Thursday, December 26, 2013

Horses Do Love Their Peeps

No, not those kind of peeps... though some really do like those, too.  I mean their people, their owners, their humans.

We board horses here at this farm, horses with private, individual owners as well as racetrack layup horses.  Based on my interactions with, and observations of, these horses, I believe unequivocally that horses really do love their people.

I have observed horses who become "depressed"-- not clinically, not call-the-vet/off-their-feed depressed, but just a little mopey-- when their humans are absent.  Whether for a week when the human is away on vacation, or for longer periods when humans find that life (family, work, weather, etc.) interferes with their ability to get to the barn for longer than the horse is used to, the horse who is looking for his person is less bright, less ebullient, less himself than when his person comes to call.

The horses on this farm live lives of ridiculous leisure-- 7-14 hours of large-pasture turnout, big box stalls tucked in out of the weather, clockwork-regular feedings and treat-ministrations-- but the ones who are looking for their people shuffle out to turnout or in from pasture like little kids being led to Sunday school on a bright June morning that appears better suited to a game of pickup baseball.  They're reluctant, listless, less interested in the usual routine activities that make them happy.

I think that's one of the primary symptoms of depression, isn't it?

Lest anyone believe that it is just the treats and the grooming that makes these horses so value the arrival of their humans, I assure you that I perform the role of daily waiter to all and masseuse to many, and they still light up like Christmas trees when their actual, personal humans arrive on scene.  Even the track horses who are here for a rest, a break from the daily grind of training, and who really seem to settle in and enjoy that break, go running for the driveway end of the pastures when they hear the familiar sound of their trainer's truck and trailer pulling in.  They look at me eagerly as if to say, "Hey, yeah, thanks for the hospitality, but my real person is here!" So while, yes, the treats and the attention that human owners bring is appreciated, but there is more to the relationship than just that.

I love you.  You!

I saw a little of this last week when I finally got to get back to my own BBW after too many weeks away from regular handling and attention-- the change in body language and attitude after I really spent some time being present with the boy made me feel both guilty at how absent I had been, and really, truly loved for how warmly he welcomed me back.

Our presence in their lives makes a world of difference to them.  Really.  It's not just about the peppermints... though we should never forget them.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Season's Greetings from the BBW

We may or may not get a chance for a BBW update before the big day, so here we are to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.  We'll be back before New Year, so we'll save that greeting for later!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Episode 79, In Which Bay Boy Gets a Boo-boo

Sherm was quiet going out Monday morning, which is unusual for him.  He wasn't reluctant or limping, but he also wasn't grabbing at his and Celby's lead ropes, dancing sideways when the wind blew, or tossing his head up and down with eager anticipation of turnout after a long night indoors.  While I should have realized then that something was off, I was (I am ashamed to admit) just glad to get them out quickly, get on with my chores, and get back to grading essays.  Swamped with work this month, I have been on a death march through prepping and grading, and I wasn't paying enough attention to Sherm.

When he was equally quiet coming in at the end of the day, I knew I had to give him a look over.  After dinner, I found this on the inside of his right hind, about halfway between hock and stifle:

He'd been kicked.  Not surprising; he's been rough-housing and posturing for a couple of weeks with a younger gelding who doesn't quite understand Sherm's style of play.  Said gelding tends to take all playful advances as serious threats, and he fires back accordingly.  Sherm's fault, really, for constantly being a pest, and now he is paying for it.

He was very sensitive to palpation, so I couldn't get a good feel, but it felt warm to me.  With his thick winter coat, I couldn't really see the injury without a lot of fussing, which he was not tolerating, and, of course, it's on the inside of the leg, so I have to climb under his belly with a flashlight and poke around at his hind leg, an unhappy hind leg at that.  Given the oncoming dark at that hour of the evening, and the already defensive and painful young gelding, I wasn't brilliantly successful at examining just what we were dealing with.  Sent a quick shot to the vet, who called back and asked for a soundness-at-trot examination, so out we went into the dusk to trot in the lunge ring, and, oh dear, Boy-o may have been walking and bearing weight just fine, but owie, he was stabby and short at the trot.

