Saturday, January 30, 2010

Now We're Cookin'

As many of you know, I have spent the past few months searching for a barefoot trimmer that is located anywhere in Southeast Florida. At times, my quest was discouraging and seemed all but impossible -- I exhausted every available information source and was still coming up empty-handed. It was like the quest for the Holy Grail; but, luckily, I am apparently wise and deserving, because I finally found a qualified barefoot trimmer! And, no, it wasn't the one that I wrote about a few weeks ago -- that lady took my name and number and gave it to a trimmer friend of hers. Luckily, this lady graduated from the Oregon School of Natural Hoof Care and also studied the works of Jaime Jackson and Pete Ramey. Score!

Candy came out on Monday to trim Salem's hooves. When she first saw him, she was surprised and impressed at how good his feet looked. As I had told her that he hadn't had all four hooves trimmed since October, she had been expecting them to be a complete mess. Yes, the toes were a bit long and the bars were overgrown, but overall they weren't too bad. I have been very faithfully rasping his hooves every week and Candy said that I have been doing an excellent job. Yay, me! :-)

So, the good news is that he has awesome feet and it will only take another trim or two to get his "ideal hoof." He still has a bit of flare (even after the trim), but it should be gone after the next trim. Obviously, you can't fix everything at once! But, Candy said that Salem has very strong hoof walls, well-developed digital cushions and lateral cartilages, great frogs, an excellent amount of sole, and mostly very tight white line.

The bad news is that he has a teeny-tiny little bit of White Line Disease on both left hooves. :-O When I first heard that, I was shocked -- how could that happen under my care?! I take such good care of him. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was inevitable. He had so much flaring when he first got here, so it's actually not surprising at all. Oh, well, nothing a bit of White Lightning (Gas Chamber Hoof, as I call it) can't cure!

Candy also suggested that I make a mixture of one third Lysol 4-in-1 Cleanser and two thirds water and spray it on his feet every day to keep them fungus/bacteria/icky-stuff-free. At first, I was a bit skeptical; I do not want to put anything on his hooves that damages hoof tissue! But, I did some thorough research and it turns out that the Lysol will not do any harm, so Lysol it is!

Here are the excellent results of the trim:

See that little bit of flare on his left front? That's one of the areas that has White Line Disease

The day after he was trimmed, I got on Salem and he felt weird. It confirmed what I had seen the night before on the longe -- he was floaty and extended in front but short/choppy behind. It was like riding two different horses at the same time! He didn't feel sore, but I took it easy with him and put a call in to Candy. She wasn't at all surprised, and said that he was just getting used to having a shorter toe in back. His breakover had been pulled way back and he needed to figure out how to use his new feet. She said the more he moved, the faster he would work out of it. Sure enough, I hopped on him on Wednesday and he felt better than ever.

Of course, I have started with the Gas Chamber Hoof treatments in order to kill that WLD. I have finally perfected my GCH method and gotten it down to a science. I use a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and duct tape, and then cover it with Vetrap, like so:

Die, you nasty White Line Disease!

As for his stitches, I am a bit shocked to say that they are all still fully intact and the injury is healing well. Fair warning, though -- it looks a bit icky, so don't look if you're squeamish.

Look how handsome Salem is looking! Granted, he's a bit orange from spending his days in the sun, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I think one of these days he will be a chestnut, or possibly a buckskin.

And, last but not least -- does anyone remember back in...hhhmmm, late October, when I was concerned that Salem was dropping weight? Well, uh, I think I have remedied that situation (maybe a little too well!). Looks like all that extra hay is doing its job. ;-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baby's First Stitches

Yes, the inevitable happened on Monday. Unfortunately, I have not yet created a Horse Kevlar Body Armor Suit, nor does Salem live in a padded, yes, he got his First Semi-Serious Injury. I could tell something was wrong when I glanced in his stall and saw his hay strewn about and hardly eaten. He also seemed a bit spooky and out of sorts. Well, once I got him into the fully-lit barn, I took one look at his face and went, "Oooooohhh, fiddlesticks." His upper lip was split open, with a flap hanging down. It wasn't horribly deep, but it did not look good.

