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So Zorro had a little episode which resulted in him being a bit footy a couple of weeks ago. Of course this happened the week before we were supposed to go camping with our driving group and have two big days of driving in the mountains. I was crushed.

Zorro had been going around, reaching under the hot wire and eating the new green grass that is coming up. He has done this every year since he has lived here without any side effects. But this year everything was just right for him to get sore footed. Of course the grass he was eating is the dreaded Crested Wheat Grass that I have talked about here. This same grass cost me both Chloe and Bonnie. I am not prepared to lose any more ponies to this grass so changes had to happen.

I made a smaller pen for Zorro, had 10 yards of sand brought in and bedded his pen down with 2-3″ of sand. This helped him immediately. Of course it didn’t take all 10 yards to do that so we fenced off another area, scraped the grass up with the Bobcat and then spread the sand around for Sky and Mikey.

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I set up two feed areas that have a t-post driven through a rubber mat. Then I tie their hay bag to the post and they can eat in a sand free area. We didn’t put the sand on every square foot of the area, so I put their hay in two spots that don’t have sand. Then I sweep the mats off every time I feed.

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Sky has been packing on the pounds without the track. No track means little exercise. Clearly she needs to go out and work a bit so that will start this week. She looks like she may foal any day. I won’t be posting pictures of her close up for awhile!

Mikey is actually calmer and happier in the smaller area. Clearly he prefers less area to the openness of the track system. This is hard to juggle. His mental health for his physical health. I would prefer they live on a track so we are going to try something a bit different.

We took all the fences down, except for the pen they are currently in, and will re-design the track to be a little smaller and much more secure. In interior of the track will also be fenced with a field type fence, maybe cattle panels if I have enough of them to do the inside and the outside. Then we will top that with one or two strands of hot wire.

We will clear the inside of the track of as much grass as we can by scraping it with the Bobcat, as well as scraping the track. My Hubby called the home owner and talked to him about this and he is fine with it. Thank goodness! We were going to put the health of my ponies before the ground anyway and haul in material when we leave if necessary, but I am relieved that he doesn’t mind us setting this all up!

That means I can bring in more material for the track as well. Some more sand, some pea gravel… This is going to take some time and some money so I don’t think it will be done this year. We also have to build a new hay shed because I constantly lose too much hay every single year using the tarps. So the shed will come before the track. But at least we have a plan! And the horses are safe in the area they are set up in right now. There isn’t any grass in that pen and is small enough that I can stay on top of it. Plus it’s starting to warm up which will help kill the grass as well. Phew!

Is this my dream set up? Not at all. But this is one of those times when it’s important to stay flexible. This is what’s best for their health right now so this is what I will do.

They are getting a measured amount of low sugar/low starch hay while locked up. 2 flakes in their hay nets in the morning and 1 flake in the evening.

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This is what 1/2 a pound of alfalfa pellets with 2 ounces of Soybean Meal looks like.

They get 1/2 a pound of alfalfa pellets topped with 2 ounces of Soybean Meal twice a day right now. They have access to salt 24/7 and of course fresh water. The boys are looking wonderful on this feed plan. I’ll stick with this for the next year and see how they do. Then I may be able to stop feeding the Soybean meal!

This is where I put their feed together in the garage. I went from 3 different garbage cans full of feed and three drawers of supplements (they didn’t get all those at the same time, it was what I had amassed over the last few years trying to find the perfect feed program!) to this:

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On the left is the Soybean Meal and on the right is the alfalfa pellets. That’s it! Oh I have a jug of water that I use to wet their feed. I would never feed this without adding water…

So things have majorly simplified as far as the ponies go for right now. It’s not ideal but it is what it is!

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I have been following David Landreville for nearly 2 years on Facebook. What drew me to his page were the beautiful hoof photos he was posting. He also shared consecutive trim photos of hooves that he was rehabbing, but the number of beautiful hooves he was sharing were truly inspiring. I figured if he had access to so many beautiful hooves he must be onto something!

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I shared his page with some good friends of mine that had recently taken over trimming their herd of 6 big horses. It’s my belief that if I spend a certain amount of time looking at beautifully balanced hooves then my brain will start to understand more fully exactly what I am trying to accomplish with my own ponies. My friends felt the same way! In fact they liked what they saw so much that they contacted David and flew down to Arizona to shadow him for a few days! Oh man I was so jealous! LOL! But I also knew they would bring back some great information and share it with me.

Not only did they bring back information, and we had many long talks about building beautiful hooves, but they also brought back information for putting on our own David Landreville Hoof Trimming Clinic here in Montana! I was so excited!

I chose to camp at my friends house for the duration of the clinic because I knew that often more talk goes on during lunch, then during dinner, then during that time after dinner before you go to bed. And boy did it! David was so generous with his time and his information. I tried to be a sponge and soak up everything the had to share in the short time he was with us.