Vet says, yeah, that could involve the stifle, which just chilled my heart.  Nothing, really, to be done at that hour-- the bleeding had long since stopped, he was weight-bearing, eating, drinking, and pooping normally, so we elected to give him some bute and check again in the morning.

Give him some bute. Yeah.  He hates bute.  Hates it so much I have to dispense the bute onto the top of my tack trunk, scoop it up my fingers, and jam it up into his cheek while I ply him with sweet treats at the front of his lips.  Wormer, gel sedative, and pretty much anything else, he's patient for, but he has developed a sinister aversion to bute, and the tube I have right now is stiff as hell and absolutely a two-handed operation to dispense.

But anyway, he got some bute and got put to bed with the plan that he and Uncle Celby would be turned out in the small paddock they have successfully shared through parts of the summer.

The next morning, the injury site looked like this:

Lots of swelling in the area.  This pic the vet didn't like and pretty much insisted that she come down and look at it, concerned about stifle injury.  She wouldn't have had to insist if I hadn't, again, been trying to get a bunch of stuff done before bugging out for school in the afternoon, but she convinced me it would be worth my while, so I acquiesced, and we scheduled for noon.

I'm glad we did.

She arrived and palpated thoroughly (good boy, Sherm!), eliminating concerns about an arterial  thrombus and damage to the stifle (yay!).  Then she stuck her nose down and sniffed at the wound site, and nodded her head.  Want to smell this?  she says.  I said, oh, infection? She says, just smell it.

Gah! Gag! It was pretty putrid-smelling.  After a couple of expletives, I asked how long it would have been brewing to produce such a stink?  Thinking back to my own inattentiveness on Monday morning, I postulated that he'd been kicked in a fracas at the gate, which I heard, but did not see, on Sunday afternoon.  Now I was wondering if it had been longer ago, and I had missed the signs longer than that.  She did the math in her head and suggested likely Sunday morning, but no longer ago than that.  The wound had just closed itself off and brewed that nasty muck from the other gelding's hoof (hardly a sterile implement) and made a nasty little abscess, which was likely very painful and certainly stinky, but, thanks to dogged perseverance on the part of the vet, not going to be fatal.  A thorough clipping and cleaning (which was exciting at times, thank you, Sherman) and the injury was confirmed to be naught but a flesh wound.

With no other tissue concerns, the Rx was 26 SMZs a day, and topical treatment with AluSpray. Back to regular turnout-- without the gelding who delivered this kick-- and all will be well in 7-10 days.

We got Sherm his first shot of AluSpray on the fly, and turned him back out with Celby. When I said I wouldn't be able to deliver his first set of SMZs until after I got back from school at 9pm, the vet said, oh, let's get them in him now, so we went back out to get Sherm.  We found this:

Sherm, who had wriggled and wrestled and menaced all approaches to his hind leg through the cleaning and shaving, was allowing Uncle  Doctor Celby to lick off all the AluSpray and inspect the wound for himself.  When asked what he was doing, Dr. Celby said:

Do you mind? I'm with a patient.
So much for the topical antibiotic.  Sherm would have to settle for horse spit. Oh, and meds.  Here's what he did with the first day's pain pill, carefully hidden in his dinner dish:

Pill about the size of 1/4 of a standard aspirin.  Nope, not eating it.

So, 13 SMZs twice daily? This will require lots of treats.

One SMZ, one cookie.  Repeat 12x.

Cleaning the wound out on Friday night, I had help from The Doctor, who would bang on his door every five minutes, insisting on inspecting the cloths with which I was softening and cleaning the goo from the wound.  He would sniff them, and then set to licking the cloth clean.  Weird, but sweet.  Sort of.

Take good care of my boy.
By last night, the wound is looking like this:

Clean, healthy tissue, working on closing the wound.

