Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Atrophied frog

(A healthy frog.)

As evident in last post's pics where Bud's frog completely decompressed under pressure of the frog pad, her frog is likely atrophied. I got to thinking and this is likely the reason why she is sound in the boots (which provide support for this underdeveloped muscle) and takes a while before she gets sore out of the boots.

The frog is a muscle, designed to absorb impact to the hoof. If the muscle isn't properly conditioned, this can become quite painful. Just like when a limb on a human comes out of a cast. It can take quite a while to rebuild the muscle to regain normal function.

Buttercup has been put on isoxsuprine to help build her heels in addition to her hoof boots. In the last few weeks, I feel like I've seen an improvement to the sturdiness of her frog, like it is starting to push back. Now it needs to build up.

Here is what her hooves look like as of a few days ago:



Maybe I'm seeing things, but I like to think we are in a positive direction. I have also purchased some EasyBoot Edge boots for our handwalks. I will put in a soft, green frog pad for those boots to continue to support the frog. I just can't compare these pics to first pic in this post – that's rather depressing!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Game plan for hoof conditioning

I've read some of Pete Ramey lately and have decided to blend my farrier's advice of keeping Buttercup booted with Mr. Ramey's advice to boot and use frog pads to help hooves condition.

Right now, Buttercup is on as much turnout as possible in her Rx EasyBoots with a big green frog pad. When (or if) she comes into her stall, her boots are removed and she is bare in her stall. If I hand walk her, I put her in her used Epic boots with a thick foam pad.

The idea is to stimulate the frog and increase bloodflow to the hoof. We also want to keep her hooves dry and the barn right now is flooded, and likely will be through winter. She has the driest hooves in the barn.

Here's a pic of her Rx boots with frog pads:

Here's what it does to her hooves: (squished, atrophied frog)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

'Tis the season

It will be one year exactly on December 16 that my farrier willingly signed up to not only spearhead Buttercup's rehabilitation, but also deal with one opinionated and annoying owner (me).

To say thanks, I compiled my hoof journal in a spiral bound book at my local Staples. It isn't much, but at least he has a record of her improvement. I printed one out for myself also. Now I can clear up some harddrive space that those pics are eating up!

So that begs the question, with the holidays approaching, what are you going to give your farrier?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Farrier visit Nov. 23, 2009

Buttercup experienced significant pain the day after the chiropractor and I ended up calling my farrier in a week and a half early because I was concerned. She was standing like a severely laminitic horse. Very uncomfortable.

At the time another farrier was out and he suggested putting her on a diet that cuts out starches and sugars (decreasing inflammation) like a horse foundering. We are game to try it because it sounds like that makes sense.

When my farrier came out two days later, he agreed with the assessment, trimmed her like usual, and didn't put either cast back on. So, we are officially 100% barefoot! She is wearing Easyboot RXs for right now, but she was completely sound yesterday after the trim and today (on concrete with or without the boots).

I'm pretty pleased!

Pictures, left:


Friday, November 20, 2009

First chiropractic session

Buttercup had her first chiropractic session ever yesterday.

Good things came out of it. Not only were there lots of popping, cracking, unhappy faces and finally sighs and relaxation, but also
I learned that although she was not a "trainwreck" from having so much wrong for more than a year, she needed the adjustment.

Unfortunately, Buttercup did not like the acupuncture, which lets the muscles around the adjusted bones relax. The chiro said she would try at another visit since Bud was likely well worked over at that point.

Sorry for the snapshots of video. My camcorder's acting up and doesn't want to upload anywhere but the TV.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hoof reconditioning

It isn't simple and straightforward, unfortunately.

After about 12 days of being barefoot on her front right, Buttercup was still incredibly ouchie. Her toe was completely purple from bruising and you could literally squeeze her entire hoof together with both hands and watch it flex.

