Monday, June 28, 2010

Trimmer visit June 26, 2010

Regular readers may notice a difference in that title. Farrier has been replaced with the word "trimmer." Why? Because I'm now with a barefoot trimmer! Gasp!

I can't believe it either.

Now that we are past the initial shock, I'm going to go right into this trim's hoof pictures. Because we switched hoofcare professionals, I'm doing before and after shots. I'll do my best to explain things, as usual.

This before shot of Buttercup's front left show the flaring and resulting torque on her hoof wall. This was caused by the laminitic episode a few weeks back. Luckily, Bud's episodes seem fairly mild and only manifest themselves as flaring (and no dropping of the P3 or other horrible laminitic nightmares). Please note the amount of dead sole and over run bars in the above photo, also.

The new trimmer spent most of his time removing dead sole from Buttercup's hooves, and the result was somewhat surprising. Underneath all that dead sole was a toe callous and concavity! He also spent time removing her bars that aided in the flaring. The flaring also exerted pressure on the sole, creating a soft spot on the inside of this hoof.

Like my past farrier, the trimmer took any pressure on the hoof wall away so that Buttercup is just using her frog, heel and toe callous for ground contact. The reason this resulted in lameness in the past was because of the dead sole on the sole creating too much pressure everywhere else (or so it has been explained to me). The trimmer also did a neat trick of filing the hoof wall at a 45° angle so that any pressure exerted on it will cause it not to move away from the hoof, but be pushed into the hoof, maintaining a strong lamina.

Same on the front right:

Before lateral shots:

After lateral shots:

Not too much of a change here. The angles are about the same, just more of that toe taken off. The trimmer sure wasn't shy about using nippers!

Before front shots:


This trimmer used superglue in the crack instead of bondo. I like how he removed so much of the flaring on this shot.

Trimmer is Scott Spencer.

I'm overall very pleased with the outcome, especially since he thinks one or two more trims should clear up most of Bud's balance and flare issues. He's also one of the professionals who pinpointed sugar as a cause of her neverending battle of the flares, so I like that he has a holistic approach to his clients.

That was my big surprise! But I do have another one!

On Aug. 1, Buttercup will go to a friend of mine for three to six months. I will still see her several times a month, but she is going to get some rest and relaxation. It is kind of against the trimmer's advice as he wants her back in work ASAP, but I feel like this is the best thing for her. Let her just sit in a pasture and grow a healthy hoof. And as my barn owner pointed out, this is the best thing for me, mentally.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Soundness/new routine update

(Part of our regular routine. Soaking in lysol to prevent infection on both front feet while she plows through a pad of hay. I sit next to her and read a good book, and it's been nice to spend the time with her like this.)

It looks like we finally have a good base of Buttercup's new laminitic pony diet. The best part is? It seems to be working!

Here is what she gets daily:
5 lbs WellSolve L/S
3 lbs (dry) of rinsed then drained molasses-free beet pulp
10 lbs or so of coastal hay

And she's not only doing well with her hooves, but she's getting quite chunky on the new diet. Remember the starter pic? Well I'm certain she's about 25 pounds heavier now. 

The only times she exhibits lameness is when she's been running around like with her pasturemates or before din-din time. I suspect this is a result of stress to the lamina from the torque of her flares. She will be trimmed up this Saturday so I hope that problem will resolve after the trim. (Reminder: big surprise next trim!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Starting with the diet

I have a team set up between my hoofcare practitioner and my veterinarian trying to figure out the best route for Buttercup.

By all estimates, this is going to be a very long and hairy process. The good news? I will likely be able to continue this blog forever. Yay! 

As much as I love helping others through my experience, it isn't something I wanted to hear. What's worse is that figuring out how to manage Buttercup will be trial and error. And then once we figure out what works, it could be six months down the road before she is well enough to come back to work.

So last post I mentioned getting her on the beet pulp diet. We've changed that up since posting that. She will continue to get beet pulp to help supplement her forage since she no longer can eat grass, but for her "grain" she will get WellSolve L/S. It is one of the feeds recommended for sugar sensitive ponies. 

