Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Young Mares and Old Women

Miss Sassafras looking a little wild and sexy in the wind.
Sometimes I wish she was ugly and mean so I could feel ok
about just letting her go.  She must know that I am considering it too
She has suddenly quit being hard to catch, or any of the other
general bitchy little tricks she used to pull. 
I have come to the conclusion that I was, in some ways, much better off when I thought I knew stuff about horses.  Now that I know the cold hard truth (that I don't know jack squat) I find that I seriously lack confidence and it shows in how easily I am swayed by the power of suggestion.

For example, when we took Sassy down for her second visit, the farrier, Steve, says to me, "Yep she is moving much better again."  I was the one on the end of the lead rope so I never saw for sure how she was moving.  I trusted his assessment, and left it at that.

A few days later my vet came and had a peek while he was doing shots and stuff on the boys.  He says, "She is grade 2 lame on the right, her toes are too long and I don't think she looks comfortable at all." his parting words were, "I am not impressed, but the important thing is that you think she is doing better."

No! What is most important is that she really is more comfortable and doing better. Not that I just think she is.

2 days of those words stewing in my feeble brain is down right toxic and all sorts of thoughts start circling.   "This vet has never been happy with my choice in treatment with her, so is he just being overly critical, or is she actually uncomfortable?"  "Am I wasting my time on this mare?"  "Am I hoping for miracles too soon?" "Did I want to believe in the ELPO solution so badly that I saw what I wanted to see instead of what was there?"  Back and forth, front and back, round and round and round it goes. I'll be honest, it is times like this that make me feel like a foolish old woman who has no business owning horses.  Especially since I'm starting to wonder who I am supposed to beleive. The vet says one thing, the farrier says another, and the other farrier doesn't say anything at all. But then I go back and I look at that first after video we took and she was better, so that speaks for itself. One thing is for sure, the horse doesn't lie. Which isn't to say I think that the humans do, I think they just see things differently based on their own training.

So on Saturday I decide to actually work her and watch with my own eyes.  I put her in the round pen, and too me she looked really lame. Seriously head bobbing and if she turns, there is a serious short step. It also seems to me that she is intentionally rolling those clogs forward so she is standing on her toes more.  So I start answering my own questions.  She is uncomfortable, the vet was right, there is no help for her, its time to put her down...blah blah blah.

Still I am self aware enough to know that rash decisions are never a good option so I decided the smart thing to do is to call Steve and see what he says, gather as much info as I can, and then decide what I need to do. I am willing to admit that the power of suggestion is strong in me and by the vet saying that he saw something, I am prone to "seeing things" as well.

We talked yesterday. He wondered if perhaps there is a nail too close, as he feels she has very thin hoof walls. He asked me to take some pictures and videos on my iphone and send them to him. Then he would call me back.  He did say that if the nail is too close we could put a hoof tester on and she will react immediately.  I don't have a hoof tester but I did take the clip from the lead rope and tapped on each nail pretty hard to see if I got any reaction. There was none. Not sure if that counts though.

I am still waiting to hear back from him, hopefully that will be today.  Now the second time, as I was getting his videos it seemed to me that although it is obvious that she is exhibiting some lameness, it didn't seem as bad.  So what was different.  Well first off I did not have in the round pen the second time. The footing in the round pen sucks right now. So I was working her in the old pen which has nice flat ground. The round pen is very uneven and hard, from all the mud, and ponies being in there when it was muddy (the gate is usually open)  The old pen has been shut so no one can go in.  So with that in mind, I suspect the crappy terrain could have made her appear to be more lame than what she was.

I hope this link works, it is one of the videos I took last night  What I see when I watch it is that although she isn't really worse than when we started all of this. She doesn't appear to be much better (if at all) and I feel like the whole point of all of this is to give her some relief from the pain. I don't see where she is getting that right now. Her first set of clogs lasted about 4 or 5 weeks before she started exhibiting pain again. Now as I sit here and organize my thoughts I realize that all he did for this visit was trim her down a little and then put new clogs on with the exact same angles underneath.  He did not do a new diagnosis with the boot. He says that will be the next visit. I am guessing that his theory is that as she wore the clogs down her lameness returned, so going back to the original design should have given her relief. It sounds logical, but if she only had relief a few days, obviously the theory is wrong. I do not feel it was his fault though.  What I really want to know is why didn't I ask more question while I was there?