Our vet happened to be at the barn treating another horse and I asked her about it. She said that likely Bud's hooves can't properly condition themselves because they are too busy responding to the acute pain resulting from the bruising. This made sense to me. After all, this is why horses drop weight when they hurt despite getting fed the same amount. Their energy has to go elsewhere.

The vet suggested I wrap her hoof in the Equicast, but only a few times around to let it wear off quickly and letting the hoof gradually condition as the cast wears away. Luckily, I had purchased a cast when I first considered it a few months back. I had watched the farrier apply it every time, so I felt confident I could do it.

I wore gloves because I know that stuff sticks to you and you can't get it off. First off, the material comes out of the bag and it is rather slippy. I had problems of it slipping and sliding as I tried to wrap it around the hoof on top of itself. I tried to wrap it a bit looser to try to protect the hoof and yet encourage it to do its own thing. It also doesn't harden as fast as I thought it would.

When putting the hoof down, my glove became stuck to it and that was rather funny. After it started to harden and take form, I then walked her around the yard to encourage the cast to really mold to her sole and get rid of bumps and nasties.

It has been over a week since I applied it and it's still on, but wearing down quickly. Buttercup has been sound over most surfaces except for concrete. I'm sure glad I paid attention and could apply that cast to give her temporary relief! Even two days of bute didn't put a dent in her hoof woes. I was applying keratex and turpentine over the week and a half and nothing hardened that hoof.

My hope is that it wears off well before our next farrier visit in early December, and the hoof starts to condition and harden off.

The chiropractor comes out on Friday so I'll have a big post coming! I can't wait to see what's going inside that pony's body.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Neglect hoof video

A fellow horse forum member sent me this video, and as predicted I love it. It's with a donkey rather than a horse, but the farrier is very patient and knowledgeable. It was definitely worth the 10 minutes or so to sit down and watch it.

I particularly love 8:22 where the donkey looks at the farrier with a happy face. He's so adorable.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Farrier visit Oct. 29, 2009

First off, apologies for ugly cell phone pics. I had a very nice camera sitting at home, by the door, where I left it that morning. These will have to do.

Again, I got the before pictures so we can see what the hoof looks like before being messed with. My farrier was quite pleased to get the X-rays, and when we unwrapped the front left, we got a big surprise: even more concavity than the X-ray (a few weeks old now) showed!

The crack is somewhat dirty, but free from infection. The crack past the thicker crack part is mostly just superficial to the wall. If we keep infection out, there should be no reason for it to continue to split and separate.

On the solar view, you can see because the cast has to grip around the angle of the wall, it seems to draw the heel forward as the heel tries to expand. She isn't ready to be without the cast on this hoof, so we just have to make sure that heel is rasped down to prevent it from wrapping under or getting crushed and getting out of control.

Now check this out! Look at that dish:

I didn't get this type of shot on the front left before. But it was never this concave. To kind of show the improvement, here is what the better hoof looked like on Sept. 24:

So it looks like how the right front looked last trim. Very good news if you ask me!

Post trim, it was clear that the front right has never looked better. The hoof is downright beautiful. I'm incredibly tickled that my horse has three "normal" hooves right now!

The solar view on the front right still shows some asymmetry. Because the insides of her hooves are still quite low, this will correct with time. Farrier said this was the closest to balanced as she's ever come:

Because of this hoof's progress, it was not wrapped with the Equicast! So she is officially bare on that hoof. We did not do the same on the front left because of the crack and the hoof wall separation.

Of course the front left is not quite as beautiful as the right hoof, but as the before pics show, they are getting there. Can't even see the separation right now from the lateral view:

Despite all the mechanical problems of this hoof, I like the symmetry we have on the solar view. You can also see where we rasped down the angles of the hoof so the heel isn't encouraged to draw forward with the cast.

This morning, I'm supposed to haul Buttercup to a chiropractic/acupuncture appointment outside of Raleigh (about a 4 hour haul) to help with her body being so out of whack. However, with the cast removed on the right hoof, she may be slightly sore. I have called the vet, and she wants to assess this morning.

