Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What will 2011 bring?

I helped Scott trim Jaeger for the second time Dec. 11 and then the following Saturday, Dec. 18, went out to see Buttercup as he trimmed her. I didn't get my rasp on her hooves yet, but Scott explained some things in more detail to help me understand what's going on.

Unfortunately, both times it was pouring down rain and I did not get pictures. So since I'm slack, I figured I would talk New Year's resolutions.

My two biggies:
• No more laminitic episodes
• Get my own property

Pretty tall orders for 2011 to deliver. I feel like we have managed Bud's laminitis very well the past seven months, so if we keep our stringent routine of diet and hoofcare, we shouldn't relapse.

As far as property goes, Buttercup's care is very intensive. We're facing a move in 2011 (military) and I think her boarding costs are quickly going to add up to a second mortgage payment. So it would be cheaper for us the rent or buy property and provide care for her.

What are your 2011 resolutions for hoofcare/horsecare?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Buttercup's Nov. 16, 2010, trim

I didn't go to the beach Sunday, so that meant I could go out to see Buttercup and take pics of her new duds. 

Traveling an hour to go see her has gotten a lot easier now that I have a brand-new car that gets great gas mileage! Readers should be happy to know that Buttercup's visitations are taxing the environment less. 

To start, I'd like to talk about the above picture of Bud. It seems that as her hooves improve each time, I can see more and more of her "old" personality back. There used to be a time when she was curious but slightly bratty and always game. As her hooves deteriorated over time (I think this deterioration started back in 2007), that personality turned into bitchy and aloof. Since she was aging and maturing, it was hard to realize this was a sign of an unhappy, uncomfortable horse. I'm happy to have the old Bud back. Sure she's still bratty, but I love her anyway. 

Also related to that very cute photo of Bud, I went to a Claudia Garner hoof care clinic not too long ago, and one of the things Mrs. Garner spoke of during the clinic was removing stress from the recovering horse. I think bringing Buttercup to Lisa's has done just that. Here, in a two-horse herd, Buttercup doesn't have to constantly fret about what position she is or who's the boss of whom. She can relax. And I think that's made a world of difference in her hooves. (Check out that link to Claudia Garner; she's got some great information and does photo consultations!) 

Scott seemed excited after this trim, and after seeing it I can see why. Yes, Bud has a long way to go yet in her recovery, but she's starting to show steady improvement. Her separation is very close to growing out and I'm hoping by Dec. 18 trim she will get rid of the last of it.

And here you can see the new epoxy solution in the crack. I assume it extended all the way down the crack to the toe, but must have lost the bit at the toe since it was applied.

Looking at the front shots of both hooves, it is easy for me to get dismayed. They show a lot of imbalance in the hoof. On Dec. 18, I plan to ask what the course of action will be with that because I don't know why it is taking so long to get that portion balanced when everything else is looking so positive. It appears that she is always loading the inside of her hoof and the outside of the hoof is just going more to the outside. It isn't pretty, that's for sure. 

I'm very happy about the frogs and heels. I swear, Bud's hooves have increased by about 20% in size due to the expansion of her hoof. They feel and look substantial in person. 

I'm very excited to get my own hands on them so I can get a better understanding of Scott's vision during the Dec. 18 trim and trim lesson! Hopefully this will give me much better insight  into her hooves.

Even though I've been diligent in asking questions, I think getting the hands-on experience will be extremely informative. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Taking the rasp into your own hands

I'm starting this special post with a strong opinion of mine: having a little bit of hoof knowledge is like a college student in a psych 101 class. Yes, you may have a good grasp on the information, but odds are you can do more harm then good. I do not advocate EVER for a laymen to pick up a hoof rasp and to just start doing his horses hooves. However, I do advocate the laymen educate himself on hoofcare by using a hoofcare professional as a mentor.

The above picture is of my tools. Surprise! I've asked Scott to show me how to maintain a trim on Buttercup so that the next time we move I won't be desperate for a hoofcare professional and end up with the wrong guy (again). We are moving sometime next year, so figured I would step on it.