Sherm's demeanor and patience with treatment has increased every day.  He's clearly not in pain any longer, just waiting for the wound to close and for all this tedious attention to be over. Here he is, looking for something fun to do today, while Dr. Celby wanders around in the background:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Not a Lymey Fish

On a little bit more than what I'd call "a whim," I had a Lyme titre pulled on Sherm this week.  I haven't seen significant signs that would suggest to me that he has it, but he has certainly had opportunity to be exposed-- I've pulled about a dozen ticks out of him this year, and have no idea how many last year, so it's possible he could have contracted it.

I was chatting with the vet last week when we were out on calls together, and she's just gone through the first week of treatment of her big, fancy warmblood after his Lyme titre came back higher than she'd ever seen one.  She said that she'd exhausted all the other items on her list and surprised herself to find such a high number in his results.  Though she'd been skeptical of the Lyme diagnosis, after 4 days of treatment, he appeared free of the nagging imbalance and stiffness she has been trying to suss out for six weeks.  He was like butter, all of a sudden.  So she confesses she's drinking the Lyme Kool-aid this week.

She has mentioned testing the BBW in the past due to his hyperesthesia.  He's looky, but not spooky.  Excitable, but brave.  Fancy, but twitchy.  Grooming him is an exercise in herding cats-- he wiggles around so much you would think the tools are electrified. In summer, I can only use a dandy brush on his thin coat.  He is so sensitive that even in deepest winter with 2" wooly-bully haircoat, I can only use a soft brush on him.  He cannot tolerate currying, and god forbid you think of pulling his mane or working a snarl out of it. (He so hates snarls and distracting irritation that he has come to relish the days I scissor off his mane and his forelock above the eyes.)

He loves his Moe haircut.

All of this don't touch me behavior from a horse who would hang out in the livingroom with you if he could, one who loves to have his ears rubbed, his nose tapped on-- he definitely likes loving and being in your space, but virtually comes out of his skin if you stimulate it. At all.

So maybe that's Lyme-related?

Hours after that conversation, my good friend Amy reports on her blog that she's just gotten a positive Lyme titre back on her big paint pony. So, okay, I guess I'll have the blood drawn and find out for sure.

Vet calls it "vampiring your horse," so I'm sure she's not offended.

Well, the test result came back today, and the Boy is negative across the board.  So, no Lymey fish here.  Doesn't surprise me.  This is the horse who loves to wear hats, but not to be groomed.  Everyone deserves his own idiosyncrasies...

I'm not Lymey, now give me that carrot!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Absent Friends

It had been over a week since I'd gotten the chance to take the BBW out for a ride, due in part to weather, some to a massive barn repair project, and mostly the fall semester teaching schedule. I'd almost talked myself out of it today, citing 75 essays needing to be graded, but when I read the news of the passing of the great Erin Go Bragh, I had to get out and ride, if only for a little while. Sherman made it worth it, and I am grateful for his wonderfulness today.  Godspeed, Go Bragh, you will always be an inspiration

Monday, October 14, 2013

Wither, Thou Comest!

So at our saddle-fitting a couple of weeks ago, the fine ladies from Schleese asked me if I had another saddle pad, one with more wither relief.

I stared at them, dumbfounded.

Um, no. I'm on the road here, and I only brought this one.

That's fine, they reply, we'll just bunch this up and give him some room across the spine here, but you will want to use pads with wither relief from now on.

This part of our saddle fitting stuck with me for days; I couldn't quite put my finger on why.  In the moment, I had felt a little stupid, a little chastised, for my failing to have a pad with wither relief, but initially I passed that off as the way I always feel when riding my green goober in front of a bunch of experts.
The Schleese Ladies were NOT like this, but it's funny.

 And that's why I prefer to ride in the woods alone, far from expert eyes.

No judgment zone

But when I got home and thought about it, I realized that... um...I don't think I have any saddle pads with wither relief.

Because I've never needed any.  Sherman has never had withers before.

Approximation of Sherman's back, 2009-2012

Hot damn! The realization hit me-- Sherm has withers!

So I rummaged through my things and found the Saddlebred Rescue saddle pad I had for the late great Bayou Roux, Sherm's Auntie Roux, the horse he sometimes channels with his big, long (for a Morgan) neck, and his powerful intellect.  (Fortunately, he very rarely channels her anxiety. Her energy, yes, but so far, not the anxiety.)

