Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sassy Takes Up Clogging

I was going to let Sassy tell this tale, but too many things happened that she did not understand and I did, so you will have to hear it from me.

The trip start out badly with me losing not just my glasses, but my bank card as well. AWESOME!  But we managed to get on the road on time.  It was cold but not windy so that was good. Road were totally clear.

Sassy was not happy about being blanketed and trailered before breakfast, but I gave her a nice bag of hay to keep her busy.

We stopped about half way to give her a minute to walk around a stretch her legs.

We arrived 2 full hours early (not sure how we miscalculated so badly) and found ourselves sitting in front of the Farriers house while we waited for him to finish an earlier appt.

There was much grass in the barrow bit in front of his place, so Sassy got to do some grazing.

She spent a good amount of time checking out the Alpaca's down the road and just being oh so cute.

Finally the farrier, Steve Foxworth arrived.  Now he asked me not to promote his name so much but to really promote ELPO  Equine Lameness Prevention Organization.  More on that later.

He watched her move, she was worse on the right than the left as expected. He read the vets notes, he looked at the xrays, and then said, "Now lets see what Sassy says that she wants."

He busted out his diagnostic tool. Oh let me say that he also had a very nice apprentice working with him named Ben..

You can see it is wedged to the outside right now
I wish I had gotten a better picture of this thing.  VERY COOL!
Here is how it works.  They use the rubber straps to strap it on.  Underneath is a rotatable wedge. They strap it on and then place the wedge where they want it. Then they put her foot down and see how she reacts. Then they lift her other foot and see how quickly she asks to put it back down. Then they switch the wedge 180 degrees and do it again. They do this over and over until they make the full circle.

What made this interesting to watch was that he didn't just gauge her reactions with her feet. He watched her entire body language. Was she holding her breath? Did she relax? Was she licking and chewing? Did she let her air out? Could he hold up the other foot with his fingers? All these things were noted.

So going off of what the xrays showed, he put the wedge to her toe first.  We all expected her to tell us that it was very uncomfortable for her.  We were all blown away when she said,, "Ya I'm pretty okay with this."  So he went to the heel, and she wasn't too bothered by that either. then he went to the inside toe, and she said, "um no, I don't like this at all."  Then he went to the outside heel, and back and forth all the way around.  What he learned, or rather what she told us is that it is her outside heels on both feet that really bother her. The insides aren't so bad.

When he was all done,  he gave me an option. We could shoe her exactly as the vet suggested, OR we could give her what she asked for. I went with option 2.

He said that rather than corrective shoeing per say, he wanted to "clog" her. I had never heard of it.

These are after he has filed them to give her the most comfort
This is a clog.  It is a rubber shoe/plate that is nailed to her hoof. But before it was nailed he used a rasp to wear it down so that her hooves would go in the direction that gave her the most comfort.  The theory behind this is that it alleviates the stress on the painful part of her joints allowing blood to flow better and promote natural healing.

I'll be honest, I had my doubts, but figured that Sassy knows what she wants or needs better than any of us, and with that tool, she told us, so we might as well give it a shot. Besides, I like anything that involves healing naturally over surgery, or nerve blocking and riding them until they have to be put down.

So then comes the question, doesn't that keep any air from getting to her frog?  What about thrush, what about moisture and manure getting up in there?

Enter the "Magic Goop"

 It is brown and sticky and has some sort of medicinal smell to it.  We do not know what is in it, because the manufacturers do not put the ingredients on the jar.  But what it does is keeps the moisture from getting in, it keeps bacteria from thriving, and something in it promotes healthy blood flow. (that what it says on the jar- trust me I read it carefully) Plus he swears that they have been using it for years with wonderful results.

I wish I had gotten pictures of them putting in and the shoes on her, but I was busy holding her still. She was about tired of being messed with, and was ready to go back outside.

Here is the end result.

These are not that great because it was after we had taken her out and moved her in the mud and the snow.


So we take her out and just walked her around a little to let her get used to her new clogs.  Then I took her and trotted her down and back. I heard the guys all say "wow" but I couldn't see because I was trotting her.
So Ben took her and I watched....she wasn't lame. She did not limp, she did not head bob, she did not short stride, she did not unload on the turns.

Oh My God!  I swear I almost cried.  I swear I am crying now.

