Monday, April 27, 2009

The "Please Say You're Kidding" Quote of the Day...

"Trainer Jimmy Jerkens said Sunday that he was planning to treat the hoof with “Thrush Buster” as a drying agent and also with Animalintex poultice."

...this from the trainer of Kentucky Derby favorite, Quality Road, on how he plans to treat the second quarter crack (which is at the coronet band, and bleeding) the horse popped last week...because of course, the priority is not healing the hoof, but running the damn race!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Things I Hate. By Mixer.

(Editor's note:  Today's Guest Blogger is 7 yr old Mixer, AKA Drum's Dunlight Shadow, dun tobiano gelding by APHA stallion, Drum's Double, and out of AQHA mare, Tilly's Twilight.)

Got to thinking about it today.  There's just some things that a self-respecting Paint horse can't abide.  Things that sorta preclude the sensible, calm, trustworthy, unflappable side of a horse like me.  Here are the top four:

4.  BGIH (big gelding in herd), Leroy, riderless and thundering down the trail behind me.  I am HUGELY proud to report that this incident, which occurred during my TENTH RIDE EVER, as I calmly loped down a trail on a loose rein, elicited only a slight turbo boost and mild snortiness.

3.  Palm trees with wheels.  WTF??  Nothing remotely natural about that.  In retrospect, had they told me the palm tree was on a dolly, and that one of my humans was pushing it, I might not have been quite as alarmed.  But still.  In the moment, it was horrifyingly like a scene out of a zombie movie...When Zombified Palms Attack!  In my own defense, I only reacted with moderate eye bulging, deep, rattling, sinus-clearing snorts, and full-Arabian tail position.

2. Pasos of any persuasion.  For the love of God, are you trotting, or having a seizure???? Mother of Mercy, are your knees dislocated??? NO??? Then what the HELL is up with your front feet flying out SIDEWAYS???  IS IT CATCHING?????  AAAAACKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!  No apologies on this one, folks.  And heed my warning: snort deeply, roll your eyes with wild epileptic abandon, spin, and RUN LIKE HELL.  Eight strides is good.  Don't want to get too far away before you spin back around for a second snorty look.

1.  Coyotes.  Sneaky, slinking, thieving, cunning, SCARY little doglike furballs.  Don't get me wrong:  dogs are a joke.  Drooling pansy-asses.  Nothing remotely menacing about a dog; make themselves dizzy wagging their tails and exhaust themselves chasing rabbits a coyote could catch blindfolded with both front paws tied behind its back.  I mean real honest to goodness, borderline-wolf Coyotes.  I'm proud, but when it comes to Coyotes, I'm mostly proud of how really, really fast I can run.  Really, my eligibility for the Kentucky Derby was clearly overlooked, because not even Quality Road could catch me with coyotes on my tail.  Wanna see me take the Triple Crown?  Put a couple 'Yotes behind the starting gate, and watch me FLY.  Then again, chances are good I'll give in to curiosity and spin around for a second look after about the eighth stride....but hey, I was up to full speed after three!!!

See, I didn't get the nickname Turbo for nuthin'...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Because, shoot, it's the 13th already, and I don't believe I've incited nearly enough controversy yet this month...'s one for ya: my advice du jour? Go to Farrier's School. Or at least purchase the text books and read the certification requirements.

No, really -- I mean it!

First of all, the biggest stumbling block most aspiring trimmers face is how the heck to use a hoof knife, nippers, and a rasp. Not to mention how to gracefully wrestle a shoe from a hoof. I've yet to attend a barefoot hoof care clinic that did a good job of teaching tool handling skills. Now, who do we know that has that stuff down to a science?......Yeah, every certified farrier you ever met.

Secondly, some of the better and more intensive farrier schools do a fine job of describing and teaching rudimentary equine biomechanics, as well as how to recognize many gait abnormalities and their commonly accepted causes. (Do me a favor, though, and forget most of what they tell you to do to correct them.)

