Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trim Clinic!

I was so excited about this clinic when I first heard about it. After signing up I bought a bunch of new tools, practiced with Lilly to make sure she would be a good girl, and then waited for the 19th of February to come around. I couldn't wait to finally meet Keith and learn as much as I could.

It was definitely an interesting day... I had to work the night before and because of my schedule, I didn't get home and in bed until about 1:30am. I was hoping I'd be sound asleep by 2am because I needed to get up at 5am and wanted all the sleep I could possibly get. The clinic was a good 2 hour drive and I wanted to have enough time to get Lilly settled in before the clinic was going to start.

The weather forecast was looking iffy, but it was still fairly warm (50-ish) and they were going to have the clinic no matter what, so Lilly and I set out on our adventure. A friend of mine from the barn also came with us, so she made the trip much more fun. She was really helpful, too, so I'll need to con her into going with me to shows this year! (Hint, hint...)

Other than not being able to find food for hours and hours, the trip there was fairly uneventful. I did manage to trap a bird in the bed of my truck somehow, though... every so often I'd see him fly up and then land back in the bed of the truck. I'm not sure how he got in there, but he never offered up any gas money and eventually flew out.

Once we arrived at the clinic, I set out to find the stall I reserved for Lilly. As it turns out, we were forgotten but they did have an open stall in another barn that wasn't attached to the barn where the clinic was going to be held. Lilly was a bit sweaty from the trailer ride, so I was worried about her being cold and wasn't terribly happy that I couldn't keep an eye on her, but she seemed to be ok. I shoveled a bunch of hay in front of her and she had company in the barn, so I set out to find something warm to drink. By this time, I could feel the temperatures dropping.

The clinic was held at a Paint barn, so Lilly felt right at home amongst all the other painted ponies. The owner of the barn asked if Lilly was a Palomino Paint and when I told her she was, she threatened to steal her and secretly replace her with a different horse. I had to keep a close eye on her the whole time to make sure she didn't go missing!

The classroom portion of the clinic started promptly at 9:30am and the longer I sat, the colder I got. It had started to rain outside and the wind was picking up and blowing right through the barn. I tried really hard to concentrate but I was FREEZING! The classroom portion was quite informative, though, and they had a really good turnout, so there were a lot of questions and I think we all learned quite a bit. I know I did. Something like this could have easily lasted days and days, so it was tough trying to squeeze it all into such a short amount of time, but Keith did a really great job.

Once we broke for lunch, they busted out one of those torpedo type heaters (I always called them Salamanders) and you couldn't tear me away from that thing for anything! I didn't even eat lunch because I was more concerned about thawing my body at the heater. A bunch of us from the class stood together around the heater dreaming about how awesome a hot tub would have been at that moment...

After the lunch break, we had another classroom session and then they brought out one of the horses so Keith could do a demo. By this time, it was snowing and even COLDER (if that's possible...). The original plan was for all the participants to get their horses and then have the class go around to each horse and evaluate the hooves. Because of how cold everyone was, plus the fact that it was snowing and a lot of us had a pretty long drive ahead of us, we decided to simply trim our own horses. Keith and Rebecca still came around to assist, but I didn't get to look at the hooves of any of the other horses.

My friend was the "fence post" and held Lilly for me while I trimmed. This is pretty much the only picture I took because my priority was warmth. Plus, with S holding Lilly, she couldn't take pictures of me trimming either. Does she look cold?

Before I started trimming, Keith came over to look at Lilly's hooves and I gave him some background information. Her left hoof is the wonky one and Keith noticed that right away. We discussed ways we could trim the hoof to help it be more symmetrical, while still keeping in mind overall balance. I pretty much trimmed Lilly on my own and then Keith and Rebecca came around to check my progress and give me pointers. We worked a lot on the hoof wall of that left hoof and I feel much more confident working on it by myself at home.

