Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 23

 First thing I noticed this morning was Little Love's swollen front left leg.  It wasn't excessively swollen, but just a bit on the inside and below the fetlock join.  Great.  All I need is an injury on the day of the first trim.  I took her out and she had a slight limp in the beginning, but sort of worked it out after moving around a bit.  The leg was a bit warm, but it was very local, so I just ran a bit of cold water over it before the trimmer showed up.  Will have to keep an eye on that one...

The trimmer was both good and not so good.  The good thing about him was that he did what I expected him to do, and talked about all the things I have learned about in the past year.  Little Love has sole contraction, heel contraction and frog contraction (to mention a few...) - but over all he was positive about how her feet looked after being in shoes for over ten years.  In other words, he's seen worse.  And I agree.  It could be worse.  The heel was also underslung and high, but it seems to me that that is to be expected in a shod hoof.  I felt that he truly trimmed with the contractions in mind, as he wants to help the hoof expand and grow properly.  Also, the way it has been shaped so far, has put quite excessive pressure on the inside of both front hooves and this really has made the sole compromised. 

The not so good part was the fact that I felt he trimmed her hooves a tad aggressively and now she is quite sore.  I'm not sure if we could have avoided the soreness with everything that was going on, but in any case, I believe you should always try to leave the horse as sound as possible, because this encourages movement.  And movement is what a barefoot horse needs, especially one with all these contractions.  Not to mention that everything heels faster in the absence of pain.  I did talk to the trimmer at length beforehand, telling him that I would prefer him to trim every two weeks a little rather than once every six weeks a lot, but he didn't feel like that was a good plan.  So, I let him do his thing.  Of course, what do I really know about trimming?  Lots of theory, but no so much the practice.  So in hindsight, would I have asked this trimmer to come, had I known he was this aggressive?  I don't know.  There are not lots of options for me at the moment. So, I'm trying not to think of what I should or could have done.  The trim is done and now we have to deal with the aftermath and look into the future.

So, after the trim, poor Little Love was not walking very well at all on the hard concrete that unfortunately surrounds the barn.  However, when I opened her stall door, she was very motivated to go outside into the pasture, actually coming out before Col.  Slowly (and painfully) she made her way to the edge of the pasture, over the frozen (and semi-hard) mud.  My heart sunk, literally, until I saw her finally walk onto the grass, where she actually moved normally.  Thank goodness for our fantastic grass pasture!  Even when it's below freezing, it's soft enough for my sore horse.  This gave me hope that perhaps everything isn't as bad as it looked on the cement.  I know there is a lot going on in her legs at the moment with the blood flow coming back 100% and restoring nerve funtion (i.e. feeling) so I just have to brace myself for the next days (and hope she can do the same).  I will try to help her in every (natural) way possible.  I went to the store to buy some stuff for setting up a "soaking station" for her, tomorrow I'll try that with the clicker, hopefully I could at least get her fronts to soak for a while.


  1. First I want to say I am super happy that you went with a Strasser trimmer. Hopefully he is a good one. As you mentioned many take the basics and put their own twist on it. I personally don't feel that is a good idea. I have found that you run into too many problems by doing this and the horse becomes more sore. Strasser trims the way she does for a very specific reason and that should be respected. Although there is a difference between a "clinic" trim and a "field" trim, providing the living conditions of the horse are as such to alter the trim any great deal. Mainly the thing that is different is the thickness of the sole that can be left from a clinic trim to a field trim. In a clinical situation you can thin the sole more because the horse is living on rubber flooring and is moved by hand daily, soaked daily, etc and the thinner sole allows the hoof to flex more and de-contract faster. In the field you may have to leave the sole a little thicker so the horse is not sore on rocks. But, you still want the hoof to be in optimum form, so you have to weigh this carefully. If Little Love has a big pasture that she is comfortable in and is moving well in, she will be fine :)
    Did you take pictures of her feet before and after?
    It's surprising that a Strasser trimmer would rather not trim every 2 weeks, but wait 6. I find that you should trim every week if possible when rehabbing a horse with contractions, but 2 weeks is the longest I would go until inflammation has subsided and the horse is comfortable on most surfaces.
    If she has been in shoes for 10 years, chances are there is a lot of damage internally, as I'm sure you discussed with him. When you trim to correct hoof form and function, you trim to mirror the internal structures of the foot. If this is done on a damaged foot, there will be a return of blood supply, regeneration of nerves, and pain (as you stated) but, pain is not usually from the trim itself (unless her soles were thinned so much that they were very soft to pressure or there was exposed corrium which would have bled a lot). Pain is from inflammation of the damaged tissues. You can trim a foot less "aggressively" but you are not promoting optimal healing by doing so. You are prolonging healing and damage. If Little Love is moving well in pasture, but having a hard time on the frozen mud, chances are she has pain due to inflammation and the uneven hard surfaces are uncomfortable to walk on, not because of the trim being too aggressive. She was not sore when the shoes came off because of all the contractions you named, and her feet were still mostly numb. Her hooves could not function even without the shoes with too full soles, high contracted heels, and impacted bars. As you said you have studied the anatomy of the hoof, the digital artery runs between the bar and the navicular bone, if the bars are too high and this greatly reduces blood flow even in a incorrectly trimmed bare foot, as well as prevents the hoof from expanding on impact, much like studs hold up a wall. When these levers (bars, heel height, sole contraction, etc) are removed, the hoof flexes (which it hasn't in years) and pain is recognized. It is also possible that there could joint adaptation to the crookedness and high heels over the last many years that also has to correct so that too can be painful. In the initial phase of rehab you may need to hand walk her on firm smooth surfaces (as I hope was talked about) until the inflammation has reduced enough for her to be comfortable doing so on her own. After all, this may be "as sound as possible" for her at this time :)
    I am so proud of you for doing this. I know it's hard to see your horse have sore feet, but it doesn't last forever :) It took years for her feet to get this way, so it's not going to be cured overnight. (I know you know this already :))

  2. I also want to say that I have been reading all your posts since starting this blog and it brings tears to my eyes. It is so fun to read about someone else going down this road, and how it not only changes the way we care for our horses, but the way we look at everything in our lives differently. :) You are a special person and I am so happy for you and your horse. :)))

    Much love


  3. Oh, and another thing you may want to think about is herbs to support her liver, kidneys, heart and blood, and if necessary pain management. She will be going through a lot of detox with the restoration of hoof function and she will most likely need additional support, as it is all tied together. This is another aspect rehab that is very important too :)

  4. Hi Jamie, THANK YOU for your support. I think it was a good thing you posted all the info, even though I know most of it, others who are reading may not. And also, it's good for me to be reminded of it, as it is HARD to look at your horse being in pain. But, I know it will be much much better for her in the end.
    I'm off to the barn now to see where she is at today and try walking her as much as I can/she will walk. Will post more later.
    Ps. She is on a detox program :-)
    PS2 I did take pics (on some level, only got two of the right front but five of the hinds) before and will take pics today of the after. My camera died yesterday so didn't get the immediately after the trim pic, unfortunately...

  5. Right on :)
    I think it's a good idea to keep a photo record, as well as a journal (like you are doing ;)) because sometimes, when in the middle of rehab and you feel like things just aren't getting better, you have pictures and notes to look back on and see that it IS getting better :)

    Just curious, do you have to pen her up at night? Or can she have access to the pasture at all times? From the sound of it, it seems that if she is penned up, and the ground is frozen mud that is uncomfortable for her to walk on, chances are she will stand in the barn all night (which as you know is not a good thing, but especially for a horse with inflammed hooves). Maybe if she could have access to the pasture at all times, she would move more. Just a thought :)