Do her toes look long to any of you?
I'll tell you why, because I am a silly old woman who lacks confidence and trusts the professionals.  Well that and I was busy trying to keep my 2 very naughty ponies from tearing up those nice folks' yard and driveway with all their pawing and other naughtiness. (especially when they mentioned how they do not allow their horses on the grass of the front yard because it is so fragile)  I was very distracted this time around and TC was not much help.

Is it wrong of me to wish I had just one horse that didn't have any medical issues,  personality issues, or riding issues?  Is there even such a thing?  Probably, but I suspect a horse like that is waaaaaay out of my price range.

I seriously long for the days when I was young and I "knew everything".  In my youth I thought that as I got older I would be wiser.  Instead I'm just fatter, slower, less confident,  and require more sleep! I also thought, when I was young, that I would never cut my hair short, I would never let myself gain weight, I would never ever ever wear stretchy clothes, or granny panties, and I would always be okay with high heels.  Now I find that stretchy clothes are nice, granny panties are a must, high heels are only ok for a very short time, and short no maintenance hair is freaking awesome!   Oh and I am gaining weight at an amazing rate. THAT I do have to do something about. I bought new jeans in Feb, and they are already uncomfortable. I had to buy more this weekend and they are a full size larger.  Not cool!

Oh, Steve just sent me a text, said he couldn't really see much in the videos due to the poor quality, but he does not think it is a nail. He said to watch her closely for the next week and if she is worse by the weekend we will make a plan. In the mean time I will do better video's with the good camera so that he can get a better look.  I guess it is the best we can do for now.

Old woman signing off for now.  Has anyone seen my walker?


  1. Do you have any videos of her before she was lame? Because in that video what I am seeing (other than a slight toe first landing) is a funky mover, not necessarily pain. (not that I am an expert at all) but some horses are just kind of funny movers, and maybe after all this time of her being off, you've forgotten what is a normal look for her?

    Haha, get a mustang, they're like cockroaches. That's what we always joke about, Pony had a trailer rolled on her and she walked away without a scratch.

    I am terrible with hoof pictures, but I don't think her toes look long necessarily, I think she has somewhat upright feet.

    I would say that it could be heel pain since she's landing a bit toe first... but then again, what do I know?

    I do know that the difference between before and after the first set, was a night and day difference. So at some point, someone was on to the right cure. Maybe her feet are adjusting faster than they though, so instead of putting the same ones back on, she needed to be reevaluated.

    1. That is a good statement right there... "At one point we were on the right track" so the fact that we may have strayed from that is not the end of the world. It just means we may need to adjust our course just a tad.

      As far as getting a mustang for my next horse...that is probably exactly what I will do.

  2. Okay, I want to clarify something. I am not in anyway unhappy with what Steve has done for me or my horses. I do think that what he and the other ELPO farriers do is really good stuff.

    What I am trying to convey here is that I am frustrated by my own lack of confidence. I am also concerned that Sassy does have something going on in the conformation of her front legs that no amount of special shoeing is ever going to be able to fix. I had such high hopes for this line of treatment, and I am starting to lose hope.

  3. Actually what I really want to know more than anything else, is when the vets or the farriers are around why does my brain shut down? Why do I forget that I want to see for myself, ask specific questions, etc? WHY?

  4. I feel your pain, and I have mustangs, so that clearly isn't the answer. :)

    I don't think there's a perfect horse out there. If there is, I'd like to see it.

    Good luck figuring this out. Sadly, even the professionals don't always have an answer. And as they say, "Opinions... everybody has one." There are so many different schools of thought on hoof care, and a lot of vets don't get enough schooling on hooves anyway.

    I wish there was something I could do to help.

  5. I have the same trouble, always second guessing and doubting myself, even when I know I am in the right! We pay our farriers and vets for their expertise, we should be able to trust them. I totally understand your frustration because it is the exact same thing that has led me to build a house by myself and learn how to trim feet for myself. The "experts" have let me down every time.

