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.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not trying to jinx myself but ...

Things are going really well. I feel really confident that we have turned the corner and now are down the final stretch of our journey.

Saturday I took Buttercup for a nice long trail ride in one of our local riding trails. As of Tuesday, she is almost sound on pavement and still feeling really groovy. Here are the pics; you can tell she's had a lot of time to sit in the pasture!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Farrier visit Sept. 4, 2009

Three weeks have flown by since our last farrier visit. At first, she felt great transitioning to barefoot, and then she got very ouchie. But slowly and surely her hooves are getting conditioned.

The last visit we did not apply a lot of the cast. As a result, it came off in a hurry. I lost most of it from the sole by week two, and all of it by today. No biggie since we had rolled her hoof wall back to prevent pressure. But if she wasn't done this week, we may have gotten pressure on it again as it grows down.

We have some heel growth coming in and a few positive looks. I only took pics of her feet without the casts since the casts have a way of bulging up at the toe and making the hoof look distorted anyway.

Front left:

I like the heel growth we are getting here. You can see we still have really rolled the toe back and rolled back on the quarters. The bulge at the toe is really not evident right now, but imagine it going up about halfway up the hoof. That's where we have good growth coming out. Now, if we can just get it to grow down.

I'm not concerned about the crack. I'm not concerned about the crack. I'm not concerned about the crack ... I have had to repeat this a million times to my husband the other day. She was sound with it up until more than a year ago, and she was lame with it. I don't care if it sticks around until Buttercup is in her 30s, so long as she is comfortable and sound. But maybe our new method will encourage it to grow out? I don't know. I'm not concerned with it. I am a little concerned as the hoof does not show very proper symmetrical balance at the cornet band. But as we progress, that will get better. One step at a time.

You can see on this view how wrapped under her heels were and how they are gravitating back toward the bulb. I'm actually pretty happy with this solar view. She is not quite symmetrical, but it is getting there. It is hard to tell from the pic, but she has some concavity (though not much) forming on the sides of the frog and at the apex of the frog. That's a good sign that blood flow is restored and her hoof is starting to rebuild.

Now for the right:

We weren't happy with this hoof going into the trim. The toe seems to be getting away from us, despite her looking pretty nice on the solar view. Her heel is also staying stubbornly wrapped after the quarters. But patience! Time and pressure will bring it around.

She's standing a little wonky in this photo, but this hoof has nice symmetry (especially compared to her left).

Now that's a solar view! We did end up rolling more of the toe hoof wall away after this pic was taken, however. This being the healthier of the two hooves, she exhibits more concavity here and from the last Xrays does have more sole depth. You can also see how her buttresses are starting to work their way back toward the heel bulb and lose that hard angle a few inches down where the heel used to be.

At this point and time, I wish I had a good solar of Buttercup's hooves when they were so badly underrun last year at around this time. Unwrapping the crushed heel and setting it back has taken some time. But we're progressing nicely. Hopefully it will only continue to progress as we are in this new phase of rehab.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Buttercup gets hoofboots

I ordered a pair of hoofboots on an impulse buy. They were used and only $40. I wasn't even sure if they were the right size.

But they seem to fit! Unfortunately, I don't know if they will fit once we put the Equicast back on tomorrow.

I figured I needed hoofboots since she is still slightly sore on the pavement and gravel. I took her for a walk around on the pavement and she seemed much improved, though walking a little awkward with the hoofboot sensation and not quite 100% sound. It will be good to use when we go to the beach and have to walk 1/4 mile on road to get there or go to the mountain and have to walk on hard-pack, rock-laden land.

(Buttercup models how her hooves feel better on pavement with her hoofboots)

According to some sources, it can take six months to a year for a horse to grow a hardened hoof. Although I plan to let her hooves encounter her terrain in their natural form, I plan to use the hoofboots when I need to take her somewhere or ride her over some place that she just isn't ready to do yet.

UPDATE 9/4/09: These hoofboots indeed do not fit. They are too large. However, with Buttercup's extra hoof (Equicast) they fit a lot better and more snugly. If you want to know if your hoofboot fits, consult the manufacturer. If you have EasyBoots, go to this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/user/EasyCareVideos#play/uploads/60/ytY2cgl_RsA

Hoof anatomy

Found a great diagram today to help those of us without professional training to describe parts of the hoof.

Embarrassingly, I did not realize there was a difference between bars and quarters. I am so happy to be corrected!

Quick update: Buttercup is scheduled for her second barefoot trimming and Equicast application tomorrow, so I will have updates. She is sound on everything but pavement right now and moving pretty comfortably, despite tearing off most of her casts in less than two weeks.