Saturday, March 15, 2014

More on the Mare

As I continue down this incredibly rocky road with Sassy, I question everyday, my own sanity.  Why am I still pumping time, money and heart ache, into this horse?

She seems better, then worse, then better, and then worse again.

I'm not 100% positive but I think my barefoot trimmer gave up on me the day I told her I was working on my own horse in between visits.  She sent a text asking how she was doing, I told her she was sore and I was headed out to work on her, she asked what I was doing and I told her.  She had so much toe callus she was parking out in front and hobbled even on soft dirt.  I took off what ever toe callus was able to slough off easily and then took the advice of someone who I trust, and took her heels and bars down a little as well.

When I was done she was yawning and licking and chewing and generally much happier.  So I took that as  good sign. I told the trimmer what I had done, and I have not heard back since.  I don't know if that means she is done with us, or if she has just been busy.  I guess time will tell. Somewhere out there, there has to be a barefoot trimmer, who not only understands what I am trying to accomplish, but one who promotes owners having hands on experience with their own horses.

Every so often I go back and file off a little more. The problem is that she is walking on live sole 24/7.  I don't know how to fix that.   Yesterday I had the new farrier come and put Killian's new shoes on, and had him go ahead and trim Sassy up a little more.  I'm not unhappy with the job he did, I'm totally indifferent.  The reason being, that it doesn't appear to be much different than what I have already been doing.  I suspect that is because her feet are so jacked up there isn't much too be done.  I think he did take the heel down just a tad more and it seems as though her frogs are making more contact.  Unfortunately I was not able to be here when he came to talk with him about what he did, and didn't do with her, so I don't know.  He does promote the hands on work by owners, but I am not 100% sure if we are on the same page with what I am trying to accomplish with her.  Of course the one thing I keep saying is that you can't cripple a cripple horse, so I know for a fact that nothing he did made her any worse. Which is the same for me.  I haven't hurt her in any way, hopefully I am helping her.

I don't have any pictures right now. I keep trying to take some but I never ever have any help and so they turn out like crap.  I cannot hold the camera, hold the hoof, make sure there are not shadows, and make sure we are at a good angle all by myself.

On a side note, I do like the way Killian's shoes look. They are not all squeezed in on the heels, but they are set back far enough to give him good support. He seems to be moving well in them. I will ride him this weekend and that will be the true test.

Anyway, I took Sassy out yesterday and worked her. I was going to ride her, but she did not want to be caught. So we spent half of our "work out" time with me driving her around her pen while she did her cute little cow horse moves. (Bitch!)  By time she was done she was already sweating pretty well.  However by time she let me catch her, she was not limping. She did get 2 grams of bute that morning, but still, the bute didn't used to make much difference so clearly blood flow is helpful. (duh)

Since our time was cut short I just took her to the freshly worked arena and we did ground work.  I noticed something yesterday. All my horses are one sided.   She was more than happy to WTL in circles to the left.  I figured since her left foot is worse, then it would be more difficult, but no...she was fine.  When I asked for her to go to the right, she forgot what forward was, and fell apart.  Strangely reminiscent of a certain paint horse I know.   She kept wanting to run backwards, and get stuck.

So I pushed her over to the fence, moved her front end across (that part she does great) and then drove her forward,  She had no choice but to go the direction I asked.  but of course once she got off the fence she tried to fall apart again. So we started again. After the 3rd try she was trotting forward in a circle and eventually was able to kick it up to a less than proper lope. It was very much like Trax's, "I'm staying as far and as hard on the end of this lead rope as I can."  So we stopped and started again.  We stopped and started over and over again until she simply loped forward with out yanking on the rope. One time around and I let her rest.

She was shaking.  (insert sad face here) And then I was wondering if we over did it.

So we just walked. I lead and she followed.  We walked over poles and obstacles and she acted like she was afraid of the bridge.

When we were in WY the arena we often used had a bridge that required a horse to step up about 1.5 feet in order to get on it.  Her favorite thing was to climb up there for fun. She is part goat. So for her to act like she couldn't walk across my bridge, was her being stubborn.  It took a few tries but finally she got up there.

Then she wouldn't come off.

(really Sassy?)

This horse cracks me up, and I guess that is why I keep doing what I am doing.

Anyway, we just dinked around after that and pretty soon instead of leading her in straight lines I was one rein driving her in straight lines...over the bridge and the poles.  It was kind of cool.

After we were done and she was breathing normal, and had not been shaking for a long time, I hosed her off.  She loves a bath and then a nice roll in the dirt.

She is kind of sore today, not sure if it is from the trim or the work, but I gave her the last of my bute today and the last of her BL solution.  I'm actually out of a lot of my supplements so a trip to the feed store is in order.

Oh and speaking of supplements, I almost forgot the most important thing I was going to say.

Sassy is FAT!  Not all over, but I noticed the other day that the little cresty patch on her neck is now a huge cresty line of fat.   Which got me to wondering if maybe this is the reason her progress is so intermittent. Even though the vets and farriers have all said she isn't laminitic, is it possible that some of the lameness is diet related?

(DD if you are reading this, I'm sure you are thinking- "Didn't I bring that up a year ago?"  And you did, and all I can say is that I am really really SLOW to grasp things.)

So, since it can't hurt to try, I have taken her off the alfalfa/Bermuda blend pellets.  She is strictly on the Purina Well-solve supplement (for IR horses) and her Bermuda hay. She is also getting ADM Gro-strong, for vitamins, to boost her cooper and zinc and hopefully help her grow more hoof. I just started this change this week, so it is too soon to see if there is a difference, but I will keep you posted. (because I know you are all on the edge of your seats)

She does get out to the pasture 3 or 4 times a week. The pasture is planted with Bermuda as well.