    I do not blame you for wanting a horse that is easy and fun, isn't that what we are doing this for in the first place? There is nothing wrong with that. If you are seriously thinking of putting Sassy down, there is nothing wrong with that either. I know I may get some grief for saying that out loud, but even if you find the perfect hoof care strategy for Sassy, getting her to a usable place is going to be a very long hard road with no guarantees at the end. If the road is too long and too hard, then a humane end is not a bad thing and I wish more people would accept that it is part of horse ownership.

    For what it is worth, here are my 2 cents regarding Sassy's feet....The typical treatment for navicular disease is to put a set of egg bar shoes with wedge pads on the horse. This gives immediate pain relief - for a while. The underlying problems continue however, and after a while the horse is lame again. The farrier puts a new set of shoes with a bigger wedge on and the horse is again sound - for a while. This cycle continues until the farrier can't go any further and then the horse is either put down or turned out to pasture to gimp around on its own. I honestly do not see much difference between this and using the clogs. To me, the clogs are doing the exact same thing, they are just some sort of resin instead of metal shoes.

    What I see in your video is a horse who is not sound. She is landing very much toe first and will likely appear much more lame on a circle. I do not believe that she will get better until and unless she is able to land heel first. I do think that her toes are a bit long, but more importantly, her heels are long. To see this, look at the actual hoof wall tubules. If you want to REALLY understand what is going on inside of her feet, I would highly recommend Pete Ramey's video series. He talks about this sort of thing at very great length, he explains exactly how and why Sassy is having trouble and he talks about how to correct it. You may end up buying some farrier tools and working on this yourself because, as you know, it is very hard to find an "expert" who really knows what to do.

    I have never worked on a horse like Sassy, but her problems are very similar to what I have been dealing with in my friend's horses, especially Hawkeye. She spent 3 years battling all of the same feelings and frustrations that you are now, but after 9 months of my DIY trimming using Pete Ramey's methods and ignoring all of the vets and farriers, Hawkeye went on a three hour trail ride last weekend and never missed a step. I don't know if this would work for Sassy, but it might be worth trying. You may very well be able to do more for her on your own then with "help". I hope this has been helpful to you. Good luck.


    1. There is no grief allowed on my blog, and I appreciate people who are candid with me. I think that if I did not have internet which showed me that people can and do cure (or at least manage) these types of issues, then I probably would have put her down a long time ago. I have never been afraid of euthanasia when needed. But I follow things like Rockley Farm, and see what other bloggers are doing to heal their horses. It makes me feel like there must be an answer for her.

      I did go to the link you provided, and have even saved it in my favorites. It isn't something I can afford today, but I have added it to the top of the things I need to buy list. Even if I do not end up trimming my own horses, it think it would be very helpful for me to just have a better understanding of what is going on. I like the thought of being armed to the teeth with good solid information. And who knows, maybe I will give it a shot...the trimming on my own. Lord knows it would save me some much need dollars.

      Thank you, it was helpful. Thank you for confirming that what I am seeing is not just my imagination.

  6. You might want to check out this article by Pete Ramey, it covers most of his discussion on navicular and it's free:


    He has many other free articles available as well here:


    1. Thank you I will check them out.

  7. Hang in there! Rufus, T's gelding, has a tripping issue - we've talked to a couple different vets, farriers and an experienced trainer about it, and received four dramatically different opinions on what was wrong, what was fixable, and even what to do with Rufus. After a lot of agonizing, I finally came to the conclusion that since horses can't talk, sometimes it comes down to listening to all the opinions, watching the horse and checking your economic situation... if she's comfortable enough getting around (still eating, playing, etc.) and you have the money and the time to pick the best of your fix-it options and give them a chance to work - 'cause the first try doesn't always do the trick, or even the second or third - that's about all you can do. And if you're doing everything you can to the best of your ability (which it sure sounds like you are) then you've got nothing to feel guilty about.

    It never fails to amaze me how much I don't know today that I thought I knew yesterday :)

  8. I don't think her toes look too long.