AFTER the tattering..).

First the rough nippering... just taking length off, toe still on, cleaned the frog a little. Then I rasp it all clean and take back that toe and round the hoofwall. The difference in the hoof shape is huge... think of where the breakover is on the first shot, then the second...

And a side shot...she doesn't have a huge amount of concavity, but seems to do fine with it. Sugar is her enemy when it comes to hoof sensitivity (and she'll be coming off pasture this month, as it is starting to grow again...more than she should have...her daughter is the same way...).

I also take off any wall flare (once the toe is set back, the flare almost disappears and the wall doesn't need a ton of rasping) and round the edges from the top as well.

And the back feet can see how she really wears the outside (the whole foot really...I don't have to nipper the hinds like I did the fronts! At least I know she is using her hind end well! :) ) and how that heel even comes back further as a result.

So I just rasped the walls a little all around, brought the inside wall down to where it is now even with the outside one, and brought the inside heel back as much as I can to even it out more. I also cleaned up the frog and evened out the walls, finishing with a roll around the walls.

And the finished project. She is standing a bit under herself, so the angles look a bit odd, but if you see her more "normal" standing and moving, she looks correct.
But it gives you an idea of how bringing the toes back really makes a huge difference on her feet...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Where's the "REAL" Foot? (Part 2)

Ok, raining today, so I have time to post again :) Here are the back feet... They were shorter to begin with, but still had the same issues going on, that the front feet had...This picture is right after I was all finished. He was still standing under himself a bit guardedly, but after I had his owner walk him around on his new feet, he stood normally when asked to just stand again. Goody goody!

This is before the trim...length of feet is much more normal and from the outside they don't really look all that bad (though when I first started, the back feet were long and high heeled as well as the fronts)

This is pretty much what both feet looked like on the bottom. That long sole/bar growth and not much frog (though much better than the fronts). The "divot" at the point of the frog was normally not present though, same for the flakiness at the front of the bars...sole looked uniformly even (thus, again, no guideline for me to know where to hack away at it).

When you look closer, you could see that there was a crack separating sole material in the sulccus...before, it always looked like the "crease" you can see just above the actual crack...solid, with no access into the hoof. Now, when I put my nippers in there, I could just easily peel back the bar and frog material... So again, I had a guideline to work with

After peeling off that first bit, I was able to trim him up the rest of the way. I suspect all that false sole and some of the thrushiness was causing abscessing in there (since in both this foot and the front feet you can see the "holes" left) and that allowed the sole to finally start peeling away (though I never saw any exit holes either in the sole or the coronet while trimming him).

And the left hind pretty much finished with the trim... big difference to before!

Then I did the right hind..(forgot the "before" pics on this one..) This seems the most intact of all the feet, both from the frog and sole aspect of the foot...

And the end result from the side and on the ground... feet not a whole lot shorter, since they were much better off than the fronts to begin with, but looking "normal" from the bottom at least again :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Where's the "REAL" Foot? (Part 1)