Those of you wanting to do this with your hoofcare professional: please keep in mind that he or she is likely very busy (I've yet to meet a farrier or trimmer who has a lot of time to kill). Offer to pay him or her for his or her time. This will also show that you are serious.

In addition to this offer, pick up your own tools to mess up. I bought two, used hoofknifes and one very nice rasp for $38. Not a bad deal.

Now, why is it important for the horse owner to learn how to maintain a basic trim on a horse? Well, for one, you'll gain some sympathy for your hoofcare professional. You get farted on, stepped on, yanked away from, nibbled on and much more while trying to trim a horse ... and that's usually the not-so-bad ones! Secondly, it will broaden your understanding of the hoof if you know what your hoofcare professional is doing to it. And thirdly, you will be able to maintain your horse's hoof in a pinch, like in case the hoofcare professional is out of work or whatever.

Yet another disclaimer: please do not ask your hoofcare professional to show you how to trim and then go off and start up your own hoofcare business. Not only is that extremely rude, but it is also not how you gain true hoofcare knowledge. If after you learn to trim and handle the tools, you decide you want to embark on a career, there are plenty of schools available to you to suit your needs.

OK, now that is out of the way.

Yesterday was my first hoof trimming lesson with Scott! We used Jaeger, a 4-year-old Appendix. He's my leased horse and is doing lower level dressage at the moment.

Now I'm going to use the term "we" here like I have in the past, only we means that I helped out in the paring and rasping too. I felt like a monkey most of the time, and Scott said most of this is learning how to manipulate the tools. He told me to get back to him after I did 20 horses. I laughed but I don't think he was joking.

This was Jaeger's first trim with Scott. I have pictures from a few weeks ago to show his before and afters. I'm showing the before so that you can see what Scott and I saw, and what Scott gleaned from just looking at the hoof.

Now to me, there isn't much of a story to tell here besides some separation. But to Scott, this picture with the sharp curve on the sides of the coronary band meant extra pressure on the quarters, which in turn meant sloppy bars (I had a post on bars earlier this year).

We turn the hoof over and here's what we see (approximately):

The first order of business was to take the bars back to where they should be. We also worked on opening up the collateral groove (next to the frog) so that we could see the depth of that groove. That tells us how far in and how balanced the coffin bone is. If both sides of the collateral groove show the same depth, then our coffin bone is balanced. If not, then we have an imbalance.

We also opened up the frog so that flaps weren't inviting infection into the collateral groove or into that crease at the heel. Scott said this horse has a contracted heel due to the quarters taking all the weight and not letting him comfortably land on his heel. Another issue contributing to this horse's contracted heels was a beveled roll all the way around. Although the beveled roll is great at preventing separation from toe to quarter, the heel needs to have a flat rasp to it so it can properly flex.

OK so here's my first ever trim! Now I probably only did about 20% of what you see, but I'm still proud of myself.

We started from the solar view first, using the hoofknife to put the bars where they needed to be and the seatcorn where that needed to be. Then we rasped at a 180° angle the heel. I believe Scott even gave it a slight backwards bevel toward the heel bulb. He called it a "heel bevel," which is not to be confused with the bevel from quarters to toe (it allows for lateral expansion of the heel). And then we gave a 45° bevel from the quarters to the toe to about the waterline on the hoof. Scott then took the quarters down slightly so that the hoof would distribute weight equally over heel, quarters, toe.

On the first pic, you can tell he didn't take the rightside bar back completely. He said "baby steps" about that one. Experience, I guess, will tell you when to take and when to leave.

Front left:

Front right:

I'm amazed how the curve in his coronary band was nearly gone by the time we fixed up the solars. We then propped up the hooves on a hoofstand and did the fine rasp side to get rid of any hooks or crannies or anything that would go against the 45° angle we established on the bevel. We only went up about 3/4 of an inch up the hoofwall, anymore and you're just thinning the hoofwall, Scott said.

Back left:

Back right:

I learned a lot yesterday. Some of it was very over-arching of horsemanship: patience and getting out of the horse's way when they do something stupid. A lot of it though was about putting the trim to use and working with the horse's hoof. And much of it was learning that tool manipulation is a lot harder than it looks (let the rasp work for you! Use leverage on the hoofknife!).

