Sunday, November 20, 2011

End of Chronicle of the Hoof

It's been coming: the end of the Chronicle of the Hoof. I haven't wanted to create this post and even thought about deleting the blog all together, but there's some good information here and I originally started the blog with the intent of sharing my experience and findings. Deleting that would defeat its purpose.

The blog is ending because we've come to a stalmate with Buttercup's condition. She tested negative for insulin resistance and tested negative for cushings. In fact, we're not sure what she has. Not even one of the most premier laminitis experts in the nation knows what's wrong with her. But he said we're not alone.

Even he owns a horse that has strange triggers without a biological reason. He's studied them and can't find a reason behind it.

The good news is that her condition, unlike IR, isn't progressive. He said when we find a trigger, remove it and move on with our lives. He also said I need to stop panicking every time she has a bad day.

He commended us on management and keeping her healthy, and said she would continue to be healthy as long as we carefully manager her.

While it's very frustrating not being able to pinpoint her condition, it's very comforting that we're not alone. There are others out there, frustrated and worried, trying to do right by their horse.

When I started this blog, I felt very alone. I didn't have the team of hoof care professionals or vets standing behind me that I have now. I didn't have friends with laminitic, cushings and other chronic condition horses. Now I have all that support.

When I started this blog, I also felt woefully under-educated and in a position of being unable to help my horse. But now, I feel like while I still have much to learn, I know how to take care of my horse.

A big thank you to my readers who have chimed in and helped over the years and have followed this rather tragic and unhappy tale. We've had a lot of bright spots over the year, and a lot more good days than bad, but those haven't always been shared.

I hope we haven't depressed you too much because I'm still optimistic. Buttercup is happy and healthy, and that's what matters to me.

Happy hooves, everyone.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Space-age Shoes - Aug. 19

We had a mild laminitic episode this week (lasting less than 48 hours). Responded with icing her hooves twice a day and by the second day her pulse returned to normal. No heat in the hooves, just a slightly elevated pulse. This is why taking pulses is so important!

So we are still experiencing some lameness with Buttercup even with her last fancy shoes. To me, it looks mostly like hind-end skeletal lameness. The chiropractor will actually be out tomorrow to fix whatever is out for her.

Today, Russ came by for her regularly scheduled shoeing. We decided to go with a Morrison Roller shoe. While we actually gained more sole in the last four weeks with the regular four-point shoes, the Morrison shoe is supposed to really increase bloodflow and build lots of sole.

We are out of the Equi-Pak, and seeing how we do with out. While we did grow more sole, it was mostly soft sole. Not the hard, weight bearing sole that is desirable.

The Morrison shoe is some space-age stuff. Literally. It is made out of aluminum and magnesium. "The kind of stuff they make jet air planes out of," Russ said.

The provide a three-degree wedge and have the breakover even further back than the four-point, natural balance shoe. If Buttercup was any judge, freeing up her shoulders, I'd say she likes them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's not cushings, but she's still lame

Just got Buttercup's results back from the ATCH Insulin test. Insulin and hormone levels look normal, which mean she does not have Cushings Disease.

While Cushings Disease would have meant access to supportive drugs, this is still a good thing, the vet assures me.

Her normal insulin levels mean we've been managing her diet well and the vet said that Equine Metabolic/IR horses can have normal levels so that's still on the table.

At this time, I have no plans to have her tested for EMS/IR because the tests are prohibitively expensive (I have fancy new shoes I have to buy Bud every four weeks), can often miss the IR and even if she is diagnosed, we wouldn't be doing anything different than what we are already doing. There is no cure or treatment for EMS, other than diet management.

Buttercup hasn't improved much with her new shoes, but she does seem more comfortable from last week.

Here's the latest lameness video, which I've sent to person who is excellent at analyzing lameness to see what he thinks:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New shoes - July 23

We had to up the ante on getting Buttercup comfortable. Forty-eight hours after getting her plain steel shoes, her comfort level dramatically decreased. So Russ came out and the new strategy is four-point shoes (also known as natural balance shoes) paired with a fake gel sole.

Her heels have been her main base of support with her soles so thin and her P3s on the ground (the breakover really hurt her). The four-point really takes advantage of her happy heels, moves the breakover back so that she isn't spending more time on the part that hurts.

The gel is copper infused so it should keep any thrush down. Normally the gel is paired with a styrofoam pad that is level with the ground. Russ filled in with the gel, but kept is just below level of the shoe with the ground, so that it acts more like a sole and minimizes impact to her tender hooves.

She is drastically more comfortable, but still not sound. Hopefully we'll see her continue to improve.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lameness Update - July 19, 2011

So we had the vet out yesterday to try and determine underlying causes through new radiographs. I also had an ATC insulin test to test for Cushings. While Buttercup does not have the clinical appearance of a Cushings horse, she also doesn't have the clinical appearance of an IR horse either. Plus, we could support her with better medicine with Cushings and it's the cheaper of the metabolic tests.