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He brought his wonderful wife, Stephanie as well and she was so kind and made all who spent time with her feel calm and peaceful. That is such a special gift to have!

David spends a lot of time polishing and smoothing the back of the hoof so the horse has a nice soft place to land when they are trying to land heel first.

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Mostly David uses his rasp to polish the frog. In this photo he was showing us how to use our knife to do the same thing, trimming off the dead frog to give the horse a nice supple frog.
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Using the rasp to clean up the frog.

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He spends a lot of time explaining exactly how a horse’s foot works and why a heel first landing is so important. He has done extensive studying of the horse’s foot and has a deep understanding of how everything works together.

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Feeling the difference between the hard dead frog and the live supple frog.

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His philosophy is that the frog should not be weight bearing, nor should the outer hoof wall. Instead we need to balance the foot so the horse is weight bearing on the inner hoof wall, but over 4 main points of the hoof, the seat of the corn and the toe pillars, and the frog gives them a nice place to land and push off from. Our goal as hoof trimmers, is to develop a nice plump and thick area at the back of the foot to give our horses a soft place to land that is also working as it should, as a shock absorber.

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Giving us a better idea of what is going on INSIDE the hoof. David is such an artist!
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He would mark where he wants the weight bearing to be on the hoof.

He taught us techniques as well as his method by working on 6 different horses the first day and then watching us work on 6 horses the second day.

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Everyone felt relaxed learning from David. This mare decided to lay down and take a nap!

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He taught us of the importance of using sharp tools and being very very precise with them. It’s difficult to get a precise trim with dull tools.

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Showing us how to sharpen our hoof knives. This comes with trepidation because if we weren’t used to trimming with sharp tools we could cause some damage to both our horse and ourselves. Learning proper technique when trimming but also learning how to hold and manage our tools was a big part of this clinic.

A few of the horses were a bit skeptical about having their feet worked on. Once David was able to work on the back of the horse’s heel, put their foot down and give them a minute to think about it, their entire demeanor would change and they would hand him their other feet. If you horses aren’t doing this when you trim them, then maybe it’s time to look at a different trimming technique! He worked on several horses that I have also worked on over the years (including Zorro!) and I really enjoyed watching him change a horse’s mind from arguing and being mad to quiet, licking and chewing and lots of positive processing.

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This gelding was a very well mannered boy, but the relief he felt when he had a nice place to stand was immediate and recognized by all of us.

David stressed the importance of having a nice place to live. Adding sand to your dry lot or track system can be extremely helpful, working with the horse to develop a beautiful foot. As well as keeping their living area clean and free of manure.

He talked about how much more important it is to have a balanced trim than it is to change the diet to all the new fads or miracle cures. In essence there isn’t anything we can feed that will help our horse grow a perfect, balanced and fully live foot. But there is a lot we can do, with the proper training, through barefoot trimming, to help our horse grow this.

There are so many little things that are difficult to teach online, but are easier to understand in person. If there is ever a David Landreville Hoof Trimming Clinic in your area I highly recommend you take the time to go!

 

P.S. I came home with lots of information for my Handsome Hubby but while I was gone my Handsome Hubby had been hard at work clearing space and preparing the ground for a new hay shed, planning where he wants to move our current shed and how he wants to move the fence of the track. I am also getting another shelter from my friends that will be a run in shelter for the ponies and will be putting sand down before we set the shed down. This will give them a nice soft place to stand as well as a footing to work quietly on the dead tissues of their feet in between trims. I’m going to have a few truck loads of sand brought in to put on the track in a few spots. Luckily my track is small so adding footing shouldn’t be too cost prohibitive! Stay tuned for some track upgrades coming soon!

 

I have been taking this online course about simplifying our horse’s feed program.

WOW.

I have always tried my best to keep it as simple as possible… when I say simple I mean I feed what horses will find in their natural state. Forage 24/7, plain oats (if needed), herbs, a plain vitamin/mineral supplement, a fat supplement, adding in Magnesium if the horse is deficient, grass hay pellets as a carrier when I am not feeding plain oats. For a couple of years I fed Crypto Aero and LOVED it. When Mikey got here I realized that he is sensitive to Rice Bran (it created hot spots in his hair coat) so I had to quit feeding it. I also had to change the vitamin/mineral mix I was feeding. I wrote about that HERE.

It turns out I have been complicating things.

I am really enjoying the course and having my mind blow a little bit more every single time I watch one of the videos. Really I am. Even though a few times I have felt nothing but completely stupid.

(The feed companies are really good at marketing. Let’s just leave it at that!!)

