Thursday, September 26, 2013

Boots Have Arrived!

Back when I decided I wasn't giving in and going back to shoes, and shortly after my trimmer didn't think we really needed to cast, I decided I needed to get another pair of hoof boots. I have my Renegades, but I only use those for riding, and the Easyboot Trails I had were long ago obliterated in the pasture. So I decided to call EasyCare and see if there was a boot they could recommend for turnout that I could also use with pads. After chatting with a nice lady from customer service, I ordered a pair of Old Mac's G2. She told me they would be great for turnout and it just so happened they were sized the same as the Trails, so I ordered a tiny size two for my twinkle toe pony.

I also went online and ordered some more Happy Hoof therapeutic pads. I used those back when we first took off the shoes and Lilly really seemed to like all the different pads. We tried three different styles, but her favorite seemed to be the #6 pad. I couldn't remember when I ordered them last time if they came in pairs, and didn't see it anywhere on the site, so I assumed they came individually and I ordered six of them, thinking that would be enough for three sets of pads. They came in the mail today, and as it turns out, they do come in pairs. So now I have enough pads for SIX sets. At least I won't have to order any for a while!

12 pads instead of 6... who knew?!
The boots came yesterday, so I was able to take them with me today to try on Lilly. I was both impressed and disappointed when I opened the box. I was disappointed because they're a lot like the Trails, and those didn't hold up worth a hoot, but I was impressed by how "beefy" these are, and how many straps and buckles are on these things. I hope they hold up better than the Trails did.

Buckles and straps, oh my!
These also come with gaiters, which adds yet another element of beef. I guess these boots tend to rub a bit without the gaiters, but I think I'll try them without first and see.

Front of the boot, along with its gaiter.
Unfortunately, I think they're too small. It's hard to tell with all the bulk in the back of the boot, but I think they would end up rubbing on her heel bulbs. I hadn't even added in the pads or the gaiters and I thought they felt snug. So I ordered a size 3 and I'll hold on to the size 2 boots until they arrive. With any luck, the larger size will work.

Lilly is doing really well at her new barn and I can't tell you how relieved and stress free I have been this past week. I'm SO happy that she's not getting attached to any of the other mares. I was worried about that, but there seems to be no sign of any attachments anywhere. There were three other horses in the barn with us today being groomed and tacked up, and two of them were her pasture buddies, and shortly before I put her back in her stall, they all disappeared. One went out to the pasture, one went for a ride, and the other was put back in her stall. Not a peep from Lilly... not even a paw with her hoof. She just stood there like, "what's your deal, lady?"

"Who cares about those other horses anyway. Do you have cookies?"
The arena is so soft and sandy that I think I'll be able to start riding again too. I'll still boot her up in her Renegades, but I won't have to worry about her stepping on a high spot or a stone. Hubby and I are going away for our anniversary this weekend (has it been a year already??), but when I get back, it just might be time to throw on the saddle again! :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back To Normal

Lilly has been at her new barn for five days now. She seems to be completely settled in and I haven't seen any signs of her being attached to her herd mates. That was the biggest issue we had when we boarded here before, and why I have tried so hard since then to find her individual turnout. Everyone keeps telling me she'll be much happier now that she has pasture buddies, and I hope she is, but I hope she doesn't get too attached to anyone or beat up too badly.

Me on the other hand, I'm nowhere near settled in. I only grabbed the necessities when we hauled her over on Friday, and my trailer is still packed full of stuff. The new barn has tack lockers, so I can't have my trunk with me, and that's where I keep everything. Today I wished I had my clippers, but they're far, far away, in my trailer, which is parked down the road in another field. One of these days I'll have to buckle down and get organized.

Now that things are back to normal, Lilly is happy, and I can breathe, it's time to focus in on the issues at hand. The first issue being her sore hooves (which is currently being addressed), and the other issue being the diarrhea that's decided to make a comeback. She was clean on Sunday, but today she had some lines of manure down her back legs again. It wasn't worth getting out the hose, but I did wet a towel and clean her up.

I'm seriously considering going back to the "less is more" plan. She's not on a bunch of stuff, but she's getting 1 lb of Enrich Plus, MSM, U-Gard, and SmartHoof. I have been thinking about cutting out all her supplements so that when my vet comes out on the first, we have a clearer picture of what's naturally going on in her body, rather than what's going on with her and all her supplements. The U-Gard might be helping some, but last week she was pretty nasty, so it's not helping as much as I thought. If I scale her back to nothing but her ration balancer, hay, and pasture, then it'll be easier to decide what we should add, rather than trying to decide what to tweak, remove, add, etc.