Look at that wither clearance!

So Sherm and I rode in the woods today in Auntie Roux's saddle pad.  His withers, his actual withers, had plenty of clearance, and we had a lovely time.

Spitting image of Auntie Roux (less the wings...maybe...)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


There are horses out there... somewhere...

I've been a bit frustrated the last couple of weeks by extreme fog conditions interfering with my morning ride.  Gorgeous, warm fall days and crisp fall nights have been fantastic for working on outdoor projects and great for sleeping at night, but have produced copious amounts of morning fog, spooky conditions which linger until nearly noon.  Sherm and I both want to get back to riding in the fields and woods, but the pea soup out there has made that just not a brilliant idea in the mornings when I have the time.

Yesterday, however, there was no morning fog, and we had an amazing ride.  Sherm had spent the previous afternoon whooping up the pasture ya-yas for about a half an hour, racing, zooming, performing sliding stops, and bucking high enough to kick the leaves in the pasture trees with his hind feet, and he was pretty tired and sore yesterday morning.  He wasn't interested in any more ya-yas, and didn't want to work on any arena work.  So after just a few minutes in the arena, we wandered out to the hayfields, around which the wonderful husband has mowed xc paths for me and the riding boarders.  We had a fantastic, easy, relaxed hack all around the farm; it was pure heaven, easy as pie, and just the kind of morning ride I dream of every day.  I couldn't have been more pleased.

My pleasure turned to a weird kind of regretful guilt when later in the day, our husband-wife boarders were both thrown from their horses while attempting to enjoy the very same sort of country hack.  The husband ended up sore and a little banged up, but the wife ended up hurt enough to be out of work for two weeks, and out of the saddle for several months.  All this because of a little giddy young horse silliness at the end of what had been a pretty fantastic ride up to that point.

Though it had nothing to do with me, the episode reminds me just how unpredictable these perfect horse moments are.  

There are fantastic field trails to ride out there... somewhere...

So today, again, we have fog.  And I was kind of peeved-- I wanted another go at a great ride with the BBW.  In my frustration, I began to wrack my brain for how I managed this fall weather scenario last October... and then I remembered that I was out of the saddle last October with poor saddle fit.  This time last year I was thinking that we might be a driving-only team because I couldn't find a saddle that would make the boy comfortable.  So, okay, a little fog is better than that situation.

And it's certainly better than my boarder's situation.

So for this morning, I'll sit at my desk and get some schoolwork done, and then I'll get the boy out later in the day.  We'll enjoy the warm fall sun.  And I'll wear my XC vest, per my non-riding hubby's special request today.  And I'll be grateful for all that I have.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Long Overdue Catch-Up on the Equinox

July...August...and now almost all of September have gone by without a post about his royal Bay Boy Wonderness.  Summer seems to be like that around here, busy and overwhelming, and the documentation of BBW's world falls by the wayside.  Today is the Equinox, officially marking the end of what was, really, not the greatest summer for us.

One of the better moments in a challenging summer...

We lost one horse to PHF, and had another sick with it, though she recovered.  A boarder's foal struggled to thrive through most of June and July, and intensive testing failed to reveal any diagnosis, causing me great personal anxiety and countless days lost to waiting for the vet.  In early August, the foal just suddenly turned things around on his own and began to put on weight, grow, and have the energy and spirit we had expected from him all along.  The weather all summer vacillated between frighteningly hot and excessively wet, delaying haying for six weeks, a month and a half when we worried and fretted and watched the skies with anxious resignation to the possibility that we'd be buying all our hay this year... if our suppliers could even get their hay in.

Sherm pestering Celby

The BBW himself struggled through the summer as we tried to find the right shoeing package for him.  From the last week of June to the last week of August, he was mostly out of commission due to flawed shoeing.  We finally found the right setup in the final week of August, just in time for me to go back to school for the fall semester, where I unexpectedly find myself teaching full-time for the first time in forever.  Just as Sherm gets the right package of sneakers on, I am suddenly swamped with schoolwork, and am not finding the time to get him the work we have so long been waiting to get to!  But we're working it out and getting in some lovely early-morning rides.