Once every 5 weeks or so, I drive about 1 1/2hrs north to Crescent City and trim a number of horses up there. For some odd reason, I have seen the most crazy feet up there. Especially trimming at the local fairgrounds (this was not there though)...LONG heels (basically both 4 feet would look clubbed) and bars grown all the way around the frog, retained soles, thrush that has taken out most the frog, etc etc. Sometimes they are quick and easy fixes, sometimes slow...but usually I know what the fix IS... Well, one horse I do is an old TB gelding. Ex racehorse and generally well taken care of, but also had those LONG heels and feet that most the horses up there have. He'd had these for many years (though done at about every 6-8 wks most his life) and had a history of bad and multiple abscesses every year throughout the winter. I started working on him last year in the spring I think it was, and was pretty baffled with his feet. I knew there was "something not right" (as you'll see in the pictures) and that his heels were too long (which I DID manage to bring down over time so he at least wasn't looking like he had 4 clubbed feet), and of course the horrid frog thrush issue (still working on that, but owner is unable to soak feet and treat them properly, and I live too far away to come out and do it for her). But he also had a hoof capsule that was too long (see pic...4 you believe they were actually LONGER when I first met him?!?!) and what looked like retained sole... BUT (this is the important part), when I would carefully cut at the sole, I would immediately hit what I thought was "live" really looked like live sole and not that crumbly dead sole material you can cut away. Without X-rays (nearest vet with those capabilities is 2hrs from her and was not going to happen) I was afraid to start chopping away. I feared that he might have a descended coffin bone and I would screw him up worse than he was, if I cut into the sole willy nilly. So I would just shave a little off his soles every time I came up, keep his angles as good as possible, and hope his feet would eventually work themselves out. Better safe than sorry in my book...(he never was lame during this time, or looking foundered, or anything, btw)
Well, my patience has paid off. Yes, it has taken a LONG time for the feet to begin their correction, and someone with more experience may have fixed it sooner (not available in our area) but this time when I came to trim, I finally had the sole ready to come away mostly on its own and I was able to drastically reduce the length of his feet. We still are not anywhere near perfect (thrush will be our worst problem now), but he has somewhat "normal" feet now! Here is the photo journal of the day :) I'll post the front feet first, then tomorrow the hinds.

Ok, here are the front feet.. looks like the ruler is past the foot, but it isn't. They are on the same "plane" and the photo just makes it look funny. Hard to take pics, hold ruler, and keep horse still

On the left is about how it has looked for the last 6 months.. heels are not hugely long anymore, but not normal either. Frogs gone, but not really any wall growth...on the right, even when cutting into the foot, it looks "live" and like I shouldn't touch it (that long hole on the outside wall was not there...sole had a uniform look to it and I was just afraid to go hacking away at it without x-rays, even with the frog WAY down there (cause of the frog damage, it was hard to know where the frog SHOULD have been). This is the right front and the second hoof I did.

This is the left front and the first foot I picked up. You can see where the sole (dirty blackish, reddish area) had come loose by itself and gave me the clue that it was time to finally help it along. I had just started cutting at it when I realized I should take pictures of the process :) So now that I had a "guide to tell me where the real sole level was, I was happy enough to (still carefully) start taking out the false sole.

After getting a basic cut halfway around, I took some pics to show the difference in wall height. You can see some bruising at the toes as well...

Then I attacked the other side with my nippers and hoofknife (remind me to sharpen the knife..uggg... I just am not very good at that and it is always duller than I would like...I don't do knife work much, so usually not a big deal, but this was a pain!)

And then after cleaning it up a little bit's a real foot under there!

And after taking off some minor flaring (the foot actually never flared much...just grew down a long hoof capsule...)

And the final product, next to the "before" on the other foot... now we are a whole inch shorter!

Now back to the right front...I didn't have a lost piece of sole to guide me here (though I did mark off 3" on the hoofwall as a general guide)...but I noticed while picking away at the sole, that it seemed to be "loose" at one of the cracks in the bar area...and sure enough, I could get my nippers under there and pry/cut it up. That gave me the start I was needing...

I was able to work quicker on this foot, since I had my confidence up from the first one :) This foot is in a bit better shape too...less bruising and cracking.

Not too bad when all is said and done :) It will be neat to see how they continue to develop...He walked and trotted completely sound when we were done. Whoo Hoo, I must have done ok then!

More tomorrow....suffice to say, the back feet were similar... weird feet...but kinda neat. Even though it tweaks me out when I hit stuff like this (you don't get this in farrier's school, LOL), the head scratching and eventual fixing of it makes me learn so much. Each new "weird" or hard case make me that much more confident in how I can handle different feet, and it is partially what makes the job so fun... just doing normal trims is good, but doesn't make you stretch and expand your skills much after you hit a certain plateau. You can do "prettier" jobs and such and get better at catching things like slight imbalances...but after a while there is eventually only so much you can improve (which I am not at that point yet by a long shot, LOL...just looking into the future though, as I hate being bored! :P) So this is the extra goodies that make life interesting. I so love my job :)