Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Owner Trimmers

I wanted to ask a general opinion of my readers here (yes, even you lurkers!) I this post.

Owners trimming their own horses - good or not ok?

We all know how I started trimming. I was 12 and my mother bought me a rasp. My pony had great feet and was in a LOT of work so he really was a great candidate for owner trimming.

When (if at all) is it ok and not ok for an owner to trim their own horse?

Discuss. I will post my full opinion soon.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Minor Coronary Band Injury

Here is something interesting. I am in the middle of trimming one of my own horses, Allie. About six months ago she had a knock to her coronary band that caused a wound that wasn't too major, so I thought nothing of it. Today while trimming I pulled my knife over it gently and the 'hoof' that seemed to be plugging it popped out. I think it was actually a piece of wood that had gotten stuck, or possibly it had been the cause of the injury and had not quite been removed by the body. Anyway, behind it was minor infection, but quite deep. I had to take my small knife and clear it out. Then I made the hole bigger so nothing else gets clogged in there.

It should be ok, but it is worrying as it is quite deep. There is no reason to pack it, I will just keep it clean and might give it an apple cider scrub every other day or so.

I won't make any changes to her work load, as her hoof wall is very strong and thick. I will keep the walls rolled and take care as it grows out.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Update on George (abscess hole)

George's old abscess hole is going well - you can see that the heels are totally asymmetrical however the sole looks awesome, the bar is starting to form again, It's growing out well.

Today (20.10.12) on the left (before trim obviously), first trim (around 7th September after trim) on the right. He has had one trim in between these photos.

Looks much better, huh? The wonders of riding in a sand arena!

Monday, September 24, 2012

That Sticky One

My trimming business has really picked up lately (hence less posts on the blog). The more places I trim at, the more questions I am asked. I had an audience the other day and I was asked a question that keeps popping up.

"Do you do shoes?"

I used to just say "no, sorry" and be done with it. I don't want to push this down people's throats - I don't want them to feel bad about the decisions they make for their horses. Being negative can only hurt my business, not help it grow.

But I have changed my answer and I am really quite happy now where I stand on the whole shoe debate.

I now say "no, but I do alternative hoof protection". This leads to questions about boots (and now casting) that I can answer while not sounding preachy.

If people ask me why I don't shoe however, I am honest. I believe shoes are for owners. Barefoot and boots are for the horse. Same as being ridden is for the owner, being left in the paddock is for the horse. But horses need to earn their (expensive!) keep and so I ride my horses. But I am fascinated with how well the hoof functions when given the right conditions and I truly believe it is the healthiest way to care for the hoof.

Do I think you are a bad person if you shoe your horse? No. As long as you are making an educated decision about shoes, that is what matters. Your farrier should be advising you that horses should not be kept in shoes all year round. Horses should not have an 8 week (or more!!) shoeing cycle. 5-6 weeks max and even that is pushing it. I mention that their farrier should let them ask questions and should answer them freely. I encourage them to do a bit of research and I am often asked to look at a shod horse's feet to give my opinion on the shoeing job. I admit that I have never shod a horse and any opinion I give on a shoeing job should be taken with a grain of salt, but I am asked anyway.

What drives me nuts about some barefooters is the attitude that shoes are evil and that people with barefoot horses are somehow superior to those with shod horses. The air of superiority and the angry comments of photos on facebook that start flame wars about shod vs. barefoot. Ugh. We can sound like crazy hippies and it does nothing to spread the word about barefoot for long term soundness. It just makes people hate us or roll their eyes when someone says to take the shoes off.

You know how I plan to spread the barefoot movement and help as many horses as possible? I will go about my business, quietly trimming horses who will come sound, stay sound. I will compete my barefoot horse in dressage, eventing, anything she is good at. I will not shove it in people's faces that she has not got shoes on but when I have a 20 year old sound as a bell horse that can still kick but in a dressage test that will certainly turn some heads.

I will do what I do now - show what the alternative is and answer any questions the audience has. And when they decide to explore barefoot options it will be their idea, their commitment and it will stick. You wait and see.