I wanted to take some pictures of her today so I can keep an eye on her weight and overall condition. She wasn't too enthused about the idea, but she obliged me. Sort of...

Looking very bored...
Showing just a little bit of life...
I love the dapples she gets when she starts shedding her summer coat. They're so pretty! She's not looking too pudgy, but she's put on a little bit of weight over the past couple months. She'll be going from a regular grass pasture (you know, like yard grass... the super green stuff) to a pasture that's bermuda grass in the spring and summer and overseeded with rye grass for the fall and winter. It's quite a change and I'm actually happy that the diarrhea started before the move, or I would wonder if it was simply from the change in her diet.

"Are we done now?"
So that's what I'm thinking... a complete "reboot". Start over with only what's absolutely necessary, decide what needs to change, and make the changes one at a time. That way we know what works, what doesn't work, and how it helps if it does work. I've tried a million different things to help her diarrhea, none of which has made any difference. Perhaps it couldn't work because of something else that was going on... I have no idea, but I'm game to try things I've tried in the past and see if it can possibly help now. I might find the same thing with regards to her hooves, who knows!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The End of My Rope

Well, I did it. I moved Lilly yet again. After what happened on Wednesday, and one other thing that happened on Thursday, I decided I was done being stressed out by the people who claim to care about my horse. Without going into too much detail, because I'm done with it all and I've moved on, I'll give you little taste of what went down on Wednesday.

The barn manager told me that she and the barn owner have a right and a responsibility to make sure the horses at their barn are taken care of. (I was with her up until that point...) She proceeded to tell me, however, that it was totally within their right to call their vet and farrier out to evaluate Lilly even without my permission. If the vet decided that Lilly needed shoes and pads, she could have her farrier put on shoes and pads. They would then send me the bill.

So essentially, one day I'd drive out to the barn and find a bill taped to my tack trunk and a pair of shoes on my horse.

So Thursday evening, I called around to a couple places, put in some requests to my friends to help me search, and ended up deciding to move to a barn I had boarded at previously. The reasons I left this particular barn weren't because I was having problems per se, it was because I found a barn that worked better for my situation. They keep small groups of mares together for turnout and I was trying to find individual turnout for Lilly. When I left, they told me if I ever wanted to come back, I was more than welcome to. He remembered me when I called, so I asked if I could move her out the next morning. He said absolutely.

So hubby and I headed over Friday morning to get Lilly. Normally I'm a strict, follow the rules kind of girl, and I always give a 30 day notice. Not this time. I was afraid of what might happen if I left her there for another 30 days with them knowing my plan was to haul her somewhere else. I was hoping no one would be there Friday morning, but the place was crawling with people. I was so nervous... my stomach had been feeling sick all morning and when we pulled in I was shaking. I was expecting a fight of some kind, but hubby got right to packing up my stuff and went to tell the BM and the BO that it wasn't working out and I was leaving. They weren't happy, but they said ok and watched us pack everything up. When I went to get Lilly, the BO left without saying a word to me and went to his house, and the BM said a brief good-bye to Lilly and we were out of there.

Prior to the move, Lilly was having one of her 'diarrhea episodes' and I had to wash her her behind Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. She had been doing pretty well up to that point, but the messiness came out of the blue. She was messy Friday morning too, but I wasn't about to waste time washing her before moving her out, so that's the first thing I did when we got to the new place.

Lovely flash photo in the wash stall.
They're still on night turnout, but I didn't want Lilly's first time outside to be in the dark, so we turned her out with the one pasture board mare. I was hoping they'd be friends by the time the other two mares (the two dominant mares) were turned out for the night.

Lilly wonders if Marly will be nice to her.
Marly wasn't interested in Lilly, and Lilly wasn't interested in Marly, so despite my best efforts to get them to greet each other, it didn't work. Finally I just removed her halter and let her go. She went off to eat grass and Marly just stood there staring at her. We watched them for a good 15 minutes and then decided to go finish unpacking. The funny thing is, Lilly and Marly were pastured together the last time Lilly was boarded here. Maybe they remember each other from last time?

