Louie got what I'm pretty sure are his first pair of shoes put on this morning- just a pair of plain plates on the fronts. He did seem a bit suprised by the whole idea of nailing the shoes on with a hammer, and he put up a bit of a fuss at first, but he settled down pretty quickly and realized that it wasn't so bad having the farrier hold him up and his Mom petting his face talking softly to him.
We've been trimming him about every 6 weeks, but with how little he grew before the last trim, we thought we'd try to push him out to 8 weeks, but he didn't quite make it. His feet were a bit long and starting to get very chipped up from stomping at the flies in his paddock- so at 7 weeks, it was time. We went with shoes on the fronts this time to help with the chipping, and to give him a little weight to balance out the front end. Pat said Louie's feet were nice and hard today, which is good for shoeing. We haven't had much for rain this summer, so it's not suprising that the horses' feet are hard.
Before shoeing, I lunged Louie in the bitting rig for a little while (to take the 3-year-old-edge off for the farrier). We tried a new bit I found for $3 yesterday, a mullen mouth pelham. I fastened the curb chain very loosely just to get it out of the way since I couldn't take it off, and hooked the check reins onto the snaffle ring so it had no curb mechanism. Louie took this new bit in stride just like he has with everything so far. I was curious to see how he would react to a solid-mouthed bit, since he likes to grab and bite the bars of jointed bits. Well he still chewed, but at least he couldn't bite the bit.
While lunging, Pat, my farrier watched and gave his perspective on Louie's hind leg lameness. He agrees with what I had thought it was. He thought, watching Louie trot around on the lunge this morning, that he looked like he had a bit of a strained muscle somewhere up high on the left hindquarter (somewhere above the hock)- exactly what I thought, but we're still not exactly sure where. Pat suggested that perhaps it is a groin (adductor) muscle, or maybe even a psoas muscle (in not so many words, more farrier talk, ya know? that big muscle right there). Still no signs of injury or soreness on inspection or palpation, and the lameness has not even been noticable lately, which I believe is due to his turnout situation plus my warm-ups. I have noticed that having Louie turned out in a small paddock where he can walk around, but not run and play hard, for a few hours before working him really helps. I think turnout in this manner loosens him up, as he starts to gradually move the muscle without tearing it more. I haven't seen any lameness the past few days long lining, until today when he had only been out 30 minutes before I worked him). That turnout situation combined with a long, slow warm up with walking and easy trotting, and Louie doesn't look the least bit sore. So I'm going to stay the course I think with what we've been doing- if it ain't broke, don't fix it! It may take a while, as strained muscles seem to take FOR- E V E R to heal. But we've got time. :)