All of this has been a little overshadowed by AJ being sick, but yesterday was a pretty significant day for Lilly. The fourth and final barefoot trimmer stopped by to give me her opinion. She and I had been emailing for quite a while prior to this, and she's the one I consulted about two years ago when I first started noticing issues with Lilly's legs. It was great to finally meet her in person!
We chatted for a while about some of the things the other trimmers mentioned regarding Lilly's feet and then she had me walk and trot Lilly up and down the barn aisle. She went around from hoof to hoof examining each one, concentrating on how they were being worn and looking at how balanced (or not balanced in Lilly's case) her feet were. She pointed out something to me I hadn't noticed before... when we looked at Lilly dead on from the front, it was very clear that her right knee was at least a half inch higher than her left knee. Taking a closer look at her feet, I could see that her right hoof was actually quite a bit taller than her left, causing the difference in knee height. No wonder she seems to be having back/shoulder issues! Her legs are different lengths because of her feet! Ugh...
After some discussion about what to expect and whether we thought the shoes would make it until the 8th when Cat is scheduled to come out, I decided to go ahead and pull the shoes now. Originally I had wanted to wait until September because then I'd be done with all my traveling, but I still have two weeks before I leave for my cruise. We thought even if we pulled them now she would have enough time to adjust before I leave. She said we'd know in a couple days how Lilly will do and if we need to do something extra before I leave, we'll have time to get it done.
When Cat was out, she commented that she thought Lilly was a little short strided on her right front and when Rebecca was pulling the shoes and trimming her feet, Lilly seemed really uncomfortable standing on that right front. Heel pain or something else? I don't really know but it's interesting to me since that's the leg with the taller hoof.
Rebecca brought some boots with her to fit Lilly and we ended up going with the Easyboot Trail. She's not as big a fan of the casts as Cat because they can get wet and could cause issues that way. With the boots, I can take them off as necessary and since chances are she'll need them for riding for a while, I'll be able to dual purpose the boots. She assured me that she doesn't think Lilly's feet will change enough to need different size boots later, so with any luck, these will be the only pair I need to buy. The boots are also nice because of the pads that can be placed inside them to make things more comfortable for Lilly. She left me with a couple different pads, each with a different firmness to use inside the boots.
After pulling the shoes, we walked Lilly around a bit to see how she was going to walk. It sounded like she was in slippers! She was also stumbling quite a bit, so it's going to take a while for her to get used to walking without the shoes on. She said Lilly's hooves were a lot more balanced just by taking the shoes off, and after looking at the shoes we could see that the heels of the shoes were different thicknesses and one side was slightly higher than the other. Rebecca did a little trimming on all four feet, but it was mostly just to shape them up and balance them a bit. She thinks Lilly has too much toe, so she brought it back a bit and did just a little work on the bottom of her hoof to remove any bumpy spots that could cause Lilly to be more sore.
While Rebecca was trying to trim, a nasty rain storm blew through the area. Lilly was also clearly uncomfortable after being without the shoes and from standing on the right front, so I didn't really get a chance to take pictures. Once we were done with her feet I wanted to get her outside to the pasture so she could walk around. Rebecca took a bunch of before and after shots with her camera, but I went back and took some this morning when I checked on Lilly.
These are about 24 hours after the shoes came off. The shots of the backs of her heels look a little funny because she is leaning and putting as much of her weight as possible on her booted foot. In the first set, she's leaning right, and in the shots of her right foot, she's leaning left.
Left Front Hoof
Right Front Hoof
This is just a better picture of Lilly's sole. I want to post pictures of it as time progresses so I can see how much it changes.
And here's a shot of Lilly's new boots.
The BO said Lilly was pretty sore this morning so she gave her some bute with her breakfast. Her pasture is all sand and grass and they're just feeding her outside so she doesn't have to walk across anything hard. She hadn't been wearing the boots, but when I went over there this morning I put them on. She isn't terribly sore, and she seems her normal, happy self, but she was walking slowly and gingerly before I put the boots on. After the boots, she walked really slow and then realized her feet felt pretty good and started walking more normal. I was planning to take the boots off tonight but Lilly is about 75% better in the boots, so I decided to leave them on. I'll probably have to put a new pad in tomorrow, but at least she'll be comfortable. She got some more bute with dinner and the BO will give her some more with breakfast. It seemed to help quite a bit.
I hope she's feeling better soon. I don't like having both of my babies feeling bad.
At this point, you might be wondering, "what about Cat?" I'm going to play it by ear and see how things go with Lilly. Rebecca was my trimmer of choice but I thought she was too far out (and so did she) but as it turns out I'm pretty close to one of her other clients and she comes to my area every 2-3 weeks. I'll get in touch with Cat and see how she feels about it, but I'm thinking perhaps I'll utilize both of them. Depending on how things progress with Lilly, she may need trims every 2 weeks, which might be too often for Rebecca, or perhaps Cat is busy during a time when I need someone to come out but Rebecca can. Rebecca said she was good with that suggestion and I'll check with Cat too... then it'll be up to Lilly.