Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Time to Speak Up

I was given some really great links by DD to Pete Ramey's website and some of his articles.  I read through one in particular on navicular syndrome, which is what the Vet says Sassy has.  It was very interesting and comes to me from what seems to be a very sound concept.  There seems to be data to back it up.

Basically it says that Navicular is not a disease but a symptom of an issue that can be healed if the hoof is trimmed properly allowing the digital cushions to heal so that the horse is comfortable landing heel first.  It says that a horse that is landing heal first can have deterioration of the navicular bone and never even feel it.  This is the complete opposite of what the vet told me. He says the deterioration is what causes her to land toe first, when new research shows that it is the landing toe first which causes the deterioration. I guess it is the age old question, which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Here is the link to that article for the more technical and accurate version of that.

He also advocates the use of the Easyboot Epics with pads.

I wondered what the difference is between using the clogs, (which are rasped to give her the "wedge type support") and the pads which to me seems like they are cut to do the same thing.  Link to his article on boots as well.

I guess there is a difference in what they are designed to do. I don't fully understand it yet, but will go back and read a little slower so that I do.

So this is all great information, except for one small problem. Pete Ramey is on the other side of the continent. His students are AHA certified, my current farrier for Sassy is ELPO certified. 2 Different camps dealing with the same things, but with different methods. Some of it seems to overlap but not all of it.  Would you believe that there is not a single AHA or ELPO certified farrier in the state of WY. Well no I take that back, there are 2 ELPO farriers, but no certified lameness experts.

As I sit here and read through what I have found, or rather what was given to me, I feel like someone has put a big fat chocolate cake in front of me, topped with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and said you can look, and you can smell it, but you can't have it.   Key word here being "I feel".

Realistically though, that is not how it is.  These are my horses, and my money that is paying for the help that I am asking for. So I should be able to say to either one of my farriers, "This is what I want.", right?   The problem up till now has been that I did not know what I wanted.  I still am not positive, but I am learning.

What I do know is that I'm sick of jumping from one thing to another without fully understanding what I am looking for. It is no longer enough to just say, "fix her."  I need to be clear on what I want, and exactly what my expectations are. Eventually I'd like to be to the point where I can do my own trims, but that is going to take time, and Sassy doesn't really have a whole lot of that.

I started thinking about Mark Keil.  I first met him when I needed special shoes for Sassy when she had the chipped coffin bone. He came and he did exactly what I asked for, he never questioned anything, he just did as he was told. If something wasn't right (by my vets standards) I called him up and he came out and fixed it at no charge. Then he came again to tweek it because she was very uncomfortable, and one more time to remove the shoes.  Again, not once did he ever offer an opinion, he only asked what I wanted. He trimmed my other horses at times, and I was never unhappy with what he did. I went back to using Jay because he was cheaper for me, but in truth they trim about the same. When Jay was no longer available, I went back to Mark.

I do recall that the first time we met I asked him if he did "Natural Balance" trimming. I can't even recall what his answer was.  (because my memory sucks)   He did take a look at Sassy's clogs, but never offered an opinion. Never said a word.  I was so happy that she wasn't limping, I never bothered to ask what he thought. I was too busy running on and on about how amazing it was!  (ugh at that mental image)

I wonder how many times people listen to me run on and on about stuff and think, "What a fricking idiot!"
Probably more than I care to know.

Anyway, I have noticed that about Mark, he doesn't offer up much unless asked.  He just does his job and gets his money and moves on. Probably a smart tactic to have in a small town like Casper.  I like Mark, I like how he trains my horse,(and me) I like how he trims, he is a great guy and a true gentleman.  But you know what?  He has never done a barefoot trim on Sassy. Not once.  Why? Because I never asked him too. I never once asked him, "Hey Mark, what would you do with a horse for navicular?"

I like the other farrier too, Steve Foxworth. He answered my questions, looked for solutions, and he did ask what I wanted, but my answer was "I dunno, fix her."

So now I see the treatment I think I want to follow. I like the stuff I am reading and learning. I will continue to learn more until I can do.  But why do I feel like I shouldn't be allowed to say what it is I want?  Why am I afraid to say, "Hey Steve, I want to follow a treatment like Pete Ramey's for this mare, can you do that?"  Whats the worst he can do, say no? Get his feelings hurt?  I guess, I'm afraid of seeming ungrateful, even though I am not ungrateful.  What I am is smart enough to see that she is hurting, and I don't want her to hurt. My horse, my  money, right? (well whats left of it)

I wonder what the answer would be if I asked Mark to help me with a treatment as described in that article? (I should clarify, not just that article.  The more I read the more I find with similar treatment plans)

I guess what I am finally coming to realize, is that it is up to me to know what my horses need.   Of course I won't always know everything, but I need to know more. I need to know enough to be able to speak up and say, "I want you to do this."   If I don't get to that point, I will always be at everyone else's mercy and will continue to deal with this complete and total frustration.


