Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Bit of Horse News

FINALLY. A day with horses.

Thursday was sunny and gorgeous with 60-degree temperatures. Not that I'm a fair-weather horsewoman; but it was a good motivator to get me out of the house and away from the sorting nightmare for a bit. Besides, the farrier was coming.

Shaveya received a great report. After a year and a half of careful barefoot trimming by an AANHCP-certified practitioner and a complete dietary overhaul, my beautiful little Paint mare has finally developed the deep concavity of sole that she needed. No wonder she's been cantering around the pasture rather than barely able to walk two feet. She finally has good feet!

I'm so glad that I followed my gut rather than listening to the naysayers. So many told me to put shoes on her to "protect" her tender feet. My gut said, this is wrong... pounding nails into her foot can not be good for her hoof wall..." I know what repeated nailing does to the integrity of drywall—logic told me it would be the same with the hoof: it would eventually weaken the hoof wall and cause more harm than good. Thankfully, the barn doesn't allow hind shoes. I say "thankfully" because it gave me the excuse I needed to search for non-shoe alternatives. I just said I wanted to treat the whole problem not half of it, and shoeing only the fronts IMHO would only solve half the problem.

Others thought she was "done". Wouldn't ever be rideable. Probably had navicular. Likely that she'd have to be put down.

All untrue. Since discovering Jaime Jackson's methods based on the wild hoof model, I've found information backing up my instincts, and have learned that pretty much every problem can be solved with the right trim, NO shoes, and the proper environment, diet and exercise program. My mare is living proof of this.

Shaveya has insulin-resistance. It's like being a diabetic. Too much sugar makes her feet hurt, plus someone chopped her too short and at the wrong angles so she had heel pain and a thin solar base. Basically, her P3 (coffin bone) was too close to the ground. It's like quicking yourself when you trim your nails too short. It was especially apparent on soft ground such as grass or sand. She could walk fine on gravel. Isn't that the opposite of what you'd think with a horse with sore feet? The reason, as I discovered while taking a two-day Pete Ramey hoof care clinic this summer, is that the soft ground allows the hoof to sink in and the ground surface comes into contact with the sole whereas the harder gravel surface provides support so there is less solar contact.

In addition to the trim changes, her diet was changed. All sugar was removed. That means no more SWEET FEED!!! No molasses. Do you know how many horse products, treats and whatnot, contain molasses? ALL of them! She's been on a strict diet of whole oats mixed with Purina 12/12 and Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. She also no longer gets chemical wormers. I use a product called N.O.M.S. Powder that is a natural method of killing worms. It works. She also stays off the grass early in the spring when the sugar content is highest. After mid-summer it's okay for her to graze again. She grumbles a bit about being banned from grass (grinds her teeth) but it's for the best. If she eats early grass she goes lame.

Cheerios is also on the diet. His hooves were already good except for the quarter crack on the right front. That's all changed, too. He blew a huge abcess last fall in that same hoof at the coronet band. Eventually the abcess site grew down and met up with the crack to form a T. It looked AWFUL. About that time, I stopped leasing him and got him back under my control. I put him on the same farrier schedule as Shaveya and changed his diet, and the crack is gone. His hooves look even better.

OK, this is boring talking about medical stuff. The fun part: playing and riding! I played with both of them a little bit, then turned out Shaveya and saddled up Cheerios. A couple friends met up with me around 4:00. Yes, it gets dark early. But we went out anyway on a sunset trail ride, which was fun and a little creepy being in the woods at dusk. It was pitch black when we were coming back down the lane but the ride was good. We didn't see any deer. Well, we didn't actually SEE anything because it was too dark. LOL!

What tickled me the most was something that happened when I first was bringing him in for his trim, down the lane from the pasture. There are two mini-ditches in the grassy area that borders the lane between the pastures. They are so small it is easy to step over them. However, I got it into my head to see if I could ask Cheerios to jump them even though he could span them with back hooves on one side and front hooves on the other and not have to stretch. The first time, I stepped across one then sent him over (directed him to cross). I sent with a bit of energy. He tilted his head at me, then jumped it lightly. Yay! At the second one, I paused. I looked at him, then I made a big show of hopping over it. He hopped right over it, mimicking me. Such joy. After trying SO HARD to communicate with him in so many sessions and getting nowhere, to have him just mimic me like that without any forethought or serious work was hilarious to me. Can it really be that easy?

Sometimes, the Good Lord blesses you with a moment like that, to remind you that sometimes what you think is so difficult to accomplish is really very simple.

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