Saturday, July 30, 2011

A New Layout

As you've probably noticed, I decided to change the layout and design of Lilly's blog. Over the past year and a half, this blog has become less and less about whether we can make it in the show arena, and more about the journey that Lilly and I have experienced together. From ligament tears, to abscesses, to saddle troubles, and now to our newest adventure - getting rid of steel shoes and going barefoot. Lilly is my greatest teacher... and my heart horse. Thank you for being a part of our journey.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Barefoot Consult #3

Bright and early this morning I had a visit from consult #3. Her name is Cat, and while I haven't met her in person until today, we have chatted in the past about numerous different horse related topics, but never about hooves. Her personality won hands down and by the time she left this morning, she felt like an old friend.

After introducing her to Lilly, Cat wanted to watch Lilly move, so we took her out behind the barn where we had some nice ground, and some rocky ground. She wanted to see how sound Lilly was on the gravel with her shoes on. I admit, I do avoid gravel so Lilly was a bit tender footed on the rocks even with her shoes on. Cat took the lead and walked Lilly around a bit for me pointing out how she was pretty short strided on the left front (our problem leg).

After the initial evaluation, I received the now familiar "tubules" spiel and we got right down on the ground as she pointed out where Lilly's heels actually are. After moving on to the bottom of the foot, she smushed Lilly's heels together a bit more to show me how much more contracted they could become, but also how much they will probably decontract as soon as we take the shoes off. Poor Lilly jerked her foot away when Cat pressed her heels together, so it's pretty clear she has heel pain, even if she doesn't really show it to me. We talked a bit about the crease between the heel bulbs and how deep and long it is on Lilly's feet, which was the first time that has been mentioned, although it makes perfect sense. The crease will be deeper and longer the more the heels are contracted.

She also commented that she was not totally appalled at my farrier's shoe job. She could see where he had been bringing the toe back (or at least keeping it from growing out more) and found it nice that he only uses two to three nails on each side of the shoe. She sees a lot of farriers who put nails in the shoe all the way back and said that since he was only putting nails in the first few holes, he was allowing a little heel relief for Lilly. Whether that was intentional or not, I'm not sure. She thought the shoes were too close to the frog, commented about his rasping, and made a joke about how he likes to shape Lilly's frogs. Cat was once a farrier before becoming a barefoot trimmer, so I think that also gives her a unique perspective on things.

Cat discussed the white line at length, along with the sensitive and insensitive laminae, commenting that Lilly probably has a good deal of hoof wall separation in her hoof because of how much flare she has going on.

I talked to her quite a bit about the possibility of Lilly's hooves being related to my saddle issues and she agreed 100% that there's a good chance of her hooves being the cause. It made her think of an article she read not too long ago and she said she was going to look it up and send it my way. It discussed the correlation of hoof issues and back pain in horses and said it would probably sound familiar to me.

When I asked her if she would like me to get x-rays of Lilly's feet, she declined as all the other trimmers did. She said if she saw something more serious she might recommend it, but said she had a pretty good idea of what was going on in Lilly's feet without them. Then she added, "unless you've got money to burn..." HA! I told her how I've burned plenty of money on Lilly already.

What Cat recommends for Lilly is to pull the shoes and do a very conservative trim. She said she would only shape things up the first time and see what kind of reaction we get from Lilly. She thinks she'll probably be fine the first day, and maybe even the second day, but expects to see some soreness around day two and three. If Lilly is really uncomfortable, then she would want to come out and put Equicasts on her front feet and leave those on for 2 weeks. At the two week mark, she'll come out, take the casts off and actually do some trimming of Lilly's feet. The trim that she described to me was very similar to what I've seen online in relation to the traditional type of barefoot trim, with the mustang roll in the front to keep her feet from chipping and also to help in the areas where she sees the white line stretched.

She doesn't recommend hoof boots just yet because she thinks that Lilly's feet will change too much during this transition. Again, unless I have money to burn.

She would want to come out every 2 weeks for a few months and really take her time with the trims, and said she thinks in about 3 months we'll see a completely different horse. As long as Lilly is okay with it, she recommends that I ride her and take her for walks on the concrete driveway and also around on the gravel outside the barn, even if it's just for a few minutes. After enough progress has been made, we can switch her over to a 5 week rotation.