We aren't certain if we will stay on the ProAdd Ultimate yet, but like having it so we can figure out what ration of WellSolve and beet pulp works best without feeling like she isn't getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

I've been reading everything I can get my hands on. Here is an excellent resource I've run into on the Web: (again, I apologize about the lack of links; please copy and paste the urls)
Click and go to articles

For those of you uncertain as to how Buttercup's laminitis went unnoticed for eight years: she never showed an alarming digital pulse or any other symptoms besides flaring on her hooves. She never showed much more than a propensity for abscesses in our old home of coastal South Carolina and we think the grass up here in North Carolina must be much richer. 

Laminitis is really just inflammation in the laminae. It can be caused by the body not processing sugar, too much grain, concussive forces and more. Sometimes it is severe, like when Buttercup had mechanical issues compounding her laminitis from sweet feed and rich grass, and sometimes it is minor, like just a mysterious offness, with no heat or heavy pulse. 

Prognosis is up in the air for Buttercup. She's had so many episodes but none were so severe that her coffin bone dropped to the point of bulging her sole. Her front left coffin bone dropped but was stabilized as of last fall. I don't think I will get Xrays this time around since the routine will be the same regardless: fix her diet and fix her hooves. I'm really hoping for a full recovery but that is looking doubtful with more research I uncover. 

I have a surprise for you readers on our June 26 trim coming up. So stay posted!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dealing with laminitis

(Picture of Buttercup yesterday to help us evaluate her weight as she comes off grain and grass)

So June 5, Buttercup went off grass completely. And now June 11, Buttercup went off grain completely. She is on a full beet pulp diet. She gets three feedings a day of 1 lb dry beet pulp (soaked for at least an hour prior to feeding and then rinsed).

A few days off the grass and she was looking fairly nice. Only 24 hours of taking her off the grain and she is 100% sound trotting and more comfortable than ever on concrete.

The sudden change is absolutely amazing. Why haven't we pinpointed this before? It makes me ill. But at least this is something we can control and now we know.

Yesterday, I took pics of Bud so I can evaluate how she is fairing on her new diet. Will she lose weight? Gain weight? She may lose weight so we want to be on top of it. I plan to take pics once a week over the next month or so to evaluate.

She's not in fabulous condition right now just because she's been out of work for 8 weeks and has lost a lot of muscling. But we certainly don't want her losing any weight. The barn owner has expressed concern having a "skeleton" walking around the property, and she's right to be concerned. So we will address her needs one week at a time.

Also, for those of you looking to feed beet pulp to a laminitic/sugar sensitive horse:

1) Buy beet pulp with no molasses added
2) Soak for at least an hour to get rid of excess sugar
3) Rinse before serving to remove more sugars

And I have actually repurposed a salad spinner for this job of soaking and draining. It works really well.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Grass restriction begins

(Buttercup asking me to please take off the grazing muzzle so she may eat some high sugar grass – fat chance, pony!)

First thing's first: taking Buttercup off the grass, or at least limiting her intake. If she is not in the dry lot, she'll be modeling her grazing muzzle. Horses can still graze a bit through this muzzle but nothing that will hurt her hooves. When she's in the dry lot, she'll have access to hay so she doesn't drop weight.

This is the second step toward staving off the hoof problems we experienced last year. The first one was putting her on ProAdd Ultimate, a multi-purpose supplement that is low in sugar and is also great for building hooves.

The third step will be sorting out her daily diet. Right now she gets 50/50 Horseman's Edge and Horse Chow 100. Neither are low enough in sugar for the sugar-sensitive horse. In my last post I talked about moving her to a beet pulp-based diet but we may end up with another low-sugar pellet instead. We are taking care of a few steps first and won't be changing her all at once (never a good idea with horses).

It feels really good to be able to pinpoint a reason behind some of the drastic changes we've seen spring/summer time. Wish we had discovered it sooner but that happens. I may need to change the title of the blog to Chronicle of the Sugar Sensitive Horse!

