Monday, November 26, 2007

Don't Want to Talk About It

The "Shoeless Wonder" Strikes Again

Despite all my efforts at limited turnout, Tucker managed to pull his shoe again.

I turned him out for the night after the ground was frozen, but somehow, somewhere, he lost his shoe. I had put him out in the ring and pasture--both nice and dry with good footing during the day, so I suppose I should have left him in for the night, but I always worry that his water will freeze and the outside tub has a heater in it.

So, he may have lost the shoe during the day....but who knows. I spent over and hour scouring the property for it to no avail.

Thus, Sunday was spent on the hunt for some kind of boot he could wear. There is a new brand called the Simple Boot in my tack store, so I bought a pair in what I thought was the right size. I took them home, tried them on Tucker and found them to be too big. Off I went, back to the closer store (Rick's Saddle Shop has 2 NJ locations) to trade them in. Fortunately the next size seemed to fit so I turned Tucker out for a frolic.

He was bounding about like a kid, romping in the still dry pasture and ring for most of the afternoon.

It was getting late so I saddled up Chance, schooled him in the ring for about 10-15 minutes, just working on improving his steering, and then we headed out for a short hack in the woods. He was a happy kid at that.

I took Toby on a short hack next and then saddled up Tucker for some trotting in the ring.

To the right, with his booted hoof on the outside, he felt wonderful. He was really forward in his trot and seemed quite happy to move out. Then, I swapped to the left rein, with the boot on the inside. Oops....he was super uneven with a decided limp.

Now I am kicking myself for being too sore after building the shed to ride him when he still had his shoe. He certainly didn't look lame when he was running around by himself, with the boot on, so I am wondering if just having a boot on one foot and not the other would throw his balance off that much. OR, was something bothering him in the hind end related to the last acupuncture.

Considering that without a shoe on one foot he shows slight lameness, I am supicious that the boot just throws his stride off. But why just going to the side with the boot and not the other? While I am not sure the boot is a perfect fit, I did not see any evidence of rubs from it when I took it off to put him in the stall for the night.

Does the boot slip a little when the inside hoof takes more weight? Was his foot sore? (Although, if so, why did he feel so super going in the other direction.) Needless to say, I am full of questions. Worse, I cannot even experiment by putting the other boot on his right foot to try him with two boots to see how he feels because today's weather has taken a drastic turn for the worse and it is pouring rain.

So, unless my hero Scott shows up to replace the shoe, I will be off to my lesson with Gabriel on Tuesday night with no shoe. The ring at Pat's is a good, soft surface, so I might just opt to have him go without the boot. We had planned on longlining anyhow, so the stress will be minimized.

I do need to ride Tucker as much as I can so we can get his stifle muscles toned up. Once more the foot fairy has intervened to cause problems. My ground is dirt and the only places I can ride him are dirt footing or the sand of my ring so Caroline's suggestions about his going barefoot would be a problem. As well, when he was barefoot as a yearling/two year old, he had problems with bruising and cracks, all of which disappeared with the shoeing. My super excellent farrier does not believe he is a good candidate for barefoot either--he's had lots of experience with people going barefoot, so he is a fairly good judge. Although, at this point, he might get so fed up with the lost shoes......*sigh*

Since it is raining, Tucker is in his stall for the day with the run-in shed pen to walk around in.

Turnout is an essential for horses, I feel. Keeping them stall bound is bad for health, soundness, and attitude.

Somehow, I have to figure out how to keep Tucker in regular work through the wet winter.

Of course, if I had a few million spare dollars, I could buy a big farm, build and indoor ring and a roofed turnout area with perfect footing and keep a farrier on staff....."dream a little dream with me."


  1. Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!

    I KNOW how annoying that is!

    I wish I'd seen him at two with the cracked, bruised feet Jean, because it's impossible to know without having seen him whether he had too long hoof wall, or needed to be kept off the green stuff altogether, or had too high heels (farrier favourite, that one, along with leaving hoof wall to "protect the foot", when they should really be walking on their heels, frog and sole callous) or what. Zip's feet were weak until he worked - another problem with babies is they don't do any work to strengthen the feet up, and then they are shod because the feet are weak and you have a self-generating cycle from that point on.