The fourth and final trimmer will be out on the 13th of August and once I get her opinion I'll be able to figure out the best course of action for Lilly. I'm actually getting excited about pulling these shoes off! I can't wait to see how much change we see in her feet.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Barefoot Consult #2

Lilly was visited today by another barefoot trimmer named Lisa. I wanted to write a post on each of the trimmers and then when it's all said and done compare them all and make a decision. All day long, though, I've been comparing yesterday and today so I'm not sure I can help myself!

I met Lisa outside at her truck and we briefly got acquainted while she put on her Parelli visor and got her paperwork together. She said before we got started with Lilly, she wanted to educate me a bit on the barefoot movement and the history behind it with a bit of information about Bracy Clark. We also discussed Lilly's diet and she handed me some paperwork on a feed that either she developed, or someone she knows developed... I wasn't quite sure the origin, but it's supposed to be an all natural feed packed with natural vitamins and minerals. It contains pressed canola meal, peanut hull pellets, roasted barley, citrus pulp, pressed canola oil, mineral molasses, and salt. She gave me a baggy of it to share with Lilly.

We went inside and I introduced her to Lilly. She said she doesn't think Lilly is overweight, but rather thinks she's just a stocky girl. I've decided I think she's a bit chunky, so she's staying on her diet no matter what. Hopefully once we pull the shoes and she's out 24/7 she'll stay a bit more fit (assuming she can walk).

Lisa seems to be an advocate of "natural" everything and wanted me to take Lilly out of the cross ties for the consultation. We talked about deworming and vaccinations and she's not a fan of either. She only vaccinates for rabies and tetanus, and can't remember the last time she dewormed her horse. We're actually starting the fecal sample tests at the barn too, so shortly I'll be pumping fewer chemicals through my horse's body, but I still want her vaccinated.

Before she took pictures, Lisa gave me 4 different colored rubber bands to put around Lilly's feet... one color for each foot so she would know which was which when she was evaluating the pictures. She took a few body shots of Lilly and then took quite a few pictures of Lilly's feet.

When she was done with the pictures, she used a ruler to measure how long her toes were and the height from the ground to the back of Lilly's hoof. She said she was impressed that Lilly was at least consistent all the way around, but she stressed more than once that Lilly doesn't have nearly enough toe. I was a little surprised by her comment because I always figured low heel = long toe. She tried to get me to imagine how Lilly's toes will look once her heels are actually up where they're supposed to be, and I could see then what she meant. She said she has plenty of heel, it's just crushed under, but the toes are way too short. She thought the toes on her back feet were especially short and said she probably wouldn't trim them for quite some time.

She did point out that the flares on her back feet indicate a problem, along with the slight bull nose, and she related the issue to her short toes. She said she would trim a small notch out of the quarters of Lilly's hind hooves to relieve the pressure created by her short toes. On the front feet, she would do something similar except she would create more of a "hook" with the heels to encourage them to start standing back up where they're supposed to go. She showed me some pictures on her camera of a horse she had been working on with underrun heels worse than Lilly's (a lot worse!) so I could get an idea of how she would trim.

She suggested that we fit Lilly for boots in about 4 weeks so she could have them in and ready to go when it was time to take off the shoes. She recommends Renegade boots because the EasyBoots are made out of black rubber and will cause their feet to sweat. She had a couple different pairs with her and we tried them on Lilly. You can only tell so much with the shoes, but she thinks they would be the best choice for Lilly's feet. I must admit, Lilly was styling in "Arizona Copper".

I really had to work to get Lisa to tell me her opinion of Lilly's feet. She was more focused on how she was going to trim them than how they got this way and what the problem was. She didn't want to place blame on anyone, farriers or vets, because she said that's how they were taught and that's all they know. She said it takes a really long time for new ideas to make it out there to the horse world because the ideas first have to make it into the schools, then the students have to make it though years of training, and then when they meet horse owners face to face, they have to convince them that it's a good idea. She said the important thing is that I think it's a good idea and I'm making changes to better the life of my horse.

There wasn't a lot of hoof anatomy 101 today. Lisa did explain the tubules to me using a piece of hay, but she was quite optimistic that Lilly's heels weren't a big deal and that her feet could be fixed. Since Lilly was shod so early, she doesn't think she'll ever have proper shaped heels (they'll always be contracted to a point) but she thinks Lilly can be sound and happy.

