Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mystery Lameness Solved (d'oh)

Sunday I went out to hack the Mare and she was fabulous.  The sun peeked out for a few precious minutes so we strolled around in the outdoor mostly on a loose rein.  I didn't want a hard "school" session and in fact some of the things I need to work on the most are sitting quietly with my seat and quieting my hands when Prair is being good.   For some reason this is easier for me when I mentally commit to "hacking" rather than just being quiet while also trying to "school" something.  Stupid mental games...

Anyway, Prair was lovely.  Soft, reaching over her back and light.  I hauled out a cavaletti just to work on rhythm and she stayed soft and quiet for that as well (both trot and canter).

After about 20 minutes I gave her a long walk break before picking up the reins and finishing with some long and low work to really stretch with.  Prair was great, until I switched to the right rein and felt a slight hitch in her left shoulder.


I serpentined a few more times to really feel it, but she was noticeably short on her left front and while not glaring it certainly seemed to be more and more pronounced.  I hopped off, pulled her boots and felt for anything weird (as though I would feel something immediately after pulling her boots).  Thankfully I didn't find anything so I untacked, informed S gave her some bute and figured I'd see how she was Monday.

When I got to the barn Monday I went straight for Prair's legs which were (mercifully) cool, tight and even. 

So I set some jumps (looking to expand on our "soft, steady, even" ride from Sunday) and tacked up.

Our walking warmup was lovely.  Soft, relaxed and light - I worked our typical suppling exercises, shoulder in, haunches out, leg yields, leg yield on the wall, haunches in, etc.  Then I moved up into the trot.  I didn't feel any sign of the short step from Sunday, and then BLAMO.  head bobbing lame. 

I took one more circle for good measure then halted, called S and frustratingly relayed that Prair was way worse than the day before.  While we chatted for a few minutes, Prair started to get antsy and began lifting/resting her left front.  As I started to go down the road of a massive panic attack, I flew off her back, grabbed the foot and breathed a huge sigh of relief:
That would make me lame too.
Never have I ever been so thrilled to see a loose/twisted shoe.  (yay!)

That elated thought that was promptly followed by some slight cursing of horseshoes in general.  You can't pull/twist/lose/break the shoes that you don't have... barefoot is just so much simpler (if sometimes difficult).

Anyway, I walked back to the cross ties and started to take a look at what happened.  All three medial nails were missing (clearly) but all three lateral nails were FIRMLY HOLDING TIGHT.  I couldn't wiggle the shoe and it certainly wasn't showing signs of wanting to let go all the way.

I think that the shoe was probably missing nails on Sunday, but the clip was preventing the shoe from twisting too much.  I'm guessing that it did have some play though and that probably is what ended up making Prair a bit sore as the ride went on.  Handy things clips... hmmm clips.  if the shoe was twisted and the clip wasn't showing anymore on the outside.... that meant holy shit it was IN her wall.

In a slight panic I reefed up on the shoe and extracted the clip from her separated wall and then stood there thinking I had been super helpful. 
proverbial thorn out of the paw.
Except now I was stuck in the cross ties, with a shoe that still wouldn't come off and I didn't want to set Prair's foot down and have her reinsert the clip into her poor little tootsie. 


Oh, and it was Monday so the barn was empty.  Totally devoid of humans, aside from me hunched over a hoof trying to figure out how I was going to get anything resembling nail pullers or a crowbar while still keeping my horse's foot in the air.

My first call (while holding hoof in air) was to my farrier.  He was far, far away but his assistant was close and could be there in 40 minutes.  My second call (still holding hoof) was to S, who was only 20 min away and rerouted immediately to the barn to hopefully get some tools to help pull the shoe.

I could reach my hoof pick and the needle-nose pliers that I always keep in my brush box.  The hoof pick was too weak to leverage the shoe at all and while the pliers did an okay job of gripping the nails, they kept slipping off before they could actually pull the nails out.  

Eventually, one of the barn guys walked by and I called out a bit pathetically.  I did a bad job explaining what I needed help with. (at first I think he thought I was complaining that no one noticed Prair's shoe was falling off) but then with some epic gestures and charades-ing he happily retrieved a crowbar (eek) which we were able to hammer under the nails and then pull them cleanly, leading to getting the shoe actually off. 


Prair, god bless her, probably let me keep that foot in the air for 30 minutes.  She got lots of cookies.

Awesome farrier man made it out this morning to reset both fronts and after lots of watching her go we're pretty sure she just snagged the thing overreaching (damn fancy movement).  I guess she gets bells on for turnout now too...

Exhausting.  I'm already thinking about when I will be transitioning Prair to barefoot again... I need a plan for that.

(Note to self, pay attention to nails in shoes when picking feet and avoid all of the entirely...)


  1. Time for you to invest in some shoe and nail pullers and learn to take those babies out yourself ;)

  2. If you have to have shoes, have you thought about the glue ons? I had to use them very briefly in 2009 with my Appy after a leg fracture (him, not me) before we could transition him back to normal shoes and he did well. Other people I know say good things about them. Better than nails anyway!

  3. Partly one reason that I'm happy I haven't had any reason to put on shoes - it just freaks me out to have those nails in their hoof! I know so many horses that have twisted a shoe half way off and punctured their sole with the nails :( Glad Prairie made it out mostly unscathed!

  4. I'm glad you didn't have to hold her foot for an hour!

  5. Eep glad it was something simple!

  6. I had exactly this same thing happen with my previous horse while walking him on the trail. His shoe was fine before we headed out. Somehow the shoe became displaced, and he couldn't walk with the shoe like that because the clip was digging into his white line, and I had nothing to remove it with-we were a good 3 miles from the barn! That was fun...I had to patiently work it off with my bare hands-there was no way he could hobble that distance without doing some serious damage. We were lucky the shoe came off without taking a chunk of wall. Ugh. So glad you were able to get help and remove the shoe uneventfully!

  7. Ah so thankful when it's nothing big! :)

  8. Always check the foot first - the majority of lameness is in the foot :). The shoe must have been barely sprung to start with if it wasn't noticeable when you picked her feet? Glad she didn't get hurt!


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