Monday, September 26, 2011

Making The Best

I dragged my fiance to the barn with me today, armed with two recording devices. The plan was to catch Lilly doing her "thing" under saddle, record it, and then post it on the Internet for the whole world to see! I've never even seen it myself... I've only felt it.

Well, do you think she would do it?


So we made the best of the situation and he took some pictures of me walking her around. I'm still waiting to hear back from EasyCare, but her boots seem to work out okay as long as we just walk. We got drenched this weekend with rain, so there was just a little bit of water in the arena...

She loves the water... she drank for a while, and then started splashing muddy water all over everything. At least she was having a good time.

Trying to cover us both in mud water...
She was really relaxed, which is usually unlike her in this saddle.
We just wandered around the arena...
Okay, so maybe we did a little bit of trotting...
Say cheese, Lilly!
Because of all the rain we've had, I was worried about her hooves and the progress we had made so far with the vinegar. I was pleasantly surprised, though, to actually see they continue to improve! So, because I'm obsessed with her heels, I couldn't resist doing a little before and after picture... on the left is the day after her shoes came off, and on the right is today.

Left heel.
Right heel.
I can almost hear the heels sighing in relief... "Ahhh..."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Five And A Half Weeks

It's been a while since I posted hoof pictures, and since I can't ride until I get my new boot, I figured I might as well! Speaking of which, EasyBoot has a 90 day replacement guarantee on all their boots, so they will be replacing mine for free. Big kudos to jenj for letting me know!

Lilly seems to be doing better on her right front than she was previously, so I'm optimistic that progress is being made. I mentioned before that I've been using apple cider vinegar on her feet to treat any possible thrush that might be hidden in there, and since I started that, the central sulcus in each foot is looking better and better. I can actually see the skin on the other side of the crack whereas before it was still too deep to see. I think it's pretty evident in the pictures too.

Now that she's got some new, visible growth, I think the changes in her feet are even more obvious. Everything is growing in at a new angle and looks a lot more healthy. Yay!!

Left Front

Left hoof - dorsal view.
Left hoof - lateral view.
Left hoof - medial view.
Left hoof - heel view.
Left hoof - my best attempt at a caudal view.
Left hoof - solar view.

Right Front

Right hoof - dorsal view.
Right hoof - lateral view.
RIght hoof - medial view.
Right hoof - heel view.
Right hoof - caudal view.
Right hoof - solar view.
After taking hoof pictures, I gave her a much needed bath. She was really dusty and in a "please scratch me anywhere and I'll love you forever" kind of mood. She LOVED her bath... and now she's beautiful again.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Boot Fail


Could the stars align just for a few weeks? Heck, even a few days? That's not asking too much, is it?

I went to the barn every excited to try out the dressage saddle idea. Both the BO and a fellow boarder had offered up their saddles so I had about 4 to choose from.

When I got Lilly from the pasture, she walked up to me with a flopping left boot. At first glance, the boot looked completely trashed and my heart sank. It was still on, but her hoof was sticking out and it looked like she had ripped a hole in it. When I took it off and walked her into the barn to get a closer look, it didn't look quite so bad... it was all mushed down and mangled looking, but nothing was ripped and I was able to put it back on. I was temporarily very excited.

I tried on 2 saddles before finally deciding on one of the boarder's dressage saddles. It fit the best, I think. I have zero experience with dressage saddles, but it looked less narrow than the others. Here's my cute dressage pony:

Dressage pony for the win!
The pad didn't work out so well, but I didn't want to use a pad that's not Lilly's, so we made it work.

I've never sat in a dressage saddle, so it felt a little strange to me. It was really comfortable, but it felt almost western-y. The high pommel and cantle made it feel a lot different than my hunt seat saddle, although my legs felt really good.

I ended up riding for about 20 minutes and Lilly was doing great! No head shaking or signs of discomfort, even while we were trotting. I had to do a sitting trot for most of the ride, though, because it just felt funny to post... it felt like I really couldn't get my butt up out of the saddle enough to make it worth my while, so I gave up trying.

We were having a great time until I heard this hollow flop sound and Lilly started limping... I looked down and there was my boot, barely hanging on. I got off, removed the boot and looked more closely at the Velcro, only to find nearly all of the loops ripped open. So the Velcro is pretty much shot and the boot is a goner. :(

I just got done telling everyone how much I love those boots... now I hate them. I don't know if I should get her another one to replace this one or try a different style. They're probably not meant to be worn 24 hours a day, but I don't have much choice.