Lisa's plan for Lilly would be to come back and check her hooves in 4 weeks, fit her for boots, and then wait as long as humanly possible before pulling the shoes (but before the shoes are so loose they'll come off on their own potentially damaging her hooves). The boots would go on immediately after the shoes come off and stay on 23 hours per day until which time she feels Lilly can be comfortable without them on. In the meantime, she would come out and trim every 3 weeks, eventually moving to every 5 weeks. She said shortly after that, she could show me how to trim the feet myself and I could do the rest of the trims. (yikes)

I know I said I wasn't going to do this, but Lisa said Don is a mentor of hers, and I was pretty surprised at the different approaches they have to tackling Lilly's issues. The visits were like night and day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Barefoot Consult #1

I have four different barefoot trimmers coming to look at Lilly. Three of them are coming this week, and then the fourth one isn't coming until the 14th of August. I really wanted her to look at Lilly, so I decided I'd wait however long it takes.

The first consultation was today with a gentleman named Don. I was slightly concerned when we first met because he's not what I would consider an overly "friendly" guy (more of an all business guy), but he spent nearly an hour and a half with Lilly today and by the time he left this afternoon I was feeling much better about the possibility of using him as my trimmer.

We shook hands and introduced ourselves outside the barn and I told him that Lilly was inside. He followed me in and asked me what her name was. Then asked me if she was in foal (oops...) and when I told him she was not, he stated matter of factly that she is fat... at least 75 pounds too heavy. Then he said we could talk about nutrition in a bit.

After standing still and looking at Lilly's hooves for a few minutes in complete silence, he finally said, "someone's been rasping off a lot of hoof wall..."

He got right to work without gathering any history or asking any questions. I could hear him whispering to the other gentleman he brought with him as he inspected her feet, picked them up, set them down and rubbed his hands down her legs. I was starting to get a little upset, especially when he took out his hoof knife and shaved off some of Lilly's sole. The other guy started taking pictures of her feet and Don continued to look very closely at her hooves. I started to see a routine emerge as he went from hoof to hoof and figured I'd just let him do his thing. He looked at each hoof several times, once stopping to go out to his truck to get a rasp, and then when he was done, he asked if he could use my notepad to make some drawings. We both sat down and I watched him draw, still in silence.

When he was done, he pointed to his drawing:

His drawings... quite the artist, isn't he?
"Normal hoof on top, Lilly's hoof on the bottom."

What he told me after that wasn't good, and while I knew things weren't pretty, I didn't know just how bad they were. He said her underslung and crushed heels were pretty bad and stressed that fixing them would be quite the undertaking and would require a lot of time, a lot of work, and most likely a good deal of off time for Lilly. He said he would rather be presented with a foundered horse than a horse with heels like Lilly's.

Ouch...

He opened up his suitcase full of horse leg parts and showed me how all the different parts of a healthy hoof should look, and then we inspected Lilly's front feet. It was clear her feet look nothing like the healthy cadaver feet. We even compared certain areas of her front feet to her back feet because he wanted to show me what her feet could have looked like (in regards to her heels).

The point he stressed the most was how the tubules in Lilly's hooves aren't parallel like that of a healthy foot. Instead, hers run parallel until the heels start to fold under, at which point the tubules intersect each other. Despite my farrier's best rasping efforts, we could still see quite a few of the tubules. We talked about flares, angles, and all things hooves. He said she's loaded on the inside, which causes the flares on the outside, and while he thinks her toe angle looks pretty good, the angle of her coronary band (and heels) is terrible and on her right front, there's an area that pops up way above the line. He used a lot of tools to show me just how off everything is and the pictures made everything even more noticeable. Don covered probably what he thinks is basic hoof anatomy 101, but the more he explained, the worse I felt.

It was one of the most educational things I've been through in quite some time. Even with all of the reading I've done, tubules was something I hadn't run across. An interesting excerpt from TheHorse.com explains way better than I could:

As the toe grows forward, the heel lowers. As the heel lowers, the horn tubules at the heels bend. Eventually, they become parallel to the ground and lose all ability to support the horse's weight. The poor quality of hoof wall at the heels no longer allows the heels to transfer concussion to other soft tissue supporting structures above the heels, such as the frog, digital cushion, deep digital flexor tendon, navicular bursa, and suspensory ligaments. This can lead to bruising in the heels and associated soft tissues structures.