Marly wants to know why this horse is in her pasture.
Staying just close enough, without being friendly.
When I checked on Lilly Friday morning, she had a gash on her hip and a hoof shaped cut on the back of her left hind leg. I really like having Lilly turned out alone, but it isn't always easy to find that kind of situation. When I checked on her today, she didn't have any new battle scars so I'm hoping the girls got it all worked out Friday night. She seems pretty content, and I think she remembers being here.

I found myself exhaling deep breaths all Friday afternoon. I didn't realize quite how badly I was stressing about the barn situation... it feels great to be out of there. Now I can concentrate on my horse and work on getting her better.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Still No Casts...

I had a very good consult with my new trimmer today. She came out at 8:30 in the morning and didn't leave until almost 11. Granted, some of the time was spent venting to her after she was shocked and surprised by the audacity of my barn manager, and then I spent some time defending her as she was being verbally accosted by the barn owner. That's another story for another day, though.

Even after all that mess, we set up another appointment, so I'm thankful they didn't scare her away. I found her to be friendly, knowledgeable, very open to answering my questions and concerns, and while her philosophy is quite different than what I'm used to, I'm open to it. What we've been doing hasn't really been working, so I'm game to try some different techniques.

We talked for a very long time before she finally busted out her tools. I'm talking a good hour at least. She watched Lilly move, did a little poking and prodding all over Lilly's body, dug around in her hooves, and talked to me about what she was seeing. I asked a million questions and she answered them all.

The hard part is summing up a two hour appointment into a blog post...

First off, we decided not to cast Lilly. My new trimmer, we'll call her 'CW', didn't feel comfortable casting because she hasn't been a part of Lilly's care until now. She didn't want to make a change and then cover it up with casts. Even though I was pretty set on wanting her casted prior to this morning, I agreed with what she was saying, and she told me that if at any time I want her to come back out and cast, she would fit me in and make it happen.

Before we get to the trim, CW had a lot of suggestions to help "the whole Lilly". She feels as though Lilly has some soreness in her pelvis, or perhaps her hocks, because of how she wears the toes on her hind hooves. She noted that as I was jogging Lilly, she kicked up a lot of dust, so she's not trying very hard to pick up her feet. She pointed out that Lilly is a bit "beefy" in her front end, and she feels she's mostly just pulling herself along, and that could be contributing to some of the soreness she has. One of the places she squeezed was along the lower part of Lilly's neck, close to her chest, and she had a moderate reaction... like, "Hey, don't do that!"

I told her that we had done a series of Adequan shots last spring, and I thought it helped. We didn't do any more shots this spring because I felt she didn't need them. Plus, with all the rain we were having, I wasn't able to ride enough to make it worth my while. And now you can't get Adequan until early next year, so that's not an option right now anyway.

We talked about grazing muzzles, blood work, possible allergies she might be having, chiropractic care, massage therapy, possibly trying a different ration balancer, and hock injections. Then we talked about how important it is not to try a hundred different things at once, but to keep them all in mind. So I have an appointment with my vet to do the blood work, test her for IR, and also to do a chiropractic consult. We want to know if she's out behind, since she's had to have her pelvis adjusted a couple times before.

CW also does some kind of body work... I can't remember what she called it (brain overload), but she works with the fascia and suggested that we might be able to do some work on Lilly in the future, in conjunction with my vet doing the chiropractic work.

Did I cover everything not trim related? ... I think so.

First off, CW doesn't like to dig out the hoof wall to get rid of seedy toe. She said it weakens the hoof, and causes it to be pulled in different directions when Lilly lands on her hoof. I can see the logic there, but I also see the logic to digging it out. She prefers to square off the area in front of the infected area (although I don't remember if she said how that helps), and pack it with something instead. But it's too late now... it's dug out, and doing very well, so we have no choice other than to let it grow out. I did fight it for quite a while, though, so next time (if there is a next time) I'll try her method.

Other than the thin soles, CW said she thinks the biggest issues with Lilly's hooves is the hoof wall separation. She wasn't really happy with the way the hind hooves looked either, because there's quite a bit of separation there as well, and suggested maybe they're being overlooked by the front hooves, hocks, and possible pelvis issue. Perhaps they hurt too, so there's yet another variable to consider as a possible culprit.

So, regarding the trim itself, here's what she did.