There is a funny little bit going around Facebook right now:55882146_10215011673818479_6300492843119017984_n

Basically do this and then don’t do it. Always do things this way but never do them this way. What we think we know is in fact not what we know.

Sigh.

What I like about Dr. T’s course is he backs up his information with science. AND he backs it up with what the horses have been telling him. This is the way I do things here. Just because science says to do something one way doesn’t mean I will do it that way if my horse says it’s not working. I will always error on the side of my horse. I have had to drastically change how I do things around here over and over again, based on what the horses have told me. Thank goodness I am good with rolling with the punches. Even if I don’t like change.

Here are the basics:

  1. Sugars/starches/carbohydrates create inflammation in the gut. And they kill off the good bacteria.
  2. We all need good bacteria to digest our food. As the good bacteria dies off our digestion process is damaged.
  3. Horses are not people.
  4. Horses have had the last 55 million years to evolve to what we have now.
  5. Protein is a building block that horses need to survive.
  6. If you want to help your horse rebuild good bacteria, heal ulcers, have better behavior, taking things OUT of their diet is the best way to do that. Not adding things.
  7. This one blew my mind: ulcers may not be caused by the stomach acid sloshing around in an empty tummy. Ulcers could be caused by inflammation of the gut when the good bacteria is being killed off and the bad bacteria is taking over due to excessive feeding of sugars/starches/carbohydrates AND antacids!!! Ulcer prone horses ONLY need the gut bacteria balanced to heal the ulcers.
  8. Horses should only eat things that would be found in season in their area. Sugar year round in the form of bagged, grain feeds, only causes big problems for their gut and overall health.

WOW.

He is not saying we can do this in a week or two. This can take years to accomplish. But the things that we add into the diet can actually make this take even longer. Basically we are feeding our horses into ulcers, being overweight, founder, anxiety, behavior problems, etc. And doing nothing never feels right so we do more and more. Add more and more to their feed pan. I am 100% guilty of doing this. Especially with Mikey. His behavior has been so distressing to me that I tried everything that I had read or heard about that can help them feel more calm and settled. Nothing I have fed him has changed his behavior. What I have fed has definitely changed his appearance.

(It comes down to the fact that Mikey’s behavior problems are most likely mental and I have a lot of work to do this summer to set him up with his own area where I can still care for him during the winter, where he will still have access to the water and will not be too cold when we are -40 but where he can not torture the other ponies. Off topic!)

To put it simply. I highly recommend spending $47 to take this course. I felt I got my money’s worth in the first two videos. There is nothing out there that is this affordable that is teaching as much as this course is teaching.

And it will save you money if you can settle in and relax to the idea of less is actually more.

The marketing skills of the feed companies make this a very difficult concept for sure. It has been a struggle for me. Especially when he talks about GMO’s and chemicals. Basically, we can’t do anything about it. Most of us can’t afford to feed 100% organic feed to our horses. So we shouldn’t worry about it. Let’s enjoy being horse owners and change the things that we have control over. Change the things that are known problem causers for the horse. What’s the harm in trying it? None that I can see.

Last week I took my ponies off all the supplements I have been feeding. There weren’t many. Just a basic vitamin/mineral supplement, chia seeds and flax seed fed with timothy grass pellets. I am just giving them the grass pellets right now for 2 weeks. Then I will add in a protein supplement, soy meal, gasp! and see what happens.

The ponies have wintered well. And when I say that I mean they have come out of winter at a very good weight, even Sky! Mikey is a bit thin, but it doesn’t effect his energy. Zorro is driving and getting lots of exercise and looks fantastic! They had hay 24/7 and the supplements I listed above, but very little sugar and starch, and very very little protein. I can see the lack of protein in Mikey. The other two always have a nice filled out top line. With the summer I have planned, I think adding in a protein/fat supplement is a good idea for Zorro. I will take some before photos of the ponies this weekend and then do a follow up in the summer and the fall. Now since I haven’t been feeding sugar/starch, I don’t expect there to be much of a change in them, but it’s definitely possible with the added in protein! I think it will be interesting. And it will definitely save me a ton of money.

I will add that I just bought two tons of hay from a guy an hour away that has an old field that hasn’t been seeded, fertilized or sprayed for weeds for many many years, possibly close to 100 years. The grasses are natural species of grass, they do not irrigate, they wait and cut the hay around the second week of August. There is a legume called Vetch in the field that may bring the proteins up a little bit more than the grass hay I have been feeding without adding alfalfa. I hope it does anyway! I am going to send in a test sample of this hay this week and will share that when it comes in. But I am crossing my fingers that this hay is ideal so I can have a constant hay supplier of hay that is all around good for my ponies and will require me adding little to nothing in the way of supplements.