The hoof wall at the heels then begins to thin, separate, collapse, and roll under the horse's foot. This destroys the bars, which form the angle of the sole. Corns and quarter or heel cracks appear. With the heel out of commission, the frog, deep digital flexor tendon, and digital cushion take over more of the weight-bearing role than they are designed to handle.

The increased tension on the deep digital flexor tendon, caused by the underrun heel and broken-back hoof-pastern axis, increases pressure on the navicular bone and bursa, often leading to degeneration of those structures.


Don explained that her underrun heels could cause a lot of long-term issues including navicular syndrome. In fact, he said he didn't think Lilly could go much longer in her present condition without her starting to exhibit some symptoms of navicular. He went on to explain that horses who are shod early will end up with a hoof that's actually deformed, and even with proper trimming now, he isn't sure that Lilly will ever have a "healthy" foot.

When it was all said and done, he said his plan would be to let her wear her current set of shoes for at least 6 more weeks, maybe 8. That would give her a chance to grow some more foot and hopefully some heel because he felt if he took the shoes off today, she would be walking around on her heel bulbs and would be in awful pain. He wants to see her again in 6 weeks to evaluate how her feet look and to see how much hoof she has grown. Then he'll be able to determine more accurately a plan from there. Without knowing how quickly her hoof grows, he can't really give me specific details about trimming, but he's guessing once the shoes came off, he would come every 3 weeks to trim her heels for quite some time before moving her to a 5 week schedule.

The one positive thing is that Don didn't see thrush in any of her hooves. Yay...

A few other random tidbits we discussed included nutrition, hoof boots, and her ICL surgery.

Until today, Lilly was getting some Purina Ultium (a low starch but high calorie food), alfalfa pellets, hay, pasture, and a multi-vitamin. I spoke with my BO today and the Ultium is going away. It was mostly to make Lilly's pellets more palatable, but somehow it went from a handful to nearly 2 pounds per day. Don said the pellets were good because they contain a lot of protein and he wants her eating a lot of that for hoof growth, but the Ultium is too much. He didn't recommend any hoof supplements either.

If it turns out Lilly needs hoof boots, he thinks the EasyBoot Epic will be the best choice for her. He said the Old Mac boots would "rub the hell out of her heel bulbs".

Lastly, I thought Don was going to have a heart attack when I told him Lilly had ICL surgery. He looked up to the heavens and asked "why, why, why?!" He said he's amazed that a veterinarian would actually cut open a horse's leg and SEVER a ligament. I explained to him why we did it and that it was just another example of how I put my trust and faith in the professionals.

Poor Lilly. If I could do it all over again I'd change a lot of things... the next horse that comes along after her will be one lucky girl because I'll know better.

Consult number two comes tomorrow at 9am. I wonder if she'll paint as bleak a picture as Don?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Body Score?

As you may (or may not) recall, Lilly and AJ had a visit from the nutritionist back in November. At that time, he said he thought my horse was a bit on the pudgy side and scored her at a 7 on the body condition score chart.

Here's a picture of her from around that time:

Does she look like a 7 to anyone else? I thought she looked more like a 6, but I don't have a lot of experience with this kind of stuff. (Maybe he was just trying to sell me food...)

I took these pictures today, which are a bit better than the one I have from November, but I don't think she looks like a 7 here either.


Am I in denial?

Does she look heavier now than she did in November? I know it's hard to tell with the pictures, but I'm working on her diet (again) and I'm trying to get an accurate weight and body score. I know it's a lot easier to gauge which number they are when you can run your hands along the key areas, but I think she looks more like a 6.

I need an actual scale because I think this whole weight tape/body length x heart girth stuff is a racket. Measure an inch behind the point of her withers? What if she has giant withers?

The weight tape says she weighs 1130 lbs, but the measurement system says she weighs 1062 lbs. Add 'em up and divide by 2? That's 1096 lbs which is about what the nutrition guy said she weighed back in November. Round her up and say she weighs 1100 lbs...

Good times...

Lilly wants to know why I had her out in 110+ degree heat to take silly pictures of her.

"It's hot out here... can we go back inside now?"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tail Trouble and Footfall Video

I went to the barn today to check on my girl and brought my camera, complete with charged battery. Yay me! I also brought along my BF's camera because it has the ability to take video.

