Monday, May 7, 2012

Feets, and Quincy

(This is partially crossposted to the Bay Girl blog! Sorry for the overlap!)
Sorry for my brief absence - I've been out of state at a practicum for a few days and have been insanely busy in the meantime! I didn't even have time to say I was leaving! I made it back all in one piece thankfully, armed with ever-increasing knowledge and a desire to get under even more horses. (I'm glad you all are horse people, because upon reading that sentence for a second time, it could be taken horribly the wrong way.)

The one thing I never even got a chance to mention before I headed frantically off for my journey was Quincy's day. May 3rd marked the 8-year anniversary of his death, and at this point it seems like such a sad, distant memory. He's been gone for so long... sometimes it feels like just yesterday, sometimes it feels like an eternity. Take a little time to go and honor his memory, if you like reading about Pangea, Gogo, and Bay Girl. I wouldn't be here without his love, and neither would any of them.

Tributes to Quincy

I miss you, Fuzzman. Every day, and I always will.

In other news, I can't tell you how remarkable the changes in Pangea's feet have been over the past three months. Can you believe these are the same hind feet?

They still have a long way to go, but compared to where they came from? Holy moley.

Looking so much better though. SO much better.

Here's an interesting comparison of her LF, from two months ago (on the left) to today (on the right). The older picture has Keratex on it, which is why it is shiny, and the one on the right is fresh after a trim. Again, I don't normally dress outer wall like this (if you notice, I didn't do it on the hinds), but she is still fighting some low-grade fungal infection in the little cracks on the lower part of her foot. This is nearly grown out (and nearly fought off with topical treatment) so I doubt I'll do it again.

The two pictures aren't taken at quite the same angle, but you can tell that the distal descent happening in the first has been for the most part reversed and the entire hoof capsule has shortened. The flare has tightened, and if you notice, the toe crack is neatly growing out without issue. This foot is pathetically dry however - you can see it in her periople - and needs soaking. Lots of soaking.

Now here is the most interesting picture, and I'm sure there are many barefoot folks (AANHCP people and Strasser-type people) who are just going to die when they see the monster heel on this mare in the second shot.

Obviously, the more recent picture is the one on the right. It's a misleading angle to take a picture at, because it looks like her heel is even longer than her toe (it's not!), but it's very interesting to see what is happening here. In the first picture, three months ago, she was hobbling footsore on rocks, her heel squashed and pathetic behind that super long toe. The back of her foot had absolutely no support, and her frog and sore were being regularly pared away by her old farrier. Her entire hoof capsure was pulled forward and was full of flare and a neverending stream of subclinically laminitic rings. It was not a happy foot.

Three months later, and that toe has backed itself up without much assistance on my part. The platform in the back of her foot has strengthened so much that I can hardly believe it, but in the process it has taken letting her have that length of heel to keep her comfortable and landing heel-first. I tried to take it a smidge lower last time I trimmed her, and she let me know immediately that this was not okay - she couldn't walk on gravel to save her life. I let her have the little bit that she was asking for this time, and was rewarded with a comfortable, happy stride over gravel following her trim. Maybe it isn't within natural parameters right now, but if I took it away from her again, she'd land toe-first and bruise those still too-thin soles. When she lands heel-first, she will build up the back of her foot, and when she no longer needs this length of heel to protect her inner structures, she'll let it go. It's a lot more complicated than that, with measurements of collateral grooves and all, but if I go into that here I am liable to confuse people. If you're interested in how I gauge where to place heel height, let me know!

Video stills taken from today post-trim:

That is what we're going for, right there. That is what will heal these feet. That is exactly, exactly what she needs.


  1. You can't trim ideal parameters - you have to grow it.

    Well done listening to what the hoof needs!

  2. Subclinical laminitis sounds scary, and surely wouldn't stay subclinical forever! Your wisdom is just what those tootsies need.

    RIP dear Quincy. Your posts on him were among the first I read on your blogs, haunting and so heartbreaking. He had such a kind eye. <3

  3. OF COURSE I want to know where and how you gauge where her heel height needs to be! I'm in the same screwy spot...and fighting myself with 'lower that heel' but really, I think it's TOO low and crushed/forward and maybe allowing it to grow like Pangea's may give him that support in the back for his digital cushion to work, and form a better lateral cart. above his heel bulbs?? I know I'm not making much sense..but I think changing the hoof shape and not going by the rules (even though it's giving me current ulcers) may be our ticket too.

  4. So cool. I love these detailed post about feet! Thanks!

  5. That's really cool. Good job reading her feet, and great job explaining it to us! Hugs re: Quincy :(

  6. This is what I appreciate about you as a trimmer. You know how it is supposed to look...and then you throw that out if it doesn't work for the horse.

  7. your horses feet look so healthy- i'm a part time farrier apprentice and my partner is a farrier, but the only way to keep my horses shoes on is to shoe him real tight in the heels, which is doing nothing for his narrow feet! it's tempting to take his shoes off completely seeing the changes in pangea's feet.. was she sore on the stones at first?

  8. Yup, she was sore at first, and still can be tender. I don't even own boots and probably would rarely use them if I did but if she had been any more sore I very likely would have made them a critical part of rehab.

  9. And by sore I mean sore on gravel, she was very comfortable on her living terrain (which is mostly sand) - which makes a huge difference.

  10. I love posts like this. I've made it a goal of mine to get Chrome landing heel first consistently this year. He lands heel first on his rear hooves and the interesting thing is he's clubby behind (the Friesian in him I think).... whereas he has low heels and long toes in the front and doesn't land heel first. So I need to back his toes up and leave his heel alone to get him landing heel first? What's the best way to back up the toe? I've researched several different ways but it gets so confusing! I'm glad she's improving so much. Oh and how often do you trim her?

    P.S. Sorry I'm so far behind on her blog. I'm getting caught up I promise!