After a quick phone call to Ruby to let her know what was going on, I brought Salem over to Angel's (one of the workers) house to have a little "consult." It was so cute, I had Salem with me and he tried to follow me up the stairs! He had his front hooves on the second step before I managed to stop him. Even when injured, Salem is such a goofball! Anyways, in my best Spanish, I pointed to Salem's muzzle and said to Angel, "Mira. Es veterinario necessita?" Angel took one glance at Salem's lip and said, "Si, veteranario. Puntas (*while a making stitching motion*) es necessita." So, yes, he confirmed my fears. I put in a call (an emergency after-hours call, of course) to Dr. Franklin.

Within about fifteen minutes, the doc's truck pulled up to the barn. I actually hadn't seen him in almost a year -- the morning that my lovely boy Mac passed away from a horrible torsion colic. When I saw Dr. Franklin, it certainly put everything into perspective. Yes, I felt bad that Salem was in pain; but I knew that, in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn't so bad.

After giving Salem a sedative and injecting his lip with some numbing medication, Dr. Franklin started cleaning the wound. That was when I was very glad that I had called him -- in addition to the flap that I could see, there was another big split more to the inside of his lip. Dr. Franklin said that it could have been a bite from another horse or Salem could have caught it on something sharp. But, either way, he needed stitches.

I forgot to count how many stitches he did, but I'm thinking it was somewhere around ten or twelve. Salem was mostly a very good boy for the procedure. Every now and then, he would wiggle his upper lip a bit and mess up the stitches. He wasn't in pain or misbehaving -- he just had to show a little personality, as usual.

I had thought that Salem would need time off of work, and I was worried that the stitches would get in the way of his eating. Nope, Dr. Franklin actually said, "You're gonna let him have time off for this?" He said that it isn't anywhere near where the bit lies, so that shouldn't be a problem. And he also felt that it would not affect his eating at all. He told me to just clean the area with sterile saline solution every day. He gave Salem a tetanus shot and some IV antibiotics, and told me that he will be coming by over the next few days to give him more antibiotics. Salem's fully cleared for work and turn-out.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pics of the procedure, as I didn't have my camera with me. (The pic at the top of the post was taken with my crappy cell phone camera.) So, I brought my camera out today. Here's how the injury looks post-stitches (although you can't see all of them, as some of the stitches are more towards the inside of his lip):

Even though Dr. Franklin had said I could ride today, I decided to just take it easy and give him a longeing/grazing/grooming day. Plus, it gave me some extra time (and an excuse) to do some Mental Hazard Training/Desensitization that is also known as Dress Up The Pony In Funny Outfits.

Burlesque Butterfly Salem

Tourist-y Salem (or Guatemalan Cowboy Salem)

Princess Leia Salem (I have to admit, I got this idea from

the Eventing-a-Gogo blog)

Playing hide-and-seek with his Triple Crown Senior bag


And I had to throw this one in to prove that Salem is fully tarp-trained

I'll keep everyone updated on his progress. Please keep your fingers crossed for us that he doesn't rub any of his stitches out!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In Case He's Ever a Category on Jeopardy...

Fun Salem Trivia:

1. He hiccups quite a bit (something I never even knew horses did until I met him).

2. His moobs (man-boobs) are very, very hard -- so hard, in fact, that it feels like he has some kind of extra moob bone in there (?).

3. Favorite scritchy spots --face, ears, withers, underneath mane

4. Loves -- peppermints, neck massages, butt scratches, carrot stretches, shoulder stretches, clipping, grooming, and pretty much any and all attention that is given to him

5. Hates -- Having any of his sensitive spots (like his "swirlies") touched, not getting his grain until after his ride, the neighbor's dogs (he's convinced they're cougars, even though he sees them every day), and some of the exercises from Activate Your Horse's Core

6. Current love interest -- Ella, the little chestnut Quarter Horse mare that came to our barn recently. Salem apparently thinks she's hot stuff, as he did his best Lipizzaner stallion impression for her while I was riding him last week. He was all, "Heeeeeeey there, you sexy thing!" *snort, head toss, side-step, side-step, buck* " Check this out!" *capriole, capriole, leap, buck, capriole* "That's called dressage! Wait, why is my rider quietly cursing my name?"