The vet will also be out later this summer to pull blood to see if Buttercup is actually insulin resistant (think diabetes) or just sugar sensitive.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Farrier visit May 31, 2010 and diet change

As the great Yogi Berra said, it's deja vu all over again.

Last year at this time when Buttercup was shod, her flares worsened and that balanced hoof that we thought we had was gone in weeks. Now, that balanced barefoot hoof we had is falling apart. But you know, this happened two years ago and four years ago too. I'll get to that in a little bit. 

Buttercup never regained soundness after the last trim and has no regained soundness after her trim on Monday. As you can imagine, this is heartbreaking for me. But it also lit a fire under me to put a new plan in order.

But first, pictures from the trim. And I want to start with the solars.

Ignore the bondo for now (I know, super hard to do especially now that I've pointed it out). We developed a ton of sole growth these past two cycles and my farrier ended up having to remove a ton of dead sole. He removed much of the bars but still not the collateral groove. How amazing do those frogs look? Wow. I love them.

Buttercup's recent unsoundness has been all toe related, especially on that front left. Last trim, my farrier rolled up (or beveled) the hoof wall up to alleviate pressure. This time around, he didn't remove so much hoof wall.

OK, the bondo. What's it doing there? I'm skeptical too. 

According to my farrier, it will prevent the hoof wall from stretching too much creating further separation. Though it is not uncommon to see bondo on hooves, it can be uncommon on bare hooves. It is a pretty neat product that once applied and hardened can be rasped down like a regular hoof to have a smooth, hoof-like surface and help with balance and flare issues.

But the bondo isn't the biggest thing going on this post. No, we need to ask ourselves WHY are we getting these flare. WHY are the hooves coming undone after nearly six months of positive. 

Here is a timeline to the riddle:

Summer 2006: Barefoot, Buttercup gets a succession of abscesses that leads to the crack on her front left hoof, scarring the coronary band. She is shod.
Summer 2007: No hoof problems to report. 
Summer 2008: Due to farrier issues, Buttercup's hooves begin to fall apart with LT/LH
Summer 2009: Came into spring with an essentially well balanced hoof that then begins to flare and fall apart, letting the shoe sink into the white line and create further separation
Summer 2010: Came into spring with an essentially well balanced hoof that begins to flare and fall apart despite being barefoot

Nothing more than coincidence that our problems crop up at around late spring or early summer? And what about the summer of 2007 where we had no issues?

Here's more clues to the puzzle:

Summer 2006: Buttercup moved to a new barn in spring. Though the barn feeds SafeChoice, it also offers a very rich pasture
Summer 2007: Again moved Buttercup that spring. Though I'm feeding a complete sweet feed, her diet is mostly grass hay and the pastures are barren
Summer 2008: Buttercup is eating a sweet feed diet and on a rich pasture
Summer 2009: Again Buttercup is eating a sweet feed diet and on a rich pasture
Summer 2010: She is on a low carb pelleted feed but on a rich pasture

Starting to get the picture?

Now we aren't 100% sure that the rich pastures are creating all of her issues, but it is worth a shot. We are enacting an action plan this week to help save her hooves. 

1. Start ProAdd Ultimate supplement and probiotic regime. I was going to start a new supplement to help her hooves and figured I would get her gut in order too in case that was out of whack. 
2. Switch to a beet pulp based diet. Though she's already being fed a low carb/starch feed, we can't eliminate all the sugars since she's out 24/7. The best bet is to eliminate sugars in her daily feed.
3. Muzzle her from 10 a.m. until afternoon feeding to decrease grass consumption during high sugar hours.

According to some literature, the sugars from grasses and feeds destroys healthy laminae and decreases blood flow to the hoof. According to that same literature, the hoof should show improvement after six weeks of eliminating those sugars.

More information on sugars can be found here: (sorry about links lately, every time I hyperlink them it tries to put this blog's url in front of it, even when I put it correctly in html code ... so copy and paste it is! Back to the stone age)