Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Barefoot Consult #2

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.


  1. Hah, they do sound like night and day! But at least you're getting good information from a variety of sources - you go!

    When is the next consultation?

  2. The 'all natural' people tend to freak me out, but anyone who's too extreme usually does that to me. If it works, it works.

    I know you'll pick a good trimmer, and don't worry too bad about it being the 'right' one--as long as they have a lick of sense about barefoot horses, they should be able to help you out either way. :)

  3. Terry, how does one ever choose with so many different ideas about the SAME thing?!!

    Jen, I'm definitely getting a lot of information. I've learned a lot the past two days, that's for sure. The next consult is on Friday, and then the final one (I think) will be in August.

    DIJ, she was definitely all about being natural, but she wasn't too pushy about it, which I think makes all the difference. She said a couple times that 'this or that' isn't for everyone and as long as she doesn't try to pressure me into something or ridicule me because I choose not to, I'm ok with that. As long as she helps, Lilly of course!

  4. Very different approaches.

    Don sounds a little gloomy...and I'm sorry he made you feel so bad about Lilly's feet. You have not done anything different than thousands of other people have done because that is what the 'professionals' told you was the correct way to do things. But he does sound knowledgable and seemed very capable of passing that knowledge on to you.

    From what you repeated about this gal though...I don't like her. Sorry but this statement just irked me...

    "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)"

    So Lilly's feet are bad...

    The hoof is a continuously growing piece of live tissue...if she is trimmed/shod correctly, there is no reason to believe that ANY damage should be permanent. I don't buy it and never will. Because I have had people tell me that things will never be 'right' again on horses and HUH!...with the proper care and enough time they always come right.

    In Lilly's case, it might take longer and require more diligent effort, but for someone to say that it won't ever be right is BS.

    Look at my paint gelding...Now there is a horse with significant injury to his foot. That foot is truly damaged, but with the innovative efforts of my farrier...who by the way, never went to school or waited for the information to trickle down...has improved dramatically and we are continuing to see dramatic improvements. The only way to know how much is through time. If a decent farrier can improve something like that, something as simple as bringing the heels back sure as heck isn't cause for a morbid future outlook for Lilly.

    I'm sorry...That's my little insomniatic rant.

    Personally, I think you are going about this the right way though...getting multiple people to look at and evaluate Lilly's feet before letting them start whacking on them. Good idea!!!

  5. I like her. She seems to know her stuff, but isn't all "doom and gloom," and like you said, she seems less pushy about her approach. Perhaps that's just my personal preference, but pushy people make me nervous LOL.

  6. I'd pass on her, from your description I'm not too sure she really knows what she's talking about. (Who is Bracy Clark? Must do research now.)

    I'm totally floored that she said Lilly doesn't have enough toe. From what I see she has too much heel AND toe, they're just shoved WAY forward of where they should be.

    Of course this is your decision, you have to pick the person you think you can work with. Hopefully one of the two left will have the knowledge of Don and the personality of Lisa.

  7. This is good stuff.

    "....while she put on her Parelli visor"

    Wow, that's textbook foreshadowing!

    Bad vibes. Next!

  8. Sorry, you lost me when she put on her Parelli visor.


    I don't like the no vaccinations or deworming - yikes!

    I'm interested to see what the next consultation brings, but I really like the first guy so far.

  9. RE no vaccinations or deworming, that makes me twitchy too. HOWEVER, after doing some research, I do think that folks - especially those who board - tend to over-vaccinate and over-worm (Note: I've done this for years because it was required by my barn and because it's "what you're supposed to do," so I'm totally guilty of doing this).

    Most boarding places require you worm every 6-8 weeks, but my vet recommends worming 2x year (spring and fall) after doing a fecal. For vaccinations, there are some things I would ALWAYS vaccinate for (Tetanus, for example) and some things not so much. There's a great section in the book Holistic Horsekeeping on vaccinations. It's really a matter of being informed about what each vaccination protects your horse from and for how long, as well as understanding what the ramifications/treatments are if your horse gets sick, and then making a decision about what's best for your horse as opposed to just vaccinating for everything.

