Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 40 It's a rollercoaster ride

It seems like this process of heeling Little Love's feet has it's ups and downs.  One day I look at her and can't believe how much progress she has made in terms of being able to move more and then the next day it looks like she has taken at least three steps back.  This process is definitely not for the impatient. 

Tuesday we had rain, which made the pasture much more bearable for Little Love's feet.  I went to the barn in the morning (usually I go in the afternoon/evening) and perhaps that is what made the difference, but she walked with me in the arena with a lot of energy.  Little Love was actually so animated that I naturally felt hopeful, making plans of progressively increasing the hand walking time each day.  Or not.  Wednesday, after being in the pasture for six hours, she was tired and sore.   Walking was a struggle even with the boots on.  Her front legs had also swelled up again on the inside, especially the left, which now seems to be obviously caused by the bad alignment of her hooves and joints.  She had this same alignment when she had shoes, but taking the shoes off seems to have made the strain even greater.  Unfortunately I'll have to wait until she grows back some hoof before these angles can be even remotely fixed (which will take time).  I'm learning patience, slowly. 

Today Little Love was really tired and really sore (but swelling on legs was gone, hhmmm), so I decided to skip the walking altogether and instead focus on soaking her feet (which I do every day before I walk).  She didn't want to stay in the buckets, so it was a bit of struggle, but we managed to do a little over 20 minutes with the fronts.  I felt pretty disheartened by her state, it almost seems like we are back to the pain she was in last week.  What the heck?  I'm hoping to get those pastern guards in the mail tomorrow so I can keep the boots on her 24/7.  Even if I don't get the wraps, I might just leave the boots on and see what happens.  Becky is coming back from her trip tonight, which will help as she can keep an eye any sores Little Love is developing and pull the boots off when needed, if I'm not there.   When she's gone her non-horse-savvy husband does the evening chores, and asking him to deal with hoof boots might a bit too much, I think he has enough to do with changing Col's blankets LOL.

I'm hoping we have just hit the downward slope on this rollercoaster ride called "going barefoot".  Maybe it will be all uphill from here?  Trying to stay positive and hopeful. 


  1. I think six hours was a lot for her, is all, and she probably overdid it all on her own.

    Meanwhile, my crooked Saxony is finally going to be trimmed by a natural hoofcare specialist tomorrow, and I'll be very mindful as I watch, thinking of you and Little Love. I have learned so much just following your notes. Thank you for writing this journey.

  2. Hi Muddy K, Yeah, I think she might have been doing some excercising of her own that day in the pasture... I just have to go one day at a time and not make any "plans", just see how she is doing that day and go from there.

    Yes, keep and eye on the specialist! Hopefully it is a good one. A good trimmer is worth more than their weight in gold... :-) I have discovered.

  3. There is a school of thought which has it that one shouldn't trim to align joints, or to achieve specific angles, but that one should trim to the landmarks in the foot, which will allow whatever alignment is most appropriate to that particular leg.

    If a horse is born with a skewy joint situation, the hoof will grow naturally to support that leg as best it can - trimming to the landmarks will preserve hoof balance while not insisting that the hoof be altered to alter an essentially unalterable leg arrangement. On the other hand, an out-of-balance hoof can create a leg problem - e.g. over at the knees. I would think that if you focus on the hoof, the leg will sort itself out.

  4. Along June's lines, check out this post from Rockley Farm:

    Rockley Farm does barefoot rehab for chronic lameness and navicular cases. Nic has a ton of good info posted.

  5. A hoof will not grow to "support" a crooked limb. A hoof will "wear" incorrectly BECAUSE of the crooked limb. The joints themselves will calcify to support the joint and the horse itself. But, generally a crooked limb is Because of a crooked coffin bone. Because the foundation of the horse is incorrect (be it crooked, high heeled, long bars, contraction, pain etc.), the rest of the body has to compensate and stabilize itself. A horses skeleton is designed so that it can sleep standing up without engaging a single muscle. This can ONLY happen if the hooves are correct and pain free and the coffin bone is in correct alignment at the end of the leg. This means level medial/laterally and ground parallel. A hoof capsule can be crooked, but that doesn't always mean the bone alignment is crooked. Hoof wall is easily separated from the coffin bone when there is unnatural forces placed on one area or another.
    If a foal is born with a crooked limb/joint, coon footed, or buck-kneed, generally all that foal needs is 'sufficiant' movement (miles every day) to correct the problem. This is what nature has designed. A wild horse - from the day it's born moves 15+ miles a day over varied terrain. Domestic foals are usually born in a stall and get very little movement. If there is a problem, they are usually treated with invasive and unnecessary surgical procedures, splinting and stall rest or confinement.
    To correct a crooked limb or joints with older horses (meaning 6 months +), you have to correct the hoof form first. You have to provide frequent corrective trimming and sufficient movement on firm smooth terrain and ideal living conditions. Orthopedic trimming may be necessary for 1-2 years (in skeletally mature horses and depending on the amount of ossification present in the joints), until the joints have reshaped themselves back into physiologically correct alignment. Bone has a great biological plasticity and can change shape at any age, so a horse's conformation can be changed at any age (for the better, or for the worse). Changes come easier when they are younger because they are still growing, but it is still very achievable at older ages.