Chiropractic work can be undone if the cause of the bones being out of place is not remedied. Kind of disappointing, but we'll eventually get the work done if we can't get it done today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Photo day

Since I've only been hand walking, massaging and stretching Buttercup these last few weeks, I broke up the monotony yesterday by doing a photo shoot. Naturally, Bud was much more interested in carrots than pictures, but we got a few nice ones.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One year later with new X-rays

I can't believe it's been a year since Buttercup's hoof rehab began. It was Oct. 13, 2008, when I finally sought advice on the internet and acknowledged that something was horribly wrong with my horse.

One of the first things I did was get X-rays so the farrier and the vet could assess the damage. You can never tell the true extent of hoof damage without X-rays. If something is off about your horse's hooves, it pays to get these done. And don't make excuses! My vet charges a pretty penny for antiquated film X-rays. Sure, I want lessons and to keep riding with my horse in rehab, but priorities are key. Bottom line: you need them.

The last few weeks I have really worked to educate myself further on the subject of inside the horse's hoof, and before I give you the X-rays, I want to share information on the internal structure. That way, we can all be on the same page. I'm also reading up a lot on massage, myofasial and stretching techniques, but that's another post for another day.

So let's take a look inside that hoof:

(snagged from a google search/ azequinerescue.org)

Essentially, there are three main internal parts: P1 (P for Phalanx), P2 and P3. P1 is proximal phalanx or pastern, P2 is middle phalanx (P1 and 2 a joint above the coronary band) and P3 is the pedal or coffin bone. And underneath P2 and behind P3 is navicular (the bone of the dreaded Navicular Disease).

This is Buttercup's front right from October 2008. Unfortunately, my picture of this film X-ray has cut off the P1 a bit and reduced the quality. The nail seen in the photo marks the top of the coronary band, and it kind of follows the outer hoof wall. However, most vets nowadays use a glue that shows up on X-rays that follows the hoof wall better than a static nail.

Remember, this hoof suffered the least amount of damage during the poor farrier work. But you can already see a "lipping" at the tip of the pedal bone. As it has been explained to me, this is from lack of blood flow and the bone starting to alter.

The pedal bone has not begun to sunk yet, but it looks like it's thinking about it given the lack of blood flow. Also, note how far back inside the hoof is the head of the P3 and how flat the hoof looks.

Not incredibly amounts of damage, but no good omens either. This hoof was in dire need of change since nothing good could happen in its current condition.

One year later:

The most obvious change is lack of shoe, but that's really secondary to all the changes we see. 1) the top P3 is in better relation to the front of the hoof; 2) There is no "sunken" look to this pedal bone; and 3) although the sole depth is minimum, there is visible concavity to the hoof. Please notice how the tip of the pedal (P3) bone is permanently scarred. Although we are pretty certain that blood flow has been restored, Buttercup's skeleton has been altered from the ordeal.

Now onto the more extreme:

In the left front, the P3 is definitely more sunken than the right front. When the coffin/pedal bone sinks, this is called "rotation." Although this X-ray does not show an extreme rotation, it is about 1-2 degrees of rotation. Like the front right but with more damage, the tip of the coffin bone has been lipped from lack of blood flow. The sole is flat and this hoof is down right ugly.

Here's how it looks today:

Even to the uneducated eye, changes are apparent. Many of the changes are similar to the changes on the right hoof, only more visible since this hoof altered so much (for bad and good). It no longer appears "sunken" and concavity is forming in the sole. These are great signs for returned blood flow. Of course, the pedal bone will remain scarred.

With a lot of positives these past few months, we are now ready to address the rest of Buttercup's body. Her hoof problems have relayed throughout her body to create other changes in her body. Think about limping around for a few hours. Your other leg will begin to hurt, and so will your back. The same is true for a quadruped.

