Monday, November 30, 2009

I still don't think it's his Hooves

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.


Mrs Mom said...

Good deal ;) Rubs to the Big Horse from us!

Anonymous said...

Does sound like something muscular and not feet - good that you were able to get such a careful examination from your farrier.

Jean said...

Do you have a good chiropractic or acupuncture vet in the area? I have found my vet's skill at both very good at determining the source of an elusive unsoundness.

Something to think about if your well thought out regimen of rest and light work doesn't do the trick.

Also, there is a book my Jack Meagher called, "Beating Muscle Injuries in Horses" that gives in depth information about massaging for such kinds of problems.

OnTheBit said...

Hmmm...sometimes horses will just be horses. Gen has twice gone dead lame in the time I have owned him. There is never any heat or swelling anywhere. He never pops an abscess or a digital pulse. There is nothing wrong with him except that he is dead lame. Thankfully it has only happened twice but the running joke, which I will pass on to you, is that horses just like to make us worry some times. It makes them laugh when we pull our hair out. I hope the lameness keeps getting better and clears up soon.

Once Upon an Equine said...

I'm glad Rugby is showing improvement and hope he is back to full soundness soon. Sounds like you have an excellent farrier.

Carol said...

I like your farrier just from reading your post!

I think if I were in your shoes, I would do the wait and see approach. If Rugby is improving, hopefully it was just a minor strain.

Griffy hurt himself last winter and his leg swelled up pretty good and neither myself nor the barn owner had any idea how he may have done it. I think sometimes horses just do silly things. I gave Grif some bute and kept an eye on him for a few days and he got better with no other signs that it was anything more than a strain.

The hoof boots are an excellent idea for protecting your horse's feet. I have a pair for Griffin's front hooves and will use them if I am worried about the footing on a trail or some other place. ...just for the added protection.

I will say tho- if you are considering hoof boots, explore a lot of options. Not all types work well with all horses. Grif has underun heels and cannot wear easyboots because of the way they fit (they need more heel). I have Boa boots for him and while they are a bit of a pain to get on, there are times I'm glad I have them. Talk to people who have the brand(s) your considering and if you can try a pair on your horse before buying -- much better.

I'm glad to hear Rugby is improving :)