  10. I'm with BEC. Yes, anatomically, she might never develop a truly fat digital cushion because she was shod so early, but that doesn't mean she won't ever be 100% comfortable barefoot. Remember Dixie was shod IN WALKING HORSE PADS when she was EIGHTEEN MONTHS OLD, and look at her now. You can't get more deformed than that. Barefoot trimmers have looked at pics of her feet and said "yep, I can still see her heels are crushed" or "yep, not much DC there" but it doesn't slow her down.

    There's a real limit to how all-natural you can go with Lilly's health care. Like jenj said, you're boarding, so you have to abide by your barn's regulations.

    I love Renegades, I really do, but I'd be a little surprised if they stay on Lilly's current hooves. Her angles are all wrong, and there's nonstop warnings on the Renegade sites about how these boots won't work for horses in transition, horses with flare, long toes, etc. She is all flare. A year from now I'll be encouraging you to try Renegades, but I am not sure you'll be happy with their performance immediately.

    Glad you have two more trimmers to talk to. I can't wait to hear from them!

  11. I just wanted to say I'm learning SOOOO much catching up with your blog in the last day or two! I'm sorry you're facing such a challenge, but don't beat yourself up-you are doing the best possible things NOW to educate yourself:) I hope you keep posting about your journey-best of luck to you and sweet Lily and her little hoofies:)

  12. Cowgirl, I was really surprised at how different their opinions were, especially since she said Don was a mentor of hers. I did like how willing Don was to pass along his knowledge and he answered my questions without hesitation. Lisa and Don had a similar outlook on Lilly’s feet, though. When Don left, I wasn’t even sure if he ever said he could fix her feet. He wanted to see her again after the shoes had been on for at least 6 weeks and then he’d know more. So I think they’re both skeptical about how much they can change her feet.

    I do tend to agree with you, though. A lot of the articles I’ve been reading, with before and after pictures, give me hope that Lilly’s feet will change A LOT once those shoes come off. Like you said, the hoof continuously grows, and with correct trimming, why can’t she have a dramatic improvement?

    Mare, she definitely had more of a game plan. She came in, looked at what she was presented with, and then told me how we could fix them.

    Smazourek, I had to look up Bracy Clark too! Lisa had a whole big notebook about a study he did a long time ago so apparently he was the first barefoot advocate.

    The toe thing really gets me too. I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly the first time. She went on to explain that once Lilly’s heels are back underneath her, it’ll raise the back of her foot up, so there will need to be more toe. I almost wish she had come out first because I could have casually asked Don what he thinks about her toes (which I will also do with the next trimmer).

    Cedar and Jill… LOL!! I like that you picked up on my little Parelli hint. :)

    Jen, I mentioned to her about the boarding situation and how I really don’t have a choice when it comes to vaccines and deworming. I do what I’m told or I pack my stuff and leave. She was very happy to hear how we’d be doing the fecal tests in the future but had a very different opinion about the number of vaccines Lilly gets and the method for which they’re administered. She said the combo vaccines are the worst and if I must give them, I should give them one at a time, 6 weeks apart. I’d have to give my own shots for that! And Lilly travels too much for me to not vaccinate her. You have to weigh the pros and cons, but I would never forgive myself if Lilly died of encephalitis because I opted not to vaccinate.

    Funder, you’re right! Dixie is the perfect example and I hope Lilly ends up as well off as Dixie! I just want a happy, shoe-less horse no matter what her feet “technically” look like. I remember chatting with you about boots and as soon as Lisa brought out the Renegades I thought of you. I’ve been told you can’t put pads in them either… she seemed very certain that they would be just what Lilly needed, although she said she might have to alter them a bit in the beginning to make them fit her feet. I did like them, but perhaps later down the road like you said.

    Sarah, thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you’re able to learn something from this as well. There’s certainly a wealth of information out there about hooves!

  13. Sweating hooves? No vaccines? Toes too long? Weird special feed? Pass.

    I also agree with BEC.

    I don't think this trimmer is someone I would hire to do my horse's feet based on your description. I wasn't there, so I can't pass complete judgement, but I have never in my life heard of hooves sweating. There are no sweat glands in hooves! Don seems much more knowledgeable, even if he was a little brusque.

  14. Hooves don't sweat, per se, but frogs do. FWIW :)

  15. Spaz and Funder, I was wondering about the hoof sweating thing too. She asked how I would like walking around in black rubber shoes all day and said the Renegades are more like Crocs. :)