What the X-rays revealed:

• No arthritic changes, so that's a good thing!
• Dramatic decrease in sole depth over the last year and half since the last X-rays
• Building up her heel then created downward pressure on her rotated P3, causing it more pain.

The vet recommended we go back into shoes to give her immediate comfort and my old farrier Russ was right down the road. He came over and shod her. While the vet recommended eggbar shoes with padding, Russ wanted to go with a plain steel shoe and then work from there. If she needs more than this, we will go to it in stages.

X-rays: (they got flipped)

Above view of the P3 looking for arthritic changes:

Vet shoeing Rx:

Freshly shod pics, left:


And while she's not completely sound, she's the most comfortable she's been in three months and that's good enough for me. Hopefully she will continue to improve.

We're still stumped as to why we lost all the sole depth. Maybe it was a triggered by a laminitic episode due to the rabies shot? Maybe it is a seasonal thing for her? All I know is that she lost it and we're doing what we can to make her comfortable.

That brings me to another point: Buttercup is officially retired. All this time I've been working on getting her back to the ring, back into showing, back into jumping, back into something. But I've known for a while now that's a pipe dream. I'll be happy to have her comfortable enough for the occasional trail ride. She may just be a pasture ornament for the rest of her days, but she may also come around to the point where she can go out and enjoy herself on trail. We'll see what she's up to. But she's retired — officially — at the ripe old age of 9.

Instead of a gold watch, she got steel shoes.

And recent video of her, still not sound, but at least comfortable:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wound looks great ... but lameness mystery

Buttercup's leg wound looks fabulous! I don't even think the scar will be as apparent as it continues to heal. I'm so pleased!

What I'm not pleased about is her soundness. In all honesty, this has been going on about 12 weeks now. At first, we blamed it on the rabies shot and some re-balancing work on her hooves. Then it was the Triple Crown senior we briefly tried. Then it was bran mash to get her to eat her medecine. Then it was the stall rest and lack of circulation.

She's been out of the stall nearly two weeks and her soundness has not improved. She's sounder on harder surfaces and really ouchie on soft surfaces. Scott said that's because of the pressure around the hoof.

It looks to be ouchie near the toe on the outside of the hoof. She's weighting the inside of her front left and landing heel first.

I called up my old farrier today and he agreed to come look at her tomorrow. I'm pretty upset about the lameness and I'm just not certain what the root cause is. I just want her to be comfortable.

Scott said this may happen every summer with her laminitic condition. Her being uncomfortable for months at a time just doesn't fly with me. So if we have to shoe her or take other measures to get her comfortable during these tough months, I want to explore that option.

Here are her hooves from about four weeks ago while on stall rest:

They look even better now, in my opinion. The hooves structurally look like they should be healthy. There is no bounding pulse in that front left either. She has been booted in the meantime just give her a level of comfort.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Update on the leg injury

(Buttercup was released from stall rest earlier this week to her own private paddock)

This month was going to go so much differently in my head. Buttercup and I were going to get up early nearly every morning and walk for a short distance down the beautiful trails of our new facility for longer and longer distances until I had her walking up to 45 minutes at a time undersaddle over the last four weeks.

Instead, my mornings, that are not really busy with my new job, I am out at the barn, treating and re-wrapping a leg. Buttercup was stuck in a stall for the last four weeks. Every time she would lay down, her wound threatened to open. After the first two weeks, proud flesh began to emerge (likely a product of my antibiotic ointment — just say no to Furazone, I've learned) and location of the wound.

The wound originally wasn't under wrap but when the proud flesh was subsequently cut out, the vet wanted us to wrap tight.

Buttercup's front hooves have suffered from limited blood flow from the lack of movement — the simplest things become complicated when you have a horse suffering from laminitis. To make some matters worse, Bud went off her feed at the time she needed her antibiotics the most, so bran (super high in sugar) was introduced to get her medicine down. She's been off the bran for 2.5 weeks, but she is still exhibiting hoof soreness, likely from the limited mobility.

Her hind legs have been stocked up nearly every morning too.

The area has been difficult to wrap, nearly too long to just have a wrap around the gaskin part of the leg, requiring some wrapping of the upper part of the cannon. And the wrap itself has created sores, that also need to be treated.

Meanwhile, Buttercup, who has never taken to stall rest well, has actually made life very easy on me and her caretakers. She's been pleasant and willing and understanding. I love that horse.

She was released from her stall earlier this week into her new, individual paddock. The paddock is gorgeous and completely shaded by mature oak trees and void of any grass. With the increased movement, she is less foot sore, but it's still there. She'll probably take a few weeks to recover full soundness.

Another issue we have is that Bud appears to have lost some weight. Not too much to be concerned about. It looks like loss of conditioning rather than true weight loss. It's hard to tell right now since she's not only had the injury and stall rest to contend with, but we also switched her to a beet pulp and alfalfa cube diet since she's arrived at her new barn. (Her WellSolve L/S wasn't available at this facility, and she did not do well on Seminole's lower starch brands.) I'll have to make a decision soon to see if we need to get her on a fat supplement, or if she'll perk back up just being out of the stall.