**EDITED TO ADD: I called my vet to see if the Vetch in the hay is poisonous. It turns out there are 100’s of types of Vetch and while some are poisonous some are not. This field is actually just down the road from her vet clinic and she said since the farmer has been grazing horses on this field and feeding the hay to his horses for over 20 years and they are fine, then the Vetch probably isn’t a problem. When I run across some in the hay I will send it in for testing, but I haven’t found any yet!

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This hay has been sitting in a stack all fall and winter and is clean and green. It does have a bit of dust to it but I’ve found that to be normal for grass hay. Cross your fingers that it comes in below 12% for sugar and starch!

I talk about having your hay tested all time around here. This short video will show HOW I go about gathering the sample and then what I do with it!

First I find some hay that I think will be low sugar low starch. Here are a few things I look for (it can be only one of these things or a few of them!):

  • Grass hay that is allowed to fully mature before cutting.
  • Grass hay that is grown in the low lands that is either irrigated or has a high water table.
  • Grass hay that has been rained on AFTER it was cut BEFORE it was baled.
  • Grass hay that has been cut before noon.

Once I find hay that I feel could come back low enough to purchase I go get a sample. It’s so easy to do even kids can do it!

I go to my local feed store where my local Extension Service keeps a hay probe for the public to use. It’s free to borrow it. I just sign it out and off I go! (My name is on that log more times than any other person. LOL!)

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The Hay Probe

Developed by farmers for farmers and recommended for the fast and convenient extraction of core samples for testing purposes. Probes methodically collect samples without mess or contamination from handling. The inside diameter of the shaft is 7/8″ so samples stay loose for easy bagging with the cleanout rod between samplings. Cleanout rod pushes up to 20 core samples into a 1-gallon zip-lock bag that is suspended from the ABS protective shield. The heat-treated, hardened steel, serrated tip provides aggressive cutting action. A protective cap is included. Shaft and connections are made of stainless steel. Unit is 24″ L and takes 18″ core samples that are 5/8″ in dia. A cordless drill is recommended. One-year warranty. -From Amazon

I like to collect hay samples from between 20 and 30 bales. If there are several stacks of hay then I collect from 5-6 bales from each stack. If there is only one stack then I be sure to get at least 20 samples from different bales. They say the test will only be as good as the sample so I make sure to take a VERY good sample!

 

Once I have a gallon zip lock baggie full of hay then I fill out the paperwork for Equi-Analytical.

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After I fill out the top of the paperwork then I decide which package I want! Here are the ones I choose from. I try to keep it very simple and yet get all the info I need to balance the hay for my ponies. The one below is the Equi-Tech option. It tests for most of the things I need to know to help balance my hay and doesn’t break the bank. It’s for people who test often… which is me!

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The Trainer option is the other one I usually use. This is a traditional test that covers all the bases I feel are important. I don’t worry about the Selenium test because Montana is low in Selenium and California Trace minerals deal with that well.

Once in a while I will do the very simple test at the bottom, the Carb pack. But I don’t like to do that one because it doesn’t give me enough information.

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Then I check the option I want to use!

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Then I package up the sample, put my check in and send it off to Equi-Analytical.

This last sample cost me $28 + $7.65 for shipping = $35.65

But the piece of mind is totally worth it!

Today I finally had time to sit down and do a boot comparison! I now have 5 different pairs of miniature horse boots with one more pair on the way for Mikey.

I made a very long video that I will share below, but I’ll go ahead and type up my findings here as well.

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I’ll start with the Easyboot Mini because I have the most experience with that boot! Together, Sky, Bonnie and I have put quite a few miles on several pairs of Easyboot minis. I’ve had to purchase 4 pairs over the last two years. The bottoms don’t wear out but the tops do. The velcro gives out and sometimes rips off completely. One boot had the top part ripped off of the bottom half. That proved impossible for me to fix. I still use those boots for horses that are tender footed on the track. I just tape them shut with duct tape or athletic tape. LOTS of tape!

The Easyboot Mini’s worked very well for all of our hiking, ground driving and light driving. I found that the sole of the boots is a bit thin, so I did put pretty thick pads in them for driving. The pads helped with protection and cushioning.

When I started putting on more miles, crossing water and getting the boots really dirty they just didn’t hold up at all. Once the velcro gets wet/dirty it stops sticking, then the boots fly off. That is so annoying!

Also they don’t have any way to drain the water out when you do lots of water crossings. This caused the boots to rub both of the ponies that were wearing them. And we wrapped their hooves in vet wrap to help the boots stick better and help alleviate the rubbing. (Often the smaller bits of gravel and sand work their way into the top of the boot and rub Sky around her coronet band so I started wrapping her hooves with the vet wrap and that really helped!) Because the water can’t drain out they slosh along as they move down the road. This was a problem on our drive because we were with a large group and couldn’t stop and empty the boots for a few miles. That was frustrating and hard on the ponies.

