She arrived a little early and we got right to work. Lilly waited patiently in the cross ties while we both sat on the floor poking, prodding, and messing with her hooves. I told her what's been going on since she saw her last, and what's been happening with her hooves recently at our new place. When she picked up Lilly's left front (the "good hoof") to look at it, I mentioned to her that Lilly has a short window of time where she'll let you have that hoof. After 5-10 seconds, she starts walking her hind legs up underneath herself and very kindly, but clearly, asking for her hoof back. I wanted her to know Lilly wasn't just being a brat.
Usually when I'm trimming that hoof, I just give her a lot of breaks. I've tried standing her on towels, in boots, and on squishy pads to try and make her more comfortable, but it doesn't make a difference. C, my trimmer, wanted to try a folded up towel, so we did. It didn't help. She found this to be extremely telling.
Once we were done evaluating from down below, she wanted me to longe her. So we went into the arena and I longed her first to the left. She took a few short steps but looked pretty good. When I turned her around and longed Lilly to the right, though, she was taking short steps nearly every stride. This was both good and bad... good because usually when you're trying to show someone what you're talking about when it comes to your horse, they're quick to make a liar out of you, so at least C was able to see what I was referring to. It's bad, of course, because I don't like her to be uncomfortable and I thought we had been making progress since daytime turnout started.
She found this to be extremely telling as well.
We put Lilly back in the cross ties and C started doing some body evaluating. She noted how Lilly's knees aren't even, her right hoof is higher than her left hoof, and when we looked at Lilly from behind, there was clearly a difference in her shoulders. The right one appears to be a bit 'jammed up'. I remember when I first had Lilly's shoes removed, my trimmer (not C) also noted the differences in her knees, shoulders, and hoof height, so those things aren't new to me.
|This is an old picture from this past November, but it shows the height difference in her hooves.|
|This one is from yesterday, showing the height difference in her knees.|
|This one is also from yesterday, just to kind of show how differently shaped her hooves are.|
In perfect tunnel vision fashion, I have been focused on nothing but hooves for the past three weeks, never once considering something else might be going on.
So here are the reasons she thinks it's not a problem with Lilly's hoof:
1. While the issue started shortly after moving her to the new barn, and got worse about three weeks ago, if it was metabolic and a reaction to the new grass, she should be showing symptoms in both front hooves and not just one.
2. If the issue was because she just has super thin soles (which she does), why is she only showing lameness on the right hoof? Both hooves have 5-6mm soles, so wouldn't she be also be gimpy on her left front?
3. Why is she fine with holding up her right front hoof for hours at a time, but a mere 5-10 seconds after lifting her left front, she's begging to put it down?
4. If it's just thin soles or some other hoof related issue, why is it that folding a towel until it's four inches thick and placing it underneath her hoof gives her absolutely no comfort when her left hoof is up in the air?
5. If it's just thin soles or some other hoof related issue, why is she more uncomfortable when being longed to the right?
Her thinking is that shoes can mask a lot of problems, and prior to having her shoes pulled, I was having a crazy time with saddle fit. I spent a small fortune buying and selling saddles, trying to find something that fit her. Once the shoes came off, the saddle fit issues magically went away, but this problem with her right front hoof showed up shortly thereafter and has remained an issue ever since.
She's been adjusted and massaged, and no one ever mentioned an issue with her shoulders, just her pelvis and her TMJ. That doesn't mean she couldn't have had an old injury that showed up differently with the shoes (or was masked by the shoes), or perhaps she injured herself once her shoes came off. The puzzling thing for me has been trying to figure out why she was doing so well prior to the move, but maybe she has irritated the injury because she's in a new place, with new horses, lots of grass, and a lot more room to run around and act silly... or slip in the wet grass.
So we didn't do anything new and exciting with her hooves, because she didn't think we needed to. We're making no changes to her diet or anything along nutritional lines either. We discussed having my vet come out to nerve block the hoof just to once and for all determine if we're dealing with a hoof issue or something a bit farther up. Then I can discuss with her what the issue might be, and figure out a treatment plan. It will probably include a visit from the chiropractor and perhaps some massage therapy.
She also mentioned a farrier/trimmer clinic that happens every second Tuesday of the month about three hours from me. A very well respected lameness veterinarian works with trimmers and farriers on horses with lameness issues. It would essentially be free for me because it's for the benefit of the participants and I'm providing the lame horse. I say "essentially free" because it's a three hour drive, so I'd have a nice gas bill, along with my time, and I'd have to take the day off work. I'm not really sure how I feel about doing something like that.
C was going to contact my regular trimmer and discuss her thoughts with her and see if the clinic would be beneficial or not. I might also call a vet I haven't used before to get a fresh set of eyes instead of using my regular vet.
In the meantime, C just trimmed up the hinds for me, and then pretty much left the right front alone, minus a bit of shaping and she also dug out a little bit more of the seedy toe. She's thinking that if the right shoulder is pushed up, she would want to leave as much hoof on that right side as possible, while taking as much hoof as possible off the left hoof. It sounds counter-intuitive and it took some explaining on her part for me to understand what she was trying to say, but it's less about the height of the hoof and more about the angles.
So here are the hooves after she was done trimming yesterday:
And what post would be complete without a self-portrait of the super sweet, super patient, and most wonderful pony in the whole world (and her momma)?
|Awww... so cute!|
I hope I remembered to write everything down. An issue not relating to her hoof wasn't what I was expecting, but I'm curious as to any opinions y'all might have about a possible shoulder issue, or any other thoughts about what could possibly be going on.