Fantastic sunrise riding in the fog

Though the summer was not one that will go down in my records as a favorite, one fantastic opportunity did present itself.  When my longtime amazing vet joined a new practice, she offered me the chance to work for her as her assistant one or two days a week.  This offer was unexpected, and emerged out of a casual conversation during a consultation about Sherman's shoeing-- I said, "Oh, wow, will you get to hire an assistant?  I would love that job!" and she said, "Hey, sounds great!"-- and away we went!

Note: if you want a job that you don't know exists and aren't sure you're qualified to take, ask anyway!

I am humbled and awestruck at the honor and privilege of assisting this remarkable vet as she provides quality care for her clients.  Just being in the presence of such intelligent compassion is pretty miraculous.  Being allowed to help out in whatever ways I can... what a gift.

So I find myself awash in the daily phenomenon of life with horses, and that's a great good thing.  It doesn't allow a lot of time for blogging about it, but I'll try...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tumbling Dice...

Evidently, Sherman got an idea from Downtown Hottie's run at Belmont last week.

Yes, the BBW and I had our first involuntary separation experience, but we did have it together, which I think is pretty neat.  The first time you fall off your horse, why not fall together?

On one more about-to-be-hot morning before mid-day thunderstorms and torrential rains (enough with the rain already!), we went out to do some cardio trot work-- just a short session before the heat got too hot, but some good, serious work to try burn some calories.

Five minutes in to our real work, Sherm felt great, really flowing, giving his back, beginning to develop a rhythm. He had a minor stumble, but saved it and went right back to rhythm.  Stumbling is uncharacteristic of him, but I passed it off as turf interference because we were working in the grass arena, rather than our usual sand arena. I thought the grass would be a few degrees cooler on this already-heating-up morning.  Because I know he can occasionally shuffle more than stride when he's still a bit sleepy, I thought perhaps he had just not picked up his feet enough in the grabbier grass.

So when the second stumble came, I sat back and waited for him to catch himself, but I waited in vain.

The episode, like all my falls from horseback, has been etched in my memory as a series of incredibly vivid images separated by blank space that feels like hours of lost time.

I felt him stumble, felt myself consciously sit back, saw my hands come up a bit to steady the reins and catch him if he needed catching.

The next thing I saw was the side of his massive Morgan neck, from an angle which indicated I was parallel to his neck, a perspective revealing a completely inappropriate position for riding.  Seeing this image, I distinctly heard my brain say to no-one in particular, "Oh, he's not saving this stumble, and I don't think I'm in the saddle anymore..."

Dirt skidmark in Sherm's flymask-- evidence of faceplant.

The next image I have in my head is Sherman next to, and slightly behind, me on his knees, nose in the dirt.  This image is immediately obliterated from consideration by the sound and sensation of my lower back/upper butt slamming into the turf-- yes, I completed a 3/4 somersault and landed flat on my tramp-stamp real estate.

Brilliant cartoon by 

Some little voice in my head said, "Oh, if that was higher on your back, you'd have knocked the wind out of yourself, but you didn't!  Good for you!" and then I am involuntarily rolling away from the horse.

When I say involuntarily, I don't mean because of the momentum of my fall.  I landed flat-splat, well-grounded and on a wide, stable part of my body.  I mean involuntarily in that some instinctual, reptilian part of my brain instructed my abdominal and pectoral muscles to contract violently and pull me over, away, out of range of any part of Sherman that might be coming my way.  This is my third up-and-over forward fall from horseback, and for the third time, without any conscious thought, I found my primitive brain hurling my helpless body out of harm's way. Weird, that reptilian brain.  Glad to have it, though.

One complete cephalocaudal rotation of my body, and a peek back to see Sherm popping up from his knees to his feet and standing still.  He all but literally just shook it off and looked at me, feet planted firmly on the ground. Seeing this, the reptile in my head allowed the muscles to stop contracting and rolling, and I came to rest.