That long drive made me come home and start looking for a better boot for long distance. That search brought me to the Equine Jogging Shoes. I’ve looked at these several times over the years, but they are VERY pricey so I held off. In the last month I’ve bought 3 pairs! I’m pretty excited about these boots.

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This pair of boots is the Active model. They are the newest model and there are just a few minis using them right now! I’m so excited to give them a try. I really like how they close, the amount of velcro and that little tab along the side of the boots. They act as a back-up to the velcro! Just what I needed on that long drive. They have very aggressive tread and a nice break over in the toe. That break over is SO important in a driving boot! This could be the difference between strained tendons and sore shoulders. Break over is IMPORTANT.

There is quite a bit of material in the sole of these boots, more than in the Easyboot Minis, providing more protection to the horse’s sole. I have small dampening pads in these boots to help them fit Sky a bit better, but don’t need them for cushioning!

I really like the top of these boots and how they completely wrap around the top of the horse’s hoof. It will be very hard for little gravel bits to get in there.

I am so amazed at how light these boots are! They are about the same as the Easyboot Minis, with more great stuff going on!

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I bought Zorro the 24/7 glue on boots because he is having a hard time growing heel. He is such a mover and a shaker that he just needs a bit of protection while his hooves try to grow. Time will tell how well they hold up!

I love the aggressive sole of this shoe and the leather uppers. They are so lightweight!!

Gluing them on was a bit stressful… I’m going to write a blog about doing that next!

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The next boot will be the SoftRide Boots. These boots were completely priceless with Bonnie’s founder and laminitis. There were many months that Bonnie would not have been able to walk without them. These boots have the laminitis gel pad in them. That pad is built up more in the heel and less in the toe to provide some relief for the laminitic horse.

These boots are strictly therapy boots. They are not for hiking, going for walks or driving. They are very HEAVY. I’ll show that below! There isn’t a break over in the front of the boot at all which is fine for limping around the dry lot or trailering, but not for walking long distances, hiking or driving. I can’t stress this enough… these are therapy boots.

The tops of these boots are soft and never caused any rubbing with Bonnie and she would wear them for many days 24/7. The velcro is still going strong as well!

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The last boot I’ll talk about here is the CLB by Cavallo. There is very little I have to say about this boot that is good.

The soles are made of plastic. There is no tread at all on them. They are so slippery. Every time Sky wore these and had to work in the grass she fell down. NOT a safe option for a driving horse. They are very slippery on the gravel and we drive on a lot of gravel roads. They are very slick on the pavement. Zorro wore them in the parade last month. He was a very good boy and it’s a good thing because they were very slippery. Sigh. Just not a good option!

The tops of these boots have rubbed every single mini I’ve had them on. (That’s only 4, but still!) Because the soles of the boots are so hard and plastic I always put a 6 mm pad in them. Otherwise the horses are still a bit ouchy. Oh! And we have worn holes in the soles of two pairs of these. The plastic is not holding up at all. When I contacted Cavallo about the holes they said no one else was having that problem and my horses must have hooves that don’t work in these boots. Hmmmm. I wasn’t sure what to say about that! We put about 10 miles on the boots when they developed the holes.

These are the lightest of the boots, probably because of the plastic soles. They do have water holes for drainage, but because they are so slippery I would never use them in water. They have several different velcros closing them and I like that as I think they would stay shut even when wet and dirty. I hope they take a look at these boots and take miniature horses a little bit more seriously. Minis are major athletes and the things we ask them to do are quite challenging. They need a good boot that can hold up to that!

Here is a collage of the boots and how much they each weigh. This was fun to do! I have been so curious as to how much the SoftRide boots weigh. And I was wondering if there was a big difference between the Equine Jogging Shoes and the EasyBoot Minis. There isn’t too much of a difference! The lightest are the CLB boots, but they sacrifice traction for weight. I would rather have a bit heavier boot and lots of traction!

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Far left: EasyBoot Minis, second from left: Equine Jogging Shoes, second right: SoftRide Boots and far right: CLB by Cavallo

As an aside these are the boots I’m getting Mikey:

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The Equine Jogging Shoe – Ultimate Model. They were on sale because they are phasing them out so I went with these ones. I had to save a little money after buying the other two boots for Sky and Zorro! I will let you know more about these boots once they arrive.

Here is the video I made. Warning… it’s a long one!

 

I thought it might be interesting to share all the photos of Bonnie’s hooves that I have taken over the last few years. I love studying hooves and learning all I can, so I take lots of photos of my own horses and spend hours looking at photos of other horse’s hooves. My hubby thinks I’m so strange. Especially when we are sitting in bed and I am on my laptop showing him the changes in my own horses feet over the years as well as photos of what I hope they will become with all my careful management. He just rolls his eyes at me. LOL!

