Sunday, August 16, 2009

First day being barefoot

Before I forget to post, here are the lateral view pics. I really like the balance that I see:

Front view:

And for those curious as to what the underside looks like:

Now the transition to barefoot isn't all fun and games. She moved really nicely yesterday, but her under-conditioned hooves are now no longer feeling quite so good after 24-hours of full pressure.

According to the barefooter who helped us, I can ride as soon as she's moving comfortably. She is sound right now, but not moving comfortably. She's freer in her shoulders, but a little hesitant with her front feet.

Here are some pics I took today in the round pen. Notice that in some of the pictures, she is very obviously not landing heel first up front:

Saturday, August 15, 2009


(Buttercup models her new bridle earlier today)

Sometimes, you have to take a giant leap of faith.

Since March, Buttercup has exhibited a balanced hoof. We've got some heel growth going, and she is moving pretty nicely.

Unfortunately, in the last few months, we've plateaued. That happens in rehab, and that's OK. But sometimes you have to re-evaluate and see if you need to do anything differently.

The big issue was that we couldn't keep her hoof wall from separating from the laminae. The laminae was already badly damaged from last year, and even with the new re-balance on the hoof, we were fighting a losing battle with the hoof wall continuing to tear away.

Now, I read a lot of resources on the Internet and try to inform myself as best as possible, but I want to remind you to be careful about that. As much good information that is out there on the Internet, there's a lot more crap.

My farrier and I kept discussing the hoof wall issues and we just couldn't seem to take it under control. In my research, I came across Equicast. I read some more about it on farrier forums and at the site, and finally called the creator, Dave Richards. After a brief conversation, I felt this product could work.

There are many cast products out there to help hooves. However, Equicast is a little bit harder and supportive, from what I understand. I talked it over with my farrier, and we got together with a barefooter in our area to help us understand the application of the product.

(My farrier and the barefooter discuss the product and talk about its application this morning)

This is where selecting the right farrier comes into play. My farrier is wonderful and hungry for learning. He not only has an excellent grasp on hoofcare, he also keeps an open mind for new information. Inviting out the barefooter might have hurt another farrier's ego. But not Will. Will kept his ears open, and what he heard, he liked.

For those who are curious, here is a product description of Equicast from the Web site:

Newton’s third law of physics (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) helps explains how and why we need to address the hoof wall. When the foundation (hoof wall) is not strong enough, or the hoof capsule is not placed in the center of the bony column, failure is inevitable.

Essentially, the cast acts as the horse's hoof wall and holds the hoof together. 

Now, at first, we thought we would trim the hoof like we were about to shoe it, then apply the Equicast, and then tack on the shoe. It is one of the recommended methods for using the cast.

However, the barefooter evaluated her hoof and said the separation is so great, we should go without the shoe and leave the laminae and hoof wall alone by not driving nails into it. 

Here's a pic of the separation we were getting after three weeks of being shod after pulling the shoe:

Look at the sole (the lighter color) and see where it ends at the toe. Then see that dark stuff? That's her hoof wall separating from the sole. There shouldn't be that much space between them. What was happening, according to my farrier, was that we'd get the hoof wall nice with the sole and then over the course of the shoeing, the hoofwall would just grow around the shoe. 

Talk about bamboo torture. Can you imagine something slowly peeling back your fingernail?

First, we had to trim the hoof. Will rolled the hoof wall so that Bud would essentially be using her entire hoof the walk on and the hoof wall couldn't find an excuse to tear away. 

After the trim, the barefooter and Will sanded the outside of her hoof roughly so it could be grippier for the Equicast. Then, came the tricky part.

Equicast dries very hard in a matter of minutes of opening the package. You open, wrap up the hoof, place the hoof in water, then take the hoof out and place it on a pad with sand (so that it doesn't stick to pad), and then smooth any bumps.

After a few minutes, you remove any bumps on the sole and any flares with a hoof knife. 

(Will sands Buttercup's hoof before applying the Equicast)

Here are some pics of the final product:

Then, we were ready for the true test. Would she be in pain? She certainly didn't seem ouchie, and the fact that we didn't drive nails into her laminae should make her more comfortable. But the proof is in the pudding:

Walking five minutes after application

 Trotting about a half hour after application

Well, I'm sold! We aren't sure if we'll keep her barefoot after the Equicast has served its purpose, but I know I love this product. I hope I get to ride tomorrow so I can report back on if it makes a difference under saddle. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Frustrations mount

I tend to gloss over my every-day frustrations with hoof rehabbing, and maybe that makes my blog a little misleading.

Hoof rehabbing is incredibly frustrating. You make very little progress over months, and within seconds it can all be undone by a shoe getting ripped off or some other phenomenon.

I've posted on here about Buttercup losing shoes or having loose shoes, but probably not as often as it happens. We are at a critical stage in rehabbing during the summertime when nails loosen out of the hoof regularly without having hoof problems to add to it. Having some of her hoof still missing from where she ripped her shoe off a few months ago is not helping.

Bud was last done July 23. She lost nearly a week of riding time because she was incredibly sore (we think an infection flared up in her laminae to contribute to this). I was able to ride until Saturday, which meant about one week window of riding. What happened Saturday? She got sunburnt all over her back.

OK, no problem. We have a clinic scheduled for this Saturday, so I just worked her in the roundpen Sunday and Monday. By Tuesday, her sunburn was healed. Before hopping on to ride, I checked her shoes ... loose shoe on the front left.

So, no ride. No clinic. Nothing.

Being frustrated stems from two things: 1) I'm mad as heck at myself for letting her hooves deteriorate in the first place, and 2) I'm extremely selfish and darnit if I don't want to ride. But, there's nothing I can do about that.

What do you do when you encounter setbacks? I've decided to immerse myself in arduous exercise. Release some endorphins, sweat a lot, and forget for a little bit that I'm a screw-up and am missing riding days.

Last night, when I came home, instead of crying or re-directing my anger at my husband, I got on the treadmill for 40 minutes. It felt great.

On a positive note, Buttercup will be trying Equicast when she gets her shoe tacked back on. It is supposed to hold the hoofwall in place to allow the lamina to be able to reattach itself to the hoofwall – exactly what we need! I bet it will help with the loose shoes to boot! (I plan a post on this at a later date.)

In the meantime, I'm just going to have to take this lesson in patience and grow from it.