Finally...there is nothing more empowering than understanding what you DON'T want to do. And being able to coherently and in detail explain the difference between a barefoot trim and a farrier's work. It will also shed a lot of light on what's been done to a lot of the horses you'll pull the shoes from, and why. And THAT will shed copious light on what to do to alleviate any insult that may have been inflicted.

Now, I don't mean to cast aspersions here and imply or insinuate that farriers are the enemy of barefoot proponents, but "know thy diametrically opposed alternative hoof care theories" doesn't have quite the punch that "know thy enemy" does. As the famed Chinese General and military strategist, Sun Tzu, said:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

- The Art of War, Sun Tzu (c. 6th century BC)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Credibility and the future of barefoot hoofcare

We have some very talented individuals providing barefoot hoof care services these days. We're starting to present an organized front, and we're beginning to sound a lot alike in what we preach. This is all very good and positive news for barefoot hoof care and healthier horsekeeping practices. But it continues to be a very grass-roots movement, and while that in itself is not detrimental, the do-it-yourself presentation detracts from the overall plausibility of our cause.

To take our message to the next level, we'll need to present solid science, and little dissention amongst our ranks. We'll need a curriculum that would pass muster at least at a local college level -- which, frankly, surpasses the average AFA certification program! We'll need highly structured data collection. Most of all, we'll need the veterinary community's stamp of approval. And while lots of comfortable barefoot horses should make that case for us, all one has to do is look around at the popularity of horseshoeing to see why that's just simply NOT ENOUGH.

What can you, as an individual hoof care professional do? It might be more about what you DON'T do....but here are some suggestions:

  • Take the time and expense to have your logo and website professionally designed. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that first impression should be one that smacks of scientific credibility. Home-grown websites, unless you were a web designer in a previous life, rarely pack the right kind of punch. This is why ad agencies and web design firms get the big bucks for what they do!

  • If you're not comfortable writing scientific dialogue, then please don't try. Most of the half-baked theories floating around the barefoot hoof care forums have so little basis in science fact, they are instantly off-putting to anyone who ever took college level biology or chemistry. And they'll make anyone with a degree in veterinary medicine instantly disdainful. Going off half-cocked about your completely unscientific theories just amplifies the "crazy barefoot advocates" assessment the general equine community already stamps us with. With all due respect, you might very well have an excellent point, and a hunch that could lead us to new discoveries. But let's leave science to the scientists!

    At least get your terminology right, if you're going to plow ahead. For instance, there is a very BIG difference between "exasperate" and "exacerbate", and yet the former is, exasperatingly, often used where "exacerbate" is intended:


    One entry found.
    Main Entry:
    ex·ac·er·bate Listen to the pronunciation of exacerbate
    transitive verb
    Inflected Form(s):
    ex·ac·er·bat·ed; ex·ac·er·bat·ing
    Latin exacerbatus, past participle of exacerbare, from ex- + acerbus harsh, bitter, from acer sharp — more at edge
    : to make more violent, bitter, or severe

    2 entries found.
    1. 1exasperate (transitive verb)
    2. 2exasperate (adjective)
    Main Entry:
    1ex·as·per·ate Listen to the pronunciation of 1exasperate
    transitive verb
    Inflected Form(s):
    ex·as·per·at·ed; ex·as·per·at·ing
    Latin exasperatus, past participle of exasperare, from ex- + asper rough — more at asperity
    1 a: to excite the anger of : enrage b: to cause irritation or annoyance to2obsolete : to make more grievous : aggravate

    Similar definitons, yes. But trust me -- you cannot exasperate insulin resistance. You CAN exacerbate it, though!

  • Case studies are powerful. But labeling them as such when you have but two pictures that represent totally different aspects of the hoof, and then making grand assertions about the dramatic changes that your pictures clearly do NOT show is pointless. Also, refrain from making grand blanket statements without showing a SERIES of successful examples. My favorite is "I can cure any navicular horse!" If only that were true! A much more accurate statement would be that "barefoot may be the only hope for HEALING your navicular horse".

We've come a long way. We've battled resistance all the way. We're starting to get it right now. Let's strive to finally eliminate the stigma barefoot hoof care still illicits, and -- pun intended -- put our best foot forward!