Bars: She only trimmed bar if it was flappy, really overgrowing the sole, or especially lumpy. She's part of the "if it's there, they need it" crowd, so unless it looks to be causing pinching, bumpy spots, or is flappy and something could get stuck underneath it, she leaves the bar alone. She said she finds this to be especially true with thin soled horses.

Sole: She did some work on the soles, but explained what she was going to do before she did it, then asked if I had any questions. She carefully, and ever so slightly, trimmed down the toe callous. Here's why (I hope I explain this correctly, and I'm still doing some reading on it myself)... because Lilly has flat hooves, doesn't grow very much hoof, and has thin soles, she felt like the callous was too prominent and was causing Lilly discomfort because she was landing on it first (because of her toe first landings). She trimmed it slightly on the front hooves because there wasn't a whole lot to take down, but there was more of it on her hind hooves. You can see it pretty well in the hind hoof pictures I have below. There were a couple spots below the callous that were clearly bruised, and she said that's why she wanted to take those down. I asked her if it would make Lilly sore, and she said she didn't think so. I'm anxious to see how she is tomorrow.

Quarters: If there's one "good" thing about Lilly's hooves, it's that she chips instead of pancakes. If she pancaked, we'd have an even bigger issue with thin soles. So the fact that her hoof wall chips away is good... I guess. She tends to do this mostly in the quarters. CW noticed this right away, mostly on her left front, but also on the lateral side of her right hoof, and commented that she's one of the few trimmers who likes to take just a teeny tiny bit off the quarters. Since Lilly does this on her own anyway, she felt it would be a good idea to do it for her, before it has a chance to chip off, expose the laminae, and perhaps allow bacteria to find it's way up in there.

Hoof Wall: She pretty much said no rasping of the hoof wall. Ever. Unless there's something really super crazy going on, she leaves it alone. She said if you can see it on the hoof wall, it's already too late because something on the inside caused it. Focus on the bottom of the hoof, and who cares how "pretty" they look on the outside. She also talked about the importance of a mustang roll, and how we should exaggerate Lilly's because she really needs the help with break over.

So enough rambling... I'll show you the after pictures of the trim. They'll do a better job explaining the trim than I could any day.

Right Fronts:



Regarding the quarters on this hoof, what you see on the first picture was done naturally by Lilly, but the medial side (not shown) was done by CW. She trimmed this hoof first, and when she went around to trim the left front hoof, we had no issue with her trying to pull her hoof away and she didn't walk her hind legs up under herself for support like she always has in the past. Was it taking down the toe callous a bit, or providing a bit of relief in the quarters? I found it fascinating how something so small made such a big difference.

Left Fronts:



A tiny bit of quarter relief (already done by Lilly, just cleaned up by CW), and it's hard to see, but the toe callous was brought down closer to sole level. A little bit of work on the bars because they were "flappy", and she added the mustang roll.

Hinds:

Right hind
Left hind
You can see the area where the toe callous was removed on both hinds much better than you can on the fronts. She also did some work on Lilly's heels and said she was starting to develop a little bit of a corn on her left hind (you can see the spot on the lateral side of her heel). She wants me to keep after these with ACV or some other type of thrush control product, and keep the crevices clean.

Here's the finished product from the top. You can't really see it very well in this picture, but the area in front of her seedy toe crater has been flattened off, and she said it's important to keep it that way.

Twinkle toes.
She wants me to touch up the mustang roll in two weeks and we have another appointment scheduled in four weeks. Aside from the new trim style and the scheduled blood work, I'm buying her a muzzle (bleh) and a pair of boots for turnout so she can wear them when she's having an off day. I called EasyCare and they suggested the Old Mac's G2. Handy, since they're sized the same as the EasyBoot Trails, so I know exactly what size to buy.

Some of the stuff she did is contradictory to what I've been told and read, but she had logic and reason to back up all her suggestions. For every trim method out there, you can find someone who agrees with you, and someone who disagrees with you. I believe that not every method works for every horse, and when something's not working, you have to try something else. This is me trying something else. I'm desperately hoping for progress.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Vitamins and Minerals

I've been doing a lot of research on vitamins and minerals in horses. What should they have, what would be too much, what is lacking in my area, and what the heck it all means. I made up a spreadsheet of Lilly's feed and supplements to make it easy for my brain to see what she's getting, but it doesn't include the grass or hay, so it's fairly incomplete. My boarding barn gets hay from many different suppliers, so while I could have it tested to know for sure what it contains, I'd have to have it retested again the next time they got a different batch of hay.