Then, of course, the full-body check, and it was all fine.  Surprised-- so fast this happened! Disappointed-- dangit, he was going so well, and we were just going to have a short workout, and now we're delayed, and he needs his cardio work, and I'm sure I'm hurt worse than I think I am, so I'll be out of the saddle for days... But in good working order.  And how funny to have the reptile brain give way to this analytic, neurotic brain again so quickly...

Sherm seemed more surprised at his lack of grace than frightened or alarmed by my fall.  Good boy just stood there looking at me until I started talking to him, when he decided to graze where he stood.  Hey, if you're getting off now, then I'm taking advantage of this grass arena!

After checking myself out and determining that the combination of adrenaline, heat, and perennial semi-dehydration were not going to be positive factors in continuing the ride, I elected to head into the cool of the barn and untack & clean us both up.  He was fine; I was fine but needed in out of the sun, so we called it quits for the day.  The surprise of falling was soon replaced with a touch of maternal pride at Sherm's mature handling of the first of many unplanned dismount eventualities, tinged with confusion at what triggered it.

I could see him trip a little in the turf, but to stumble to his knees?  So swiftly that he face-planted?  That  was really kind of inexplicable to me.  He's fancy, and handy.  No fooling, this boy is the definition of fleet-footed.  It began to nag at me.

It all became clear the next day, however, when my husband went out to mow pastures and returned to the house with this:
Sherm's RF shoe after a night in a rainy pasture

Obviously, Sherman had grabbed a new front shoe and tripped himself.  That deep, back-giving, flowing overstride was just a bit too much in conjunction with new, larger front shoes, set with a teensy bit more trailing edge than the first set of shoes.  Grabbed his shoe, gave himself the jr. high school "flat tire," and tripped himself a good one.  The loosened shoe then came off in pasture that night, and (yay!) timing was such that husband went mowing the next morning and found it.

So... he's not clumsy!  He's also not hurt, and I'm not hurt.  But now we're waiting for the farrier...and for the rain to stop...

Torrential Rains: Day 4

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Full Circle

Bit of a sad week here, as we said goodbye to Sherman's half-sister, Sparkle.  A lovely mare with the sweetest, kindest disposition, Sparkle was 20 this spring.  She colicked after battling PHF; still unclear whether the colic was related to the PHF and/or resulting treatment or if it was a separate issue altogether, one she was likely to face anyway.  Regardless of cause, Sparkle's loss will be felt deeply.

Sparkle 1993-2013

In addition to the many photos of Sparky, I found while looking for some to update the farm website, I found several of the BBW himself as a youngster, including this one, which always cracked me up-- hood ornament, anyone?

And this one, where he shows that once he was a lean, narrow-chested, trout-shaped little thing:

At the same time that we've lost one of our old friends, we're boarding a mare and her 3-month old colt, a leggy bay with a tiny star.  With him residing in the same foaling stall and pasture space as Sherman at that age, it's feeling a little deja-vu-ish around here this month.  Little bay colt boy has absolutely the big nose and ears of his standardbred lineage, so the resemblance isn't exact, but rather shadowy and ghost-like in the memories he stirs up.  Then on the night we lost Sparkle, little bay colt came to the fence in the rain, and did exactly this same thing in the same spot:
Sherman, age 3 months
It was spooky and joyful all at once.

And it was a reminder that life in horses just keeps going on... you lose an old, dear friend, and there's a young, new friend there to ease the heartache.  Horses keep going, and they help me keep going, even when it hurts a lot.  Even Sparkle's very best lifelong friend, a mare who was foaled within days of Sparky, and who has lived almost all of her adult life with Spark, only called for her friend for a day, and lightly at that.  She has gone on, and she sets the example for all the rest of us.

Foxwin Impreza (Sparkle) and Foxwin Estarzie (Twinkle)
Godspeed, good mare.  We love and miss you.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shoeing Sherman: Round Two

First off, of course, this is your friend:

Or, at least it has proven to be our friend through this process.  To desensitize him to the shoeing experience, I am (literally) hammering on the bottom of Sherm's feet every time I groom him, and sometimes just for the heck of it, but he's still a huge, young, dangerous-when-bored animal, and hey, I like my farrier.  So, a little happy juice, and you get a horse who takes 4 shoes in just over an hour, and never gets more excited than this: 

Hmmm?  What's that you say?  Someone is shoeing me?  Ok.

