After a whole summer of shitty updates, I finally have one that is neutral-to-positive!
First, the problem hoof.
You may remember that there was a bad spot on the toe, where the farrier was worried that the sole would never grow right after his coffin bone surgery. We went back and forth, and forth and back again, with the farrier, my regular vet, and the vet who did the surgery. Many phone calls. Many emails. Several meetings.
I worked hard at being a dispassionate but fierce advocate for him; I didn’t always succeed. I tried to stress over and over again that whatever solution he needed, he got.
Unfortunately for me (well, mostly only for my bank account), that solution was to put him back in shoes.
I’m leaving this large so you can really see it clearly. The dug out area at the toe? Follow my farrier’s left index finger and go just about directly up.
You’ll see a couple of dysfunctional things going on. First, there and in the inside heel: a line of blood from some bruising or very mild abscessing. Obviously that’s not great.
Second, the thin line of crack that goes from the hoof wall into the hoof, taking a right hand turn. That is a line of bacteria clawing its way up – white line disease except not quite. Not in the white line but the sole itself. That’s what the farrier keeps digging out and what he thinks will always keep happening because of…
Third, and hardest to see. Between the blood line and the dark line of the bacteria, the sole there is a slightly different color. It’s also a different consistency. That’s the bad sole. It’s directly in line from the area the surgeon dug out to reach his coffin bone. That’s what the farrier and vet both think will always grow that way – soft, weak, susceptible to infection, because of scar tissue in the area that grows sole.
So. Shoes. I’ve always been pretty firm that Tristan gets what he needs, and a few days after this meeting with the farrier I formally reworked my direct deposit for my paycheck to put enough for monthly shoes into Tristan’s bank account.
I’d be lying if I said I’m not sick about it, though. That money could have gone toward a lot of other things – lessons. Vet bill cushioning. Retirement savings. It feels like a cruel joke to round out a year when I’ve worked so hard on my finances with a massive ongoing expense.
I also feel like a failure for not keeping him barefoot. For maybe not doing the right job in the immediate aftermath of the surgery, and allowing the scar tissue to grow bad in the first place. Part of me thinks that somewhere back in these last few years I can point to the moment when I didn’t work hard enough and we started to head down this path.
But, ultimately, my dumb emotions aside, this is a fine outcome. He’ll stay happy, healthy, and sound. I’m hardly unique in owning a horse that needs shoes. With just front shoes, I’m even getting off fairly easy. I’ll get over myself eventually.
Small update on the other foot problem of the summer.
Way way way better, right? Real actual skin on the heel, and a slowly growing in healing of the bell boot rub. This is five weeks of healing, by the way. FIVE. If that doesn’t tell you something about how this was a heel grab from hell, I don’t know what will.
The hoof itself at the heel is a small worry; it’s basically open as if he had an abscess there. The farrier looked at it and shrugged. It’s staying wrapped. Every time it gets rewrapped – still every two days – the barn manager squirts blu-kote down there to keep it disinfected.
I can’t claim any credit for this, by the way. This is all the barn staff’s superb and tireless wrapping.
And, last night? I got back on!
Bless this horse, who I got on bareback for his first ride in six weeks to discover that there was a TON of stuff in the ring from auditors for the week’s clinics. He made alert ears at them, and that was it.
He was weak, and floppy, but willing. Weak and floppy I can fix. We did 30 minutes of walking, starting with just marching, then adding in some very basic bending and lateral work. He won’t be ready for real work until his heel is 100% healed – even this little work is actually slowing that down a tiny bit, since it’s on such a flexible joint – but anything I can do to get in the saddle again is crucial to my ongoing mental health. So, we’ll walk. For as long as we need to.
Oh, did I say willing? Well. Mostly willing.