So the trimmer came to work on Rugby's hooves yesterday. He and his wife listened as I explained everything about Rugby's slight unsoundness. The trimmer (who I'll call A.M.) went with me as I walked to the paddock to bring Rugby in for his trim. He followed us up the gravel driveway and watched Rugby walk. There was no indication that the rocks were bothering my horse. He was not bobbing his head at all at the walk and striding right up into his front hoof mark as he walked. A.M. said if there was any foot soreness or tenderness, the gravel should have brought it out, even just at the walk.
We discussed possibilites of a stone bruise. I told him that the best I could trace it back to was that lunging session 2 weeks ago where the horse got rambunctious and I thought he may have strained something further up the leg. I also mentioned how I noticed the soreness seemed worse when working in the deeper, sand arena than when on the harder blue stone footing. A.M. said he felt quite sure that I was on to something as a horse who is footsore should be more sore on hard ground and yet he seemed better there. A muscle soreness would definitely be more aggravated when pulling the leg through deeper sand footing. As A.M. cleaned Rugby's hooves in preparation for trimming, he remarked on the huge amount of growth that had occurred since he was trimmed 5 weeks ago and he also would carefully check the balance of the hooves. And then he set to work.
My horse grows the bars of his hooves and the wall like crazy. The bars were forming deep ridges by the time he was to be trimmed. A.M. said there was obviously good circulation to the hooves here. There were no signs of bruising as he trimmed the foot and the amount of growth was also an excellent sign. My horse has no hoof cracks and the pronounced flaring he had when A.M. first started trimming him have been greatly reduced and balanced. He did note that before trimming, Rugby's right front toe was more worn down that his left. That told that there was a definite change in his gait and was consistent with my noticing he's more sound to the left than to the right. There was no reaction, tenderness or heat in either front hoof while being worked on. Also a good sign.
So in conclusion, we both felt strongly the problem was not coming from his hooves. A.M. explained that there are so many times when someone sees a horse is barefoot and there is something wrong with the horses' gait, the knee-jerk response is to put shoes on the horse. And that may mask the symptoms for a while but it does not solve the problem. We both decided that if we were to see if the issues were coming from the hooves, boots would be the next step. We measured him for boots and while there are very few options available for big, warmblood feet, Easyboot makes a size 5 that should fit him nicely.
I took the Big Guy out to lunge and ride in the blue stone arena after A.M. left. I was curious to see if there was any difference - good or bad - after the trimming. My conclusion was this:
- Rugby walked sound on both sides.
- He lunged sound to the left at the trot
- he lunged at the trot to the right with very slight, only occasional head nodding
- He rode sound in both directions at the walk.
- He trotted sound under saddle on the long straight sides of the arena in both directions.
- He trotted sound under saddle to the left and almost sound to the right on the turns into the short sides of the arena.
- there did not seem to be any difference in wear to the toes of either hoof after work.
In all, the condition has been slowly progressing to better. It certainly has not gotten worse, even after the trimming. I think the Big Guy strained something and has needed the time to just heal through it. He's not walking out of the stall or from standing for awhile as sore as he was a week ago. I'm going to keep him on the rest/light work/watchful eye regimen for another week and see where we are at by next weekend. I'm curious to see how he is when I go to check on him this evening after work and dinner.