Please remember!

The information presented on this blog represents "learning in progress" on my part, a horse owner, who was not satisfied with professional farriers and took matters in my own hands. As far as I am aware at the time of the post, the information presented is correct, but may change with me understanding more about hooves, in which case I will edit or remove the post. In order to follow my learning and understand everything about Molly's hoof, you need to start reading at the bottom.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Major changes on the farm

It has been a while since I wrote anything on the blog. This is because major transitions have happened. Gus has moved back to Texas, and Molly has two new little companion Miniature horses. This arrangement is now 6 weeks old, and I think enough time has passed to safely say that it was the best decision I made in a long time, to make that change happen. Everyone involved is so much happier. The Mini's arrived at my little farm the day before Gus left. So Molly did not have to spend a minute on her own. When Molly and Gus first saw the Mini's they were totally surprised. Somehow they had never seen such tiny horses. Gus ran away, but Molly was immediately very interested (they were in a stall next to her initially).

In any case, I am no longer responsible for Gus' hoofcare. He seemed to transition without any problems into his new life being out 24/7 on a grassy pasture in Texas, from having eaten pretty much only hay for 6 years. It is amazing to see how a healthy horse can handle such an abrupt change. He also has his old companions back, happily grazing side by side. I am so happy for Gus. His mind is finally at rest, he feels secure around several other horses and not always pestered by a grumpy mare. I am very happy for him.

Molly did not seem to miss Gus at all. In fact, if anything, she has gotten much more relaxed. Molly was never difficult to handle or anything, but she would kick the stall wall often, and often had very extreme heats when Gus was still around. She has not kicked the stall wall once and I have not seen her in heat since he left. I don't know, but I feel that these two horses just did never really clicked. Now there are only 2 Mini mares there for Molly, which she accepts as companions and especially Stella, the 8 year old mare, she feels very drawn to. I can find Molly now often resting with her head over the stall division and right under her head stands Stella. Some people strictly keep mares separated from geldings and maybe that is best for Molly too. At any rate, I now have 3 black mares and I am very proud of all of them!

At this point, the Mini's and Molly are still separated in their own paddocks and open stable. Harmony may be pregnant for a potential August foal and I don't think it makes sense to try and integrate them before. Plus some of the fences on the big paddock are not yet ready to prevent the Mini's from crawling under..... So I will wait until autumn to maybe see if I can open up everything (stable and paddock) and allow the three of them to spend day and night together. But since everything works so perfectly well right now, I am in no rush to change things up.

Now I am in for a new challenge, trimming miniature hooves. I must say, I find it surprisingly hard. First, Harmony at first was very badly behaving. This issue we quickly got under control, though trimming Harmony's feet are still somewhat like trimming a moving target, so being precise is a different matter. Also, those Mini hooves are so small, everything is so low down, and worst of all, Mini hooves are so hard, it seems they are much harder than big horses hooves. Even this comparably ridiculously thin hoof wall (compared to Molly's for example) is so hard, I almost need nippers to get it off. Plus, the Mini's had not been trimmed since last November, so had quite some hoof to get rid off when April came. This is my first half way satisfactory trim on Harmony's front right. Harmony wears her feet very weirdly, she lands over lateral and then flops over onto medial, she is base-narrow. She does not wear her toe and her heels at all. So a lot of toe and heel had to come off.
I think the next couple of trims I'll get my professional to do. Just so that I can see how he would address those feet. After that I may keep going by myself, or I may just find it too exhausting :-)!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Gus winter hooves comparison...

It is time for another blog post. I have been really lazy taking pictures, mostly because all hooves are simply great, there is very little to do, they are for the most part self maintaining. Plus it is winter and hoof growth is noticeably slower.

Below are two pictures summarizing my journey, which started in January 2011, when I decided to start trimming because I thought my horse's feed looked weird under the care of my professional trimmer. Of course I had no idea what was going on and why the feet looked the way they were. Today I know that they had simply retained excess sole. The left part of the picture shows the status that I found 2 weeks after my last professional trimmer appointment. Due to the retained sole, it was hard to really see the sole plane and balance the hoof. Even though the hoof looked weird, it functioned perfectly fine in January 2011.

The middle picture is one I'd rather not have in my archive. It is taken one year later, after I followed the ABC method for 1 year. The ABC method described Gus' hoof in January 2011 as one where bar had overgrown the sole and needed to be removed. Also, according to that method, the heels needed to be brought back to the widest part of the frog, or 1 1/8th inch. This is what I had done, carving on that sole and bars and excessively lowering the heels. The hoof in the middle lacks crucial support structures and today I consider myself extremely lucky that in my environment (soft snow) this trim did not result in a huge disaster.

The hoof on the right is from today. This hoof does show very nice sole depth, but no retained sole, slight ridges of sole around the tip the frog, strong heels making a nice platform combined with the bars. This hoof has not been trimmed in this form. It has grown into it. The wire brush has been my most important trimming tool. As soon as the sole starts exfoliation, I wire brush the hoof. This way sole does not accumulate excessively, as it has the tendency to do in my environment (sand in the summer and snow in the winter). The frog is not getting trimmed (or at least absolutely minimally). The hooves have become very symmetrical and they are extremely sound.

The one thing I would like to know is with my knowledge of today, how I would have approached the 2011 hoof, removing just the excess, but nothing more and nothing less. It would have been a fun thing and very interesting thing to do.