Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Search For A Farrier – Part III

In Part I, I told you about how THE BEST had crippled Jazzy by trimming her too short.  THE KID and I had tried several times to get her barefoot and sound.  It never worked.  Within 12 hours, she would be mincing steps and after four days, she would have shoes back on.  One time, we conspired to give her bute and let her “toughen up”.  That didn’t work either.  By the end of two weeks, she could hardly walk.  We had to put a folded towel under her feet so she could stand to get the shoes on.  Once the shoes were on, she walked off sound. *sigh  I felt so bad that I had made her suffer. 

During Friday’s appointment, STEVE worked on five horses:  Chiquita, Piper, Biff, Cappy, and Jazzy.  Chiquita and Cappy were straight-forward trims, with no major issues. 

Biff is a Standardbred with crappy conformation, and had been raced 75 times in two years.  His hocks, stifles, and hips are completely shot!  As a result, he “wings” in the back and if trimmed incorrectly, will clip himself.  I relayed this to STEVE and he had me trot Biff across the grass.  After watching him move, STEVE set to work.  Three times during the process, he had me walk and trot Biff to make sure his corrections/trimming would allow Biff to move without pain or stress, and not clip himself.  Biff took a nap while the trimming was done, and trotted out with very little encouragement.  I certainly got a workout!

According to her mom, Piper had the same issue as Jazzy.  She had been trimmed too short, too much sole removed, and as a result was sore on the front.  So shoes were put on.  Now, it makes sense to me (and to Piper’s mom) to put shoes on to protect the sole until the hoof can grow out, and reduces pain.  However, by constricting the hoof with rigid metal, blood flow is constricted and the healing doesn’t take place.  When STEVE looked at Piper’s front feet, he commented on a couple things.  First, she had almost no sole.  Restricted blood flow to the sole had prevented it from growing.  Second, since part of her weight bearing tissue was removed (the sole), her hoof wall and heels/frog had to compensate.  Piper is a BIG mare!  She is probably 16 hands or better, and weighs 1200 pounds or more. Since she didn’t have all her hoof supporting her weight, her heels crushed and were becoming under-run.  So STEVE pulled the foot back and trimmed the walls so the sole would make contact with the ground.  He didn’t touch the sole or the frog and so far, the mare is sound and comfortable. 

Then came Jazzy.  We talked a length about her, what had happened, what I expected.  I did NOT want him coming back in two days to put shoes on her because she was lame.  I wanted to either put shoes on now, or he take extra care so she wouldn’t be lame.  And Jazzy has other issues going on in addition to the front end.  When she was five, she spooked at the clippers, reared straight up, then her hind legs failed and she sat HARD, causing a pelvis injury that ended her riding days.  You can tell by looking at her that she carries all her weight up front, pulls on the front end, and her hind end goes where she goes simply because it’s attached.  When I bought her, she had a big, round, classic Quarter Horse rump.  Now she is the butt-less wonder! 

So STEVE had me get the mare and walk her up and back several times.  Then he pulled the shoes, and worked on the walls.  Then we walked, followed by a little change, more walking, and more change.  He showed me a quarter crack and told me to keep an eye on it. Then he worked very little on the sole in the middle third of the hoof. STEVE said he did this to allow the sole to flex without causing pain.  I didn’t totally understand this concept, but as long as the mare isn’t in pain, I’m ok with it.  As of today, ten days later, Jazzy is still sound.

So in all this talk about STEVE, what happened to MIKE, you might ask.  He was there, conferring with STEVE, doing the heavy lifting in the back.  I suspect that STEVE’s back bothers him and he can only bend for so long.  But unwilling to stop working on horses, he has enlisted MIKE to help.  More than once, MIKE stopped the work he was doing and the two of them discussed what was going on with the hoof, and how best to proceed.  This “conference” didn’t happen with every horse, but almost.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with STEVE and MIKE.  I like their demeanor, their patience, and their willingness to answer a question in full before proceeding.  I also like the fact that they start working, have me walk the horse, then go back to work, rather than the “nip, cut, rasp, and done” that we all have seen from other farriers, turning out cookie-cutter trim jobs because its easy and fast.  None of those other farriers explained anything to me unless I asked and was persistent.  I feel like FINALLY I am getting something right.

1 comment:

GreyDrakkon said...

Is it possible for you to put up photos of the feet right now so that you can compare them to the next trim? I know a few people who are very interested in barefoot trimming and would LOVE to read all about your process, particularly with the difficult situations like underrun heels and club feet.