Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hooves and genetics / Frustrations

There have been a few things random people have told me over the past two years of dealing with Buttercup's hoof problems.

1. Get rid of her
2. Breed her while you wait

OK, to address the first one, no. I will not just trash a horse because I failed to keep up with her hoof care. This is my problem, not her problem. I don't care if it takes 10 years, but I'm going to fix it and make her healthy again. Not only would it be unfair to her, but it would also be unfair to her future owner (provided anyone would actually take her). Now I did briefly contemplate the idea of euthanizing her, but that is a last ditch effort and, now, no where near the realm of possibility (thank goodness).

So let's take a look at No. 2. Wow. First off, let's just discount the fact that she'd be bearing more weight on unbalanced hooves. Now, as much as I love my mare, she's hardly breeding worthy. She's not a conformational trainwreck but she isn't going to compete beyond the lower levels at any sport. And whereas I absolutely adore her attitude, I realize that her demeanor is not most equestrians' cup of tea. She's ornery and testy and can be down right mean. She's also not the smartest pony.

I love my horse and I think her good qualities outweigh the bad but those above reasons disqualify her for breeding, in my opinion. And that doesn't even begin to get into her hooves, the foundation of any horse.

I have said before Buttercup has always suffered from a poor quality hoof. If she was competing at the Rolex**** and finishing in the Top Ten, her poor hooves (even before the current problems) would be enough for me to discount her for breeding purposes.

But too many people don't factor this in when it comes to breeding because there is always a way to "fix" poor hooves to allow the horse to compete. Just look at Big Brown, who competed on largely synthetic hooves. Although, those who know that often don't remember that there are thousands of thoroughbreds with "good breeding" who didn't make it through training. It could be hoof related or something else, but why short change a future competing horse by breeding a parent with poor quality hooves?

I worked with Buttercup's dam after Bud was weaned. She was barefoot and I actually don't remember if she had nice hooves at all. But she was never lame that I ever saw. Bud's sire passed away not too long after he bred her dam. If I had to guess, neither of them had stellar hooves (and I absolutely know neither of them should have been bred since they came from a long line of horses that were just bred to be bred and that's about it).

To drive the point home, take a look at your own feet and hands. Then, sit down with both your parents. Do your feet and hands resemble your parents'? Are they a hybrid? Genetics are genetics. Odds are they will look like one parent's or the other's or a hybrid of the two.

The question shouldn't be, "Why not breed your mare?" The question should be, "Why should you breed your mare?" And "cuteness" or "I love her" are not acceptable answers.

Not that I would ever get into the breeding business (I get attached way too easily and have never been around a legit breeding operation to learn from anyway), but I think my breeding qualifications for sire and dam would go like this:

1. Hooves
2. Performance at upper levels
3. Conformation
4. Attitude/trainability

Even then, breeding is a crapshoot. You can breed the best to the best and still get a foal that has no prospect at the upper levels (this is the reason why the argument "breeding for lower level horses is important" fails to me).

(Lessons on a school horse are a great way to go beyond what your horse is ready to do, whether because of hoof problems or training level; That's me riding school horse Trax in a lesson last Saturday)

Let's talk frustrations.

There have been little setbacks for Buttercup the last few months and I've been incredibly careful to take things slow with her so as not to create a setback through training.

The other day, I took her for a hack out in the neighboring field. But it just wasn't enough. I wanted to jump ditches and canter and do any other pace beside walk and trot. It turned into a bad ride because I was fighting with my inner self the entire time and all the while getting more and more frustrated that I couldn't do what I wanted to do. And poor Buttercup had no idea why her rider was frustrated (heck, if it was up to her she'd be doing those things too!).

But the simple fact that Buttercup is not ready won the battle.

And the next day, I called my instructor and set up a jumping lesson on her school horse.

Just because I want to do something does not mean my horse is ready at this stage in her rehabilitation. I was really proud that I was able to curb my behavior and then find an appropriate outlet for my frustration. And the best part? It worked! I had a blast (and got really sore) and am no longer frustrated.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Farrier visit - March 22, 2010

Wow, just wow. I'm absolutely in awe that this day has come. It now has been four trims since Buttercup has shown signs of lameness. She is really doing well.

Naturally, we aren't out of the woods yet (as you'll see, we are now really working on balance problems particularly with the front left) but it feels really good to be at this point.

Not only are we fighting with balance (again) we are fighting infection (again). I used Clean Trax last Sunday and I'll be moving to a more aggressive soaking routine (using mostly lysol) to knock the rest of it out.

But Buttercup's frog is hard and making leaps (pun intended!) in progress.

This time, my farrier took away that nasty heel. That means he had to take away a lot of hoof to compensate and Buttercup is now slightly sore on concrete. But she seemed comfy enough on the pasture and I'm going to give her just a few days off to recuperate. I'm not too concerned about it.



(forgive the wonky angles on the solar shots ... it makes her solars look more distorted than they are, though they are slightly distorted)

I can't recall exactly what my farrier said about the blood spot on the above solar shot. I think he said it was something about an abscess that didn't get fully formed? Anyway, apparently nothing to be concerned about right now. I think I was just too excited to listen carefully.

Edited to add new pics of clean shaven pasterns to accentuate the hooves:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Buttercup goes to the beach

See that new pic in the mast of the blog? Yep, beach ride.

I don't think I've smiled bigger or could have been happier this past Saturday. Just thinking about it makes me well up a little with tears.

There were so many highs and lows this past year and times when I thought Buttercup would never pull through. I know we aren't out of the woods yet. But Saturday felt a little bit like ... redemption.

We rode for nearly two hours (mostly walking except for the photos). I had my vet and my barn owner/instructor with me, so that gave me extra assurance I wasn't pushing Bud past her physical limitations.

I did ride her with her EasyBoot Edges and I'm disappointed that sand got underneath one of the gators and rubbed her a little raw. It was an oversight on my part. I should have given her a vet wrap sleeve to protect from the sand.

The picture that says it all:

I don't think I can smile any bigger.