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.