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/

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.