Bonnie’s feet have progressed and then regressed a few times over the last few years. There have been times they have looked really good and times when they have been down right ugly. The interesting thing is some of the times they have been ugly she has been the most sound. I just sigh and keep on trudging.

To trudge: walk slowly and with heavy steps, typically because of exhaustion or harsh conditions.

Something I have learned over these last months is Bonnie is happier with more heel that she should have. There have been times I have just let her have that heel. Then she can walk without wearing her boots. I watch her and study her feet and decide she needs to have less heel so I trim some off and she is lame again. Last year I was trying to help her by actually trimming heel off. Then I started studying a different method of barefoot trimming called TACT and learned more about the inner foot. I learned a ton about helping my horses grow a healthy heel and heel buttress and found that trimming Bonnie’s heels wasn’t helping her. In fact it was causing her heels to be pulled UNDER her foot and distorting, thereby losing her heel buttress. The heel buttress is the shock absorber for the foot, so it’s IMPORTANT.

What you are going to see in these photos is how her heel has moved back under her coffin bone as I’ve been trimming her correctly. I’ve started trimming to the inner foot and that is what is changing her hoof.

In the first photos I was trimming her by taking her heels down and bringing her toe back. I was looking for balance, but trying to go slowly.

Bonnie before I trimmed her:

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This is how she came to me. Long slippered toes. Her toes pulled her heel forward and under her foot. So actually she did NOT have a heel buttress here. The back of her foot is collapsed under the pressure. Photos from May 2016
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These photos were taken in July 2016. I had been trimming her heels down very slowly. You can see the founder rings in her hoof wall here. This was before she actually foundered here…

Bonnie was in great shape here. We walked regularly 4-6 miles all summer long. These photos were taken in September.

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These photos were taken in September 2016. I had been taking her heels down some more here but you can kind of see how they are starting to pull under. Her periople skin is starting to stretch down over her heel bulbs. This is not a good sign. We had been going for regular walks and she was very active at this point.

After October and through to December Bonnie put on some weight. She was on dry lot with alfalfa mix hay and just ballooned up. I cut back on the amount of hay she got. I also had to split the mares from the boys because Zorro was still a stallion. He was the instigator of movement so Bonnie would tend to stand around and eat. She started to loose weight in November. Then in December she became laminitic after being out in the pasture for a couple of hours.

Now things are going to get ugly. She foundered in March of 2017 after her vaccinations and her feet took a turn for the worse…

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This is when Bonnie went down. She was down for about a week… This photo was taken in March.

 

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These photos were taken in April 2017. She had been wearing boots since about December as she became laminitic in December after being turned out on the snowy pasture for a couple of hours. She was comfortable in boots so I kept her in them. Then after she was vaccinated in March she went down for several days and couldn’t stand at all. At this point there was NO HEAT in her feet. But this is what they looked like.

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Photos from May 2017. You can see how the tubulous are curving under back at the heel. The periople skin is continuing to pull under the heel. All the sticky residue is from Magic Cushion. That stuff is horrible! I don’t even know if it helped her because she doesn’t get heat in her feet,  but instead struggles with poor circulation and very slow hoof growth.
bonniex-raymay
It was after these X-rays that I knew how much sole I had to work with. Not much! She had plenty back at the back of her foot, but it was forced out the back of her foot a bit more than I would like. As you can see she didn’t have hardly any sole at the tip of her coffin bone
bonniehoofcollagejune2017
This photo is from June 2017. Actually her feet don’t look so bad here. She was still having to wear her boots so she wasn’t sound. The founder rings are so pronounced. Here is when I started to work on her laminar wedge. She had so much dead material that it was causing her pain.
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This was a comparison between Bonnie before I put in the track system and then after. Not only did it help her with her topline but once she was able to be bootless the movement on the track really helped her hooves.
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This photo is from September 2017. In these photos you can see that she is getting a little “hoof bound”, which means that her heel and toe are kind of pulling towards each other. She was living out on the track 24/7 in these photos. She was able to be without her boots. I wouldn’t say she was sound, but she was comfortable.
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This x-ray is from September of 2017. As you can see I did manage to get her to grow some sole in at the coffin bone tip. And I saw exactly how much bar material I could take out. So I did!
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These photos are from October 2017. I think these feet look pretty good, but you can see the tubulous really pulling under at the heel. I want those to be nice and straight following the line of her hoof at the coronet band. I don’t want the periople skin pulled under the heel either. That will tell me that she is developing a heel buttress.
bonniehoofcollagejan2018
These photos were taken in January 2018. She was starting to have issues here. Our weather was starting to change and she was getting footie. I was starting to really think about how to grow a heel buttress here. I knew that just trimming the heels wasn’t going to work as that kept pulling the heels under the foot instead of setting it where it’s meant to be. So here I’m allowing some hoof to grow, as much as she can. She grows hoof very very slowly due to poor circulation.
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These were taken in February 2018. UGLY feet!! She was able to be without her boots here however. I wouldn’t call her sound, but she was getting around very well!
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I had been keeping her toes back to help with break over. She had enough material at the back of her foot here for me to work with. So I started working really seriously with her bars and the heel quarters after this photo shoot. I also worked hard on her toe quarters. I had her on a very strict 2-3 week trim schedule starting in February. You can see how her hoof is jamming up into the coronet band above the heel quarter area. I started all the ponies on a very strict thrush spray at this time as well. It worked wonders on the other two ponies, but Bonnie’s feet became very hard and constricted. They shrunk at least a 1/2″ and got so tight it was painful to look at. I started her on the For Love of the Horse EMS/IR herbs in February as well and in April I started to notice her feet softening. I think the herbs were helping her with circulation!
bonniehoofcollagemay2018
These photos were taken on May 2, 2018. In these photos you can see how the tubulous have changed! They are starting to follow the coronet band which is also straightening out. The jamming is gone. I have been dressing down her toe area from the top to destablize that area which has allowed things to relax down ward. This also stopped the hoof bound issue that was trying to happen above. To get this hoof I kept the frog very cleaned up, trimmed up and got rid of any thrush that was trying to be there. I kept the heel quarters beveled and the toe quarters beveled. And I kept up on her toe, but from the top. I DID NOT TRIM HER HEELS OUT. She is also not sound right now. I wormed her last week and she is acutely laminitic from that. No more worming for her 😦