  6. I have a hard time with all the "let the hoof be your guide" and "well it's what the 'hoof' wants" philosophy. It is not truth. It is not science. It is not biologically correct. A hoof is a perfect mechanical metabolic organ. It has very specific functions. The design of the bones, tendons, ligaments, lymphatic and vascular systems are very specific functions of the leg and hoof, and vital to the health of the horse. Every organ in the horse depends on movement, as they are a nomadic herd animal. Their hoof is purposefully designed as a circulatory (blood) pump, a waste (metabolic protein) removal system, as well as a shock absorbing, protective foundation for that animal to move on. If they are not trimmed to correct angles, of the heels are not at the proper height, under-run or contracted, if the bars are too high, too long or if they are laid over or contracted/impacted, if the hoof is crooked or if the soles are too thick or contracted, all these things hinder or eliminate the hoofs mechanical ability to do it's very important jobs. It seems that people are so worried about the pain. I agree... I don't like seeing any horses in pain either, but there are ways you can support them when they are going through rehab. REMEMBER: it took years to created this damage. It will not get better in 2 days, or a month. 'Corrective' trimming does not 'cause' the pain. It restores proper function and blood flow to the 'already damaged' hoof. Inflammation of damaged tissues is what is painful (as the hoof is an enclosed capsule with hard walls and there is no room for expansion, as skin is able to stretch and expand when there is inflammation/swelling present). Healing cannot take place without some level of inflammation. Abscessing and swelling are also part of healing if corrective trimming is taking place. Abscessing and swelling are signs of damage and the hoof "trying" to heal when they are not trimmed correctly or shoed. Horses with joint/limb crookedness can take years to get better (if that's what you are aiming to do). If you are not committed to correcting the problems, then don't bother. Incorrect barefoot trimming is no better than shoes. Hoof mechanism and proper function is still not present. This way of trimming too will always fail. Not to mention that the body still suffers. Then it is blammed on the horse because "it just couldn't go barefoot".

  7. Hey thanks smazourek, I like that website/blog, very informative and goes well with the stuff I learned in the hoof webinar last year.
    And June, what you said makes sense. In LL's case I really think it's the unbalanced hooves that are causing her leg alignement to be off and once her hooves get balanced, her legs will straighten out, at least a bit.

  8. Hey voiceofthehorse, I didnt see your answers until I posted mine. You sound extremely frustrated and angry in your post, I'm not sure why (maybe that wasn't your intention?). I agree with pretty much everything you say, especially the part about the foals. The way (most) humans breed horses sets them up for so many problems in the future, it's very very sad. I also believe any horse can go barefoot, it just takes longer with some than others. And yes, a bad trim can be just as detrimental as shoeing.
    And yes, my horse is in pain and I'm talking about it on this blog because it affects both her life and mine. I am just human and some days I feel really bad for her. Yesterday was one of those days. But, on the same token, I totally understand she needs to get through this to the other side. And she will. I just have to be patient.

  9. I wasnt intending to sound angry at all. I am sorry if I sounded that way. :) Just writing facts. I understand how hard it is some days. I have gone through this many times and it never gets easier. I have one mare here that I have been going through hell with for the last year... but, I keep on going. It's not easy, but she knows I am trying to help, and she offers her feet at liberty even though they are painful. When I was trimming according to the other philosophy my horses (and others I trimmed) were not so happy about getting their feet trimmed. It was nearly always a struggle. They were shouting at me that I was not doing it right (because I was listening). Now, I can trim all of them lose in the pasture at any time of the day and they are happy to comply. They all have "salad bowl" feet, they all live on rocky ground, and nearly all of them are totally sound. It took years to fix the damage done by the "other" way of barefoot trimming (and their lifetime of shoes before I got them). But, the horses knew, and when I started correcting things, even though some days they could barely walk, they still offered their feet. I try with everything I have to make them feel better, to make them well. I know you are too. I do understand how you feel. Little Love is not going to hold anything against you. It is very exciting reading what you write about your relationship and how she is trusting you and how you are seeing how truely intelligent and understanding they really are. Getting her body and feet sound, and supporting her through rehab will only strengthen your bond :)She is an amazing horse, and really strong. Tell her that. Tell her how strong she is. Tell her how great she is doing. It's so hard to look past everything that hurts, but focus on the positive :)))