adventures with the vet · farrier

Can’t catch a break…

So, updates, finally.

Last Saturday night I left work and got to the barn, saw that the farrier had not trimmed Tristan’s back feet to even out the chips, and decided to take matters into my own hands. I gave them a really truly good cleaning out with hoof pick, hose, hoof pick again, you name it. As I kept cleaning I started getting a sick feeling and when I finished I confirmed it: white line disease in both back feet, hence the chipping and crumbling of the hoof wall. It was pretty bad. So I did a full-on White Lightning soak on both back feet and picked out his stall to the nines so he could go back to a clean dry place for the night. I then proceeded to drive to New Hampshire feeling about two inches tall and like the worst horse owner in the whole world. The next morning I texted both the farrier and the barn owner to let them know what was going on. As of today I still haven’t heard from the farrier. Sigh.

I returned from vacation on Tuesday night, pulled Tris out of his stall…to discover that his left front was hot and blown up to the knee. Let’s review: surgery  on the right front for a broken/infected coffin bone, white line disease in both hinds, and now his last remaining good leg was definitely not good.

I jogged him out and to my eye and to the trainer’s eye he looked only sliiiiightly off at the trot. I was pretty sure I could feel a knot of tougher tissue on the inside of the leg, just above the fetlock, so the working theory was he knocked it in turnout. I clipped around the knot area just to make sure it wasn’t a puncture wound, then cold hosed for 10 minutes, then rubbed in Sore No More, then walked him for 15 minutes under saddle, then cold hosed for another 10 minutes, then rubbed more Sore No More, and then the barn manager did standing wraps on his front legs because, shameful admission time, I have never learned how to do a standing wrap. Then I added a gram of bute to his evening grain and his morning grain for the next day.

The next morning his leg was, per BM, tight again, but when he came in after turnout and stood in his stall it went up again, though not nearly to the previous night. Repeat previous night’s routine save the wrapping – I hadn’t paid close enough attention the night before and was terrified of bowing a tendon. The next morning he was still up and it didn’t go down with turnout, so I worked on it Thursday night, same routine, and the barn manager taught me to do my own freaking wraps, so I wrapped him. Down again overnight, up again in the afternoon, just a touch better Friday night. Lather, rinse, repeat. I added just a touch of trotting in last night and he moved out well, felt sound to me and looked sound to the assistant trainer. Plus he has zero compunctions about pawing like an idiot on that LF constantly, so it can’t hurt that much.

I checked in with the vet on Thursday and if the leg was still up on Friday I said I’d have her out on Monday, so hip hooray for another vet bill! Hoping it goes down over the weekend and this is a formality, but at this point – I would’ve thought 48 hours and out for a good knock and I’m terrified that he may have strained or torn something.

chores · farrier

Working Hard / Hardly Working


Yesterday, I left work two hours early to head to the barn to help out with a work day. I had intended to leave much earlier, but that didn’t work out. I still put in about four hours of work straightening fenceposts, tamping down new gravel around fenceposts, restringing fence line, and generally hauling heavy stuff where and when asked. We had dinner at the trainer’s house afterwards. It was good hard work and a nice way to meet more people at the barn. I am often the last person riding in the evening and have really only met a small fraction of the other boarders and riders.

Said work took us right up until dark, and then we went for dinner, so I did not ride. Ugh. Tonight I’m meant to go to New Hampshire after work but I am putting my foot down and riding first. (Words cannot express my deep desire to simply stay home and ride my horse and maybe possibly relax for a few minutes, but the boyfriend’s family expects me in New Hampshire, so off I go.)

Tristan’s back feet have been chewed up quite a bit more, and I can’t figure out what’s going on. I talked for a while with one of the barn workers who raised the specter of white line problems. Greeeeeat. He is not sore, off, tender, you name it, but his feet don’t look good. Talked to farrier last night, who was going to take a look today, and stocked up on vinegar with which to apply White Lightning regularly for a while – can’t hurt. (And here I’d been kicking myself for buying that bottle back when his front feet were recovering from being in the boots – seems I was just stocking up for the inevitable.)

farrier · stupid human tricks

Best Laid Plans

After a weekend out of state visiting family, I had a routine medical procedure Monday morning. It was supposed to take 5 minutes and leave me in mild discomfort; it took 35, was excruciatingly painful, and my body crashed pretty hard afterwards to the point that my doctor drove me home herself on her lunch break. (<3 Vermont)

So I did not ride on Monday. I did not move from the couch until late Monday night. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling waaaaay better, though I slowed down through the day, and planned on a road hack. I got to the barn to find out Tristan had attempted vivisection of his left hind hoof, as seen below.