After I started brushing her, I realized she was FILTHY and brushing wasn't going to cut it. It was hot and she hadn't had a bath in a while, so I grabbed the bathing stuff and went to work. She seemed to enjoy it quite thoroughly.

When I got done with her body, I decided to let her tail down and wash that as well. She seemed quite sensitive when I touched her tailbone, but she's never been one to relax her tail when I'm messing with it. After applying the conditioner, I started to comb through the tangles... and a lot of hair was coming out. She usually sheds some hair, but it was coming out in piles. I rinsed everything out and moved her from the wash area to the cross ties in the barn aisle so I could get a better look.

This is what I saw:

Ouch!!
The area on her tail where the tail bag was tied can be seen in the lowest circle. It was scabby looking and from what I could tell (Lilly was not cooperative at all) went all the way around her tailbone. There were a few other areas that had pussy looking skin, like the other circled area on the photo, and then some spots on her tail that were bare.

The tail bag fiasco happened just over a week ago and after a few days had passed I thought we were in the clear, but from what I've seen today, it looks like her tailbone was impacted somewhat by the tight tail bag. It seems weird to me that some of her skin above the tail bag is affected, but she's not nearly as sensitive in that area.

I decided to cut about 3 inches of tail off and leave it unbraided. I hope that's a better choice than braiding it and keeping it up... I thought leaving it alone be might be the best thing for her at this point in time. I rubbed in a little bit of antibiotic cream hoping that will help as well. Poor Lilly... :(

After I was done with her tail, I set up the camera to try and get a video of her footfalls. I did the best I could with what I had, but I understand if you all laugh at my efforts.

Here's the video:


And here are a few stills I took from the video:

Hind foot lands flat?
Definitely toe first in the front.
The video isn't the best as far as quality, but when I tried to slow it down to see how her feet were landing, it looked like she was landing toe first in the front and fairly flat with her hind feet.

I'm anxious to hear what everyone else thinks.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More On Hooves

I've been reading and re-reading the comments from my last post and I decided to start another post to address some of the questions and comments rather than replying there. I thought this might encourage more discussion and I can add a few more details. I appreciate the honesty, by the way. Good or bad, I appreciate what everyone has to say.

Similar to the nutrition issues I had this past fall and winter, I'm embarrassed by how little I know about my own horse's hooves. I've had horses for a long time and have always left my horses' well being up to the professionals. Whether it be basic veterinary care, injuries and rehab, or hoof care, I've let them do their job and never really questioned whether things were being done right. I learned my lesson during Lilly's rehab, and now I'm learning another hard lesson about her hooves.

Some more background:
Back in June of 2009, I was heavy into training with Lilly. We were having a super year showing and I was taking dressage lessons to help us progress even more. During this time, the area on Lilly's leg where she had her ligament surgery so many years ago suddenly puffed out.

The bump...
My instructor was complaining that it was because of Lilly's hooves and was extremely adamant that Lilly needed wedge pads in front. I spoke to my farrier about it and he disagreed. I spoke to my vet about it and she disagreed. There was another farrier that came out to the boarding barn and he has a reputation for being one of the best. Unless you're someone special, no, he's not taking new clients. One day when he was there shoeing, I got up the nerve to ask him politely to look at my horse and tell me what he thought. I didn't say anything about the wedge pads, I was just looking to get his opinion about how her hooves looked. He wasn't happy about doing it... I got the impression he didn't want to critique another farrier's work, but he decided he'd take a look. He said, "for what your farrier's got to work with, her feet look fine to me." I'm not even sure what that means...

I started asking around and solicited the opinion of a PBHT II trimmer. She asked me to send her some pictures of Lilly's hooves so she could take a look. Here are a few of the pictures I sent her.

Left front.
Right front.
Left front.
Fronts
You can see how chipped and crappy her feet look in those pictures, but otherwise they look pretty similar to her feet today as far as her heels are concerned.

The PBHT trimmer said she said she wouldn't recommend wedge pads but thought Lilly needed more heel support. She suggested my farrier back up the toes and set the shoes back so that the heels of the shoe are in line with the heel bulbs. She said the growth pattern of her hoof at the heels suggested that her hooves had been growing forward like that for quite some time. She thought her pastern angles looked a little broken back and said fixing those issues might relieve her tendons. (Four months later is when she tore her ICL.)