I have to get Bonnie to the vet for her blood tests and her x-rays this month. I will be sure to share her new x-rays then. I am very interested to see how everything is looking.

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Bonnie this morning, May 8th!

**UPDATE: This morning when I went out to feed Bonnie came striding up to me as though she hasn’t been acutely laminitic for the last week! So whoot whoot!! She is wearing her EasyBoot minis with a comfort pad in them. I am just so darned happy to see her walking around like that!

 

Since Bonnie was diagnosed with Insulin Resistance I have been doing so much reading and studying. I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned.

Bonnie can not have fresh green grass. At all. If green grass grows in the dry lot then I have to lock her into a smaller dry lot where I can control those stray bits of green that stubbornly want to grow. (Why the green grass won’t grow in the yard where I actually WANT it to grow is beyond me!) One of the reasons I went ahead and built my Track System in my dry lot is because of the amount of green grass that insisted on growing in there last year. I’m hoping that because they have been trampling and tearing up the ground on the track, the grass won’t be able to grow there. I can already see green shoots trying to come up in the middle of my track. I will be adding a lower hot wire to my inner fence system to keep Mr. Zorro from reaching under the hot wire. He doesn’t mind that the hot fence snaps and pops along the top of his mane as long as he can eat that bit of green! I am also going to roach his mane this year which will also help.

Bonnie can be out in the pasture at the end of the summer when the grass is tall and dry, IF she has her muzzle on. I’ve had my pastures tested and the only time it is safe is in the late summer, in the late afternoon around 3. From maybe 3-5 pm. This is the opposite of everywhere else I have lived! She can be out there because I know the sugar/starches are low then AND she doesn’t yet know how to use her muzzle. She “pretend” grazes. I call it this because she looks very busy, moving her head and mouth, as though she is eating, but she isn’t getting any grass. I will go out and push some grass through the little hole for her once in awhile… this is what I did for her in the  photo above.

Bonnie has an averse reaction when the weather changes. If we are unseasonably warm, she seems sore. If we suddenly drop from 50 degrees to negative numbers she is nearly unable to walk. As I understand it metabolic horses often have very poor circulation in their legs and hooves. This is why when they are laminitic or foundering, they will not have heat in their feet or a bounding pulse and why icing their feet doesn’t help with the pain they feel. In fact it can make it even worse. The only time I iced Bonnie’s feet last year was when it was really hot and she was sweating and uncomfortable. Then I offered her a large tub of ice water and she stood in that tub until the ice melted, but she wasn’t lame then either. I think they cool water just felt good because she was hot! Now that the weather is changing so quickly and dramatically Bonnie is wearing wool socks. They are kids wool socks so they are nice and snug. She doesn’t mess with them so maybe she knows they help! I also apply essential oils to her feet to encourage circulation. Today I put Deep Relief and Valor on her feet. She is wearing her easyboot minis. If I have to put on a double layer of socks then she wears her Soft Ride boots.