It's a lot easier than it looks, and I never thought it was easy! My next trim lesson is Dec. 18, and it'll be with Buttercup. I can't wait.

Oh and I got the inside scoop on what Scott did to her hoof last time. He cleaned out her crack and used a new type of epoxy to fill it in to try to help strengthen that part of the hoofwall. I was hoping to get out there today but I'm going on a beach ride in a little bit and I don't think that will be in the cards.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sneak peak from Nov. 17 trim!

I know! It's a tease! I just got this from Buttercup's caretaker Lisa, so I don't have all the information. But from what I can tell from the photo, it looks like Scott removed the cracked horn down to healthy horn and also gave her a much more aggressive bevel/roll to get rid of the last of the separation.

Also, I will have a treat after Saturday for the blog. I'm getting hands on with the information I've learned over the last few years. But that's all I'm saying for now! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

The crack

The crack remains ugly, and I think I mentioned I don't think it will ever go away. I think the scar at her coronary band causes the hoofwall to grow in too weak to withhold the expansion/contraction of a healthy hoof. But so long as it is attached to the lamina, I'm happy. And so far it is growing out that way:

This last pic illustrates the attached crack down to the detached crack. Luckily, even the detached, wider part of the crack isn't extremely flared off the lamina. 

Her hooves are at five weeks here and she's getting done on Wednesday, so the flaring is very apparent right now. 

And new side shots:

Can you believe that this horse is on mostly coastal hay, just a handful or two of WellSolve L/S and her SmartPak EZ Keeper grass balancer? She's looking good! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Midway update on Bud

(Buttercup makes the sweetest faces)
Wow so having Buttercup an hour away is much more complicated now. Her next trim will be Nov. 17, and I won't be able to be there since it is a Wednesday and a girl's gotta work.

So I decided to take pictures of her hooves this weekend to show how they transform over the weeks between trims. I have touched up her bars and her toes in these pics to prevent some separation issues that were trying to form, but overall I'm quite pleased how they look in between.

I think it is really important to be on a four-week or less schedule. Otherwise you are jumping between too short and too long, and always have hooves in transition. At four weeks, you can really keep the hoof from abrupt transitions. That's important for long-term soundness.
Front left:

Front right:

Solar, right: (excuse the gunk, I couldn't find a wire brush at the barn to clean her up)

Solar, left:

Notice I really "squared" the toe here. I was concerned that she would get additional torque on that crack while waiting for Scott to come out and trim her in a few weeks. 

Ideally, the hoofwall all the way around these soles would be brought back to a tight line against the soles; you can see from the pics that separation is still very much apparent.

Here is a tighter hoofwall against the sole to compare (from Sept. 4):

And we are getting quite a bit more concavity in the hooves. I still kick myself every time I think about what the farriers told me when Buttercup was three and four years old: "This horse is genetically flat footed and she'll never develop concavity. She'll also be uncomfortable outside of shoes." Now she's turning into a veritable, barefoot rock crusher even with her hooves still in transition! 

To compare, from Sept. 4:

And September 2009:

It isn't a significant change over the last year, but it's something. She'll never have true "rock crushing" hooves. But she can develop concavity and she can be fine over 90% of surfaces barefoot, even with her softer, inferior hooves. 

Hope to get pictures of her new trim the weekend of Nov. 19! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Trimmer visit Oct. 12, 2010

I wasn't able to grab pictures until this weekend so there was a long delay for this post!

And wouldn't you know it? I forgot solar shots. But I was slightly distracted:

Yep! I snuck a ride on the vaca-diva herself. After some acrobatics on the lunge, she begrudgingly indulged me in a little tour of her dry lot. 

I will likely try to do some more groundwork with her when I see her, and perhaps go out on trail around the property for a short ride in the future. 

While she has been sound since June, she needs some chiropractic work before she comes out of vacation in February. I could feel her just muscled wrongly. 

OK, hoof photos! Been a long time coming this time around! 