I'm just trying to ride my horse... sometimes I can't because my saddle makes her angry. Sometimes I can't because she's hurt for one reason or another. Sometimes I can't because she doesn't have boots. The list goes on and on. I JUST WANT TO RIDE!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today's Riddle

What's brown, extra wide, and leather all over?

If you guessed "saddle", you are the winner! I don't have any prizes to give, but you can feel good that you answered today's riddle correctly. :)

Happy to be saddled?  Nope!

That's right, my saddle made a cameo appearance on Lilly's back today. I haven't ridden in my saddle since June 18th and decided it was time to see if I noticed anything different with Lilly in regards to the saddle. I put the XL gullet in months ago but hadn't ridden her with it yet.

When I was tacking her up she seemed fine until it came time to start tightening things up. I do one hole at a time as I get everything else ready for the ride and once I got to hole #3, I got a nasty face from my normally sweet girl. I'd describe it as a bit of a snarl, but I went about my business anyway and she seemed fine after that.

We headed out to the arena and I was able to ride for about 10 minutes before I started feeling some stiff movements, saw some head shaking, and felt her getting a little "stuck" in her forward momentum. Knowing what this means, I went ahead and got off... I pulled the saddle and we finished our ride "mareback".

Frustrated isn't even the word I would use to describe how I feel about all of this. It's beyond frustrating because I don't know WHY she's doing this. I thought it was the saddle at first, so I spent a fortune getting her a new saddle fitted just for her. I thought it was her back, her shoulders, so she's seen chiropractors and massage therapists, and when that didn't work, I thought maybe it was her feet. Her hooves needed to be addressed either way, but what if this whole thing has nothing to do with any of that? What if this is because of something completely different?? Because of her little snarl earlier during he girthing process, I wonder if it's maybe a tummy thing like ulcers... or... or... I don't know but I'm going crazy!!

I asked my BO if I could borrow her saddle next time I ride, so while I'm clueless about dressage saddles and hope I can figure out how to properly strap it to my horse, I'm going to try using that and see if I notice a difference.

Lilly doesn't show any signs of back discomfort. I can run my fingers along her spine from her withers to her rump and I don't get any scooting or avoidance to the pressure at all. She loves to have her back scratched, even with my curry, so I'm not seeing any soreness there at all. The saddle absolutely fits her and I thought perhaps with the 3 month saddle break, she might be fine with the saddle. Wrong again. :(

The purpose of riding today was to get her moving so we can get her feet engaged to hopefully get this hoof rehab moving too. If she's just wandering around the pasture all day in her boots, she's really not working those important structures in the hooves that have been nearly dormant for the past 8 years. I'm sure that has a lot to do with her discomfort, so my new plan is to ride her at least 4 times per week and ask her to do a lot of trotting and really get her moving around.

She feels really good in the boots and when we were trotting she took a few off steps (like if she stepped on something in the arena) but in a few strides she was back to feeling good. I let her choose the pace, which resembled something you might see at Churchill Downs, but I want her to be able to move how she's most comfortable. We did about 10 minutes of trotting each way and a lot of walking in between. She's pretty out of shape, so 45 minutes was about the limit for her.

During the cool down period, I like to drop my reins and drive her around with just my legs. She's getting really good at this and I can point her to any area in the arena and steer her to it. I also decided to try getting her to side pass without the reins, although I didn't expect her to do it. She surprised me when she absolutely side passed in both directions without any help from the reins! Such a good girl!

Sweet mare face.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bombers and Boots

I went out to the barn today for boot maintenance and when I drove past Lilly in the pasture, I saw she was being accosted by one of those giant biting flies (you all know the ones I'm talking about)! So I parked as quickly as I could and ran out to the pasture to try and save my sweet girl. As soon as she saw me, she took off at a dead run from the other end of the pasture towards the gate and very desperately tried to point me in the right direction by throwing her hind end in my general direction. I missed the darn thing the first time, but they don't give up that easily, so when it landed again I smacked it hard and then squished it into the ground when it fell.

Those things are awful!!

After the whole incident was over, though, I wondered if it hurt her feet to run at a gallop like that...

