Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ray of Light

Watching an animal suffer is a terrible thing; watching an animal suffer when you know its suffering can be alleviated is emotionally crushing. And yet, I am certainly not about to walk up to someone I hardly know and say, "I'm not a vet or professional hoof care provider or, in fact any sort of equine professional , but you need to listen to me implicitly and do XYZ with your horse, despite the fact that it's 180 degrees from what your farrier, whom you've been trusting and employing for over twenty years, is telling you to do." I imagine, if I had been completely blunt with Judy right from the beginning, she would have brushed me off--just as I would have done if someone tried to tell me what to do with my horse. So, for a while I bit my tongue so much that it's a miracle I didn't bleed to death.

And yet I knew I had to convince Judy to place Tiffany in Candy's capable hands. I also strongly felt that failing to do so would be a death sentence for Tiff--she was on a downward spiral, becoming increasingly sore, spending more and more time lying down, losing interest in food, and developing numerous new pressure sores. So, I developed what I now call my "Friendly Gnat" strategy--I started off by occasionally telling Judy about barefoot trimming methods and how they've saved hundreds of laminitic horses. During conversations, I would slip in snippets about Dr. Bowker and Kristen and Laz and Pete Ramey and Cheryl Henderson. I didn't want to be annoying or overbearing, so I made sure not to lay it on too thick; but I was patiently persistent. Friendly little gnat. :-)

Next I began mentioning Candy as often as possible, explaining how she had brought Salem's hooves around not once but twice, how she had worked on many severe founder cases, and how she does the best, most balanced trim I've ever seen. Candy asked me to tell Judy she would love to meet with her and discuss a strategy to heal Tiff's hooves. So about two weeks ago, I told Judy, "My trimmer will be here next Monday and she would love to have a consultation with you and explain how she could make Tiff more comfortable." Unfortunately, at that point Judy wasn't ready.

But this friendly gnat does not give up. A few days later, Judy was out at the barn and became quite upset--it was the third night in a row she'd been at the barn and Tiff had been lying down, extremely reluctant to get up. Judy hadn't seen any improvement in Tiff's condition in months and didn't want to see her suffer anymore. At that point, I could see that she had hit rock bottom. But the great thing about hitting rock bottom is that you finally have something to push up off of. :-) I knew it was time. Again, I mentioned my desire for her to meet with Candy and hear what she could do for Tiff. This time, Judy answered with an enthusiastic "Yes."

I truly believe that Monday Nov. 7, 2011 is the day Tiffany's life was saved. During the consultation, Candy's first words were, "Are you ready to save this horse?" She explained that this would be a long process, but she could and would heal Tiff. Always armed with an arsenal of information, she had brought out numerous articles for Judy, as well as pictures of X-rays, cadaver hooves, laminitic hooves in all stages of rehab; and she sat there and patiently, thoroughly explained every detail to Judy. It was very much, "This is where we are; this is where we need to be; and this is how I will get us there." And I could see Judy just getting it--she said nobody had ever explained things like that to her before. And she asked, "So, can you trim her today?"

6 comments:

Kate said...

Good for you! I don't know that I would have had your self-discipline to take the time to slowly get the mare's owner comfortable with doing something different - I would have probably lost it and screamed my head off which would have been completely useless and likely made sure that the owner never considered any other course of action.

Your methods are a model for us all - keeping fingers crossed for the poor mare.

eventer79 said...

Yay! Story getting better! Kudos on your for handling it well -- I don't think I could have had that much restraint, I tend to lose my damn mind.

smazourek said...

Absolutely brilliant!

I've been trying for months to let the guy I board with let me trim his mare's hooves. Her toes are a mile long and have a large crack in the toe AND THEY ARE DRIVING ME MAD! So far no dice, but I've been trying the gnat technique on him. Someday he'll let me fix her...

Frizzle said...

Oh, I am not nearly as angelic as I've apparently made myself seem. ;-) I fully admit to dragging Farrier's name through the mud on a regular basis. To everyone. Including Farrier's clients. "Farrier is an idiot of epic proportions who should be forced into retirement," and "A blind lobotomized monkey could do a better trim than Farrier!" as well as many, many other *ahem* not-so-angelic comments have been muttered by me on an almost-daily basis.

Smaz, keep up the gnat-ing! ;-)

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

HELLO..I would have started a blog of STAY AWAY FROM SAID FARRIER..u are an angel. I'm SO glad you are putting this on your blog for all to see about as we all continue to learn so much in the murky waters of hoofcare. GO you and GO Candy. Eventually we can go "Yea, Go Tiff" as she comfortably walks around. xo

achieve1dream said...

Fantastic! I'm so happy you were finally able to convince her. :) Good job with the persistence. I can't wait to see updates on Tiff.