2012 show season · barefoot · farrier · shoes

Welcome back, have a crisis!

I was already a bit nervous about being away for two weeks on a road trip. It had been a complete mental vacation: certainly I missed Tris and I missed riding, but we were so involved in what we were doing that I wasn’t planning and fretting constantly like I usually do, so I felt behind the ball.

My nervousness was not helped when I pulled him out of the stall and looked at his RF. He’s had a small toe crack there for a little while now; I’ve been keeping an eye on it, and had asked the farrier to come check it just before I left. He did so, and took the toe down pretty far, but there was some crack left. While I was gone, the crack moved aggressively. There was some flare on the right side of the hoof, and a bit of a bulge at the coronet band in line with the hoof. None of which I was a fan of.

Crack in RF, with a bit of flaring all around, worst on the outside.
Side view. If you look closely, you can see a bit of a bump near the coronet band, about where my car’s tire is.

He was reluctant to go to work, but not off, and he is reluctant to go to work on the best of days. I did not ride particularly well, and was second-guessing myself quite a lot, wondering if I should pull him up. He took some off steps, but he was never lame, and when I pushed, he moved quite nicely.

Nevertheless, as soon as he settled back into his stall I called the farrier. We’ve had this conversation before, when he had his abscess: he’s working with more intensity than ever before, and wearing down his feet much harder. The quality of hoof is still great and rock-hard, but the quantity is lacking. I’m sure that contributed to the aggressive growth of the crack. He’s certainly chipped away at his toes before, but he’s never had a crack move like this before.

It was pretty clear to me that the crack wasn’t going to heal without help. After almost seven years of going barefoot (save for one cycle in which we tried to support his heels with absolutely no difference in his way of going, so pulled the shoes), he’ll get four shoes all around on Friday, with pads & packing in the front to support. I am a bit sad; I really though we could make a go of it. Perhaps somewhere I could control his turnout environment completely, and check him every single day, and work with a farrier who specialized in barefoot trimming, we might’ve. I can’t help but feel like a bit of a failure – either because I’ve pushed him too hard or because I haven’t managed his gorgeous feet well enough. All those conflicts are internal, though. I’ve always said that I would get him shoes when he gave me signs that he was no longer comfortable barefoot. We’re there.

He was pretty pleased to get some extra hand grazing time while I got my camera.

The cherry on top was the call this morning from the barn that he was sore on his RF, probably from riding last night. So I feel rotten about that. He’ll be on stall reset until Friday, when he gets his shoes. I’m not quite sure what to do about the XC school we have planned for Saturday. It may be that he just needs the support of shoes, and he’ll be totally sound. It may be that he needs some time off to adjust.

Going forward, however – we are entered at Valinor on Saturday following, and King Oak after that. King Oak closes on the 21st of August, so he needs to show significant improvement by then or I might consider scratching him. I’d be heartbroken to get so close to our goal of going recognized and have to cancel it, but – that’s horses, I guess.

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