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Bonnie is very sensitive when I have to make changes to her diet. So far I can change the supplements a bit and that doesn’t seem to make her worse, but when I’ve tried a different type of hard feed or had to make a change in hay she became laminitic. So I have to do these things slowly so she can adjust.

One HUGE thing on her side is she doesn’t mind being locked in the smaller dry lot area, even though she is in there alone. Her small dry lot is inside the track system so the other horses are right there, but she doesn’t stress about this. She also doesn’t mind wearing her muzzle when things dry up some and she can be out in the pasture for short times during the day. Mostly for exercise as she hasn’t mastered the art of eating grass through the small hole in the muzzle. She doesn’t like to eat soaked or wet hay so that’s a problem and means I have to know exactly what is in my hay and what the starches and sugars are before I can offer it to her.

When I had my other IR pony, Chloe, she had similar issues, but reacted differently to the stresses of the life an IR pony must lead… living in a dry lot, wearing a muzzle, eating soaked hay, etc. She would stress so much that she refused to eat when in the dry lot. She would go for days and just stand in the corner of the small dry lot I made for her. She made me so worried. She wouldn’t even eat her hard feed when she was depressed like this. And every time she would rebel this way she would become acutely laminitic. The vet I was working with at the time said this is the hardest type of IR pony to manage as you have to balance their mental and physical health which is impossible when they are sure they should live like a horse and be allowed out in the pasture. She ended up foundering on all 4 feet with rotation and sinkage. It was awful. Her first founder episode happened in the dry lot due to stress. So I had to let her out. She had one thing in her favor and that is that she would eat the HEIRO. I do believe it was the HEIRO that kept her alive for those last 3 months. Once she went down and couldn’t get up I had to make the decision to let her go.

This isn’t my first go at this, but I do hope and pray it’s a much more successful go!

Bonnie has been struggling so much these last few weeks. I could tell the Thyro-L wasn’t really helping anymore so I went digging for more. More information. I have been studying a better way to trim her feet and I dug into that a bit more. I tried some new things to help her with her pain. Then friend of mine shared For Love of the Horse. She was hoping they carried an herbal formula that a friend of her was having success with and it turned out they didn’t, but I had already spent the day reading their website and corresponding with one of their wonderful office people, so I decided to ask them for help. Dr. Thomas was willing to work with me to help Bonnie. So I ordered her first round of EMS/IR Solution and have started her on that. To order the EMS/IR and the Hoof Ailment formula was too expensive all at one time so I have to spread things out a bit, but I am praying this works for Bonnie. I can’t bare to see her in such pain all the time, it takes such a toll on her. She loses the light in her eyes and she just stays in one place all the time. I also think she is losing her eye sight so some days are just too overwhelming for her… and me.

At this time I am slowly weaning Bonnie off of the Thyro-L. Dr. Thomas said to go from 1 teaspoon a day to 1/2 a teaspoon for three days and then 1/4 teaspoon for four days and she should be fine without. Thank goodness as juggling the Thyro-L and the EMS/IR solution is tricky. She can’t have the solution and Thyro-L at the same time so I have to spread out her breakfast and then her first dosage of the solution.

Right now I am giving Bonnie 4 scoops (1 scoop = 1/2 Tablespoon) two times a day until she starts to have some relief. Then I can lower it to 3 scoops twice a day. When I get the Hoof Ailment she is to get 4 scoops twice a day until her feet feel better and then I can lower her to 3 scoops twice a day. At first I am mixing the formula in a bit of warm water and giving it to her with a syringe which has already proven hilarious as she managed to get it all over herself, Zorro and Sky and Zorro tried to take off with the syringe! LOL! What a group I have!

Something that happens often with horses that have foundered is they develop abscesses which can make them as lame and sore as the founder or laminitis did. I do suspect this may also be going on with Bonnie. The Hoof Ailment solution is formulated to help with abscesses as well. I believe her immune system is also effected and of course her liver is stressed. I am interested in also starting her on their Liver Support. When I had her fecal done last year there was tape worm larvae found, but I couldn’t worm her because the chemicals in the wormer could send her into a laminitic attack. So I’m hoping to get her healthy enough that I can deal with her worm load and have her teeth worked on, all without any adverse reactions.

Metabolic issues in horses are not simple. There is no quick fix and just when you think you have things figured out they will show you that in fact you know nothing. It’s a bit like living on a roller coaster. It’s a time full of frustration and heart ache. I do feel like this is Bonnie’s last chance at beating this. How long can someone expect a horse to live in pain, battling every day just to get by? When does it become about me and not about her? When is enough, enough? These are questions that wake me in the middle of the night. These are the questions that are constantly on my mind. So say a prayer or keep her in your thoughts as we try this next option! There are many great testimonials on their website… maybe we can be one of them!