It's all a bit overwhelming to be honest... and it's all starting to stress me out.

Here's the spreadsheet I made up. It includes the Enrich Plus (formerly Enrich 32), the SmartHoof supplement, her U-Gard pellets, and her MSM. She's getting 1 lb of Enrich per day, which is the recommended amount for her size and work load. She also has a mineral block in her stall, but there's no way to know how much of that she's ingesting per day, so I didn't include that.

Feed and supplement spreadsheet.
Next I went searching for a list of mineral concentrations in my area. I don't know how old the information I found is, although it seemed to be fairly up to date based on the information on the site. I was searching specifically for zinc, so that's why it's highlighted in the picture below.

Mineral concentrations in my county.
After that was all done, I tried to find something that would tell me how much of each mineral horses should have per day. I'm not qualified to use the site I found that would tell me how to figure that out (I'd need a PhD. to use that site), so I ended up with something that was published about 15 years ago. How accurate it is for 2013, I don't know.

Daily requirements for horses.
Now that I have all the information (or most of it, maybe...), I have to try and make sense of it all. Milligrams, grams, percentages, parts per million... I was using conversion table websites like a crazy woman the other day. So far, I'm fairly clueless. I did speak with my vet about doing some blood work on Lilly, though, so we can see exactly what she's got going on inside. I'm hoping to be armed with a bit more information after my appointment with the trimmer tomorrow, so I told my vet I'd get back with her for sure about the blood work.

Thanks for all your comments about muzzles in the last post too... it's still on my radar. I'll probably end up getting her one and see how it goes.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Proper X-Ray Pics

My vet sent over the x-rays from our appointment back on the 5th. Sole depth measurements aren't on these ones, but I don't want to be reminded how thin they are anyway.

Left Front
Right Front
I forgot to mention in my other posts that my vet said I did a really good job getting all the infection out of Lilly's seedy toe, so there's that little bit of positive news. Perhaps now we can just grow it out and be done with that chapter of our lives.

In other hoof related news, I spoke with another barefoot trimmer near my area and she's coming out on Wednesday to do an evaluation on Lilly. I have an appointment for the following week with my usual trimmer for casting, but I might cancel that depending on what happens when this new trimmer comes out. I spoke with her at length on the phone about what's been going on with Lilly, possible causes, and possible solutions. She seems very knowledgeable and I'm really looking forward to our appointment.

Like my vet, she suggested a grazing muzzle as one possible option to help with Lilly's soreness issues. I hate the thought of muzzling my horse... I don't like the idea of her being turned out with something on her face, and I would worry about it rubbing her. I could reduce her turnout time to reduce the amount of grass she ingests, but she really needs to be out and moving around. It would do more harm than good to keep her inside for longer periods of time, so it sounds like a muzzle might be something that's in her best interests. Over the weekend, the horses were switched from night turnout to day turnout, so she'll be on drier pasture, but the sugar content of the grass she's now eating will be higher, at least for a while until it starts to die back with the cooler fall temperature. I'm sure a muzzle would help quite a bit. I'm trying to think of it as a NibbleNet for grass. I just wish it didn't have to hang on her face.

Anyone used a grazing muzzle before?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Not Ready To Give Up

There are so many thoughts and feelings flying around inside my brain right now that I'm not even sure I can translate it all into words. The last few days have been crazy to say the least, and I've been seeking out opinions on what to do with Lilly. Some opinions have been seeking me out as well, and some of them are opinions I don't want to hear, but they find me anyway! None of you are included in that, by the way... I really appreciate all your comments on my last post. They have given me a lot to think about.

First let me share with you a few extra details about my vet appointment last Thursday. As I expected would be the case, the BM just happened to be there fixing a fence the cows knocked over when my vet arrived. She made sure to check in at different times during my appointment, and pestered my vet with a LOT of questions. I shared in my password protected post that the BM had her farrier look at Lilly without my permission and his "expert" opinion was that she needed to be shod with pads ASAP. So while she didn't actually come out and say it, most of her questions were geared toward confirmation of what her farrier had told her versus what my trimmer had told me. After my vet recommended shoes and pads, I had to listen to the "I told you so's" and "I guess your trimmer doesn't know what she's doing, so you should use my farrier" speech.

