Tuesday, January 17, 2012

trim notes 2012

Yesterday we had a visit from our new trimmer. She came over in December to take a look at Rafer Johnson's front hooves, which were having some issues and had gotten sore. Turned out he had white line disease which started at the toes and went up quite high into the hoof walls.

She did a corrective trim to expose the tissue to air, lowered his heels so he was comfortable again, and gave us instructions on keeping those two little hoof works of art (one was cut out in a lovely c-curve, and the other was a nice v-shape) clean so they could begin to grow tight, healthy wall.

We watched Rafer go from ouchy to tentative in about an hour's time. Since then he is back to galloping the fields with his buddy Redford.

And because I wanted this trimmer to follow up with Rafer Johnson, we made the decision to go with her for all the equines. Based on yesterday's trims, I think we are going to be very happy with her work.

Everyone got terrific trims, but Keil Bay's and Salina's were the most notable.

Keil's front heels have never been taken down quite far enough, in my very humble still-learning-every-day-about-hoof-trimming opinion. He has contracted heels. Not severely so, and much better than when he wore shoes, but I still struggle with frog development in his fronts. She took them down, and when she put the first front hoof down and he stood on it, he began to lick and chew. He licked and chewed his way through the entire trim!

He walked off with an even more exaggerated panther walk than usual - his big, reaching, gorgeous walk.

Salina has not had a proper trim in over a year. She has a tough time picking up her front hooves and although she can extend them forward, our previous trimmer (and I, to be sure) had gotten into a kind of rut of not even asking her to pick them up, in an effort to make things easier for her. Yesterday she picked up her hinds perfectly (which she usually does) but also was fully capable of putting them forward onto the hoof stand so they got a much more thorough trim than they have been getting.

With the fronts, she was fully capable, with some rest periods, to put both hooves forward onto the stand which allowed the trim to be done in a much more "normal" way - and for the first time in a long time, she got the full, complete trim done. She too walked off with some vigor.

It was a hard decision for all of us when we made this change. The professionals who work with our horses become like extended family in a way. The level of trust I need to have to place my horses and donkeys in the hands of someone is huge. But sometimes we go as far as we can with one person and then it's time to move on. It was hard to say goodbye, but we're happy to be starting a new chapter in hoof care with a gifted new trimmer.

Like every other issue that happens with horses and their health and well-being, I learned a huge amount as we went through the process of sorting out Rafer's front feet. As hard as it is to live through these things, every single time I do it I end up feeling like it was a lesson that needed to happen. Rafer Johnson taught me again how important it is to listen to the horse and to the donkey. Watch and stop and listen. If I had paid closer attention to him when he began to get fussy about having his hooves picked out, we would have discovered the problem much, much sooner. But seeing his hoof wall be cut away taught me something about the structure of the hoof that I suspect I might never have learned from a book or a picture.

And seeing him go from lame to sound, from fussy and upset to calm and appreciative, is just one more example of what these equines have to teach us.


Matthew said...

Your ability to listen to our animals and figure out exactly what they need always amazes me. I am thrilled to see what Rebecca has done with Rafer and now with the rest of the herd.

Grey Horse Matters said...

You're right about moving on, sometimes it's the smart thing to do. The lessons we learn from each caretaker will help us help our equine friends in the future too.

Glad to hear that everyone did so well with the new trimmer.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Happy day for the equines! They always "tell us so"! :)

billie said...

Matthew, this was not one of my best instances of listening, but I'm glad I finally did and we got some help with the problem. Rafer is a sweetheart and I think he forgives me for being ... human...! :)

billie said...

A, thank you. It was fortunately not a drama-filled scenario. Just a difficult decision and a very courteous move onward.

billie said...

C, they adored our old trimmer which is part of why it was so hard to make this call - but yes, they do tell us, and ultimately I think the lesson in listening is one we humans need repeated over and over again. I am always slightly mortified at my own slowness sometimes when it comes to seeing what they are trying to tell me! :)

Máire said...

They all clearly told you how good each trim was for them. I love Keil Bay's reaction.

billie said...

Maire, it was marked - Keil Bay can be a little fidgety and impatient with hoof trims, but this one he was so quiet and still, esp. after the first hoof.

Cody had a little ouchiness the day after but he used to get that after every trim - then we backed way off - so I'm thinking this set-up trim did what it needed to do and I'll let her know he got a little tender as a result. She pointed out to me that his feet are pretty small for his big QH body, which of course is a result of the QH being bred for halter classes instead of utility. We'll go to hoof boots if we need to. Usually it's just a matter of finding his comfort zone with how much can come off each time.