Lilly was visited today by another barefoot trimmer named Lisa. I wanted to write a post on each of the trimmers and then when it's all said and done compare them all and make a decision. All day long, though, I've been comparing yesterday and today so I'm not sure I can help myself!
I met Lisa outside at her truck and we briefly got acquainted while she put on her Parelli visor and got her paperwork together. She said before we got started with Lilly, she wanted to educate me a bit on the barefoot movement and the history behind it with a bit of information about Bracy Clark. We also discussed Lilly's diet and she handed me some paperwork on a feed that either she developed, or someone she knows developed... I wasn't quite sure the origin, but it's supposed to be an all natural feed packed with natural vitamins and minerals. It contains pressed canola meal, peanut hull pellets, roasted barley, citrus pulp, pressed canola oil, mineral molasses, and salt. She gave me a baggy of it to share with Lilly.
We went inside and I introduced her to Lilly. She said she doesn't think Lilly is overweight, but rather thinks she's just a stocky girl. I've decided I think she's a bit chunky, so she's staying on her diet no matter what. Hopefully once we pull the shoes and she's out 24/7 she'll stay a bit more fit (assuming she can walk).
Lisa seems to be an advocate of "natural" everything and wanted me to take Lilly out of the cross ties for the consultation. We talked about deworming and vaccinations and she's not a fan of either. She only vaccinates for rabies and tetanus, and can't remember the last time she dewormed her horse. We're actually starting the fecal sample tests at the barn too, so shortly I'll be pumping fewer chemicals through my horse's body, but I still want her vaccinated.
Before she took pictures, Lisa gave me 4 different colored rubber bands to put around Lilly's feet... one color for each foot so she would know which was which when she was evaluating the pictures. She took a few body shots of Lilly and then took quite a few pictures of Lilly's feet.
When she was done with the pictures, she used a ruler to measure how long her toes were and the height from the ground to the back of Lilly's hoof. She said she was impressed that Lilly was at least consistent all the way around, but she stressed more than once that Lilly doesn't have nearly enough toe. I was a little surprised by her comment because I always figured low heel = long toe. She tried to get me to imagine how Lilly's toes will look once her heels are actually up where they're supposed to be, and I could see then what she meant. She said she has plenty of heel, it's just crushed under, but the toes are way too short. She thought the toes on her back feet were especially short and said she probably wouldn't trim them for quite some time.
She did point out that the flares on her back feet indicate a problem, along with the slight bull nose, and she related the issue to her short toes. She said she would trim a small notch out of the quarters of Lilly's hind hooves to relieve the pressure created by her short toes. On the front feet, she would do something similar except she would create more of a "hook" with the heels to encourage them to start standing back up where they're supposed to go. She showed me some pictures on her camera of a horse she had been working on with underrun heels worse than Lilly's (a lot worse!) so I could get an idea of how she would trim.
She suggested that we fit Lilly for boots in about 4 weeks so she could have them in and ready to go when it was time to take off the shoes. She recommends Renegade boots because the EasyBoots are made out of black rubber and will cause their feet to sweat. She had a couple different pairs with her and we tried them on Lilly. You can only tell so much with the shoes, but she thinks they would be the best choice for Lilly's feet. I must admit, Lilly was styling in "Arizona Copper".
I really had to work to get Lisa to tell me her opinion of Lilly's feet. She was more focused on how she was going to trim them than how they got this way and what the problem was. She didn't want to place blame on anyone, farriers or vets, because she said that's how they were taught and that's all they know. She said it takes a really long time for new ideas to make it out there to the horse world because the ideas first have to make it into the schools, then the students have to make it though years of training, and then when they meet horse owners face to face, they have to convince them that it's a good idea. She said the important thing is that I think it's a good idea and I'm making changes to better the life of my horse.
There wasn't a lot of hoof anatomy 101 today. Lisa did explain the tubules to me using a piece of hay, but she was quite optimistic that Lilly's heels weren't a big deal and that her feet could be fixed. Since Lilly was shod so early, she doesn't think she'll ever have proper shaped heels (they'll always be contracted to a point) but she thinks Lilly can be sound and happy.
Lisa's plan for Lilly would be to come back and check her hooves in 4 weeks, fit her for boots, and then wait as long as humanly possible before pulling the shoes (but before the shoes are so loose they'll come off on their own potentially damaging her hooves). The boots would go on immediately after the shoes come off and stay on 23 hours per day until which time she feels Lilly can be comfortable without them on. In the meantime, she would come out and trim every 3 weeks, eventually moving to every 5 weeks. She said shortly after that, she could show me how to trim the feet myself and I could do the rest of the trims. (yikes)
I know I said I wasn't going to do this, but Lisa said Don is a mentor of hers, and I was pretty surprised at the different approaches they have to tackling Lilly's issues. The visits were like night and day.