Friday, October 22, 2010

Brick Walls to Beat One's Head Against.

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...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And this is what it's all about.

Messages like this make it ALL worthwhile...

"Hi Maria,
I'm the American girl living in Spain who contacted you via your amazing blog almost a year ago about who needed reassurance about going barefoot. I'm happy to report that I finally found an amazing vet and hoof care specialist who has helped me through the process, and eight months later my pinto, Indio has some rock hard bare hooves and we're quite happy with our easy boot bare boots!
Wanted to say thanks again for your help and encouragement, I couldn't be happier about the decision, and have even started a mini barefoot revolution at my barn here in Spain, finally people are starting to see the light and two other horses are going bare too!
Could you have guessed that your positive energy would be so far reaching?
Thanks again


Keep at it,'s people like us that will finally change things for good and ever! And thank you so much for your email...messages like this are better than a week of sleep in terms of recharging spent batteries!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A United Front

A good friend of mine recently went to listen to one of the prominent proponents of barefoot hoof care speak. This particular speaker is a scientist, which clearly lends him some degree of instant credibility, and my friend and I very much agree that good science is the only way barefoot hoof care will ever reach the mainstream. Much to her surprise, his lecture failed to cite ANY research, and instead expounded on the techniques of just one barefoot hoof care methodology (read: guru), and even nipped around disparaging some others which are too closely similar to be maligned I have to say it?...GOOD RESEARCH.

But the lack of well designed, well executed studies is really a separate problem from the thing that really bothers me about this story. The real problem is the damage that such a tunnel-vision, exclusive mindset rends on the barefoot, or natural, hoof care movement in general.

United we stand, divided we fall, right? Divide and conquer, isn’t that the ages old battle strategy? Well, heck, folks, if we continue to fight amongst ourselves, we will:

  1. never, ever gain credibility in the mainstream, and
  2. exclude an awful lot of experience, and data, we need to fill in the gaps in our collective knowledge

I would like to strongly suggest, from my very humble standpoint, that we all recognize our common goal to better understand the natural hoof. Instead of this ongoing self-promotion and one-upmanship, a much more productive approach would be cooperation. A meeting of the minds. A profound willingness to put our damn egos aside, and learn from one another’s mistakes and triumphs. After all, this isn’t about someone’s brand name trim. This is about the soundness of our beloved horses.

Or isn’t it??????

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

For, like, the 9 billionth time: IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT TRIM.

Well, no time to put together a newsletter this month, but I did have one topic I wanted to address, so here it is.


I know I've said that about 84 gazillion times. For some reason, that phrase gets lost between my lips and the eardrums of many wannabe barefoot horse owners.

Let me make a distinction here. I am a Professional Barefoot Hoof Care Provider. All I do is look at hooves all day long, and figure out what needs to happen to make each one of those hooves healthy. The title "hoof trimmer" is inadequate, because it implies that I somehow magically apply a trim that can make any horse, in any situation, sound barefoot. Trim is important, to be sure. But I cannot get your horse sound barefoot with just my rasp, nippers and knife.

I'm often asked if I believe that every horse can go barefoot. YES. I do believe every horse can be comfortable and sound barefoot.


Most of the time, there are many factors that will need to be addressed to make that possible.

When I come out to assess your horse, and I start telling you we need to balance the horse's diet, or the horse needs to be moving more over more appropriate terrain, or that the horse would benefit from jiaogulan or acetyl l-carnitine, it is MUCH MORE than a suggestion. When I say these things, I am telling you what I KNOW will help your horse become a sound barefoot horse. If you are reluctant to take my advice, I will gladly send you research and literature to support my "prescriptions".

There is no cookie-cutter protocol that fits every horse. Consider 150 horses times 4 hooves -- that's 600 hooves I shape and handle in a 5 - 6 week period (how many hooves does your vet look at every month??) They are all quite different, but if all you do is diagnose hoof problems every day, all day, and you use every resource available to learn everything you can about how to heal hooves, you can hardly help from getting good at it.

Sometimes, only one area needs to be addressed. Other horses require much sharper attention to all of the details.

Some horses thrive on a diet that is not balanced, providing they have good, manure-free footing (pea gravel, decomposed granite, or river sand are ideal) and plenty of reason to move about all day long.

Some horses need their trace and major minerals precisely balanced.

Some horses have poor circulation, and benefit from a nitric oxide enhancing herb called jiaogulan.

Some horses have chronic pain after a laminitis attack, and benefit from the addition of acetyl l-carnitine to their diet.

Some horses are borderline insulin resistant, and become painful if even a tiny amount of sugars or carbs are added to their diet.

Some horses have such extensive damage to the sole corium from long-term rotation that they will ALWAYS need boots on rugged footing.

If you take my recommendations with a grain of salt, and implement little or none of it, and the horse fails to improve, know that you have not done all you can to make this work. Be honest with yourself, and your acquaintances, when they ask why you went back to shoes. Don't say "my horse couldn't go barefoot". Say, "I was not able to meet all of the requirements necessary to help my horse become sound and healthy barefoot."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Completely Random Thoughts for the Day...

  • Blonde sorrel...I've never heard the flaxen-mane/tail sorrel coloration termed thus, and I love it!
  • On the other hand -- "psuedo palomino" to describe a blonde sorrel??? Mispelling NOT mine...but have to say, it's a pathetic marketing ploy, but creative....
  • Why do people who expect perfection under saddle constantly make excuses for their horses' poor ground manners??? Really. WTF????
  • is NOT too much to expect a REALLY YOUNG HORSE to behave admirably for hoofcare. Yanking away, hopping around three legged, slamming feet down, or taking thinly-veiled shots at the trimmer is NOT "doing pretty good". I love you guys, really, but if you want a good trim on your horse, TEACH YOUR HORSE TO BE GOOD FOR THE TRIM.
I think that's all for tonight...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Top 3 things that should simply be outlawed.

1. Breeding horses that are HYPP N/H or HYPP H/H.

2. Breeding horses that are Herda N/HRD or Herda HRD/HRD.

3. Not only soring, but also stacks, chains, and pads used to create the horrific, unnatural movement known as the "Big Lick" in Tennessee Walking Horses.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Toe Grabs = Catastrophic Breakdowns. Multi-Million Dollar Track Surfaces Won't Help. HELLLOOOOOOO.....

Yes, I agree that the horseracing industry does everything wrong, including racing babies, inbreeding, and other questionable breeding practices. But for a long time now, I've squawked about toe grabs, race shoeing practices, and the hoof pathologies created by gallop training. David M. Nunamaker, VMD, DACVS, apparently concurs:

This is particularly disturbing in light of the reversal of the toe grab rule. WTF is wrong with these people????