At one point when we were alone, my vet asked me why the BM was acting like Lilly was her horse.

Rewind back a few days prior to my vet appointment and you'll find my BM and I engaged in another conversation about Lilly that I didn't want to have. She really hates the feed Lilly is on, which is Enrich Plus (formerly Enrich 32). My vet had me put Lilly on this feed last September because Lilly was gaining too much weight. She was on supplements only, paired with a "handful" of grain, which eventually ended up being way more than a handful. So to take the guesswork out of the equation, we decided to ditch the vitamin and mineral supplement and put her on the Enrich product. Lilly has been doing really well on it. The BMs main concern is that it contains 32% protein and not a whole lot of fiber, which she thinks is contributing to the loose stool Lilly occasionally still has. She's been hounding me to switch Lilly over to Nutrena SafeChoice Special Care. It's a new product made for easy keepers, and has a low starch formula. The SafeChoice has an NSC value of 15%, and the Enrich is 15.5%. The SafeChoice does have a lower protein and higher fiber content, but you also have to feed more of it. Lilly would need to eat at least 2.5 lbs per day, where with the Enrich, she eats only 1 lb.

I could write a whole other post about this crap, but let's just say I wasn't keen on switching feeds for a number of reasons, and the protein isn't what's causing the occasional loose stool. That was an issue way back before we started her on the Enrich, and it was many barns ago as well. Since she wasn't making any headway with ditching the Enrich altogether, the BM also suggested mixing the Enrich with the SafeChoice, but I didn't like that idea either. When she brought it up, I told her I'd give it some thought and discuss it with my vet when she came, and left it at that.

So when my vet was there and we were alone, I told her what was going on with the BM and Lilly's feed and she said she didn't want Lilly on anything but the Enrich. She did say that Lilly has put on weight since she saw her last, and she would prefer that I cut back her turnout time and possibly also the amount of hay she's getting, especially since we're having issues with Lilly's feet.

Near the end of the appointment, the BM showed up again to pummel my vet with questions about the feed Lilly's on and why she wants to change it. My vet said flat out, "no... you leave this mare's feed alone." So while I was upset about how much the BM interfered with my vet appointment, I was happy she was there to hear my vet tell her no switching feed. Now I can say, "sorry... my vet said no." Case closed.

After speaking with my vet about Lilly's weight and perhaps cutting her back a bit (and she also suggested the muzzle again), I was curious about how much weight Lilly has put on since moving in to the new place. I found the earliest picture I have of her, and the most recent, and here they are for you to compare.

July 9th
September 5th
I wish they were posed similarly, and I wish piggy wasn't eating in the second one, but it's pretty clear she's put on some weight since moving. She doesn't get as much turnout at this place as she did at the other place, but she moves around a lot more in the pasture and has more room to run around. Add in more grass and more hay and she's bound to pack on a few extra pounds.

All this nutrition stuff brings me to the point of this post... finally, right? After getting in touch with my trimmer and showing her the x-rays, she still thinks there's something metabolic going on. Either a deficiency or insulin resistance that's leading to mild laminitic episodes which are causing her to "sink" and creating/maintaining the thin soles that we've been dealing with. This would explain why Lilly seems ok some days, and other days she acts really sore, and also why she was much happier at the other barn. Even though she still had thin soles, she wasn't having any episodes and was more comfortable. I am on a mission to find out WHY she still has thin soles, and WHY she is more uncomfortable here at this barn. I need to fix it.

So, the game plan. Priority one is getting Lilly comfortable. My trimmer suggested shoes for 6 months, work really hard on getting any nutritional issues under control, and then pull the shoes, but I just can't get excited about shoes. They will do nothing to help the issue, and could possibly set me back a bit as well, so as easy as it would be to slap some shoes on her front hooves, I'm not doing it. I'm not ready to give up yet.

I need to do something for her while I try and figure out what's going wrong metabolically, so after some more discussions with my trimmer (and another great trimmer!) I've decided to go with casts. The last time we casted her, we did an open sole technique because we were going more for support, but this time we're going to try using Equipak CS or a pad (EasyCare or Thinline) to give her some cushion, but also try to stimulate sole growth.

