Tuesday, February 05, 2008

the very evil soaking boot

This morning I went out to feed and then groom and longe Cody, our 4-year old QH. We've had some mild thrush issues all around this winter, so I decided that while I was grooming, I'd tie up a flake of hay and soak his feet at the same time. Our trimmer recommended a monthly soak in a mild borax and calendula solution, so I mixed up the water, tsp of borax, and dropper of calendula, and stuck Cody's left front hoof in it.

It was obvious he had never had a foot soaked before, and when I thought about it, we got him when he was 2, and he's never needed soaking since. He probably never needed it as a younger horse either.

He handled it pretty well. He didn't really want to set his foot down inside the bucket, but when encouraged, he did. As long as I stood right there and stroked his shoulder he was fine. The moment I moved away, he took his foot out of the bucket. Not wild and crazy, just simply lifted it out.

Given that I wanted to groom and longe, I opted to get out the soaking boot and try that. I figured it would be more comfortable, and I could get on with his grooming.

Cody was a good sport. He's never had a soaking boot on either, but he gamely let me put his foot in it and sat it flat on the ground. Fine - I got the brushes and curry combs and got to work. Thus far Cody hadn't moved his feet and all was well. For about five minutes.

Suddenly, he took a step and when the water inside the soaking boot sloshed, he spooked. I calmed him and started brushing again. He stepped again, and pulled back. I decided it was probably a good idea to untie him. I calmed him again, but by this time he had moved away from the hay net and when he stepped to get back to it, that evil soaking boot sloshed and he leapt forward, almost on top of me.

My first reaction was to address his leaping toward me. He was scared, and he wanted to both get close and get away from the boot. But he's a big horse, and he needs to know that he can't do that. I drove him back, which addressed the space issue, but of course scared him all over again when the boot kept sloshing.

This time he leaped around me in a circle, inside the barn aisle. Better, but still dangerous. He managed to fling the soaking boot right off his foot. I settled him down again and then sacked him out with the boot, letting him smell it, rubbing it on his body, and finally laying it all over his foot. He got lots of pats and good boys for this. We went out and did some groundwork, just a little bit, and returned to the barn.

Once I finally got to grooming, I realized his RIGHT front fetlock was a bit puffy. probably due to a superficial scrape he got yesterday on the inside of that leg. So after all that, poor Cody had to get cold hosed for 20 minutes.

Next time we tackle the soaking boot, I think we need to do it without the liquid, to get used to that feeling first. Then we'll add some sloshing and work on getting comfortable with THAT. We'll do some more bucket soaking too.

He's such a great guy it's easy to forget that he's only 4 and so many things are new for him.

This afternoon, all is well. It's hit the mid-70's today and there's a nice breeze blowing. Cody is down the hill grazing while his little buddy makes good use of a double-sided scratching post.


Grey Horse Matters said...

He's still young, I'm sure with the steps you suggested he will get to be an old soaking pro in no time.

billie said...

I hope so! The thing about soaking is that you never need to do it... until you need to do it.

It really made me appreciate the two older horses here. Keil Bay would stand with his foot in a bucket all day long if he had hay to eat in the meantime!

Salina seems to know the soaking time and have it engraved in her brain - she stands perfectly still for 20 minutes and then it's 'okay - time to stop now.' Don't even need a watch with her.

Victoria Cummings said...

I definitely think it's an age thing. Silk will stand like your old guys with her foot in a bucket and be just fine. Siete, when we had the nightmare of the hoof abscesses, hated the bucket. I ended up using one of those low feeding pans since it was just her hoof that needed to be soaked. And weirdly, she was really good about the boot. I soaked the boot in hot water to soften it before I put it on her foot which made it easier. Good luck - the steps you're taking will be worth it.

billie said...

Victoria, the low feeding pan is a great idea - that will be much less confining and less prone to the banging of the bucket (and tipping over).