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.


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.


  1. Seems like a fairly conservative trim, which is good in my opinion. The proof will be in the pudding. I always try to remember that trimmers don't make feet, horses do, although trimmers can do harm. Your total plan sounds like a good one.

    1. Thanks, Kate. I hope the plan works as well as I hope it will.

  2. Gosh, hooves are so fascinating. It's hard when everyone has such a different opinion! My trimmer says the same thing about bars. She doesn't really do anything for the quarters on the front hooves, but does scoop the quarters on the back. Jetta's only weird thing about her hooves is that she has quarter cracks on the hinds, but they don't seem to bother her. I really hope you guys are able to figure out something that works for Lilly, I feel like you guys deserve a break!

    1. Just like with everything else horse related, I don't think there is one technique that works for every horse. I think it's good to collect a bunch of different opinions and try them out on your horse. Something unconventional just might work. Hopefully that's the case here!

  3. Hope this works for her! Too many different opinions is why I decided to learn and do it myself. It's way too frustrating to watch one theory after the next be used on my horse and result in her being lame for weeks.

    1. That's definitely tough... I've been doing most of the trimming on Lilly myself too. Once I started having issues, I thought maybe it was time for someone else to come in and check my work. It's rewarding doing it yourself, though!

  4. It looks good and her views/opinions are reasonable. Of course, you have to give YOURSELF some credit here. You've actually improved Lilly's feet so much that it's just minor details at this point.

    We've previously talked about Moon and Lilly's similarity on how they would prefer to travel...lazy in the hind-end and heavy on the front-end and how both of them always seem to act a little sore in the hindquarter. After having Moon checked out thoroughly several times and nobody really finding anything, I just came to the conclusion that he is actually making himself sore back there because he is lazy and lets his hind-end drag out behind him if allowed too. Whenever I focus on making him engage his hindquarter and he gets strong back there, the 'soreness' disappears. I'm not saying to not get Lilly checked out, but if there doesn't appear to be anything physically wrong...she might just be suffering from the same problem as Moon and conditioning will fix it.

    On the subject of Adequan...IF you wanted to go that route again...Which I did for Moon, last year after you said it helped Lilly...Chondroprotec is still available. With Adequan out of stock, this is what my veterinarian recommended and what I used on my horses this year. It is the same thing as Adequan, but much cheaper. I paid $70 for each 2 dose vial of the Chondroprotec vs. the $55 per single dose of the Adequan.

    Right now, with all of the moisture we have had, I am struggling with ALL of my horses being a little tender in the soles. It's been great for really getting everyone's feet really cleaned out and makes for easy trimming...but their soles and white line are staying a little soft. My brother (a farrier) suggested I try some iodine. It's hard to find anything with iodine in it these days because of the meth-cookers, but I asked around and found one of the stores in town carries a sole hardener, they just don't put it out on the shelves. I've been coating the soles with that and have noticed a substantial improvement. It hardens the soles and helps shrink the white line. Melted mothballs will also work and those provide a little extra thickness to the sole.

    Finally, Frosty was really struggling with his IR for a few days due to the changing weather. I was ready to get his blood tested and resort to putting him on peroglide cause I have made all of the changes I can possibly make and he was still struggling. At the last minute I decided to try Aloe Vera Gel. Started feeding him 6 oz. every evening and he is coming out of it. Every since I used Aloe Vera Gel when I was treating Moon for hind-gut ulcers, I have kept a gallon of that on hand for him. Sure glad I do. Aloe Vera (I prefer the gel for it's viscosity) has a soothing affect on the intestines and it will sure calm down any inflammation that is going on internally.

    1. Thanks for such a great comment, BEC! Sometimes I do forget how far we've come in two years... her feet are so much better now than they were and Lilly is much happier.

      I do think conditioning plays a role in our issues too. I haven't really been able to keep her in any kind of consistent work, so she gets lazy and out of shape fairly quickly, and tends to stay that way. I think it will help her a lot when I'm able to put her back into work. I'll also ask my vet about the Chondroprotec if we're ready for more Adequan and it is still unavailable.

      I've been using a sole hardener, and I found it worked, but it didn't seem to help Lilly. Her soles were definitely harder, but she was still having the soreness issues. If nothing else, though, it should help keep her from wearing any more sole. I'll see if I can find anything with iodine in it.

      I think you've mentioned aloe vera gel to me before. I think that'll be one of the things I try for her.

  5. This new trimmer sounds like she's right up my alley! This is the sort of stuff that SHOULD be going on with her foot care. I kept reading this and going, "Mmhmmm, yes, yes... YES!!!" I'm so excited! Hoping this is the start of a Very Good Thing for you and Miss Lilly. And AMEN to not cutting away hoof to get rid of seedy toe. That is SUCH and out dated way of handling it, and it makes me cringe when I see people still doing it. Cannot wait to see how she progresses from here...

    1. Thanks, Dom! I hope so too, and I'm excited to be trying something new.

  6. I don't think you want my opinion muddying up the water right now so I'll stay mum. I'll keep my fingers crossed that she's on the right track.

    1. I always want your opinion to muddy up the waters, Smaz! Perhaps I'll send you an email. :)

  7. Fascinating as usual. Just wish I was fascinated about another topic as I want this to be in the past for you!

    1. Thanks, Margaret! I hope I can start posting about something else soon too!