7. He refuses to eat the special timothy that I was buying for him (from one source in Canada, scientifically tested, and $17.75 a bale) because God forbid he should eat what's best for him. Typical child! For a while, I was having to clean up the previous night's hay from his paddock and give it to his neighbors, Cockpit and Lafitte. Now I have to buy him either timothy or orchard/alfalfa from a different feed store. It's $1.75 cheaper, not scientifically tested, and not from one consistent source. But, since it isn't what I want him to eat, of course he loves it!

8. He is constantly trying to eat cat food and dog food, something I find particularly odd. It's like he's a baby that is in the "oral stage" (where they have to put everything in their mouth). I've seen him pick up soda cans, plastic bins, brushes, boots, keys, and about a million other things with his mouth...but, I still think it's strange that he tries to eat the cat/dog food -- maybe he's an omnivorous horse??

As for training, our last few rides have been great. He no longer fights the halt and is getting softer and more responsive. We're now at the point where, after I've been working him for awhile, I can actually drop the reins completely and get him to halt with seat and voice alone (from the walk only, of course!). Now, I know some people like "whoa" to mean both "stop" and "slow down," but I prefer for it to mean "stop" only. Eventually, I'd like to be able to just say "whoa" and sit deeply and have him halt immediately, even from the canter. We'll get there!

(And, hopefully, I'll have some more pics soon!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"I'm Chilly Willy The Penguin...

...I'm frozen through and through. My head is is hot and my feet are cold. Ooo! Eeeeee! A-choo!" OK, am I having flashbacks to my 24 years spent in the Arctic tundra of the Northland? Or is the low tonight here in Miami actually 35? Yes, yes, I realize that perchance I should rename this blog to "Meghann Complains About The Weather." But, honestly, we are having one whack-a-doo of a year. A solid week of blanket weather in January? Insanity!

As I write this, I am wearing a polo shirt, a hoodie with the hood up, jeans and thick socks, and am wrapped in a wool blanket and sitting on a heating pad cranked up to High. (Yes, I am a total pussy -- you would never guess I spent years teaching riding lessons in Chicago's 10 degree weather.) And while the Ponykins lives outside and doesn't have a heating pad, he's all bundled up in his fleece blanket liner and turnout sheet and has approximately 200 pounds of hay to munch on and keep him toasty. I'd say he's all set.

In other Salem-related news, we're taking things very easy right now, for a number of reasons. First of all, I want to really drill that halt into his brain, and so far it is working fabulously. He can be trucking along at a lovely extended trot and a squeeze of the reins, tuck of the pelvis, and soft "whoa" brings him to a dead stop. Granted, he starts off not quite so responsive, but he's light years ahead of his halt just a few weeks ago. He has also started to respond to the boucher very well. The first day, he threw a bit of a tantrum and went, "Gah! Wtf is this weird, non-moving piece of plastic in my mouth?!" After about three rides, he really started to like it, and now I occasionally see large strings of frothy drool streaming from his mouth -- good sign!

The other reason we're taking it easy is because Salem has gotten a bit foot-sore as of late. I won't go into a long winded diatribe about it (that's another post!), but for now I will say that he is in the transitioning phase to a natural barefoot trim and is still building up a tough callus on his sole and frog. He also needs to build some concavity into his hoof. This will come with time. For now, I ordered two Easyboot Epics and pads for his front feet. He will have all four eventually, but this is what I could afford (well, not really!) for the moment. The ground is rock-hard at our barn, unfortunately, and I really don't want to make Salem sore when I ride. He's perfectly sound out in the pasture, but when I ride he's a just bit short-strided -- certainly not lame, but he's definitely not one hundred percent at the moment. So, we're doing a lot of walking and halting and a little bit of trot just to keep things interesting until his "running shoes" arrive.
Edited: I was wrong! Salem had plenty of sole and good concavity. He wasn't sore, but he was short-strided because his toes were too long. Oh, well, -- after his trim, he is now super comfy barefoot and I can use the Easyboots for rocky trail rides.

I have also finally managed to get my grubby little hands on something that I have been searching for for months -- the name and number of a natural barefoot trimmer who lives less than a hundred miles away. Score! I will be calling her tomorrow to see what she charges and hopefully set up an appointment for sometime soon. Salem is long overdue for his pedicure.

Well, I am off to take a long, hot shower and then wrap myself up in a little cocoon/burrito in my puffy down comforter. Stay warm, my friends!