What I really like is the angle we've been keeping. You can see we've gotten less aggressive with rolling up the hoof wall as the separation has grown down, too. They actually look like real, honest-to-goodness hooves.

Bud's heel foundation is looking very strong. Her hooves just look fantastic in person. I love holding them in my hand. 

The evident separation is much more apparent on the front left with the huge dietary rings and flares. I'm hoping we have less than three months left on all that separation. The crack — which I also failed at getting a pic of — is still evident from the coronary band on down, but the place where it detaches from the lamina is growing down with great gusto. I think it looks more open to me but I can't compare pictures so that could just be me fretting over it. If it is more open, I think that's from the delay in trimming we experienced because of the floods. 

Something that I don't like about this trim — and I will have to mention to Scott — is the pointed quarters. I worry that can upset the balance we've been trying to establish and that it may encourage the heels to draw forward again.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flooding delayed trim

We had some epic rains here in eastern North Carolina last week, washing out many roads. Unfortunately Scott was unable to make it up here without tacking on an extra three hours to his already exhaustive trip up here.

The vet saw Buttercup yesterday for her fall shots/coggins, and reported that she is in great health, her hooves look fantastic and she's a little snot. Well, the last part is a given. The diva has been on vacation so long now, she's bound to make lots more demands. Boy is she going to have a rude awakening in February! 

Hopefully her hooves will get done Monday or Tuesday of next week, but things are still up in the air. 

Stay tuned! I promise more hoof pics ... eventually!

That brings up an interesting point though. I've had this happen before under different circumstances where the farrier simply couldn't make it to the appointment. One had me wait nearly two and half weeks! 

What do you do in that situation?

Typically if I love my farrier, I will wait, even at my horse's expense. I learned my lesson a long time ago when this happened and I figured "What the heck, this farrier here won't do any harm." Wrong. He completely undid my farrier's hard work. I'd rather her be uncomfortable for a few days than have to rework the balance in her hoof, if we have the choice. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Trimmer visit Sept. 4, 2010

I think the main story here is concavity. Unfortunately, the update isn't huge since two weeks is not a lot of time to grow a lot of change. But you can still see a lot of positive in these pics!



Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hurricane preparedness

So it isn't hoof related and, in fact, not really related to Buttercup, but I thought I'd post some of my suggestions on what to do in the event you live close enough to the coast to have your horses threatened at some point by one of these bad boys (or girls, depending on the name they get!). 

Hurricane Earl is skipping his way parallel to the East Coast right now, so I guess this is timely.

Here is a great resource for those in North Carolina (even if you don't live in the state it has good information):

Hurricanes are like those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Every choice you make has a consequence, and regardless it is going to be somewhat eventful (and probably not in a good way but in the way of you being super annoyed, sweaty, wet or just plain miserable).

I like to think that Bud and I are veterans when it comes to hurricanes, and I hope I have good information to share. 

So like a CYOA story, you are faced with your first decision:
1. Turn to page X, if you decide to stay and wait out the hurricane.
2. Turn to page Y, if you decide to evacuate.

This decision must be made 48 hours before landfall, as far as I'm concerned. 24 or 12 hours before hand is simply too late. My rule for evacuation is this: I'd rather look silly and waste my time than put my life or my horse's life at risk. 

I have not had to evacuate Buttercup ever (now that I said that I will probably have to soon), but my other rule of evacuation is this: Category 4 and 5 with landfall within 100 miles means go time, now.

Page X
So you've decided to stay and wait out the hurricane. Here's some things you should know: it's going to suck. Even a brush-by will suck and require some sort of preparation.

Here is a list of what you need:
1. Proper fitting halters
2. ID tags for halter (I like dog tags from Petsmart)
3. Orange spray paint
4. Flymasks

Know your area. 

Does it flood? Keep the horses out of any structure if it is prone to flooding. And cut electricity. Last thing you want is to come back to barbecued horses in the pasture.

How is your barn built? If it is cinderblocked or cemented into the ground, you may be OK keeping the horse in unless you're getting sustained winds of more than 100 mph.