These hoof pictures weren't taken until Tuesday, but I wanted to include them in this post so you can see the trim I did and also just how wonky things are on the left side. On Sunday, because we were so rushed by the weather, I trimmed each hoof without looking too much at her overall balance. I was looking for a level, flat, and symmetrical but didn't watch her walk or compare one hoof to the other. I went back today and fixed the bars (again) and tomorrow I'll probably work on the right front a bit more to bring the hairline of each hoof more even with each other.

With this first picture, I just wanted to have a reference as to what things look like from the front. I drew the line on her hairline so show how the right front is a bit taller than the left. I wish I had taken a picture of this same view before we pulled the shoes back in August... her knees were really uneven.

Front view...
Here's the view from behind. It really shows how crooked her left side is... and it's not so much that her pastern is necessarily crooked, but if you look at it closely, and look at how the hoof looks when it's in your hand, it's as if the hoof was attached to her leg crooked.

Rear view...
Because of how her hoof is, the whole things wears a bit funny and has grown into an interesting shape. In order to try and bring as much symmetry back to the hoof as possible, we do a lot of rasping on the hoof wall to try and allow any new hoof growth to grow in correctly and hopefully end up with a much nicer shape to the hoof.

Here are a few updated pictures of her hooves.

Left Front Hoof:

Right Front Hoof:

I've worked on them some since I took the pictures, and will work on them a bit more later now that I can see what else needs to be done. My new Hall hoof knives cut her bars like butter, so I can actually trim those up without feeling like I need a hammer and a chisel.

One of the trimmers I spoke to when I was trying to decide if I should pull Lilly's shoes was at the clinic. She trimmed for me in September before Rebecca started coming out and she was blown away by the progress Lilly's hooves have made since she saw them last. I was really excited to be able to show her the new and improved Lilly hooves!

It was snowing really hard by the time we left the clinic and I had to use my four wheel drive to get out of the parking area. People harass me all the time for having four wheel drive since I live in NC, but it just goes to show you that you just never know!! Without four low, I never would have made it up that incline.

All in all it was a great clinic. The weather definitely spoiled a large part of it for me, but I'm hoping there's another clinic soon, and sometime during the summer! I learned quite a bit and feel really comfortable trimming Lilly's hooves by myself now, so it was definitely worth braving the weather and the only cold day we've had all winter.


  1. I'm so glad that other trimmer was there to see the progress you've made with her!

  2. So what did he say about the bars?

  3. Sounds like a productive day, even with the weather (sounds like the horseshow weekend...so cold, so rainy, and SO windy! Too windy in fact to fall trees at my house (the whole reason why Boyfriend couldnt haul). You know, even in the PNW people think we are overkill with the 4x4 diesel 350, and 450, but we have them for those EXACT times you described - when you NEED that 4x4 low and weight.

  4. LMAO: "but he never offered up any gas money".

    Sounds like despite some unpleasant conditions, you had an awesome clinic! : ) And got your original horse back ; ) Can't wait to see what Lilly's hooves will look like in six more months!

  5. Haha-That poor bird. Stuck in a downdraft in the bed of your truck.

    Well Lilly certainly is a good poster child for the improvements that can be made by proper trimming.

    I couldn't remember if you lived in NC or SC. We are headed to SC next week to attend the Marine Corp graduation of the son of one of the guys my hubby was in the Marine Corps with. Hope it warms up over there. Would hate to go that far south and find colder weather than what we have in Colorado. LOL

  6. I'm not an expert, but I keep seeing on the Rockley Farm blog how horses tend to grow different hoof shapes based on what they need to support themselves. Just looking at how she stands, there is more weight on the inside of the hoof on the left. Perhaps the hoof is asymmetrical because it's loading more on the inside, and she needs the extra hoof there to support that? Just a thought...

  7. You poor thing. I'm so sympathetic to you getting cold - it's so hard to do anything but shiver and whimper when you're that cold!

    Her hoof pics are beautiful as always - glad you learned something at the clinic, even if it wasn't everything you'd hoped for!