</end rant>

Friday, September 7, 2012

George - Abscess Hole Gone Wild

A quick intro - George is a 14 year old OTTB who was neglected quite badly the last few years. His new owner has only had him for a few days but is already getting on top of his many issues - including feet.

The feet are all suffering from the typical neglect symptoms - lots of flare, thrush, cracking walls. Nothing spesh, just bevel the walls, set the heels and away he goes.

Except for the right hind, where he obviously blew a big abscess a few months ago. The abscess hole got a thrush infection which spread to the entire sole on the outside half of the foot.

The heel was loose and had to go. Same with the sole - luckily underneath is fairly decent (albeit thrushy) sole that will come good in a matter of days.

I'm posting from my iPhone so the photos will just have to tack onto the end of this post in no particular order but I thought it was a very interesting case and thought you might like the chance to see. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Asha - hoof injury rehab.

Asha is a 4 year old OTTB - her dam is Bertha - Asha is also owned by Bertha's owners, who are both vet students. She is not in work under saddle as yet, but is in work on the ground, in the round yard and on the lunge.

Asha's feet are actually pretty good - she is very sound so far (for a barefoot OTTB!) and to be honest the biggest challenge with trimming her is behavoural.

She is a bit of a handful. :P
Asha had an injury to her left hind on the 29th November 2011. She caught her foot on some corrugated iron near a wash bay I think (correct me if I am wrong Jess!).The injury breached the coronary band.

29.11.11. Ouch.
After 2 days - clearer view.

Treatment (other than wound managment) was debated - boots? Even a shoe? This horse didn't really take a lame step after the initial few weeks - in fact she often just didn't step on this hoof at all. She would canter, gallop, spin and buck on three legs. Oh Asha. How special of you.

Her owners decided to leave her barefoot and assess the support situation if and when she needed it. In the end, she just didn't require any extra support.

This trim is from 19.08.12. She was at six weeks due to the owners/my availabilities. Normally trimmed no later than 5 weeks.

Apologies for the bad angles, I had Andrew (my non-horsey husband) photographing for me.
As always, before on the left, click to enlarge yada yada.

Right front:

Feet are super dry and hard like stone.
Left hind (injured hoof):

All grown out!!

This hoof has held most of it's symmetry even though there has been no contact with the ground on the outside quarter for 9 months. Now, we have weight bearing wall again with this trim!

I probably won't update much with Asha as she has great feet and her owners keep her on a regular trim cycle. I have been meaning to write about her for a long time (her injury is just so interesting!) and now I have finally gotten around to it!!

Comments and thoughts always welcome as per usual. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Adventures with Hoof Casts

I was SO EXCITED to give hoof casting a try. I have read Pete Ramey's article on casts multiple times and honestly I think I have just been waiting for an owner with a horse that needs it willing to give it a try.

Madison has had Prince, a 6 year old OTTB gelding for about 3 months. Previous he had been turned out with no work for quite a few months. He came to her with shoes on, she had him reshod once and has decided to go barefoot.

He has been landing toe first (even in shoes). That is the first order of business.

Looking a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.

Prince came out of shoes quite sore, with soles on the thin side but with some nice big frogs and decent lateral cartilages and digital cushion for an OTTB. His walls weren't coping well with nails and are thin - he actually broke off a large chunk of wall at the quarter after I removed his shoe. This left his sole the only weight bearing structure in that whole entire part of the foot. I rushed out that night to tidy it up and assess. He was quite sore.

I measured him up for boots - then promptly got disheartened as his width measurements were two or even three sizes different to his length measurements. As you may know, this means boots are difficult to fit.

Post trim right front;

Little bit of flare.

Heels a bit under run, collapsed.

Heels taken down a little lower than I normally would have for a horse fresh out of shoes but I knew he would be getting protection.

See, not too bad. Plenty to work with!

Right front:

Quarter that lost it's wall - that is all sole on the ground. :(

Lots of flare on this one.