Otherwise, not much new on the Lilly front. I'm cleaning the boots, cleaning her feet, treating for thrush, and then back out she goes. The boots are doing really well, though, and I don't see any rub marks on her feet at all. If you're looking for a new boot, or perhaps want to have one on hand if your horse loses a shoe at some point, I very highly recommend the EasyBoot Trail. I just love them!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sore Hoof and Hind Hooves

Lilly has been wearing her boots since Cat came out on Thursday. I had to change out her Happy Hoof Pads on Saturday, but she's been doing really well in the boots. The problem is, she's still pretty sore on that right front when the boots are off. I'm hoping that means the issue is somewhere in the hoof and not in her leg (also known as tendon/ligament issues), or up in her shoulder or back.

I realize this whole process takes time, but I just hate to see her sore if there's something I can do to help her. She's so much better on the left front that I'm worried there's something else going on with her right foot. She showed a little bit of discomfort there before we even took the shoes off, so I don't think it's entirely because she's barefoot.

I'm torn about what I should do, though. If it is in her hoof, it could be something as "simple" as an abscess, or it could be that she has a thin sole. Maybe she just has heel pain because she's not wearing shoes and for other obvious reasons. The boots and the Happy Hoof Pads should help with the sole and the heel pain, but I'm not sure she can wear the boots 24/7. So far, no rub marks on her feet but I worry about them getting damp and leading to other issues.

We think she might have another abscess brewing, but I checked her digital pulse today and everything seemed normal. I actually felt a stronger pulse on her hind feet...

I'm treating her as though she does have thrush. That could be part of the soreness if she does have any and since it can't hurt, I've been squirting apple cider vinegar in there. She's got a pretty deep central sulcus crack in each foot still, and even though I don't really see anything in there, we're taking precautions. I'm looking at a couple other options too, but for now it's the ACV.

I've been keeping her boots as clean as humanly possible, and I pour a bunch of Gold Bond powder in the boots before I put them on to help with any moisture that might get in there.

I may end up getting a lameness exam done on her, and depending on what the vet says, we could end up with x-rays or some nerve blocking to try and figure out where the pain is coming from. If it's just heel pain, I prefer not to go overboard with the vet visit, but the x-rays would be nice to see just to make sure there aren't any signs of navicular. We would also be able to see how thick/thin her soles are.

So I continue to ponder...

When I had her in the barn today, I decided to take some pictures of her hind feet. I think they look really good, but I'm curious if there are any other comments about her feet. :)

Left hind...

Left hind...

Right hind...

Right hind...
I wanted to show this next picture simply because I find it really interesting! I need to shave her legs a bit so the hairline is more visible, but it has really started to even out since the shoes came off. It doesn't plunge to the ground like it did before. Also, the angle of the new hoof growth coming in has me intrigued also. There is a very clear bump where the new growth meets the old hoof. I find myself staring at this picture a lot. I just can't help myself...

Medial side of left front
The towel gets in the way a bit, but I get tired of crawling around on the wet, dirty floor, so I put some towels down today. It's much easier on my old knees. :)

Finally, I tried to get a video of Lilly walking around her pasture in her boots. The boys were occupying the round pen area, so I tried to do this in the pasture instead, and I failed miserably. She wants me to scratch her, not record her!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Later

In you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. ~Psalm 25:2-3

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Trim - And Pictures!

Cat came out today for Lilly's first trim since her shoes came off. It has been 3 weeks and 5 days since we started our barefoot adventure. All in all, things have been going very well. Lilly was sore for the first two days, but it was nothing a little bute and a pair of Easyboot Trails couldn't fix. Since then she's been in and out of the boots but has been doing really well. I've ridden her a couple times and she is quite happy and sound in her pasture. Most importantly, the changes in her feet in just 3 weeks has been amazing.

There has been one nagging issue with her right front, though. Cat noticed it when we walked Lilly on the rocks before we even took the shoes off, so we're pretty sure it wasn't caused by removing the shoes, but it is definitely more noticeable now. She is much more comfortable when the boots are on, so I think it is in her foot and not in her leg, shoulder, or back, but it's definitely possible. It could be a combination of all things just finally getting to her and she just needs some time.

