The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rose Doesn't Want Her Medicine

Rose is a bit lame in her off fore. (I have decided to revert to archaic nomenclature - ships get to have a special word for it, why not horses?) I pulled her out of the pasture to have a look and to have another go at trimming her feet.

She's puffy around the tendon. I fear she's pulled something in her fetlock because the ground is so heavy in that field - but it's the only field with a shelter. Her legs and feet worry me. Her hind feet have what I suspect might be what Ovnicek describes as "negative palmar angle," which is when the coffin bone tilts the wrong way. You suspect NPA when a line drawn along the hairline on the rear foot would extend forward to above the knee on the foreleg. It goes with very flat pasterns. I really don't know what all are the consequences of this problem, but when you look at Rose's rear legs in action, it's rather anxiety-causing - the pastern flattens out completely, with the fetlock dropping very close to the ground. It looks like there's way too much strain on the whole system. I guess careful trimming over time can improve things, but there's no easy fix.

Here is a hind foot. This doesn't show it at its worst, but it gives an idea.

I thought maybe some banamine might be in order. I don't mind if her leg is sore, as that could help to keep her careful. But the banamine could also reduce the inflammation, which might be a good idea. Poor Rose has had so many treatments and procedures in the past that as soon she sees a medicine tube coming at her, she removes her head as far away as possible. So I resolved not to hold onto her head at all, no matter how gently, and let her dictate how things would go. She let me get pretty close, even allowing me to squirt a tiny bit into her mouth:

But that was all. Although she got comfortable with me rubbing the tube all over her head and over her lips, she wouldn't let me squeeze any more in. I tasted a tiny morsel to see what it was like - chalky, and a little sweet. I decided the banamine wasn't necessary, and it was best to leave it alone.

Because she has a sore leg, of course it's hard for her to stand on three legs during trimming. In the end I let her graze on the lawn and tagged along after her, waiting until it was comfortable and convenient for her to give me the foot I was currently working on. She could manage a few moments at a time, so I made some improvements - although it's going to be a long-term project.

Well, we didn't get a whole lot accomplished, but it was quite a nice bonding time for Rose and me.


  1. That is very interesting about the negative palmer angle. Do you know what would have caused this? Was this conformation she was born with or is it the result of management (or mismanagement) later in her life?

  2. First of all, I called it the wrong thing - in the hind feet it's called plantar not palmar.

    I don't really know what causes it - it's overloading the heels, which could be poor conformation. I guess it could happen if you let the toes get way too long. It seems to go with a very bull-nosed hoof, which Rose does have. Some people recommend putting a wedge under the heel, but I'm going to try and improve it more gradually with trimming. Rose is built very uphill, which is nice, but it's almost as if her rear end needs to come up more - as if she's always slightly crouching in the back. She's young - so I really hope we can improve things, as I'm sure otherwise she's set up for some serious joint and muscle problems in later life.

    One thing you can do to improve things is to bring breakover as far back as possible.

  3. I had a long conversation today with my trimming friend, who is a lot more experienced than I am, and I have more information about NPA!

    These horses have very underrun heels - it looks like they have no heel, but they often have very long, squashed heels. Growth in the heel, therefore, is of no use to the foot in providing support. You have to keep the heel trimmed down and back. Once the foot begins to become more balanced, the heel will grow more upright and provide support. It's important to bring breakover as far back as possible and take off as much toe as possible. Taking off toe from underneath helps the foot mechanically to tip forward, thus de-weighting the heel, allowing it to grow more upright.

    These horses often have very long toes (although they may not look like it to an inexperienced eye). Long toes cause delayed breakover. Delayed breakover in the front legs means that the horse is unable to track up without over-reaching. The horse will often learn to track to the outside of the front feet - causing cow hocks. Both Rose, and another TB mare I knew in MS (whose feet were much worse than Rose's) had a very splayed-footed stance at the rear - caused partly I guess by the over-reaching problem and partly because without heel support, and with the consequent disruption of the stay apparatus, they try to balance themselves by making a wider base to stand on.

    The good news is that with frequent trimming, the feet can be balanced and become normal. Frequent trimming is also necessary because it can be very hard for the horse to stand on 3 legs, and so you can't do much at one time. Frequent = every week if possible.

    It's rather sad that Rose was described to me as "lazy." No wonder she's reluctant to move quickly - it's very difficult for her. My trimming friend had a TB with very bad feet, with NPA, and when they were finally getting sorted out, he underwent a personality change and started galloping around and trying to steal mares from the other TB gelding!

  4. And it was the conflict with the other gelding which lead my friend to decide to try and find another home for him, and she swapped him to a lady who loves TBs for a horse she wanted to get rid of, and that horse was .... George!