Apparently this horse has a massive over reach problem. This is an old scar he keeps re-opening. On a side note, when his shoe first came off this hoof, the frog was much higher than the heels. Less than a week later, and the frog has already flattened out level with the heels. Hooves never cease to amaze me.

Not much wall at all really, a little bit of thrush infection. Sole a little thicker on this one but not thick or calloused enough to withstand the forces not taken care of by the missing wall.Looks like a hind hoof, but it is a front, promise!

Then, I read Kristen's post about Laz's hoof casts and it got me googling. Prince has thin soles and weak walls. He needs support while the crappy nail hole-ridden walls grow out and his sole throws out material. He is in work too, being schooled maybe 3-4 times a week and his owner wants to keep riding him.

Ok - now that you are up to speed, lets talk about Equicast. I hope to kick start sole growth, tip him back to heel first landings. Apparently the cast still flexes with the hoof (not as much as a healthy hoof all by itself though). It adds strength and support to the walls, heels, fog and sole. They can be ridden in to a certain extent (reduces the life of the cast though). It seemed to be a good temporary measure to keep Madi riding but to get Prince comfortable.

It wasn't the cheapest of endeavors though.


Equicast 3" - $22 each (one per hoof).
Vettec Adhere - $57 (this does multiple applications though - it's the black glue in the pictures).
Glue Dispensing Gun - $100! (I didn't get one but I really should have - the glue was a bitch to get out and I wasted heaps trying to get the mix 50/50).
Mixing tips - about $15 for 4

Plus a sponge, foam mats, bucket and water, cling wrap, gloves.Tip one: organise all your stuff within arms reach BEFORE starting to mix the glue!

Shall I do a step by step?
1. After trimming the hoof, use sandpaper on the walls to remove any dirt/mud etc.
2. Use a hair drier to thoroughly dry the hoof.

3. Next, apply the glue tp the hoof wall. Tip number two: make sure you get the glue gun too - adhere is a bitch to get out of the tube and you will waste A LOT if you are dumb and don;t get the gun like me.

Excuse boobs.

4. Quick! Before the glue sets (within about 30 seconds) open the equicast and start wrapping the hoof, using the method shown in the Equicast youtube video.

Start at one heel.
Wrap around, up toward other heel.

Just keep wrapping, wrapping wrapping...
 5. When you get to the end of the cast, cut it (if you need to) so it ends on the underside of the hoof.

6. Wet the cast thoroughly with a sponge, then wrap in cling wrap before placing the hoof on the mat with the sponge underneath to make the cast mold to the sole. Lift the opposite leg to ensure the hoof expands in the cast.

7. After a few minutes remove the cling wrap, trim away with your knife any cast material that is over the coronary band or the soft bulbs of the heel. Walk the horse on dry clean ground to fully expand the hoof. I then used my rasp to remove any high pieces in the sole of the hoof cast.

8. Repeat with the other hoof and you are done!

Viola! You can tell that the second hoof I did is on the left of this photo. So much neater.

My initial observations were that the casts were a little slippery on long grass. Other than that, it is a 'wait and see' game - I really hope we see a vast improvement in these feet and fast. I will keep you guys updated.

Have you used casts before? Do you have any tips, advice or opinions in relation to hoof casts? Let me know!

Monday, August 13, 2012


Cheeky boy.

Diablo is a small anglo arab gelding. I think he is about 5 or 6 years old? He is an absolute ham of a horse - he is sweet, cheeky and really quite well behaved for his trims. He is one of my favorites to do.

His owner has been ill for the better part of 12 months so he is not in work and he had a bit of a set back with his trims. We are on top of the separation again and his feet are finally getting somewhere.

His right front is the most concerning as it is quite unbalanced due to long term separation but with continued short trim cycles his hoof  will come good.

As always, click to enlarge.

Flare flare flare.

Note the left heel - bar is wide open, heel is  distorted. This is from extreme separation and flare. Slowly growing out.

Note the windswept look to the left heel - it is falling away, like it is pointing to the top left corner of the picture. Keep it beveled and it will eventually end up back where it is meant to be.