barefoot · diy

Genius moment: An easier way to apply Durasole

I don’t want to take too much credit, but it’s just possible I’m a genius.

Raise your hand if you’re always too lazy to wear gloves while applying Durasole.

I am as guilty as the next person, and then I had a brainstorm. See, about two years ago, a vet gave me a formalin + iodine mixture to apply to Tristan’s feet. I followed instructions for a few days, but hated the stuff, so I tossed it and just stuck to Durasole, and everyone was happier.

When Tristan went barefoot, I pulled that out again for a day or two and confirmed I hated it, but realized that its application was genius. It was contained in a small jar, and the cap had a brush stuck to it. Unscrew the cap, apply the stuff, no muss, no fuss.

I started hunting around for what might be a similarly useful tool with which to apply Durasole, and I hit on this: Big Horn Glue Bottle With Brush Applicator. I ordered it, crossed my fingers, and last week it arrived.

I squirted the last of my current bottle of Durasole in it, and crossed my fingers.
Holy crap.
All you have to do is give the bottle the very lightest of squeezes to get it started, and then just paint the brush onto the bottom of the foot. It comes out nicely, but doesn’t explode at all – just the right amount comes out. It takes just a few seconds to do the bottom of the foot, and the long brush means you can stick it right down into the frog crevices.
The cap fits on snugly, and I haven’t had a single escaped drop yet. The inside of the bottle is sort of slippery, so all the Durasole pools right at the bottom, not along the insides like it does in its own bottle. 
The bottle holds 8oz, so two bottles of Durasole, and it minimizes the amount of wasted liquid to a truly astonishing degree. It lets out just the right amount and then it all drains back into the bottle.
You do have to be a little careful putting the cap back on but so far that’s honestly the only drawback.
So, if you use Durasole, BUY THIS NOW: Big Horn Glue Bottle with Brush Applicator

barefoot · farrier · shoes

Exciting news: Tristan is barefoot again!

I’ve been keeping a bit of a secret, horse blog world. Tristan’s odyssey with his feet is no secret, and for the past 2.75 years or so he has been wearing front shoes to help support that RF as it continues to try and grow normally.

Every few months, I’ve asked the farrier if he thought maybe, this time, Tris could go barefoot? The farrier is not a shoes-at-all-cost guy. He is an excellent farrier whom I have seen praised entirely independently on the COTH forums, and, you know, that NEVER happens.

The last time I asked was this past fall, and when we pulled his shoes as part of that vet visit, the toe still wasn’t right, which was discouraging. That was the same vet visit at which we pulled blood to test for Cushings, and that came back positive, and I started hoping that maybe the reason he (still!) wasn’t healing 100% was because of the Cushings. I figured I’d ask again in the spring.

Well, two weeks ago, I asked, expecting to get a sigh and a shrug again.

Instead: the farrier pulled off his shoes and was thrilled. My horse had foot again! Proper foot! There was no reason he couldn’t go barefoot. To say I was excited was the understatement of the century.


You can still see the abnormality at the toe, interfering with the white line, in the bottom of the foot, but it’s entirely possible that will never go away. 
Are they perfect? Gosh, no. We’ve got some work to do on shoring up the heel and rehabbing the sole. In particular, I’m pained by the white line – but I saw the same thing when we pulled his hind shoes, and I know how to fix it. We’ve already spent quality time with Durasole, and a nice long White Lightning soak is in our near future.
The best part? I gave him a few days off, with some handwalking and long grooming sessions, and he did not look even slightly hesitant when I walked him back and forth, even on the harder aisle. The barn staff confirmed that he wasn’t in the slightest bit tender on the pebbly, hard dirt road to get to turnout.
So four days later, I longed him, and he was raring to go, bucking and farting and giving big sweeping trot strides. I longed him again the next day, and when he still looked 100% sound, I got on him. And rode him. And I’ve been riding him consistently, at the walk and trot and a bit of canter, without a single problem. 
On Friday afternoon, I took him out on the dirt roads around the barn, which afforded a great test; they were waterlogged and soft, but not yet gravelly. Harder than the indoor footing for sure, but nowhere near the rock-hard summer roads. He was terrific, and even jigged around a bit.
Seriously, how did he wear shoes for 2.75 years, sustain a major injury + surgery, and then come out of that so beautifully sound? I have to go find some wood to knock on.
And so, the saga of Tristan’s shoes ends: August 18, 2012 – March 25, 2015.

barefoot · farrier · shoes

Tristan and the Farrier

I am still catching up on blog-reading, and SprinklerBandit’s post about Courage’s problems with the farrier made me realize I hadn’t done an update on Tristan and his farrier behavior in a little while.

Short version? Problems solved!

If you haven’t been paying minute attention to every word, you may not realize that about two years ago, Tristan got shoes for the first time, four all around. My trainer and farrier at the time jointly convinced me that he would move much better and that he really needed it. I agreed to try it, after 7 years of barefoot going, as an experiment.

The day before he was to get his shoes for the first time, he blew his abscess. Farrier put four shoes on him anyway, assuming it would blow over quickly. That didn’t happen. See the “abscess” and “surgery” label for that whole sordid tale.

Essentially, it looks like Tristan associated getting shoes hammered on with the pain from the infected piece of broken bone that was now erupting through his entire foot. He started acting up for the farrier, becoming nearly impossible to touch to the point of being violently dangerous. I worked with him for hours and hours on end. Eventually, we simply sedated him for farrier visits.

That reached its height with an absurd visit in which he blew through a double dose of tranquilizer and laid down in the middle of a farrier visit in a fit of…something cranky. The quick-witted assistant trainer/barn manager, M., sat on his head while he was down and the farrier finished trimming. Then they let him up and he was good as gold for the rest of that shoeing.

Things continued to go up and down, though they were never again as bad as that day. About nine months ago, the barn switched farriers – for a lot of reasons. It just so happened through a series of mixups, I did not get tranquilizer from the vet in time. I had emailed the new farrier (new-ish; he’d been doing other horses in the barn with great success, it’s just that we added the whole barn to his list. It’s kind of complicated) with a complete background on everything that had been happening. I wanted him to make a very informed decision about dealing with Tristan.

He wasn’t worried, and you know what? Tristan behaved. Not perfectly, that first day; as the farrier explained, he had to take a lot of short breaks and read Tristan’s body really, really well. He backed off when Tristan got nervous or fussy, and discovered that if he held the foot in a different way and used a slightly different technique in hammering the nails, Tristan was much happier.

Moral of the story: new farrier ROCKS.

That being said, it looks like we’ll be doing shoes for a while yet. New farrier also thinks that it will be some time before Tristan’s front feet can handle barefoot again comfortably, and I haven’t yet been able to put together a coherent plan for the transition. Maybe once the nasty abscess hole (still!1!!1!) grows out, we will take a swing at it and see.

But in the meantime, so glad to have my well-behaved pony back!

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.