Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Getting another farrier's advice

I'll say this up front: I love my current farrier. He may not be perfect, but he's an honest, hardworking man who has a fair amount of intelligence, especially when it comes to hooves.

But ... I cheated on him.

Don't worry. He knows about it.

Due to family problems, he wasn't able to come out and explore Buttercup's abscess this week. Another farrier was in the area, and he was able to fit me into his schedule. Of course, she was completely sound with no signs of lameness when he came out yesterday.

Nonetheless, I took time to probe him. I like getting second opinions. If my arm was sheared off at the elbow, I'd get another doctor to come in to confirm that my arm was indeed sheared off at the elbow.

I called a farrier near me and what I described of my horse interested him. He had never seen an abscess scar a horse's cornet band to the point of splaying a hoof (he's been in the biz for more than 30 years) and it stay splayed for nearly three years. He also was curious about why she was so acutely lame.

Without a lame horse, all we could do was guess why the lameness occurred. It couldn't be a hot nail, because she would have gotten progressively worse. It could have been an abscess, but there was no exit point. Maybe she had a touch of tendinitis because there was swelling in both front legs?

While he was there, he discovered that Bud has rather weak soles and said adding turpentine to her hoof regiment will help toughen it up.

I asked him if her hooves were balanced, got an affirmative response.

I asked about what he thought of her hooves at this point and time.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked. I tried to rephrase.

"They look fine. Look, you want a perfect shoeing or trim, give your farrier a perfect hoof. Never seen a perfect hoof? Well, neither have I."

He was actually impressed that an abscess was the root cause of scarring her cornet band. He'd said it was so rare, he never saw anything like it before and didn't know it could happen.

Remember what I said about farrier work being an art, not a science. Without prompting, I got a long dialog from him about the artistry of hooves.

"Farriers are more like sculptor – an artist. They got to see the correct hoof underneath the poor hoof and figure out a way to make it come out of there."

Looks like Buttercup is sound and I got some new advice. A good day, all and all.

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