So that's the plan... love it or hate it, I haven't tried everything yet and I want to try everything first. I don't think boots are a good idea because they just don't hold up during turnout, so casts seem like the best shoe-less option out there. I'm hoping she'll be sound enough in the casts that I can ride, but if not on the first set, maybe she'll feel better on the second or third set. While she's in her casts, I'll be frantically researching nutrition and hoof articles, and working to get her metabolic issues figured out.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Time To Throw In The Towel?

So much to talk about! I think I'll stick to the lameness issues in this post, and discuss the rest in a later post.

I had spoken at length with my vet about Lilly's issues when I called her to make the appointment, so she was already aware of what the issues were when she got there. I added a few extra details to the story, and then we got right down to business. We took Lilly into the indoor and my vet's assistant walked and jogged her for us while we discussed what we were seeing. I was afraid Lilly would be having one of her "good" days today since the vet was out, and she was. Other than not really wanting to move out, she looked pretty good. Again, I kicked myself for not taking a video the day my trimmer was out, because she was having a really off day. It would have been nice to show her exactly what I was talking about. I promised my vet that I wasn't crazy, so we moved on to the flex tests. She tested her ankles on both front legs, and then her knees, and said she tested slightly positive on the right front, but nothing worth being concerned about.

After discussing what we saw, my vet suggested we nerve block the right front and see what we get. So we put her back in, gave her the injections, and then waited for it to take effect. While we waited, the assistant commented on what a sweet horse Lilly was, and how easy she was to work with. She said she wishes all the horses they encounter were like Lilly. My vet chimed in saying that not only is Lilly the sweetest mare ever, but she's also the cleanest mare ever. She said, "whenever you see Lilly, she'll look just like this... spotless!" I just love hearing people gush about how well mannered my girl is. She's such a pleasure to work with and be around. I am so lucky to have her.

Watch out... she's crazy!!
Lilly took every opportunity she had to take a nap... it's hard work having people brush you, feed you cookies, stick you with needles, and make you jog every now and then.

After testing to make sure the nerve block had taken effect, we took her back to the indoor and had the assistant jog her. She was quite lame, and my vet said this is exactly what she was expecting to see. I took a short video.


She said, "she's foot sore." So why didn't any of the soreness show up before the nerve block? My vet said she thinks it didn't show up because her feet are equally sore, so it shows up as more of a short stride rather than any kind of limp. Make one hoof feel better, and she'll limp on the only one that feels sore. It also explains why some days she's feeling better than others, and why one day she's really lame on only one hoof. It just depends on how her hooves are feeling that day.

She said it was up to me if I wanted to block the other hoof, but she expected to see her sound and really moving well without taking short strides. I opted to do the block. I don't want any residual questions lingering.

After the block on the left front, we jogged her quickly in the indoor and she moved almost completely sound. We didn't think the block had made it's way up to her toe yet, but there was a noticeable improvement, so we considered it a successful test. Next step was to get some x-rays.

My vet is going to send me the actual files from the x-ray machine, but in the meantime, you'll have to look at these super high quality iPhone pictures of the x-rays. Better than nothing, I think!

Left Hoof (the so-called "good hoof"):

Left hoof x-ray from today...
Left hoof x-ray from 10/17/11 (Two months after the shoes came off)
I took a photo of the x-ray while she had the measurements up on the screen so I'd remember what they were. The sole depth is what we were most focused on, and although the depth isn't posted on the October x-rays, at that time they were anywhere between 5mm and 6mm.

Right Hoof (the so-called "bad hoof"):

Right hoof x-ray from today...
Right hoof x-ray from 10/17/11 (Two months after the shoes came off)
Sole depth on the October x-rays for this hoof were also between 5mm and 6mm. I posted the x-rays from October so we could really get a good comparison and see just how far (or in this case, not far) she has come in nearly two years of being barefoot.

There has been a little improvement in the left hoof as far as sole depth, but she pretty much has no palmar angle on that hoof, and my vet said she has too much toe. Looking at her hoof in real life, though, I can't imagine taking off anymore toe! She said Lilly should have a minimum of 15mm of sole, and 20mm would be ideal. We're rocking out at 6-7mm. Not good, but I'm not really surprised. I've known her soles are thin, and I knew they hadn't really grown much since the shoes came off two years ago. It just hadn't really been a concern because she had been doing pretty well up to this point.