I actually stopped riding her Oct. 3, because 1) the move to her new barn caused her hooves to go through a reconditioning process, making her sensitive for a week or so, and 2) I realized her lack of cadence was not from being out of condition, but from changes to her skeletal and muscular system in response to her hoof problems over the last year and half.

Here is a picture of her moving out of cadence, which I think is the direct result of the hoof issues:

I made a calculated risk when I brought her back into work in August. I misjudged the severity of the damage to the body.

When the vet was out for X-rays a week back, I had her assess Buttercup's overall body. Her 7th neck bone (C7) is out and she has several ribs out, in addition to being very tight and sore over her withers and the lumbar area.

To address these issues, I have been doing my best to learn massage and proper stretching with Equine Massage: A practical guide, and I scheduled an appointment for Oct. 30 with a chiropractor who also performs acupuncture. Although the bones need to be reset, her muscle memory and tightness may pull them back to where they were, the acupuncture, stretching and massage will hopefully prevent that from happening.

Then, beginning with light work and progressing nicely, new muscle memory will be formed to keep her bones in place. If something pops out again, we will have to have another session.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Farrier visit Sept. 24, 2009

It has been nearly a week since our last farrier visit and I apologize for not updating the blog sooner. *insert excuses here*

Several days before the farrier showed up, Buttercup started experiencing discomfort when rolling over her front left. I assumed – later confirmed by the farrier – that her hoof wall had grown down and the lip was touching the ground, creating that bamboo up the fingernail bed feeling when she trotted on a circle.

With the trimming and new casts, she's again 100%.

OK, so today we'll do something a little different, I'm going to show her hooves before and after the trimming. At the end of the post, you'll also see some neat, gross pics of us excavating the crack in the front left.

Here she is unwrapped and ready for trimming:

You can still see the separation is a big problem on the lateral views, but it is growing out some. Notice the flaring at the quarters.

This is the front left, notice how asymmetrical it is. This is partly due to the shoe a few months ago ripping off the inside quarter, so that side is building from scratch.

Front right. The toe wall isn't experiencing as much separation as the sides of the hoof. This hoof is almost normal. Will and I were just tickled about it.

Here's something neat about the going barefoot process: we're getting concavity to a previously flat-footed horse. This pic shows that she is getting sole growth and concavity in all the right places. This means she has probably completely restored bloodflow to the hoof.

Now for the freshly trimmed pics.

Can you believe that's the front left! Wow, it's come a long way.

Now that we have addressed balance and the failing hoof wall, our attention has turned to the ugly crack that I have worked so hard to forget about. It wasn't a pressing issue, as I've mentioned before, since she was sound before with the crack.

Anyway, for three years it has attracted all sorts of infection and I've battled to keep it down. (Note to self: buy stock in concentrated Lysol products.) But now that we are trying to grow a healthy, attached hoof wall, that ole crack has come to the forefront of our rehabbing process yet again.

Will decided to excavate it completely, clear out all the goopy black stuff and then treat it and seal it with bond before closing it up in the Equicast. This is the third (fourth?) time since the crack appeared that it has been excavated. The previous attempts failed at growing the crack out, but this will be the first time she doesn't have any pressure on the hoof wall or nails from shoes further weakening the hoof wall.

About a tablespoon of that nasty black stuff came out. Pure infection. One of the down sides of the Equicast is that my soaking has not been effective in clearing infection once it is already in there.

The above pic is really kind of neat. Apparently, the separation is not as bad as it looks, as she has a really thick hoof wall.

All clean:

With bondo:

Looks almost normal, huh?

Buttercup is now going into her workouts with hoof boots and splint boots. The hoof boots will prevent the Equicast from wearing away quickly, and the splint boots will help support her tendons and such. She popped three splints in the first weeks of being barefoot. Not from a bunch of work, but from play. So we are going to be extra cautious about her leg welfare from here on out.