Lets face it folks. I am grasping at straws and totally taking stabs in the dark with this mare.  I am in way over my head with her.  I guess I am learning a lot because of her, but some days I feel like I am just beating my head against the wall.  I have no idea what is going to work or what isn't. I just keep trying things until something seems to give steady improvement.

 I need to know, is it this way for everyone?


  1. I feel bad for you, because I know you really want to help her. It seems there are quite a few horses with chronic hoof issues out there, and it can be so time consuming for the owners. It's almost like having a car with a flat tire, only not fixed as easily, and you feel awful because it is a living thing that feels pain. Okay, maybe it's nothing like having a car with a flat tire. I tried. I guess my analogies just suck.

    1. lol, no actually I understood exactly what you meant.

  2. Oh yes, know all about one step forward and two steps back! Keep up the good work on her feet- and I really hope you can attend an ABC Hoofcare clinic for horse owners soon, you will have so much more info on what is going on inside your horse's hooves and will have the plan you need to progress in your own trimming. And yes, she's worth it!
    The diet change sounds like a good plan, and I really hope you can stay away from Bute. It builds up in the horse's system and is very hard on their guts.

    1. I use BL liquid daily and then only save the Bute for working days. Today I gave her bute again simply because of the extra work. But I am working on getting something different for the pain

  3. An amazing blog you should read - Rockley farm - i highlighted this one certain post because i think it might be pertinent...There are many horses there that have been rehabbed - its not a blog to pooh pooh, there is substantial evidence that what they are doing is working.

    This will keep you reading their posts all night, so make sure you get enough rest and you get up occasionally to prevent blood clots lol ;)

    1. Thank you, I do follow that blog, and I do learn a lot from them. unfortunately I need a little more than pictures and reading to truly grasp what it is I need to be doing. Through them, Smazourick, Dancing Donkey, Andrea @ Mustang Saga, and my friend A, down the road I am learning a ton of good stuff. Now I just have to get handy with the tools! :-)

  4. Hey Cindy, I'm still out here. Haven't been commenting much cause of trouble with my hands, but I haven't gone away. I think the feed changes you've made are great and will help, you need to give them about three months. You might want to check out California Trace Plus, the Gro Strong is not bad, but the Ca trace has higher levels of Cu and Zn and is designed specifically for western hay. Turns out it also works well with my hay and it is what I am using now. I've seen real improvement in everyone in the past couple of months. he owner, Sally Hugg, is very knowledgeable and is a trimmer as well. She know feet and she knows nutrition, she may even know trimmer your area. It might be worth a call to her.

    I am with Feral Woman to a point, I think Rockley has the right idea. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as just not trimming. Rockley gets results by having the horses moving around the tracks all day and working many miles. With your pen/pasture setup, they'll never get the miles they need to truly self trim. I have the same trouble her in frozen NY. She does have a book, called Feet First, which is very good. You might be able to set up some kind of track system on your property.

    What I would do if Sassy were mine is try the casts combined with the dental impression material. This would give you constant frog stimulation combined with sole protection. It has the added bonus of providing immediate pain relief so the horse can walk normally, which is necessary for normal growth. Hopefully, you'll get enough improvement in a just a few short trim cycles that she will be comfy barefoot afterwards. You can get some really amazing results with this combo. If you want to try it, get in touch and I can tell you where to get everything and walk you through the whole process. This is something you can do on your own, although I would suggest that you practice wrapping the foot with vet wrap first and buying a couple of extra casts just in case. I found a place where you can get them for $5 each so it is relatively cheap as well. Just get in touch if you want to give it a try, I really do think it could help.

    1. Thank you DD, and I am glad to know that you are still there. I did notice that your posts on your own blog were shorter and your comments were less and less, so I was wondering what was up. I am sorry to hear that your hands are bothering you. I do have some questions about the casts, so I will shoot you an email about that. I do put her boots on her anytime she goes to the pasture. I don't for the arena because it is so so soft the boots are almost a hindrance. But I am due for new pads and so I don't know how much relief they give.

      I send that email today with the questions.

  5. I feel your pain. A lame horse is such a painful journey. But she sounds like she's feeling pretty good! I think she's improved enough that you should definitely keep with it. I typed a much mre awesome comment last night but i accidentally deleted it. :)

  6. I think, from my own experience, that actually they do like to poke the sorer foot forwards and lope on that lead better than to have it take more weight under their body going the other way. Yep, I did the 'what to do' dance with my sweet mare for 4 years. No comforting story for you though, because for us there was none, but I do feel your pain and I do understand the going round and round with ideas and hoof workers (for me it was vets). You are doing your best for her so you have nothing to reproach yourself with, whatever the outcome.

    By the way, we only have 2 and 3/4 acres here but I got a pretty good laneway system set up by running electric tape laneways round the edges of the property so my horse and pony had to go the long way to get from their fave shady place to water to hay etc. They seemed to really like it (maybe satisfied that horsie need to travel better than a square paddock) and it did keep them moving a lot better.

  7. As far as Sassy being better some days and worse on others- think of it this way. Are YOU seriously 100% every day? NO? Really???? GOOD! Me neither! None of us are. We all have good days and bad days. The horses are no different. I have days my body says NO WAY! and other days it is saying OH YEAH! You're trying, which is more than a lot of people out there would even bother with so don't ever beat yourself up for that.

    I hear ya on the trimmers, farriers and pretty much everyone else involved with horse care. They can all be highly opinionated, which is good because it shows we care, but not everyone can be right- which is frustrating and not very often will two or more people agree on something. Since each case varies, it adds more room for discussion. It's a vicious cycle we have here.