Nov 09: First saw the mare. 18 degrees rotated in both front feet. A mile of heel. No sole. Millimeters from sole penetration. Owner had the vet out for my first trim on her: he vehemently disagreed with my trim plan. After an animated discussion with the very traditional vet, I reluctantly acquiesced, hoping to make better progress at the next appointment.
For the next three trims, the owner was apprehensive, and I was conservative. I managed to coax sole depth, but little improvement otherwise.
March 10: It was absolutely clear to me by now that the mare was uncompensated IR. I talked myself blue in the face, sent mountains of information, and finally got the owner to start soaking hay. Unfortunately, the attending vet insisted the mare was NOT IR, and convinced the owner soaking hay was unnecessary. For the brief period of time the hay was soaked, we achieved a much improved comfort level. We had still not made any improvement in rotation, and the mare continued to produce dramatic inflammation rings in her hoof wall. She was always uncomfortable, and trying to apply an appropriate trim only made her more so.
May 10: Knock down drag out "diet needs to change!!" conversation with owner.
June 10: Owner finds a local vet who understands the current thinking on IR. Testing confirms uncompensated IR. Owner begins soaking hay. FINALLY!
July 10: The mare's comfort level increases, but each trim still leaves her sore. She's okay in boots and pads, but the boots come off occasionally, and when they do, the mare becomes more uncomfortable. A new vet has been consulted. Mare is still 16 degrees rotated, vet recommends Steward clogs. Owner is not sure what to do.
Aug 10: I talk the owner into trying hoof casts. I do a moderately aggressive trim, and apply casts. The mare is VERY happy, huge improvement in comfort, and she wears her casts for 4 weeks.
Sep 10: I do a much more aggressive trim, and recast. The mare is comfortable and happy in her casts after the trim. We schedule a 2 week appt to recheck.
Recheck: Owner says mare is doing great, wants to extend 2 more weeks.
Oct 10: Contact owner to confirm appt. No response. Finally receive an email. Another vet is now involved. New radiographs reveal the mare is now just 8 degrees rotated -- this change has happened since the August radiographs, and after two months in casts. There is now some ossification of the lateral cartilages, but in light of the reversed rotation, this is a relatively minor finding. But instead of expressing joy at the huge progress, and gratitude to me for making it happen, the owner reports that the new vet has said casts are a bad idea for this horse. She implies that unless I will trim the mare as the newest vet prescribes, I am fired!
Everything I recommended worked. Had the owner listened to me from day one, we might have reversed the rotation much more quickly. If she continued to listen to me, I know the mare could be fully rehabbed. I did prevail, in spite of the tsunami of resistance, and made a huge difference for the horse. But apparently it wasn't enough. I'm done. I can't even talk to this woman anymore. I'm too incredibly frustrated. Here was a horse with such severe rotation that modern veterinary medicine would have written her off. I doggedly persevere, and ultimately am on the road to triumph....and it's still not enough.
This would have been one of the most dramatic rehabs I've accomplished yet. A feather in my cap. A reason to keep swimming against the current, to keep trying to make a difference. Instead, almost unbelievably, I am sitting here wondering what the hell I'm doing...