Thursday, March 14, 2013

Soggy Hooves

While I was gone last week Prairie had some bodywork done by my vet who noted all good things (mostly).  With the two notable exceptions of:

a) Prair being a bit footsore on the hard gravel


b) a strained muscle across her right croup.

The muscle was why I called the vet out... mostly because I was getting concerned over the increased "cheating" going on with Prairie's right hind.  She doesn't like to step as "under" herself with her right hind as she does with her left hind and my brain spiraled into a panic that something hideous was going on.

Well, it doesn't look like something hideous is to blame (knock on wood everywhere) but rather a general disengagement of Prairie's hind end.  My vet noted that she's using her butt way more than when we got her, but she's got a ways to go.  When I asked about the left/right discrepancy she didn't have a clear solid answer.  One answer could be that since Prairie tended to carry her tension in her right shoulder that perhaps the left hind was forced to strengthen in order to compensate, and since the right hind didn't, it languished a bit and she's been able to cheat.  I like this answer but of course there could be other things going on.  I choose not to think about them until necessary.

For now we are doing more rein back exercises and emphasizing our lateral work that asks for frequent shifts of balance. 

The hooves hadn't been an issue until recently(though admittedly I haven't been walking her across the gravel drive to the outdoor much and the soft indoor footing hasn't bugged the big mare). 

After Prair's exam on Friday, she had a day off before being ridden by S on Sunday which went well.  I managed to make it to the barn on Monday but couldn't ride so it wasn't until yesterday (Tuesday) that I tried to leg up.  When I did the mare was head bobbing lame at the trot. 

I got off, lunged a few circles, couldn't really tell which foot hurt, then jogged her on the gravel which clearly showed that ALL the feet hurt.  Or at least both fronts did.

I nixed the ride, shoved some bute down her gullet and called it a day.

Today, the mare was still lame, and after chatting with my vet we think it's just the warm, wet weather wreaking havoc on her pretty bare tootsies. 

So, she's getting a hardener applied for the next few days and if that doesn't help.... (gasp) I'll be putting front shoes on.

I'd rather not, but I L-O-V-E my new farrier and how he trims so I'm not worried about her hoof shape getting all screwed up by a few months in shoes.  Not ideal, but the fact is I live in a soggy, wet place and I want to ride my horse :)

SO, we'll see.  She's on 1g of bute a day because I'm pretty sure it's not an abscess (in which case I'd stop the bute and let her blow it out).  Since her discomfort seems spread across both fronts I'd rather bute, and try to keep Prairie from compensating in her shoulders or screwing something else up trying to manage the pain.  It's taken too long to mobilize her shoulders and back to let the mare tie herself up in knots....

That's it for now.  

Anyway, we shall see.  I'm hoping I don't have to tack shoes on, but I'm ok with it if I do.  It's a constant struggle in our area to keep bare hooves tough enough in the winter and early spring - so I know I'm not the only one nursing squashy feet.  I thought the dry lot paddock with good gravel would help avoid this issue, but apparently not. 



  1. I had a lot of success with the Keratex hoof hardener - besides the fact that it's spendy and I have repeatedly spilt it, I think it's worked rather well! Hope her feet feel better soon!

  2. Yay front shoes. ;) Not as cheap as barefoot, but they make a world of difference for Cuna.

  3. I've just started reading your blog and want to say I love it :) Gatsby (the horse I ride) has front shoes on but not back shoes he used to have all four shoes but recently only two :)

  4. I just had to put hind shoes on Henry despite trying to not go back there...

    Hope Prarie feels better!

  5. I 2nd the Keratex-great stuff. I hope her feet dry up quick, we are in the same boat..literally water everywhere lol. Laz isn't footy on his turnout but the test will come soon when we walk down our newly unfrozen dirt/gravel road. Spring wetness is tough. Different than the snow's wet!

  6. Thanks for the reminder to start walking my boy on gravel as much as possible. It's been mostly frozen here until the last week, so I don't know yet if I will have issues with Armani. I want to keep him barefoot as long as possible but, like you, I will shoe him if that's what's best. I know nothing about hardeners so I will be paying close attention to see how it works!

  7. I'm glad you are only thinking of shoes as a temporary thing. :)

    Would you consider front hoof boots for riding? Bare feet need conditioning (as you know) and boots are a great way to avoid having to tack shoes on (which stay on 24/7 and do have a significant effect on hoof function) buy still have that protection needed during riding. :)

    1. Also what is great about boots is you keep them even if you don't need them. Then next spring you will have them on hand to use again. ;)

    2. I have considered boots, but one issue is that we can't show in them... and part of the "motivation" would be to keep Prairie comfortable enough during our exceptionally wet spring to continue to jump and head out to some shows. It's not a *massive* priority for me and her welfare obviously takes precedence, but that's the current major strike against booting...

  8. Just found your blog, you've two lovely girls! I'm drooling over Prairie in particular, Londonderry/Weltmeyer = amazeballs!
    I had to put front shoes back on my mare just after Christmas a little over 12months after taking them off her, but she is a pain who creates a fuss/noise by stamping/scuffing her front feet on the ground so she wore them down too much and made herself ouchy - silly sod!
    Hope all goes well with the hoof hardener & you can keep her barefoot, my younger lass is barefoot although farrier has said she is kind of flat-footed so we'll have to keep a close eye on her. :D

    I'm looking forward to following your adventures with your gorgeous girls!

    1. Welcome! I drool over them on a regular basis as well, but perhaps not quite as much as they literally slobber on me... sigh. :)
      Barefoot is a challenge but it seems to suit Prairie especially well, so I'm committed to doing my best to keep her there!

  9. For hardening the hooves try salt water. It works quick and is cheaper than store bought stuff. I just put salt in a spray bottle, add water, shake it up and spray it on the bottoms of his feet. It kills thrush and is great for getting all of the gunk out of the grooves that's hard to get with a pick. Just don't use it before a trim because salt water is hard on the tools. Salt water hardened Chrome's hooves and killed every bit of thrush in a week.

    I hope you can keep her barefoot. Maybe you can look into alternative shoeing like the flexible ones? Anyway, I hope you can figure it out. I'll keep my fingers crossed for her. :)

  10. Don't you ride her in groomed arena footing? If she is not footy in your workspace, I do not see why you have to turn to shoes, especially because the tone of your writing suggests that you would prefer to keep her bare. She may be footy on gravel partly because she never works on gravel and therefore her feet are not conditioned for that surface. You could boot her for trail-riding if that is a rocky area that you visit together.

    Treat her frogs, especially the central sulcus, as that could be causing the soreness. Dry lots are awesome. I so wish we had one.


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