I've got the boots back on her now (since they fit again, and filled with Gold Bond powder) and I'm going to leave her in them for a couple days and see how she does. X-rays are possible in the future, as well as a lameness exam by my vet who would probably do some nerve blocking to locate the source of the discomfort. I'm not terribly worried about it yet since I know her body is going through a lot of changes, but I'll keep my eye on it. I'm worried that my vet might simply tell me to put shoes back on...

But back to the trimming, Cat and I chatted for a while about her feet, what's been going on with the chipping, the abscess, the boots, and how I wanted to learn how to use the rasp in between trims. She was more than happy to show me how to use the rasp and what to take off between trims. After briefly looking at her feet, she started trimming and I was pretty much in her face the whole time asking questions and being as annoying as possible. Cat's super nice, though, and she spent quite a bit of time showing me what she was doing and why.

She started by trimming the bars. She pointed out where the bars should end, and used her hoof knife to cut them down to sole level beyond where she said they should stop, but the parts of the bar in the correct area weren't touched. She said Lilly was growing bars to protect her sole, but pointed out where Lilly had some calluses on her sole around the toe, so she said we were making progress there. She didn't touch the frogs or the sole at all but ran her hoof knife over both areas briskly to see if there was any flaking which she said might indicate an issue.

I was asking her about thrush and she said she saw what she thought was a teeny bit of infection in Lilly's central sulcus. She dug around a bit with her "pokey tool" but Lilly didn't show any discomfort. In all four feet, though, she squirted her anti-infection concoction in the sulcus just in case.

Next she used her nippers to trim away the hoof wall, flat to the sole, pointing out how the insensitive laminae was nice and tight in her hooves (especially the back ones) and noted how she didn't see much flaring at all. She also nipped the heels, which I was concerned about, but she said was necessary to make sure that the heel grows down like it should rather than forward like it had been in the past.

After the nippers, she busted out the rasp and went to town cleaning everything up and rolling the toe. She didn't touch the outside of the hoof with the rasp at all. Overall, she thought Lilly's feet looked pretty good. She said the heel bulbs are still quite squishy and they really need to firm up (which might be what's causing her to be a bit off) but that will take more time.

I didn't take photos of her back feet because those are already good to go, but Cat said they looked really nice. She had some serious bars, though, and it was a bit of work to get those trimmed to where they needed to be. I was pretty impressed with how concave her back feet are compared to her front feet. Perhaps I'll snag some pictures of them next time I'm out just to have.

I took the following pictures outside, which I thought was a grand idea, but they didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. Too many shadows and dark spots, so I really had to manipulate the contrast, brightness levels, and exposure, which made the colors a little funky. I was trying to make all the shaded areas visible, so hopefully these pictures show enough detail.

Front of the fronts... Cat said she thought she saw a little bruising here.

Left front, lateral view.

Left front, medial view.

Left front heel.

Left front, sole view.

Left front heel, view 1.

Left front heel, view 2.

Right front, lateral view.

Right front, medial view.

Right front heel.

Right front, sole view.

Right front heel, view 1.

Right front heel, view 2.
We set up another appointment in 4 weeks. Originally we had talked about every 2 weeks, but she thought Lilly would be fine if we waited 4, especially since I was going to be keeping the hooves rasped. (uh oh...)

I'm very curious to hear everyone's opinions and comments. Also, please correct me if I'm using the wrong terminology because I want to be a hoof nerd too! :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Her Milkshake Brings All The Boys To The Yard

I was really looking forward to visiting Lilly at the barn today. I wanted to see how she was doing with Jack and how everyone was getting along. As I drove past her old pasture, though, I saw her back in it, and the pasture she was moved to the other day held 3 geldings. Hmmm... I wondered if it was something Lilly did (maybe she went swimming in the pond) or if it was something else.

I moseyed into the barn, checked the communications board, and found this:

"Moved Lilly back. The other horses always tried to eat her food because she comes and goes. The guys go "crazy" with her so she's by herself for now."
I wondered if food was going to be an issue, but I wasn't sure how they were feeding the horses these days. Lilly definitely takes her sweet time and seems to snack on her breakfast all day long.