Luckily the farrier was there and finishing up with another horse and said he’d look at Tris next. Score. While waiting, I watched a lesson and seeing another rider sit the trot made me queasy – no riding for me after all. Farrier cleaned up the foot and declared it ugly but not worrisome. He’s mixing up gunk for me to apply until it grows out just to be careful but it already looks way better.

Today I am feeling well enough to for sure go for a hack…and it is pouring. We’ll see if it keeps up until I get off from work, but seriously, universe, I would like to ride my horse.


My lip is way less swollen today, though it is just painful enough to be putting me in a low-grade bad mood all day, which I really didn’t need.

I’ve been a bit quieter otherwise because I went through a very frustrating few days with Tristan. I arrived at the barn last Thursday to see that he had new shoes, and that we went back to glue-ons. Hooray for new shoes, uh-oh for glue-ons. I texted the farrier to check in and ask if Tris had behaved or if they’d had to tranq him again. Farrier said yes, tranq, and he hadn’t really behaved and that he’d go over it with me in detail when he was back from his trip.
I checked in the next day and chatted with the barn manager who had been there for the whole escapade. Tris started acting up right away, so they gave him a bit of sedative, and he got through the RF that way, which was by far the more complicated and tricky one to do – farrier had to clean out the abscess cavity and then refill it with epoxy/glue.
When they did the LF Tris got progressively worse, and they added a bit more tranq. The tough thing about glue-ons is that at a certain point in the process the horse can NOT put his foot down or it will not dry properly. So Tris started breaking through the tranq at that exact wrong moment in the process and the farrier held on.
Tris responded by laying down. Yes, you read that right. He laid down on his shoulder in the crossties, and when the farrier let the foot go and stepped back, he laid down in the back too. And didn’t get back up. He laid there glaring at the barn manager and the farrier – as a friend described later, “like a toddler throwing himself to the floor and holding his breath.”
So the barn manager held his head and the farrier took off the not-set-right LF shoe and trimmed it back a bit. Tris tried to get up a bit while he was doing this, but the barn manager was firm and kept him down, and after the minute or two it took they let him back up and backed his butt into a corner.
And then he was good as gold for every second of the entire rest of the trim. Like it had finally filtered through his brain. I’ve semi-affectionately called him my 2×4 horse in the past, but this might take the cake.
Farrier and barn manager are consummate pros, and they both went out of their way to assure me that their read on him was never fear, aggression, or anything dangerous – simply stubbornness and a massive case of the don’t wannas – which he is certainly more than capable of! He has not shown the slightest inkling of reaction to the whole thing in the days since: still good as gold to handle, and I have turned his feet every which way looking at his new shoeing job. If anything, he seems happy to have new shoes, as he is landing a bit better since his feet had grown out quite a bit.
I apologized profusely to them and they told me there was no need, they still thought he was great, and they  have every confidence that he has finally gotten the message. I took him outside and walked and trotted up and down many hills until he was puffing as a productive way to vent some of my frustration, and then I went home and cried and cried. I hope that he really is progressing now, but I don’t know what to do anymore.
abscess · chores · farrier · surgery


On the one hand: I helped out with chores again today, and there were only two of us, and it was a completely packed and busy six hours. I was too tired to ride and came home and have been mostly flopped on the couch re-reading Pride and Prejudice.
On the other hand:
– all those calories burned!
– I have my first 30 minute lesson on Tuesday! I am incredibly excited to get back on track. It will be almost 11 months to the day since my last lesson on Tris.
– last night, we cantered all the way around the ring, once on each lead. I could’ve kept going forever.
In state of the foot news, farrier will trim him in the next few days, cutting off the plastic shoes with clippers, dremeling out the epoxy, and then we’ll see what’s left. He could go back in another round of glue-ons, back to regular shoes, or back to barefoot. It depends on how much foot is left after the trim and what quality it is. Here are pictures from this morning.

farrier · rehab · surgery

The State of the Foot

I’m not saying I won’t be checking back in with pictures of Tristan’s foot as the last of the awfulness grows out, but these are the last for a little whole. Here’s what his right front currently looks like, after the farrier worked his magic.

