06 November 2014

The trouble with feet.

     Raven has been in the New Barn for two months or so. Within a week of arrival, he'd torn out the electric fence in his paddock during a fracas with the geldings in the paddock next to his; somehow knocked out a couple fence boards; and unfortunately, strained a ligament in his left fore while acting Big Stud For The Girl Next Door.

     It took a few weeks of confinement to the small turnout pen off his stall and an injection in order for it to heal. But he did heal. So we began to ride, only to discover a new issue: his hind feet are crumbling.

Arrrghhhhhhhhhhh. It's a very bad feeling to see the farrier pull a shoe and part of the hoof falls off.

This comes from one or several of factors: Our wet, wet climate, genetics (to a degree), nutrition, and shoeing.
    In my opinion, it's a combination of 1 and 4. I know Raven's breeding. He's 1/2 Trakehner, 1/2 Thoroughbred. He has virtually no white anywhere on him-just a spot on his lip and a faint star, just a scattering of white hairs that vanish under a winter coat.

     I know what he's been eating for two years. We have never stinted on the best for him. In fact, Sue moved him from Bourbon Stables after the owner decided to save a few bucks (and still charge the same money) by going cheap on feed.  Raven went from locally grown orchard grass and whole oats to the equine equivalent of Doreetohs and Fruit Loups.  (sic) (I misspell purposefully in order to keep the advertisers from hitting you and me with ads.)

Our wet climate keeps the feet wet. Farrier number 1 warned us to keep Raven's  feet as dry as possible. But there's only so much you can do when you live in a gigantic car wash. You don't want to keep him in a stall 24/7. That drives them insane. And kills them.

    Because Sue's former farrier has been unable to work because of his wrists and back, she had to find a new one. After doing a lot of culling, she hired Matt.

     Despite my not being a farrier, I always wondered about how the last farrier shod Raven. He'd always had to build up one of the hind feet with a bit of epoxy, but now it'd gotten much worse.

    In such a small field of work, every farrier knows every other farrier in the region. So Matt was very circumspect in his appraisal of why the hooves are crumbling. He didn't say so, but I know he believes the former farrier was partially to blame. Nor did he imply it in order to keep a new client. He was late to the barn because his prior appointment, one for four horses, was suddenly doubled to eight when 'everyone realized the farrier was there and would you please work on my horse?" I can't blame him for saying yes.


   The discussion between the three of us touched on how Raven had been shod before Matt got the job. Maybe the first farrier didn't allow the heels to adequately expand. Maybe he put too much pressure on the sides. I don't know. But now we have about a year of work to get his feet to grow out. Matt built up the hooves with epoxy and gave me a recipe for goop to put on his hooves to keep them dry, because if 'he stands around in the mud, that epoxy is going to come right out."

    Yes. The recipe is: Mix Venice turpentine and iodine in a 60:40 ratio. For us in the US, that's a cup of turpentine to 5.5 ounces of iodine.

Apply to the soles and on the outside of the hoof, no higher than the nails. Do NOT get it anywhere near the coronary band, as it will burn the tissue. Venice turpentine is made of larch tree resin. Be careful when shopping for it. It's different than the more readily available turpentine used by painters. Venice turpentine is an astringent, and the iodine is to kill bacteria that every horse steps in every single moment of his life. Try not to get it on the frog. Apply about three times a week. (this last is for Raven's case.)

    It could have been worse. Sue doesn't vanity clip him. Meaning, she leaves his whiskers on and never, ever trims his pasterns.

     Some people think that cowlick of hair coming off the back of his pastern is unsightly, and trim it off. Yes, it makes for a 'cleaner, prettier' leg, but that cowlick serves a very important purpose...like a rain chain, it wicks water away from the hoof.

     Extrapolating this in my biologists mind, I wonder if draft horse breeders didn't understand this when they set about breeding draft horses. One can't think of Clydesdales, Shires, and even Friesians without thinking of their 'feathers' (extremely long haired pasterns)

    Sue is upset about it, but I try to tell her it will be okay. It will take time and work, but we'll get him back to good footing. Literally.


Anonymous said...

You're probably already doing so? but I find feeding biotine supplements has worked wonders for my horses' hooves, particularly producing strong, healthy horn growth after illnesses such as white line disease and laminitis, (as corroborated by the farrier). In any case it is a good back up for the farrier's remedial work. I do hope you and Sue and Raven get "back to work" soon.
With regard to the feather on working horse types, I always thought the sheer density of hair protected the hoof - maybe someone with draught horses can tell us more!

Anonymous said...

Argh! Not used to your new site yet - can only see a "subscribe to comments" option; how do I follow/subscribe to the blog? (Must be missing the obvious somewhere!) And I'm missing the "like" button!! Have posted a comment but it is probably awaiting moderation.

Khutulan said...

I wish I could tell you. However, I'm as befuddled as you, I've tried to make Blogger accept comments but..so far, it's for naught. And as far as I can see, there is no 'like' button.

Khutulan said...

We're feeding him a supplement called "Trifecta'. It has not only glucosamine for his joints, but biotin as well.