Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Sound Horse

I had a great ride on Louie tonight- for the first time in about two months!  His head/neck position was just a little bit inconsistent, but nowhere close to what he was doing at my last lesson.  He was moving out soundly and using himself really nicely.  Of course he was a little bit tired and deconditioned, but we'll work up to more endurance as we build up more strength again. 

We worked on some trotting poles/gymnastics that our friends were practicing as well.  It was set up for canter strides, but Louie and I mostly worked on it at a trot, but once at a canter.  He bucked/kicked at the little baby 6" jump once after jumping it when he bumped it with his legs- he said, "ow!  That hurt!"  That was pretty funny. 

We practiced our shoulder in, haunches in, and leg yielding at the walk and Louie did great.  The lateral work is pretty much picking up where it left off.  We also cantered briefly on both leads, and that was great too.

I was SO happy with him, we had a nice ride, he felt really good, sound, and moved out nicely.  I'm very happy to have my horsie back again!  I'm also excited to go to the MN Horse Expo tomorrow- a whole day of horsing and shopping!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Horse Shoes

My farrier Pat came out today to shoe Louie.  He had 3 degree plastic wedge pads that he used with a plain steel shoe. We measured Louie's feet before trimming, after trimming, and after shoeing.  We also talked quite a bit on shoeing techniques (complete with illustrations) and why it is actually better to cut the heels off of a low foot with under-run heels (to widen the base of support and place the support further back under the heel rather than keeping high pressure over the heels, which don't allow them to grow as easily). 

We did find a discrepancy between Pat's hoof angle measuring tool and the computer generated angles from Dr Turner's office.  Of course you have to take into account the human error and the shape of the outside hoof wall (ie a dish) which affects the angle.  Dr. Turner's numbers put the left front at 48 degrees and the right at 55.  Pat's measurements found the left front to be 48 degrees and the right to be only 52.  We took a lot of heel off of the right front and a little bit of length off of the left front as well, so that after trimming, the left front was 47 degrees and the right front was about 46 degrees.  After adding the 3 degree wedge pad and shoe (remember, the shoe can affect the angle depending on where you place it- further back will make a steeper mechanical angle by shortening the breakover distance), both feet measured 54 degrees. 

As for toe lengths, before trimming, the left front was 3-7/8" and the right front was 3-3/4".  After trimming, both toes were 3-3/4".  The heels before trimming were 1-3/8" on the left front and 1-3/4" on the right.  After trimming, both heels were equal at 1-3/8".  Of course Pat also lowered the outside hoof wall of the right front by about 1/8". 

So, without further ado, here is the finished product. 

This is a view of the left front foot from the right.  You can see the under-run heels, but the angle is much better now.  You can also see how Pat set the shoe back just a bit to not only support the heels more, but also to make for a higher mechanical angle and an easier breakover.

Happy horse with new feet (and bell boots)

And I think this could be my favorite, showing off his new kicks and looking rather aloof- pretty pleased with himself.
I think the best news of all, is that after that, not only did the shoes cost me less than what I had expected (I thought the price was going to be comparable to that of a Saddlebred show shoe and cost me $200, but Pat only charged me $30 for the pads, so that made me really happy), but I lunged Louie afterward and he was moving much better than he has moved in 6+ months.  I was thrilled to see how comfortably he was moving.  Still just a tad shorter on the right front than the left, but the head nod is gone, he's moving much more freely through the shoulders, and I think with time he'll start moving nicer because he won't be expecting it to hurt like he probably is now. 

Our plan now is to reset him again in 6 weeks, and eventually, the goal is to actually set him with his right front at a lower angle than the left, so that during most of the middle of the shoeing period he will have equal angles, and he'll only be slightly higher on the right by the time he needs to be reset.  We also looked at the wedge shoes that Pat has available and talked about the pros and cons of these.  Basically, these will be used as needed to give him the lift and still be able to show him, but the pads are ideal because they protect the foot a bit more and allow the weight to be spread out over a greater area.  Seeing Louie move today was one of the happiest days we've had in the past several months.  I'm very excited to get back to working him again.  Now he just needs to keep them on in the mud! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some Shoeing Changes

Sorry for my absence, I've not written much lately about Louie.  The reason is because he has not been doing much of anything lately.  He was having some soundness issues, moving very short strided and toe-first with both front legs, and lately becoming even more uncomfortable and actually lame on the right front.  Argh.  So I did what it seems like the vets always have me do and I gave him time off, like about a month, from any type of work.  But alas after several weeks of rest and no improvement in his soundness, it was time to bring him in for more evaluation. 

So I brought Louie back to Dr. Turner for a lameness exam.  It seemed like he did a lot of looking/testing; in addition to the basic lameness exam and flexions, he blocked Louie's right foot, and Louie improved.  He got X-rays of both front feet, and came up with a plan, and gave Louie a cortisone/hyaluronic acid shot in his coffin joint.  Basically, the diagnosis is soft tissue inflammation around the coffin joint.  The reason- Louie's uneven front feet.  Right now if you look at Louie head on, his right knee is about a centimeter higher than his left.  This is because his heel is so much higher on that side.  One would assume that that much of a leg-length discrepancy would cause pain all the way up the kinetic chain, in the fetlock, knee, shoulder, back, etc. 

So, we've got some plans for corrective shoeing.  Louie's right front foot is at a 55 degree angle.  His left front foot is only at just under 48 degrees.  So, the plan is to correct the angles to make them both the same, increasing the angle of the left front by 4 degrees and decreasing the angle of the right front by 4 degrees.  The way Dr. Turner wants us to do that is to trim the foot to decrease the angle of the right front by 7 degrees and increase the angle of the left front by one degree (this should make him just about even), then put Louie in plain shoes with a 3 degree wedge pad on both front feet.  Of course with how fast Louie's feet grow (and therefore how fast his angles change), we'll have to have him re-set at least every 6 weeks to maintain these angles. 

The disappointing thing is that I won't be able to show Louie in Saddlebred Hunter Country Pleasure with wedge pads on.  When I talked to my farrier, he did mention that he has aluminum wedge shoes, which are thicker at the heel, that I could use instead of the wedge pad.  This might be a possibility to put him in these shoes later this summer, but for now, we need the pads to allow the feet to heal as quickly as possible. 

Well, while that isn't awesome news, I'm glad that it didn't turn out to be anything bad like navicular disease or laminitis- always things that run through the mind when dealing with front end lameness.  I'm hopeful that we can get him feeling better and I feel that we have a really good plan to get Louie sound and moving right again.  My farrier is coming out on Monday to adjust his angles and put the high heeled shoes on.  Now it will be up to Louie to keep them on in the mud and all. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Last Year

Can you believe that last year at this time we were doing this outside?

This year we still have snow on the ground, and the temps are only in the 40's.  Depressing.  Ah well, it should look up soon, the snow is melting, and at least it is warmer than it was last month.