  1. Learning the anatomy of the equine foot is an amazingly complex and challenging occupation. From what (very little) I've learned, is that the more likely something makes sense to me, the very opposite is true in functionality and use. I pay my farrier to know what he is doing, not to do what I want him to do. That being said, like everything else out there...there's a whole lot of people with a whole lot of differing opinions. Just make sure of their credentials before you tell a professional how to do their job. Good luck with Sassy. That is exactly what I'm dealing with, with Sugar. She has Navicular Syndrome, a fancy term for heel pain. She has bone degeneration and a cyst (hole) in her navicular bone. Right now, we have her shod with natural balance (or PLR) shoes that are aluminum and have a raised (wedged) heel. She's still lame, but better than she was barefoot.

    1. I do agree with your statement about telling a professional how to do their job. But with that in mind, when they ask me what I want them to do, I want to have a better answer than "Uhhhhhhhh" :-)

  2. Oh, one more note on that's very important to bob the horse's toe. They don't round it like you usually see, but cut and rasp it rather squared and much shorter than normal to increase their breakover and reduce the pull on the tendons and ligaments that attach to the navicular bone. The other very important factor in shoeing a horse with heel pain is to set the shoe much farther back on the foot than what you normally see. My boss says that's why they refer to this profession as the "practice" of veterinary medicine. They're always learning, but unless the individual has a lot of knowledge in the area of the anatomy and functionality of the equine foot, it's functioning, or the way it "seems" is not at all how it really happens or works. Hope that makes's hard to explain.

  3. The difference between the clogs and pads is actually pretty radical and goes to the heart of the matter. In a nutshell, what Pete Ramey and Rockley Farm would say is that the heel pain is the result of inadequate development of the internal structures of the hoof. To correct this, the horse needs to develop the internal structures in the back of the foot. The pads that Ramey uses are made of foam and are meant to cushion the sensitive area while also stimulating it to grow. They are usually cut in a triangle so that they fit directly over the frog. Bedding and/or working the horse in pea gravel will do the same thing and is at the core of what Rockley Farm does. Exercise on a conformable, stimulating surface that encourages the foot to grow and develop in a healthy way.

    The clogs and shoes/wedges temporarily treat the symptoms, but not the problem. The idea there is that the heel is painful, therefore you cover the heel with a rigid shoe/clog/pad so that the heel never touches the ground. It does provide some immediate pain relief - for a while. The problem with this approach is that, the internal structures of the foot get even less stimulation so they atrophy even more, which is why the horse becomes lame again. Adding a wedge at this point, again gives temporary pain relief - for a while. Over time, the wedges get bigger and bigger until the whole foot falls apart under the strain and it is time to put the horse down.

    The difference between the Ramey pads and the clogs is that the pads provide a soft, conforming surface that helps stimulate the hoof. The clogs completely cover the hoof and prevent all stimulation.

    I have also found that heel pain can be caused by a deep sulcus infection. It can be hard to detect as it often hides under what may appear to be healthy frog. It causes intense pain that is very often diagnosed as navicular.

    I wonder if Mark would be able to help you if you had HIM watch the videos? If he is willing that is.

    That's it for my quick and dirty nutshell summary.:) If you have questions you can get in touch with me at aerissana at

    1. Thank you for the clarification. When I went home and really read the literature I had printed off, that was pretty much the conclusion I came to too.
      When TC read it, his first questions was, "Where do we get those boots."
      That's why I love him.
      Mark will actually be at my house next week to trim my boys so I will ask him to watch her move then. Seeing the real live version is so much better than videos.

  4. It can be so hard to speak up. I didn't want to just read and run. Human and I have no help to offer you just to sympathise with your dilema. xx

  5. Pete Ramey is my favorite hoof guy. He's so passionate about what he does, so curious and always learning. He's one of the best of the best, and yet he's not arrogant, he's kind. I went to one of his clinics when he was still doing them and I can't tell you how many times I had goosebumps, learning about the hoof. Fascinating stuff.

    Give it a shot, if you can. Be careful telling a farrier what to do though. And when I think about navicular I remember that Pete Ramey bought trailer loads of foundered horses and healed them, but he wasn't buying navicular horses. If the damage is there, it's there. However, you can make her more comfortable and if the damage is minimal, she might just be fine. My sister had a horse diagnosed with minor navicular changes and he's completely sound again once she stopped shoeing him and started trimming him right again.

    I didn't realize Sassy had been diagnosed with navicular. I thought her hooves reminded me of it, but for some reason I thought the vet never saw anything wrong in her radiographs.

    And if MK doesn't offer his opinion all over the place, he's my kind of horseman. I find, with horse people, it's often best to keep your mouth shut unless asked. If someone isn't ready to hear, there's no point in wasting words.

    1. He did finally come up with that diagnosis, but he says the damage to the bone is slight. Which is why I am still hanging on to the hope that we can find a "happy spot" for her where she feels ok.