31 August 2015

My farrier works miracles (slowly)

   I have to 'post and boast'.

Raven the Beautiful 

     Look at this gorgeous beast. This was taken in July at a local dressage test. Raven was wired to the max. My gosh, he was high voltage. Sue even wondered if she should do the second test on him, he was so much horse. But we encouraged her to do the test and she came out of it with some very high marks indeed.

     I have made some big steps in riding him. I took a lesson from our super trainer and she's helped me a lot. I am even riding him at the trot bareback, having finally been able to make that transition. Literally. 
My hardest part right now is collection. I still don't have that feel for when he's truly up underneath me. As I noted in my last post, he is not an easy horse to ride. He's long backed, which makes it more difficult for him to collect, and I'm not rider enough..yet... to know it when he is.
But when I do it right, and we're trotting, suddenly it's easy to ride him. Those moments are fleeting yet exhilarating when they do come. They keep me motivated.

      Last year at this time he had just settled into his new home at New Barn. In January we realized that his feet were deteriorating so quickly that soon he would be lame. So we changed farriers. Matt, our new farrier, took Raven's feet as a challenge and ...well, here are some photos of then and now.

     I have, in the past, kept a running account of the progress on his feet. I will condense that to the worst of his hind feet, the left hind. This is a picture of his hoof from January 2015, after we'd been dinking around with the feet for six months of the old farrier. I cannot remember if this was taken before his trim or after. I believe, judging from the fuzz on the ground, that it was after. It was also after we'd given up on the epoxy in his feet.
Left hind outside January 2015  
      I still cringe when I look at this. It was so bad. It had white line and, now we know, thrush as well. The crevices were from nail holes that had rotted out. Literally. So we took him out of shoes permanently. Old farrier had steadfastly warned us that "this horse can never be barefoot." With this foot, there was nothing left for a nail to hold onto, as was evidenced in the right hind, which isn't pictured here.

       Now look at this same hoof, 7 months later, after trimming:
Left hind outside post trim August 2015

 To quote an old tv ad.."Isn't that amazing'"

     It IS. We've been feeding him Trifecta, a supplement that contains biotin. We know now that he must have biotin for the rest of his life. Small price to pay for a good hoof. 
We also give most of the praise to Matt, our Wonderful Farrier. He had the courage to take on these ugly feet. We obeyed his 'commands' in dosing the white line, the thrush, and keeping the hoof dry with his concoction of Venice Turpentine/Iodine. 

    What? Yes, it is. It's the same foot. I swear. 

     Matt has done miracles. Notice how he also has slowly improved the angles of the foot to what they're supposed to be. Old farrier had paid so much attention to the 'rotten' parts of the hoof that he trimmed them to the point where there was no heel contact. The heels were contracted. 
     Matt has gently and slowly brought the hoof back into alignment. The heels are opening nicely and in contact with the ground now. He will never go back into shoes. He doesn't need them, and in another few months we hope to take his fores out of shoes, too. The only problem they had was again, Old Farrier had trimmed them to the point where they were beginning to club. 

   Raven is very happy in his new feet. Earlier this month, he was busting around in his paddock with his buddy and tore up the outside. But it was, in my opinion, the very last parts of the old bad hoof. Within days the bent up portion had worn off without damaging the underparts.

   These are new feet. 

    I'm telling you. If and when you find a GOOD farrier, treat him like a king. (well, you know what I mean.) Matt has our business for as long as he wants to keep us. They're minting new veterinarians every year, but I cannot think of more than one young man who is taking on the job of farrier. Every other one is in his early fifties and older. Horseshoeing is part science, part experience, part empathy, and a little bit witchcraft. It uses the same tools as from five hundred years ago. It's archaic. It's also a science, and an art. When you find that man who can do the job right, treat him nicely. You won't regret it. 

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