Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Barefoot Journey

First of all, what an eventful weekend it has been...

Yesterday was a long day of shopping with one of my best friend's M. After a morning at the barn, we drove down to one of our favorite tack stores for their annual holiday sale. Although there wasn't anything SUPER awesome on closeout, we did par-take in the BOGO clipper blades (a tradition and a favorite! yay body clipping!) and I finally got a breast collar for Cool/Johnny. This one came from the racing tack section, but I love it all the same. For only $36, I took home a soft, well oiled breast collar. I used it today on both Cool and Johnny, they both look smashing in it.

It was 65 degrees today (woohoo springtime in the winter!) so I worked all of my horses today...well, all except for Emmy, who decided to choke and make me call the vet, but that's another story.

I've been doing lots of research on conditioning and barefoot conditioning/hoof health. This has become an interest of mine since deciding to venture down the road of barefoot rehabilitation with my two "crippled" horses. Both Cool and Johnny have significant, yet similar issues. Both have been diagnosed with navicular and ring bone (my main concern with Cool) and Johnny has significant DJD in his stifles which causes him more pain on some days than others. Cool has never had his hock x-rayed, but I'm sure that trouble is brewing back there as well.

I used to be of the mindset that the whole "natural barefoot hoof trimming" movement was all a bunch of crap...and honestly, there are some "natural barefoot" farriers who I think ARE full of crap. I wouldn't let them trim my finger nails, let alone my horses feet. Perhaps this is because I'm from an area full of quarter million dollar show hunters who would never dream of going barefoot...the shoeless horses are yahoos just like the shoeless children running around!

I was all about the horse shoes...the wedges and the pads (pour-in's only please on my horses!) in fact, Emmy competed for YEARS successfully with just that package. We pulled her shoes one time in the winter and she was crippled as fuck. She didn't walk a sound step until I put her shoes back on in the spring time. I loved my farrier then (I still do) and I accepted the fact that my tender Thoroughbred just wasn't meant to walk without Prada's.

And then I moved out to the boondocks with (at the time) future hubby and the hunt was on for a new farrier. I went through 6 of them that first year...SIX. Every 8 weeks someone new came out to shoe my horses. I was ready to rip my hair out. How hard could it be to trim correctly and nail four shoes to some hooves? If you've never owned a horse, you just can't even being to understand the woes of finding either a new farrier or a new vet. Its like finding a new dentist....its just impossible.

We finally found R, a reasonably priced farrier who did good work and was (bonus!) from my home town area. We knew many of the same people and I found out that he actually shoed for many of my friends back home. We had lots to talk about, and I insisted that he not change a single thing on Emmy's feet. She was hard to shoe, I told him. Just keep her like she is.

Of course, he didn't. He took her out of her wedge shoe on our third appointment together. Emmy instantly went lame. I called him back, bitched him out, and told him to put her back in it. She HAS to have her wedges I told him. He complied, came back out and changed her shoes. Emmy was sound. A few more appointments later, I picked up her feet one day and realized that, once again, she didn't have a wedge shoe on. Except that this time, I hadn't even noticed that it was gone, and Emmy didn't seem to mind either. The longer he shod my horses, the more "crap" he took off them. I began to understand what he was trying to convey to me the first time he'd pulled the Prada's off my girl. R's philosophy is to grow a better hoof, not just Band-Aid a crappy one together. The problem is that growing better hooves takes time, and no one wants to wait for that.

Last winter, we pulled shoes on all of our horses. The temperatures were sub-zero, we had no indoor to ride in, and I was sick of popping ice balls out of my horses feet. R pulled shoes on everyone except Gus....and miraculously, Emmy never walked a lame step.

In fact, she's never worn shoes again.

In the years that it took him to sculpt my horses feet, what he did was make her foot grow to a better, stronger shape. When I decided to pull her shoes, it didn't matter, because the internal and external structures of her foot were strong and correct. She's never taken an sore step in a solid year without shoes.

I noticed also, that Cool, who has been plagued by mysterious lameness all summer, was also suddenly sound. In fact, when we x-rayed him the following spring and found his navicular, he really hadn't even been lame.

Of course, the vets gave me a regiment of shoeing changes for him. One told me eggbars, one told me wedges and another told me to roll his toe for the ringbone. We compromised with an aluminum shoe and a small wedge. I mean, we had to do something right?

Cool was sound for like 1 week, and then went completely lame.

