Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Little Out of Shape

Yesterday was a beautiful day all around: weather, company, and activities. Today, though, it's overcast and cold. I keep walking the property to see if there are any signs of life: crocus, snowdrops, daffodils, Poet's Narcissus, but nada. I would expect at least the snowdrops to be up by now, wouldn't you?

I got to ride Cowboy yesterday and had a funny experience leaving the pasture. He had been rather far out, so I had a ways to walk him back to the barn. As we were doing this, I heard what sounded like a stampede behind me, turned around to see what was going on, and lo and behold, there was Beautiful running straight toward us with Cia behind her trying to herd her back. Amazingly enough, Cowboy wasn't bothered, even though she came into our "bubble". She was definitely trying to make a little trouble. The whole time I rode him, she was plastered to the gate watching. I assume she must be saying she wants to work, too.

Cowboy is always a sweetheart and does everything he's asked, but it's clear he's very much out of shape. That's the other side to letting them be during the winter--there is some reconditioning that needs to happen before going out for long rides on the trail. The other issue is, as always, his hoof. He camps it out in the pasture when he's standing, but doesn't seem to be lame on it when we're riding. I took my hammer and pounded around it last night to see if I'd get him to flinch or pull it away--nothing. He didn't act like he felt it at all.

He's due for shoes on Tuesday, and I'm hoping that will stabilize it enough to relieve whatever pain is in there. Also, he gets these mud balls stuck to his hooves that round out--almost like ice balls. Do you know what I mean? they fill up the space in the hoof, then protrude outward. It seems to me that when he puts a foot down on the ground with a compact, mud ball in it, it would force out the sides of the hoof and cause him more pain. I would think, with an arthritic coffin joint, you'd want that hoof landing as flat as possible. So, I'm really starting to wonder if a pad would help. I'm going to discuss it with my farrier. I would imagine this is only a problem during the wet, sticky, muddy months--or winter, sticky snow months.

Any ideas out there?


  1. Nope, no ideas from me. I do know what you mean but have never seen them really stay in there with any movement. Here they always pop off once the horse is moving around but then here, they get them sometimes in the stall or trailer, not when they're out. Don't know what to think there.

  2. A well-functioning barefoot hoof will flex and pop those ice balls out. It's all about the trim.

    If you want to keep him in shoes then pads are probably your best bet for keeping out ice balls. Of course then it also creates a nice environment for thrush to grow. I've seen horses with pads that are shaped like shoes, those seem to keep the snow out while still leaving the frog open to the air.

  3. Smazourek--that's interesting, so now I'm wondering because it's only building up in his bad hoof--where there was a P3 fracture four years ago. I wonder if he's doing something different with it that's keeping the debris from popping out. I'll bring it up with my farrier this Tuesday.

  4. I should add, in the last year, that hoof has become more contracted and he has been putting it out in front of him more. My farrier has done well to keep him sound considering where we started--he's been a miracle worker. But he's always told me it's not a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when", and it seems to be steadily getting worse. However, he seems sound when I ride him.

  5. Re - Beautiful plastered to the gate, watching ... She's so cute, I think she wants to be your Main Horse.

  6. Hey Linda, if you want, take pix of the big guys feet (top and sole views) and send them over. A fresh set of eyes might be able to help spot things too.

    How did he fracture the coffin bone? Poor guy...

    An increase in contraction will cause significant heel pain- you might want to clean that area up as much as possible, and take a hard look there. If you find cracks, crevices, etc and can stick say a q-tip in any of them for any depth, you are probably looking at deep tissue thrush too. (Gads I sound like a broken record on this whole thrush topic! LOL)

    Give the crew a rub from me!

  7. That hoof is probably getting contracted because he's favoring it. I like the idea of shoes to support his old injury, and I'm not a shoeing sort of person. I also like the idea of pads, done correctly with pine tar and oakum. Or maybe fill the hoof/shoe with Vettec's Equipak CS. It's medicated to kill thrush, but it is expensive, on top of the regular cost of shoeing.

  8. Mrs. Mom--I just might do that. I'll get some pics today. I haven't seen any cracks or crevices yet. I rode him yesterday and he was great at all gaits--I didn't feel any missteps. Of course, he's out of shape. That's very interesting about heel pain. The fracture happened four years ago on another horse property we owned. There were three owners of that property--one had cows and horses--the next had a golf set--and then us. Well, the one with the golf set, you can guess what he did on the property--and that's what I think broke Cowboy's coffine bone--a ##!!## golf ball. I can't prove it. We thought we'd got every golf ball out of the pastures, but it was February/March and, down there, that meant MUD--and MUD means things come to the surface that were compacted into the ground. Of course, he could of done it on a protruding rock as well, I guess. I'll never know. Over on the sidebar there's a link to Cowboy's story and pictures of his xrays. It was misdiagnosed for three months as an abscess by the attending vet (who was actually looking at those exact xrays!!!)--even after a second opinion (in the same clinic). Bad story, but he's been sound for four years, so I'm not complaining.

  9. Andrea--The last four years, I haven't put shoes on my horses either--except Cowboy. My farrier isn't a "barefoot" farrier--he actually does the hot shoes, but he trims them in such a way that they are able to go barefoot--and he tells me to let them go barefoot--even over the rocks we have on our trails around here. I don't use boots or anything, but they always stay sound. Cowboy is the only one who gets shoes--and only to stabilize the hoof and cut down on arthritis pain.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.