    I'm not saying you should de-shoe Tucker, because with his history it sounds as though it would take around a year to transition. And good as your farrier is, you'd also have to dump him and get a trimmer who actually believed that they could make it work, otherwise you'd have a self-fulfilling prophesy on your hands!

    I wish I could wave a magic wand for you!


  2. Nah, my shoer would trim him for me, even if he were barefoot.

    Heels were not kept too long. Tucker has a clubfoot on the left front and we were really careful to keep the heel down. I would rasp it between trimmings. He had the surgery to cut the ligament, but the heel still wanted to grow more than the right front.

    My shoer is excellent and my horses meet the ground with their frogs. He also does not tend to put in four nails--so the foot has more flexion in the heel area. My horses do not have contracted heels and wherever I go, I always get hoof compliments and the question, "Wow, who shoes your horses?"

    Tucker was in work for a while without shoes. But then we had a bruise and eventually the crack. I have always had better luck when I have put front shoes on. This has been true of all the horses I've had.

    PJ eventually went barefoot, but I don't think Toby will. And, I really don't have a year to experiment with Tucker. My ground/footing does not afford hard surfaces to strengthen a hoof and we would get killed trying to ride on the road (tarmac.) Talked to a lot of people and barefoot is not super successful around here with many horses.

  3. well...

    molly doesn't often get to go on hard (shame, she prefers roads, none of my friends do though) and is turned out in a field. but her feet are fine, trimmed every few weeks by farrier. no abcesses, white lines or anything at all - she says touching wood and hoping she hasn't spoken too soon....

  4. I'm struggling to see how your horses can meet the ground with their frogs when they are wearing shoes, Jean. Surely the thickness of the shoe holds the foot off the floor - isn't it almost impossible for a farrier to cut the wall back so far that they can get a shoe on without raising the frog off the floor? Bowker's (MSU) research says you shouldn't be able to slide a metal rule under the frog when the foot is flat on a hard surface. I've never coem across a shod horse that would meet that criteria.

    The barefoot people would say that Tucker's clubbed foot would suggest that he is compensating for a problem further up his leg. They would say if he keeps popping the heel back up, he must need it so it should be allowed to be higher, or the joints further up the leg will be stressed.

    I understand completely where you are coming from. I've said exactly the things that you are saying. I had the same compliments about my farrier and Scooby's feet, but it didn't stop him getting such thin soles that he couldn't walk on stony tracks. When I took his shoes off and let him grow a decent sole he was sound on anything.

    I suggested that you would have to dump your farrier, because the trouble with using a person who has already said that your horse is not a candidate for shoeless is that they have a professional interest in being right! Two farriers, one newly trained and one with 25 years experience told me that Tetley would never work without shoes because his soles were so flat. They were wrong.

    I'm not trying to persuade you to go shoeless Jean, honestly I'm not. It really doesn't suit what you need for Tucker in the next year. But I do think your farrier, like the vast majority, may not really know how to trim a horse to work without them. Just because they have horses in their care who work shoeless doesn't mean that they know what they are doing with the difficult ones, like Tucker would be. It just means those particular horses found it easy.

    I'm really sorry that you're not in an area with plenty of good role models for you to see, because I sense that you would be very happy to get rid of Tucker's shoe problem if you felt that you could.

  5. OOOOOOhhh sorry to hear that. I think you might be a good candidate for barefoot as you are able to keep your horses out 24/7 etc ...
    But you need good support and a very good trimmer and lots of patience .

    (Yes, I have not given up on getting Linda barefoot ... not for now ...)

    For Tucker's stiffle in Parelli's latest review, he explained that his stallion, Casper has strained his stiffle as a rehab-exercise, he made him walk over 3 to 4 cavalettis for 10 to 15 minutes everyday.
    The cavalettis were raised a fair amount off the ground.
    It can be done at the walk with you leading Tucker over the raised poles. He won't stress him out.

    Chance is still a little angel, isn't it? ;-)