So why is Lilly suddenly having issues with her hooves when she wasn't a few short months ago? It has to be a metabolic issue, a terrain issue, or a weather issue. She's on real grass 12 hours a day, she's getting a lot more hay, the ground is much less sandy here, and it's the wettest summer we've ever had. I think I read that we're 9" above normal. Perhaps it's a combination of all those things, but it's wreaking havoc on her hooves.

So what do I do? I really only have two options: I can try to keep her comfortable and wait it out, hoping she just needs more time, and try to find a pair of boots she can wear for more than three days before they come apart. Or, I can have her shod, possibly with pads, depending on what the farrier thinks. With option one, she might be more comfortable than she is today, but I don't think she'll feel markedly better because even in boots, she's still walking on those soles. With option two, I'm doing what I've tried really hard not to do, which is put her back in shoes. Chances are, though, that we'd see immediate results and she would be 100% comfortable.

My main purpose for pulling the shoes in the first place was to get her hooves into shape. She had terribly underrun heels, shoes that were too small, and they just weren't healthy at all. I hoped that if I gave her enough time to transition, I could have a barefoot horse, but I never closed the door on having shoes again someday. I thought perhaps during peak show times she might need shoes, but I wanted that to be the last resort because she seemed so much happier once the shoes came off.

She has really thin soles, and super flat hooves, and other than being able to get her heels back where they need to be, that's really been the only physical improvement in her hooves. It's possible that she's just genetically doomed to have have thin soles and no matter what I do, they're always going to be thin. If they've not really thickened a whole heck of a lot in nearly two years, will they ever? Am I wasting my time, and in the meantime causing my horse unnecessary discomfort? The goal is 20mm and we're at 7mm... that's a heck of an uphill battle.

If I put shoes on, I could actually ride my horse. As it stands now, even with the boots she's uncomfortable at times, so I don't feel right riding her. I have a call in to my trimmer to tell her what we found out and get her opinion on what she thinks I should do.

Could it be time to throw in the towel and bow down to the horseshoe gods?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

T Minus 15 Hours

My vet comes out tomorrow morning at 9:30.

The BM called today to tell me that Lilly was short stepping on her right hind when she brought her down from the pasture. We've been putting her up in the top pasture because it's the most flat, but she has to walk her up and down a hill to get her to and from there. I thought it would be better to have her in a flat pasture rather than one of the rolling pastures until we knew what was wrong. For now, though, she's back in the little front pasture. No hills anywhere near that guy.

Cross your fingers for us! She's too sweet... she deserves to be healthy and happy!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Comparison Videos

The plan for Lilly after C left on Wednesday was to see how Lilly did with the new trim, check in with C in a week, and then go from there. She thought Lilly might be a little sore Thursday because of the way we trimmed her left front, but we were hoping the trim would make a difference and help her to feel more comfortable. She wanted to give her about a week to adjust to the new trim and see if it would make a difference. When I checked on her Thursday and Friday, she was doing quite well, and I let myself feel a little excited about what was happening. I posted the videos I took of her on Thursday in my last post, and while she wasn't traveling correctly, she wasn't as uncomfortable as she has been, and she certainly wasn't as lame as I have seen her before my trimmer came out.

It's been a roller coaster ride since this all started. One day she'll be really uncomfortable, even at the walk, and then the next day she's completely fine. The next day she'll be gimpy at the trot in the morning, but then the BM will see her out playing in her pasture looking quite sound. It seems that if she was sore or injured in some way, she'd always look sore and injured, but that's not the case.

I took a video of her yesterday jogging on the longe line, and she is clearly uncomfortable. I could barely keep her jogging long enough to take video and she wasn't willing to move out at all. They're all iPhone videos, by the way, so I know the quality isn't that great, but I wanted to post yesterday's to compare with the video I took on Thursday. When I checked on her today, she was back to jogging like she was on Thursday. I don't get it.

Here's the video from yesterday:



And to compare, here's the video from Thursday:



I have already spoken with my vet, and she's coming out next week, but we haven't ironed out the details yet. Of course it's a holiday weekend, so she said she'll get in touch with me on Tuesday to narrow down a date and time. My vet is also a chiropractor, so I'll be able to have Lilly checked out in that regard at the same time as well. Depending on what we find out and what she recommends, and what my trimmer recommends after hearing the update and info from my vet, I may haul out to the clinic. Too many unanswered questions right now to speculate too much, but I'll do whatever is necessary to get Lilly back to feeling like her old self.