I mentioned this to my farrier the next time he came out and he said he would put a larger shoe on her foot to give her more heel support. The problem with that is Lilly was already an avid shoe puller, so the larger shoe just ended up causing us more problems. We had the same issue when we put the bar shoe on recently while we tried to grow out that giant hole in her hoof from the giant abscess. She doesn't step on her shoes with her hind feet, she steps on them with her front feet, so rolling the toe to help her break over quicker doesn't help. The bell boots have only been mildly successful as well.

That's part of the reason she's inside during the day at the new barn. The more pasture time she has, the more frequently those shoes get torn off. We're also trying to limit the amount of moisture her hooves are exposed to, so she stays in until the dew dries and if it rains. All this seems to have helped tremendously with her shoe problems. That, and we've put her back in a size 00 shoe.

So I've had other farriers look at my horse, and the PBHT trimmer is the only one who seemed concerned at all. Now that I've done more research, I'm really surprised that my farrier has no ambition to do anything about her under run heels. He never even comments on them when he comes out... just pulls the shoe, trims her hoof, and slaps the shoe back on. From looking at pictures online, I'm simply amazed at how my horse's feet look, and not in a good way.

I found an interesting article on healthyhoof.com with the following picture and description:

The curved "quarters" in the above picture relax and straighten within hours of removing excess length. The downward direction of the lines at the rear of the hoof are telltale signs that the heel is beginning to collapse towards the front, a condition called "under run heel".

Compare that hoof to Lilly's hoof:

Yikes!! I guess they're not just event lines like I originally thought.

So you guys are saying her shoes are too small? The heels of the shoes should be in line with her heel bulbs as the PBHT farrier says rather than way up underneath her hoof as they are now?

And are you guys saying that her heel actually starts here?

And how about on this hoof? Here?

Ugh... I'm so upset. I always wondered deep down if Lilly's feet were the reason for her ligament tear. Granted, she didn't have the best ligaments from the start since they were severed when she was a baby, but her feet looked like this before the tear and I'm sure her already compromised ligaments were strained. I'm sure her hooves contributed to the injury.

I guess before I worry about whether she can go barefoot, I should worry about getting her hooves where they need to be in shoes. Maybe then her transition to barefoot (if we decide to go that route) will go much smoother. Should I chastise my current farrier and tell him to get her hooves where they need to be, or should I look for a new farrier? It would feel strange to me to tell my farrier how he should be trimming and shoeing my horse... I would prefer that he actually did that on his own!

He's very highly recommended by a lot of horsepeople I know, and he apprenticed under one of the best farrier in my area. It's upsetting that he isn't being more proactive with Lilly's hoof care. :(

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Can She Go Barefoot?

She had crappy feet from the beginning... she was doomed.

It's hard to tell in these old pictures of Lilly when she was SUPER CUTE, but she has hooves made out of PVC pipe halves. In addition to her check ligament surgery in September 2000, a mere 5 months after she was born, we had to do hoof reconstruction because her hooves had crumbled to pieces.

Could she be any cuter?
If only I'd had this blog back then... I'd know how long she wore those pipes. They pretty much stayed on until she outgrew them and they were rasped off. I think they used Liquid Nails to glue them on, so there was no getting them off.

Awwwww!!
Very shortly after her surgery.
You can see the puffy spots on her legs where they're still swollen.
I tried to keep her barefoot after the pipes, but after I really started her training, my farrier and I decided she needed to be in shoes or she wasn't going to stay sound. Until that time, she'd been a pasture puff for the most part because I was moving around so much. She knew the basics, but that was about as far as we got. I believe she was four when she got her first pair of real shoes.

I remember being really embarrassed about her feet before the first pair of shoes went on. My farrier would cringe every time he came out to trim her and he practically begged me to let him put shoes on her front feet. I think he regretted his efforts after our first attempt at having her shod... she was having none of it and for the first couple appointments, she was UGLY. On the third or fourth time, I guess he'd had enough and what happened inside my barn was NOT pretty. That was his last time ever touching my horse.

I took my camera with me to the barn today to get some current pictures of her hooves. I cleaned them all up, got the aisle ready, and turned on my camera to find the batter was dead... After kicking myself for not checking that before going out to the barn, I decided to use my iPhone and hope for the best.

The first group of pictures are of her front feet. A lot of the pictures turned out blurry, especially those of the bottoms of her front feet, so these are the best I have so far. I plan on getting some more with an actual camera.