Never blocks, Isox, Osphos injections and one more shoeing change....hundreds of dollars later I had a horse that was barely sound at the walk, let alone the trot. The Osphos did seem to help him, but the more we messed with his feet, the worse he got. After an entire summer of zero progress, I was frustrated and ready to give up. The farrier came back to trim him and I told him that I was done.

Pull the shoe I said to him I'm not putting another dime into this horses feet.

And miraculously, he got better.

And then I began to think. And I realized, that Cool has been at his most sound point over the winter and into the early spring, WITHOUT the shoes. It was only after nailing pieces of metal back to his feet that we really began to see lameness again. I started researching barefoot navicular horses on my lunch breaks at work, and what I found, really made me think.

To read the website that really inspired me, visit

I think you'll find it worth your time to read. I'll elaborate more in my next post! Until then, do your research my friends!

Until next time


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Time Well Spent

So I had half of this post written when my computer just randomly decided to freeze and I lost the entire thing....

I will try to re-write what I can of it, however, I'm sure it wont nearly be as good as it was the first time.

I've been absent for several reasons: first and foremost of which is because of log-in problems that I was having with Blogger. Hopefully this is resolved! The other reason though, is because its been a WHIRLWIND year for me.

We did get around to radiographing Cool in the spring, his x-rays showed navicular changes, low articulate ringbone and a possible splint bone fracture (the fracture was later ruled out by several other vets as just radiograph technique as it did not appear in any other photos.) It was a devastating time for both my husband and me. We spent the entire summer and several hundreds of dollars on standard "treatment," only to have mild success followed by a horse who eventually ended up more lame than he had ever been before treatment. We did inject him with Osphos, which at the time, was completely new to the market. It certainly did help him immensely, but I found that the shoeing corrections seems to make him worse. At the end of it all, I had a miserable, unrideable horse.

We pulled his shoes a few months ago and discontinued the daily anti-inflammatories. My endless research into these "diseases" has led me to consider a barefoot treatment plan for him. I'll go into it all in my next post, once everyone is up to speed with the details from the rest of the year.

So, in short, Cool spent the summer in relaxation. I think I rode him all of 5 times before I gave up and just focused on Gus. This winter will be all about growing a better hoof for him to help him cope with his problems, next year, we'll be back at it.

I spent my entire summer working with Gus, our main focus being the All American Quarter Horse Congress at the end of the year in October. I actually spent my 1 year wedding anniversary in Columbus at a horse show. Hubby has been extra lenient to me this year...I think partially he felt bad that my dreams of Congress with Cool would not become reality. Instead, we took Gus. Hubby and I hauled him there ourselves in our small, two horse trailer with our farm truck that has roughly 280,000 miles on it. We slept in a hotel (or hubby did at least....I spent all night riding because that's the only times the rings were open!) We waited until 10pm to show in my last class and then loaded up and drove 3 hours home so that we could go to work the next day. The overall experience was was unlike any horse show I've ever attended.

Gus and I did not get called back in our classes, but we put in performances that were acceptable and respectable. My friends at work watched our jumping classes on the live feed, my parents stayed up all night to watch my flat class from the comfort of their living room. And all the while, there were hubby and I, standing in a class of 150 people and feeling like we actually belonged. It was something that I wouldn't have traded for the world.

Gus after our schooling ride out first night at the Congress in the new Buckeye Arena

How I spent my anniversary...

My best friend M giving Gus a pep talk. She was there for us at the EOQHA show and the Congress. I couldn't have done it without her!
Gus and I did our first combined test in June...we had SO much fun! Next year I'll be focusing on the jumpers with him!
Baby jumpers at South Farm
Cool at Maplebrook: one of our last rides before I pulled his shoes. He was dead lame.

We expanded our arena this summer!

...and we got a mini. Because who doesn't need one of those? Meet "MRF Voyager," we call him Gimli in the barn!

I haven't ridden Emmy much, this was us sporting our red/white/blue on the 4th of July. I hope to ride her more this winter, she's 28 now!

Gus is boarded at Maplebrook for the winter now, he's got a lease on him so I don't get to ride much...only once a week or so. But its better for him to stay in work! We are taking one or two dressage/jumping lessons a month with my childhood trainer.

I have tons more pictures from Congress that I will have to upload from my phone later! I'll go into details about our barefoot journey with Cool and I'll give you all some exciting news in my next post!

As always,