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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quite a Workout

Mirabile dictu - the miniature horse was apparently arthritis-free!


Hind feet


Two and a half hours later, after trying to use a hacksaw which turned out not be sharp enough, and so resorting to using the nippers, we'd managed to get them looking like this:


The heel was still way too high, and the hoof capsules - especially the hinds - were too distorted to allow a proper shape to emerge on the first trimming. I don't blame the owner. He was a good guy - another grandpa keeping a horse for his granddaughter - he'd asked his previous farrier to keep him on her schedule, which hadn't happened, and he'd been calling her and receiving no response. I'm calling him to schedule another trim in a month, when hopefully there'll be a bit more straight growth coming out of the coronet band. At least I think I made the pony a flat surface to land on.

He said two other farriers had told him (because of the pony's funny feet) that the pony "had foundered." Personally I doubt it, and I discussed it with my laminitis-savvy trimming friend, who also thought it unlikely. The pony got in this pickle because he has rock hard little hoofs, and no weight to wear them away.

When we started, the little guy was all for rearing and plunging. His owner snubbed him up tight to the post, which only made matters worse. I asked for us to move to a softer surface, to make it easier for him to stand on his little rockers, and I asked his owner to not fight with him and to just let him move when he wanted to. I had a discussion with the pony and told him he could have his foot back whenever he wanted, as long as he asked nicely.

The pony understood perfectly, and pretty soon we were really able to get to work. He became very cooperative, and when he got too tired of lifting one leg, I'd move to another, and in this way we finally got the feet down to a point where the pony could at least be more comfortable and where his hoofs would have a chance to grow in straight. There was one point when I wanted to work more on the LH (the worst one), and he really didn't want to let me have that foot. So I refused to let go even though he kept kicking. He finally got the better of me, but he must have realized I really, really wanted that foot, because he then figured out a way of just lifting it up enough that I could prop it up on my boot and work on it that way.  When we were all done, I had the owner walk him out, and he walked out nicely. No sign of soreness, which I think also argues against founder.

This is the third male owner (all of whom keep horses for their grandchildren) who was very vague about the horse's name. The first two managed to remember the names after some thought - obviously using names is not part of their normal interaction with the horses, even though they are the main caregiver. The owner of this mini, however, could not remember the name at all. So we were calling him Buddy, of course.

Quite a different situation with the horses I trimmed today. - two summer-camp horses, who had over-wintered at a local farm here. Their foster-owner was a woman who had taken them in the hopes she would get some riding. She'd ended up being too busy with the dairy farm and all, but had taken good care of her two charges, who looked healthy and were very friendly. And she knew their names! She also had names for her cows. I was trimming away, and this enormous old Brown Swiss cow came up to stare at us - the nice farmer lady keeps her old cows around because she gets fond of them.

Sam, a Haflinger, and Raspberry, an Appaloosa gelding, didn't seem arthritic either! And they had pretty nice feet. Raspberry has very soft, chippy wall - he's going to have shoes on, but he'd chipped away so much of the wall, that there wasn't much left to attach shoes too. The farmer lady said he'd had shoes attached with clips last summer. So I didn't sweat it, and trimmed the bits that hadn't chipped to match the bits that had. He didn't have very much concavity. Raspberry was sore on his LH afterwards - I hadn't walked him out before trimming (mea culpa), so I don't know if I caused it. Hopefully not, as I didn't take much off the hinds at all. Raspberry was anxious when held tight - so again I told the owner not to fight with him or try to hold him still - that we'd let him move if he wanted and rely on his voluntary cooperation to get the job done. Once he didn't feel trapped, he proved to be helpful and calm.

Sam had nice feet - pretty tough, but not so tough that they wouldn't break off before getting too long - and a decent concavity. His RF toe was especially long - and I noticed he was reluctant to weight that foot, leaning on me when I picked up the LF. I think there might be some minor pain somewhere in his joints along that leg. I thought he was going to get shoes on too, and so I left more wall on the ground than I normally would. After I was done, I found out that he doesn't get shoes at camp, but then, by the same token, hopefully that will enable him to wear down his feet better. Sam was what I think of as a typical Haflinger - smart, sturdy, bold, and curious.

These two had not been trimmed since last summer, yet their feet were in pretty good shape. I put this down to the fact that they had plenty of room to run around, and a buddy to run around with. The owner said they frequently galloped full-tilt around the field together. Whereas a couple of other horses I've seen, with badly overgrown feet, had less turnout and/or no buddies to encourage play and exercise. I didn't feel bad for Sam and Raspberry going back to camp, because the farmer lady said that the camp owners were very nice, and took good care of the horses, and never sent them to sale.

When I was done, I reflected on the fact that once again, I had not really produced a set of textbook trimmed hoofs. They looked pretty good from the outside, but from the underneath - well, they're ok, but I feel I should have dug more for the true sole, I should have unearthed the true apex of the frog, and so on. I hope to keep learning and improving and become quicker, more efficient, and more confident - for now I take comfort in the thought that I seem to be doing a better job than some others I'm hearing stories about. At least I answer my phone.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really enjoying these trimming stories :)

    My own horses don't have textbook hooves. They decided when the grass came in that they didn't want to stand for trimming anymore and now their bars are terribly overgrown. I'll be doing bar work on a hoof a day each week until I get them under control again. Bleh.