Tuesday, December 02, 2008

trim notes for december - a year's review

We had the trimmer here this morning, so I was up early getting equine breakfasts served and trying to get the barn aisle raked so it would be ready when he arrived. I had a pumpkin eggnog latte delivered to me at the barn, but just realized I took one sip, set it down, and forgot about it. It is still out there!

I was a little stressed about today's trims, because it was Rafer Johnson's first trim since he got his cast on. The trimmer has looked at his feet each visit since the break, but each time we made the decision not to trim, because we didn't want to risk injuring him further. Rafer has had to go through so much with the broken leg - the sight of the halter became shorthand for "the vet's coming."

We've been working with Rafer, re-teaching him that the halter means good stuff sometimes, and he's been making progress in that regard. But I worried that the trim might be hard, and he would transfer all his negative vet stuff over to the trimmer.

Thank goodness my worry was in vain. When B. arrived, Rafer marched right up to him and sniffed. He remembers that B. gives yummy alfalfa cookies after each trim, and he also remembered that B. has very cool tools to play with.

We started with Salina, with donkeys haltered but allowed to stand with her. My theory is that if they see her getting a trim, and see how good she is, it can only reassure them. Today they got bored and went out into the barnyard. Salina stood for her trim, and today was easy for her. I'd given her the Bute last night and again this a.m., to help the knees. And it was heartening to see that she is growing good hoof, remaining balanced between trims, and the crack from the abscess last May is nearing the ground. B. prepared me that as the crack gets close to the ground it will chunk off, and I might be alarmed, but it will be cosmetic only. So I'm ready for that.

Redford went next. He stands well, but he is still young so we go slowly and carefully to teach him that it is No Big Deal. He was quite happy to get the alfalfa cookie pieces at the end, and actually acted up a little when my daughter led him away! He wanted more trim and more cookie.

And then it was Rafer's turn. I cannot tell you how absolutely amazing he was. He fussed just a little as we got him lined up in the aisle, but then he stood like a little soldier. B. did the fronts first so there wouldn't be any stress on the hind end. And when he got to the hind leg that was broken, Rafer had it lifted and waiting for him! B. had to adjust his gloves, so Rafer let the hoof down again, but when B. turned back, Rafer lifted the hoof again, offering it into B.'s hand. He stood so still and was so good. Even when he had to stand on the injured leg so the other hind could be trimmed.

B. said he would normally have taken a bit more off but he wanted this trim to be very successful and easy on Rafer. And he feels now that the leg is healing and Rafer is moving more, and the hooves are all balanced, he may self-trim some between now and the next visit.

Hooray! I was so happy to see Rafer get his cookies and walk proudly out to the paddock with his best friends Salina and Redford.

I also have to add that right in the middle of these first trims, the scary tree-trimming machine cranked up and began to move. It was out of sight, but the sound was familiar. However, Salina and the donkeys were absolutely fine. The donkeys positioned themselves in front of Salina, between her and the noise, and stood like donkey guardians while she finished her trim.

On to the geldings.

The pony was absolutely perfect. His feet are great and he was soft and comfortable hiking those hind feet up. I was relieved. And as focused as we've been about the pony's weight, B. said he thought he looked good. Not too heavy.

Cody fussed a bit but B. said he's "acting like a 5-year old." Ha! We worked him through it and the reward was seeing his truly picture-book bare feet: beautiful shape and concavity, healthy wide frogs, and no separation or flares. B. wisely had me stop and take a moment to appreciate the way Cody's feet look now. It's so easy to let that go and hone in on any problems. But I looked and appreciated.

Keil Bay went last today, mainly because this is the first trim following my maiden effort at trimming his fronts in between trimmer visits. B. had left me with sketches and notes, a good rasp, and the instructions: "it will feel awkward, you'll be sure you're taking too much off, and you will want to give up. Don't! You'll be fine."

And I did it. Sure enough, the Big Bay's front inside edges had no separation today. I kept them trimmed so the excess growth didn't even get a chance to occur. B. said this is exactly what needs to happen, and I should keep it up. We talked about my getting a shorter rasp that I can handle more easily, but otherwise, I'll do the trim halfway between now and next visit, and see if I can maintain the progress. And Keil's frogs are looking good too.

Every equine got good trim notes today. I feel so much more knowledgeable and at ease with their feet. It's been a year since I embarked on this hoof learning journey with the new trimmer. And every single horse has improved measurably during this year.

The horses are off processed feed, off sugar, and doing beautifully. I'm taking the equine nutrition class and learning to balance the diet based on our pasture, our water, and our hay. And I've taken rasp to hoof, and am eager to continue learning so that I can be an active participant and partner in the health and well-being of these horses.

Thanks, B.! I'm really happy we found you!


Grey Horse Matters said...

Rafer was such a good boy. So was his little brother. I can tell by your post that you couldn't be happier with the way the trims and all their feet are coming along. Good for you for learning all about trims and taking equine nutrition classes. If only more people were like you there would be so many happier horses in the world.

billie said...

He was, Arlene. I had been flouncing around this a.m. predicting what a nightmare it was going to be, but as is often the case, when I go ahead and let that out a bit, the nightmare generally doesn't happen. With a frequency that boggles the mind, the opposite occurs.

I know not everyone wants this level of involvement in their horsekeeping, and there are plenty of days when I think of all the things I would accomplish if I either didn't do what I do OR paid someone else to do it. But clearly for me, it's a journey that brings a lot of pleasure.

And I'm very very fortunate to have a daughter who works hard and has a gift with these animals, as well as a husband who probably never thought his daily life would involve mucking, feeding, and juggling the needs of a small herd, but does it for the most part with good cheer. And a son who is not part of the horsekeeping routine on a daily basis, but who will and does pitch in when I need him.

Victoria Cummings said...

Billie - it's because you have this level of involvement that you deserve an award - so come pick one up at my place!

billie said...

OH... thank you, Victoria. That just makes my day!