Making Bud very happy: she has a very handsome boyfriend next door. So she gets to squeal and show off, but then leave him stuck on the other side of the fence. Bud's a tease.

Progression of the wound pics:

Week 1:

Week 2:

This shows the proud flesh emerging and the issue of keeping the stitches in such a tough spot.

Week 3:

Here you can see the wounds created by the wrapping.

Week 4:

This had just reopened prior to me getting there (Bud decided to sleep flat out that night). But pretty healthy looking!

After about another four weeks on pasture rest, I might start to think about riding her down that trail. In the meantime, Bud is fine getting her daily grooming and loving!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Non-hoof related injury

(Buttercup enjoying a few minutes of grass at her new place prior to her injury)

While refreshing to not talk about hooves, this new injury certainly wasn't a good thing!

Buttercup arrived June 1 at her new barn outside Charleston. On June 3, barn management discovered a gruesome injury during morning feeding. Everything is fine and it appears to just be a flesh wound (Thank goodness!).

She's been on stall rest the last week and has another week of stall rest before she goes out in her own individual paddock, since the injury is suspected to be from a pasturemate.

Day 1 injury:

Day 6: (all cleaned up!)

And just to end the post on a happier note:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy feet

Scott called me last week to report that he was trimming Bud in the paddock with no halter or lead. This is a huge milestone for Buttercup.

Bud was always great for the farrier and was known for being able to be done right out in the paddock/pasture without a halter or lead. As her hooves pained her more and more, and as she realized the folks handling her hooves were causing her pain, she became nasty and ruthless. Yanking hooves, rearing up, lunging. She was scary ... but she was also scared.

While her hooves haven't hurt for quite some time, she held onto a lot of that anticipation of pain. She has gradually stopped rearing and stopped lunging. But she still wanted to yank and be naughty — though if someone was pounding nails into your sore feet every 6 weeks for a few months, you'd hold onto the fear too! That's like torture.

To hear now that she is "back to normal" is such a relief. One more step towards normal. Maybe we'll actually get there?


I got a text this morning from Scott: "Her mental change has been her greatest improvement." I think that says a lot about not only how far we've come, but also how far we still have to go on our journey.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

21 months barefoot

I was digging around in some old photos and wanted to share the changes Buttercup's hooves have made since going barefoot. Now I'm still not an every-horse-must-be-barefoot person, but I do believe it was the right decision for Buttercup's hooves. And, really, that's what hoof care is all about: the best thing for the individual.

Since we've had ups and downs over the last 21 months (going barefoot post), things haven't always been 100% with Bud being barefoot. But I think these solar shots show a story of a hoof developing concavity and a stronger frog and toe callous.

September 2009:

November 2009: (post laminitic episode)

February 2010:

June 2010 (post laminitic episode):

September 2010:

(On the previous post's subject of bars, you can see the trenches in this photo of where the bars have been taken below the sole plane)

January 2011:

April 2011:

It's also fun to go back and see what I was writing even just two years ago ... I don't feel like I've changed all that much until I read those posts. Just like it's hard for me to see the change in Buttercup's hooves until I look at all these pictures.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hoof update 4-26-11

(My husband and Buttercup share a rare moment together)

Got to see Buttercup this past Saturday. She is looking very good under the watchful eye of Scott! Her hooves are steadily improving and her weight looks fabulous. One of the biggest things I notice about her hooves is the straightening of the coronary band. A smooth, straight coronary band is a sign of a healthy hoof.

While Bud isn't on a specific cycle right now, she does look like she's ready for a touch-up. Her sole was pretty dead so I scraped some of that off for the pictures.


Not too much longer now! Grow, baby, grow!

While these bars are not ideal, I'm still pleased with her hoof overall. I will address the bars later in the post.


(taken on a weird angle and not straightened)

So about the bars, they are being taken back slowly over time. Having worked with them myself, I understand why Scott hasn't just wacked them back to the collateral groove. They aren't so much folded over the sole, as pushed against the sole. As in, there isn't sole underneath the overgrown bar ... I may just be learning about hooves but I can't see any benefit in opening her hoof where there is no sole underneath.

I've never seen bars quite like hers and I've been working with quite a few hooves lately. I have a lot of questions as to why they're like this and if this is a common affliction or due to her genetics. But the bars are literally spread and up to the point where you see them in the pics, below the sole plane.

Here is the best way for me to describe it:

Top left is a normal hoof showing the frog, bars (red) and sole (yellow). Top right is a hoof with overgrown bars that are laid over the sole. Bottom center is how I feel Buttercup's lay. Now it could very well be that there is sole underneath those bars, but because it is below the sole plane, it doesn't feel that way.

Anyway, I think we can't get much better, other than continuing to grow out separation, until the bars are normalized. I'm not sure if they can be normalized, but remember the bars have a lot to do with hoof health and a nice straight coronary band. I guess time will tell while she's in the expert hands of Scott.

In other news, check out the Chronicle of the Hoof facebook page and post your favorite silly horse picture!