We had our fourth ride tonight, circles and one or two lateral steps in the ring then a walk up the hill and around the dressage ring, back down the hill and a few more minutes in the ring. He will get tomorrow night off, as he was a bit tired tonight, and on Saturday we bump up to 30 minutes.
Here’s my view these days.

farrier · rehab · surgery



For the first time since August 14, when I finished my weekly lesson with a feeling of disquiet and thus started our endless diagnosis/treatment cycle, last night I saddled my horse, put his bridle on, and sat on him.

He was good as gold. Even though I’d closed every door to the indoor and alerted the barn manager, he stood at the mounting block and walked off sensibly. I don’t know why I expected him to forget everything he’s ever learned in the past 9 (!!!) months, but he responded willingly when I asked him to stretch down, to have a teensy bit of bend in the corners, to go on a 20 meter circle.

We walked for 20 minutes in the indoor. I didn’t ask for anything complicated, just to stretch down a bit into my hands, bend a little bit, access the inside hind on a circle. He was quite short behind but even up front – I couldn’t feel a hint of a problem in that RF. At the end of 20 minutes I could feel him getting the smallest bit muscle-tired, but he was definitely better in the hind end.

I could have ridden forever, and got a little teary at one point. He is the absolute best, and I am so glad to be riding him again.

The plan is to stay at 20 minute walks in the indoor through the next week at least, then start hacking outside for 30 minutes, whether fields or road work. I am a teensy bit nervous about how his soles will hold up on the dirt roads, with all their rocks, so I want to work on getting them tougher before we do that – lots of Durasole.

Tonight, I’ll take pictures of his new glue-on shoes, which are kind of funky looking. The farrier also used epoxy to clean the whole RF up, so it looks practically normal save for the scar tissue lump that’s slowly working its way down the hoof.

In conclusion, \o/

farrier · surgery

Patience, patience, patience…

The formalin/iodine mixture wasn’t doing the trick on Tristan’s scar tissue, so last night the farrier cut the tissue out and then cauterized the wound. He also took away a bit of Tristan’s hoof wall to make sure the final bits of abscess hole are oxygenated, and that we have access to the last bit of healing tissue to clean it out regularly. I have to say, even with a little crescent cut out of the front of his hoof, this is the best it has looked in months – almost a year, in fact. I forgot to take a picture from the front, but here it is from the bottom.

The best part? Tris behaved for the farrier to do all of that without drugs, and without me even there! He texted me that he was going to go ahead and cauterize (which was something we’d already discussed as a possibility on Monday) and then when I got there he had just finished and said Tris was fine. This from the horse who back in November tried to kill the farrier when he tried to trim and shoe him. WHOO!

He should be getting his shoe on this morning. I made the extremely poor life decision of going to a midnight showing of Star Trek last night and registering for a 5K walk tonight, so even if I have enough energy after that walk my lack of sleep will still force me straight to bed.

Tomorrow, I pack breeches. \o/

farrier · surgery

One shoe down…

This morning, after much waiting and gnashing of teeth, I met the farrier to glue on Tristan’s fancy new shoes.

I tranq’d him, and it took forever for it to kick in, because we moved him to a different barn and he was very snorty and fussy.

Then the farrier pulled of the duct tape booties and showed me the trim he did over the weekend. Tris stood great for the trim and for a CleanTrax treatment over the weekend, and his foot looks WAY better.

The farrier used a dremel to really, thoroughly clean out Tris’s foot, getting the last of the dead sole carved out.

He also did some regular clean up trimming.

Then he started to glue on Tristan’s left front shoe.

It took a long time set because it was so cold outside it was actually snowing, and even through the tranq he started fussing because he was so sick of holding his leg up – his shoulder was trembling for the last minute.
Then when we looked at his right front we saw that the small bleeding that had started in his scar tissue was still going. The vet who was there looking at other horses took a look, and we jointly decided to hold off puttin the right shoe on for a few days to heal and toughen up the scar tissue. So he will get a formalin/iodine mixture painted on the tissue for three days, twice a day, and hopefully by Wednesday it will be ok to take the shoe.

So I just have to be patient for a few more days…
Tris was still drunk when I left, leaning against his wall and napping pathetically.

farrier · tack cleaning

Patience is a virtue, right?

Auuuuugh how is it that Tristan’s new shoes were overnighted in Monday and they’re STILL not here?

I’m going to try to take Friday afternoon off to meet the farrier. They’d better be there by then. The suspense is killing me.
Trying to stay productive by tack cleaning. The bridle I did last night soaked up a really obscene amount of oil. Oops…I guess letting it sit since August was a bit too much.