We tried to move her in a circle but she was bucking and jumping and feeling good. She kept wanting to run and the ground was too slippery, but still she was moving out nicely. She has not moved out nicely in almost a year. It is not for her to get silly even when she hurts, but I could see the difference in how she moved for sure.

Yes of course I got video.  But I have to upload it to you tube first, so it won't be ready until tomorrow. But I will post it.

He says to me, "I"m sorry but I think I ruined your horse."  I almost hugged him.

Now here is what I want to say about ELPO.  This whole experience that I just explained is what they do. The entire principle is based on what the horse tells you they need. Now he said that they don't always put clogs on horses, it just depends on what they say they need.  Some horses get just a trim, some horses get those shoes for navicular, some horses get something completely different.  It depends on the horse.

Sassy said she needed relief in specific areas and the clogs were the best way to give that to her.  Also he says that the next time he sees her, these clogs will tell a story because of how they wear. It will show him exactly what he needs to do next.  He believes that we can help her heal herself.

The thing I was most struck by was how he did not look at just one part of her, but he watched the whole picture.  When he finished nailing on that second clog and put her foot down, she licked and chewed and then let out a huge sigh of relief. The look in her eye got softer, she was not in pain and it showed.  I also watched him prep her for those nails. He held the clog up, tapped a few times and put her foot down. No nails, just getting her used to the feel. When she would let him tap totally relaxed, then we started nailing.  I've never seen a farrier do that either.

He said, "If you take the time to take the time, then it takes less time."

I also like their apprenticeship program.  It is a 2 year program. The first year is watching, helping, and hands on learning, the second year is more doing, and cultivating new clients. Steve said that he is so busy, he really isn't taking on very many new clients, so I am glad he accepted us as one.

This morning I went out to feed, and let her out to run around and roll if needed. She had a pretty couped up stressful day yesterday, and it was late when we got home.  It is cold and windy today, and she was out there playing and bucking and rearing up. I watched her trot around and she is still moving quite nicely.

I was told I can go ahead and start her back on some light work. Since she hasn't been ridden in a year and only had maybe 30-40 rides on her then, we will start back at the beginning, but yeah baby, I am excited!

I will post some better pictures and the video tomorrow.

Oh also more good news, our offer was accepted on the place in AZ. Now it just has to pass appraisal and inspections!


  1. Very interesting. I have never seen these clogs before, I'll be very interested to see how they work out for Sassy. I like the way they support and stimulate the entire hoof. You get the benefits of being barefoot and the pain relief of shoes. I hope you keep us updated:)

    Congratulations on the house news as well. I'll keep my fingers crossed that all goes well with inspections.

  2. Wow. That's so interesting...seems like an amazing farrier! Keep us updates!

    Crossing fingers on the house!

  3. I am so happy!!!! This guy seems to really understand horses, and I'm so impressed that he listened to the horse instead of just doing the job and getting it done. Also, I'm so happy you chose choice two! Even though science can tell us why they're feeling pain, it can't tell us how they feel. They have to do that themselves. I'm so happy she's doing better!

  4. Great news all around. very interesting with the clogs. So glad you wee able to get her some help

  5. Those clogs are SO interesting!! I'm going to have to do some research on them, as well as ELPO. I think the farrier sounds fantastic... my farrier never watched Lilly move, ever. He just trimmed and slapped a shoe on. When I started having the barefoot trimmer come out, that was the first thing she did. You really can't tell what needs to be done if you don't watch the horse move.

    Helping her feel good will help her move properly which will help her heal. It's so important that they move the way they naturally should. I bet Sassy feels like a million bucks! I'm so happy for her and for you!

    How long can she wear the clogs before they need to be reset?

  6. You sure had a lot of good follow up a shaky start to the day. I'm guessing they change the clog with each trim?

  7. Yes she will get new clogs in 6 weeks, and the will be reshaped in order to continue the healing process. She will not have to wear these forever. It is just until we can get her healed. It will be 6 weeks this time and then after that every 8 weeks.

  8. Yay! I am so happy to read the good results you got! I hope she continues to improve and I can't wait to hear about how her training progresses now that she can do some work. Awesome! I'm so excited for you!

    What great news about the house too! Sounds like you have a whole new chapter about to start.