I saw the new horse's owner too, and she was telling me her horse Music was going completely crazy over Lilly. He was pacing the fence and screaming for her constantly, which is why they put him in a different paddock. When he was still going nuts, they decided to put Lilly across the road to make it even more difficult for him to see her. Music's mom said even Jack was starting to act crazy with her, so they decided to put Lilly back in a paddock by herself. That horse of mine is always causing trouble. :)

After I took pictures of Lilly's feet the other day, I noticed something in one of them that had me a bit worried. I was upset that I hadn't see it when I was at the barn, so I quickly emailed it to Rebecca to see what she thought about it. Basically there was an area by Lilly's frog that had a hole in it. Since it was by her frog, I was worried that Lilly might have some thrush in her foot. Because of my vacation, it had been over a week since I had been able to pick her feet so I was pretty worried. Rebecca said it was difficult for her to diagnose since she couldn't actually look at her foot, but she thought it looked more like an abscess than thrush.

Frog crater...
She told me to take a closer look and dig around with my hoof pick and I should be able to tell whether it's thrush or not. On my way to the barn today I bought some ACV just in case I needed to soak her hoof, but after cleaning it out and digging around in there, I think it's most likely an abscess hole. This is also on the hoof that she's been "off" on, so I wonder if she's got another abscess in there too?

I also took some pictures of the chipping on her feet. I just find it interesting because the chips are coming off on their own (except for a few of the bigger ones).

Left foot...

Right foot...
I decided I wanted to take her out to the round pen to play a bit, so we suited up and made our way out there. As soon as she stepped outside the barn, the horses in the pasture closest to us RAN over to the fence whinnying to her. We had to walk past them to get to the round pen and they both stood there nickering to her. Once we got in the round pen, the horses in the pasture across the driveway saw her and RAN over to the fence whinnying to her. She kept looking back and forth between each pasture of geldings not sure what to do with herself!

We did just a little bit of in halter work and then I took the halter off and worked on getting her to pay attention to me, which was extra difficult because of all the cat calls from the boys. When I finally got her attention, I did what I call the "pull", where I turn toward her hip and walk to the opposite end of the round pen, my back to her. She usually walks into the middle of the ring, follows me to where I've stopped, and stands there waiting for what's to come next. Today, though, she walked up behind me and rested her chin on my shoulder. My heart melted... I turned my head and gave her a big smooch. I do love that mare.

While I had her out, I thought I would get a few videos on my iPhone of her trotting and cantering.  If you look closely along the fence lines, you can see all her admirers.  :)

3 Weeks Post Shoes - Trotting Left

3 Weeks Post Shoes - Cantering Left

She seemed better to the left, and she really didn't want to trot to the right, so I didn't push her. I think you can see pretty well how she's a bit off...

3 Weeks Post Shoes - Trotting Right

If I continue to see that she's off on that right foot, and depending on what Cat says on Thursday, I may end up getting xrays just to be safe.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Three Weeks In

One of the first things I did after arriving home from the cruise was drive out to the barn to check on Lilly. I was curious to see how she was doing and how her feet looked. She was doing really well and seemed happy to see me when I went out to the pasture to get her.

Since we hit the three week mark on Saturday, I decided to take some pictures and do a little side by side comparison. The picture on the left is the day after the shoes came off and the picture on the right is the picture I took Saturday. She's due for a trim and the trimmer comes out Thursday, so try to ignore the chipping, and I'll take some more pictures after the trim on Thursday.

Left hoof...

Left heel...

Right hoof...

Right heel...
In other news, because of the new horse at the barn, the BO wanted to do some reorganizing. She has three pastures with run-ins and one pasture without. Since Lilly was in a pasture all by herself, one pair of horses had to be without shelter and she wanted to make sure all the horses had a run-in. The new horse either really loves Lilly or really hates her so they wanted to put a physical barrier between him and her. She asked if it was ok to put one of the geldings with Lilly and move her to a new pasture. So Lilly was moved to the pasture across the driveway and since it's probably the best pasture on the farm, I'm quite ok with that.

The BO chose her horse Jack to be Lilly's pasture buddy and I think they're pretty happy together...

Could they graze any closer together?
The cruise was great! We had a fantastic time both on and off the ship even though the weather was a little wet. It takes a lot more than a little rain to ruin my vacation, though! While we were in Nassau we went to Atlantis for an opportunity to swim with dolphins. That's something I've wanted to do for a long time and it was amazing... I even got to give one of them a kiss! We went parasailing in Key West which is something else I've wanted to do for a long time. And if that wasn't enough, the boyfriend proposed too!

It's SO pretty!  :)
A trip to remember, that's for sure!