Sherm was mellow and awesome, allowing my farrier to just pick up and work each foot in turn, like this:
Sherm not arguing while farrier works away

Last time around, the BBW threw the farrier around quite a bit with the hinds.  Not today.  Nothing but a thing.  Yay, light sedatives!

No, not that much sedation!

So here is the interesting news...

On his front feet, Sherman has gone up a shoe size.  By not grinding, wearing, and pounding away his own natural surfaces, Sherm has grown so much "foot to work with" that he needed the next size shoe.  The foot is expanding and needs a wider and longer base of support.  Interesting. 

First shoe on top of today's larger shoe

Also interesting to me, his hoof wall is thickening on all four feet.  Similar reasons-- no grinding, wearing, pounding on the hoof material itself, allowing for him to grow and keep a good bit of hoof to himself.  The shoes are taking the abuse, and his feet are protected from the pounding.  Didn't quite expect this kind of improvement, but more hoof seems a good thing.

What I am most pleased about, however, is the improving angles of Sherm's hooves.  For his entire life, he has had "broken angles"-- upright hooves at the bottom of the pastern, making him look like a kid walking around on these:

While there is only so much change that can be made to that natural, screwy conformation, shoes are making a difference.  Here is Sherm's LH after trimming, but before re-setting the shoe:

Not textbook perfect, but no more Dixie Cup Stilts!

As he was setting the last nails in the last shoe, Mr. Awesome Farrier pointed out that he does not use all the nail holes, which I had noticed, of course.  He intentionally leaves the nail holes to the rear of the shoe un-nailed in order to allow for the natural expansion of the hoof wall under compression, and the related contraction of the hoof when the foot is off the ground; this prevents contraction of the hoof wall over time.  Interesting.

Monday, May 20, 2013

News on Shoes

Well, it's been three and a half weeks since I had shoes put on the Germ.

When they went on, all the shoes had a slight bumps where the nailheads sat in the "trough" of the shoe.  These little "off-road studs" were less than 1/8th inch, but were very clearly there and providing traction.  Bad cell phone photo below:

Left fore, showing prominent nailheads.

Today I looked hard at the shoes and realized that on the outside of the left hind and right fore, he has worn the nailheads smooth, and is actually now working on wearing the surface of the shoes themselves.  I'm no expert, clearly, but this seems to suggest to me that his feet needed some protection. If the shoes weren't there to be wearing down, it would be his hooves.

Left hind; outside nails worn flush with shoe; shoe starting to wear

Now, why it's only the outsides of these feet... well, I'll have to get some advice and counsel on that.  But this realization makes me feel like it was the right thing to do to protect his feet.

The primary difference in his "way of going" that I have noticed is his sudden and complete willingness this week to sit down on his hind legs and carry himself when we go down hills.  He no longer carries himself halfway, then lets go to fall forward on the forehand and run out in a trot.  He sits, carries himself, and walks with great control and dignity.  It's pretty dang cool, and I have to credit it to the shoes.  Yes, greater strength and balance overall, but I suspect the support in the hind legs has a lot to do with it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Shilling for a Worthy Cause

Keeping Sherm and all his friends company here on the farm are two wonderful Coonhound companions, both of whom were brought home from animal shelters.

This one is Jake:

Hi, I'm Jake.  Love me.

We found Jake at Animal Care Sanctuary in January of last year.  He had been there for six years, waiting for someone to take him home.  

This weekend is the annual Mutt Strut fundraiser at Animal Care Sanctuary, and we're participating.

If you would like to help horses, cats, pigs, and hounds like Jake, please consider making a donation to our online fundraising page. Thanks!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Afternoon Dapples

Look at my dapples, not my lipid-based dimples.

You keep taking photos; I'll keep eating...

Abstract impressionism: sunlight on dappled haunch