Debris is also your enemy. Clean up the barnyard, pastures, whatever. Be proactive. You'll be amazed at what flies in even 30 mph winds. Impalements are common when it comes to high winds and debris.

So now you're at another crossroad, but the solution is the same. Keep the horses in, put the halters, IDs and flymasks on. Put them out in the pasture, same deal.

What's up with the orange spray paint, you may ask? Oh, well sometimes halters break and you lose your ID tags. If the barn tears down or a tree falls on a pasture fence, and the horses break free, you're depending on a scrap of leather and your horse's lack of getting into trouble to bring him back home. So if it's gonna be a bad hurricane, spray paint a contact number on the side of your horse. Yes, it really sucks to clean up. But getting your horse back to care for him takes priority over cleaning issues. 

Page Y
Congratulations! You're about to embark on one of the most frustrating experiences of hurricanes, where you may instantly regret risking your life because of the mounting inconvenience. There are horrendous traffic and price gougers and much more nipping at your wallet and your sanity. 

But, this is often the safest option for your critters and yourself. Better to evacuate and look silly and be super annoyed, than be trying to reach the guy with the backhoe, if you get what I'm saying. Hurricanes are really serious, and I hope my post — though slightly fun — can at least convey that message. 

Your state extension office will have a list of evacuation sites. Call them and they will give them to you. Most will be free, but you need to bring shavings and feed (7-days worth) and vet records. 

Since you are leaving 48 hours before the storm, you won't have to worry about hauling in horrible weather. Please do not leave 12 hours before the storm. The odds of you having to ride it out in your truck (and your horse in the trailer) are too great. And just one huge wind gust can imperil your travels. It's your call to do it 24 hours before a storm. I personally wouldn't do it because of the traffic and shelter situation, but I'm not stopping you. 

Pack like you're going overnight camping or overnight horse show for this. I'm going to leave it to you to know how to pack for a trip. But remember, you could be there longer than a few days depending on damage. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Trimmer visit Aug. 21, 2010

Hello from vacation!

Buttercup's farrier came out yesterday and the visit yielded positive results and positive comments. First off, these last four weeks were completely laminitic free under the vigilant eye of Bud's caretaker. Second, because of that all the growth we got was with healthy lamina and no detachment of lamina. Third, Buttercup's hooves seem to be trying to mold themselves into a healthier entity.

We have about three or four months before the rest of the separation grows out. Such good news!

Because the separation is so apparent in the front left and that's our problem hoof, I'm going to start with that:

The one unfortunate thing about Buttercup's station vacation is the lack of concrete for me to take some nice level pics. But we'll cope. The separation in this side view really isn't that bad. Scott has been really vigilant in her trims to keep her from getting any torque on that hoof as the hoof wall grows down.

Last trim, Scott decided to "test" the hoof bars to see if they wanted to hold up her hoof or not. They decided to try and create some extra support for her instead of laying down. So, he trimmed them again to see if they'd continue their supportive role. They are also straightening up.

Take a look at the overall balance on that hoof. Starting from the angles of the wall being even with each other and the wall being even throughout the hoof. You can't really tell from the pic but the toe callous has also started to extend from just the tip of the sole to around to almost the quarters. This is important to provide her some cushion and also shows that she is developing more concavity in the sole.

Anyway, really happy with how quickly we are making progress. Scott fingered proper trim and proper nutrition (and really that proper nutrition is the No. 1 culprit to the positive growth we've seen).

So how about that crack?

This pic really shows the separation. You can see it on the sides of the hoof wall, where it starts straight down from the coronary band and then angles out to the side. That also correlates to where the crack begins to open up. If we can keep her hoof tight for the next three to four months, that crack may be just an ugly memory. Scott thinks that while the crack may go away, the scar will likely remain and the hoof will have a ridge and distortion from the scar at the coronary band.

And now onto the pride and joy, the right hoof:

This hoof has really balanced out over the last few trims. Whereas it wasn't bad before the summer, it just wasn't "balanced" and it seemed slow in getting to that point. But it has made a lot of improvement.

And I'll end this post with how Buttercup spends her nights while on vacation (with a very handsome thoroughbred named Moment, oooh la-la!):