Fronts from the front...
Fronts from the back...
Left side view...
Right side view... (event lines much??)
This second set of shots is of her hind feet. My biggest questions were about how my farrier was trimming these since they're not shod. Most of the pictures turned out blurry, but I'll post these anyway.

Left hind...
Left hind...
Right hind...
Right hind...
I know a lot more now than I did a few months ago, but how do her hooves look to everyone? And is my farrier trimming her like a barefoot trimmer might trim? She's completely sound, even on rocky ground, so she does great barefoot behind. I wonder if she would have an abnormally long/difficult transition period if I pulled her front shoes and tried to go barefoot with her. She had such a rough start where her hooves are concerned, and she was barefoot for about 3 years without a whole lot of success...

Any and all comments are welcome and appreciated even if you say, "OMG! What has he done to her hooves??!!"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Natural Trimmer vs My Farrier?

My farrier came out today to reset Lilly's shoes... he hasn't been out since the last time he was scheduled to come. That makes two appointments in a row where he didn't have to come out in between appointments to put shoes back on! He commented how he likes this barn a lot better than the last one for just that reason.

Waiting on her farrier.
Lilly was a good girl as always and my farrier commented on how good her feet look these days. He always has to clarify that because these are Lilly's hooves, they look amazing. I guess on someone else's horse they wouldn't be such great looking hooves. But for Lilly, they look really good! They've hardly grown at all since the last time he came out, though, so thankfully we're not trying to grow out anymore holes.

I asked him if he thought she could ever be barefoot up front and he pretty much said no way. If I wasn't riding her at all she might be able to be barefoot, but otherwise he doesn't think her hooves would hold up to any amount of work.

Then he asked me if I was thinking about going "all natural on him". After a brief conversation I got the impression that he doesn't think much about the natural hoof crowd...

But now I'm a little confused... is there a difference in a "natural barefoot trim" and a regular old farrier trim? Lilly is not wearing shoes on her hind feet, so would someone calling themselves a natural trimmer trim her hind feet differently than my current farrier? I didn't want to press him on the issue because I wasn't sure I'd get the correct information considering his initial response.

AJ was barefoot all the way around and my farrier never commented about AJ's feet... he just trimmed him, pointed out any issues, and that was it. No accusations of being "all natural" where AJ was concerned, so his reaction about Lilly being barefoot has peaked my interest.

I don't disagree with him about Lilly's hooves... at least not right now. They've made a lot of progress since she was a weanling (which is when all this first started) but I don't know that she'd do well out of shoes. The transition period would be really difficult and I tend to leave well enough alone where Lilly is concerned for obvious reasons. You know, "if it ain't broke don't fix it"... she breaks enough on her own without me helping.

Anyway, if anyone has comments about natural barefoot trims vs farrier barefoot trims, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tail Bags and Heat

It's been a while since I've updated! There's not much to update, though, unfortunately. There have been some changes at work and I've had to cover extra shifts and even a few of the overnight shifts. I don't do well when I have to work all night...

Because of my work schedule, there have been quite a few days where I wasn't able to visit Lilly. On the days I had off this past weekend, the weather did not cooperate and all I could do was visit, but not ride. It's either been way too hot to ride, or the unsettled atmosphere creates some nasty thunderstorms. We're on track for more record temperatures this week, with heat indexes of more than 100 degrees.

There was a small crisis at the barn this past weekend, but thankfully Lilly is ok and I hope I was able to communicate my concerns with the BO without hurting any feelings. Long story short, one day I took off Lilly's tail bag because the new one I just got ripped no less than a week after I bought it. Her tail was sticking out the side so I figured it was pointless to leave it on. The BO's hubby found a spare one in the tack room and put her tail back up for me. The problem was, he tied the tail bag around her tailbone. Luckily it wasn't super tight, but it was definitely too snug and I was terrified that her tail was going to fall off.

I immediately contacted the BO and told her what had happened as nicely as I possibly could. She was almost as upset as I was and apologized profusely. She doesn't use tail bags and didn't check how her husband had tied the bag, so she felt just as much at fault. She said she would talk with her husband about it and I asked them to not worry about Lilly's tail bags at all in the future.

I'm not mad at either of them (not sure how I'd feel if Lilly had no tail, though) because for once someone was trying to do something nice for me. Thankfully Lilly's tail is fine...

Hope everyone is doing well!