|Because this was expensive|
And then things like the last few days happen. I swear, it's like getting a whole new college education while never leaving the barn.
Farrier Work 101
Cuna's feet have been a mess since I first met him. Since he is now officially mine (yay being more poor!), I finally got to go with a farrier I had a little more faith in. I called him kind of last minute, but after I assured him Cuna was easy and all, he agreed to come out.
He looked at Cuna's feet. He mumbled. He looked at Cuna's feet again. He mumbled a strong of four letter words. Finally, he looked at me and said, "You should ask the last guy what the h*ll you were paying for."
He explained that Cuna's frog was fusing with his sole. He pulled his shoes and pointed out that his hoof wall thickness, especially in the front feet, was completely uneven. At the front of his front hooves, he had less than an 1/8" of hoof wall. His frog was overgrown and folded over and despite the bone-dry weather we've had for the past... months, there was decay in the frog because it could never be cleaned or dry out.
We went over and looked at another horse he does in the barn, and he explained more what the bottom of a hoof should look like--a foot, instead of weird lumpiness. We talked about the balance of the hoof a little bit and how Cuna is growing unevenly.
By the end, he and I made a plan to try and rehab Cuna's feet to a point where the heels can decontract and the hoof wall can grow and they can return to a much better balance. Whew.
Farrier Work 201
Our BO (who I like a lot) was a vet tech for many years and has lots of useful knowledge to share. As we discussed Cuna's shoe job, she explained to me how to see balance in a hoof. Start by looked straight at the hoof from the front. The hair line should be parallel to the ground. A line dropped through the center of the fetlock should bisect the hoof.
From the bottom, the heels, quarters, and toe should be equally divided. It is important to look at the hoot in a natural position underneath the horse, not step to the outside for an easier view. It is more stable for you, but it stresses the horse's joints and shows the hoof at an odd angle. Trimming in this position frequently contributes to off-balance hooves because the farrier isn't seeing the horse's hoof as it is used.
When watching the horse walk on a hard surface, it should move heel-toe-midsection-breakover. Any deviation should be noted.
Hoof supplements need to contain biotin, copper, and methionine. These supplements can be fed in crazy high doses because they don't build up in the liver, but are instead dispersed in the urine. Thus, the horse can get as much as possible out of them without causing any residual damage.
|Yes, he's been worked on|
He feels his way along the spine of the horse, looking for electrical problems. Instead of trying to manipulate with force any joints or muscles that are "out", he focuses on gentle motion interacting with the nervous system to in essence, tell the nerves to reboot themselves. After all, muscles just do as they're told.
He points out that when we interact with horses, 90% of what we do hopefully doesn't harm them, while 10% might actually help. He's always refining his methods to try and keep reducing down to just that 10%.
The most important issues with horses is symmetry, which the human eye is naturally drawn to. In order to detect lameness or tightness, watch the entire horse with a soft eye and see what isn't symmetrical.
As we watched one horse walk by, I noted that it moved it's right hind quicker. He looked at me and asked, "Is it that, or is the left hind slower?"
Sometimes pain manifests as a muscles being held high and tight. Sometimes it's lower. The presentation can be unique to the horse, so it is critical to be in tune with the animal and deal with the entire horse, not just one sore spot.
And we capped the morning off with a lesson. Cuna felt amazing after getting his new shoes. Seriously. The last time I felt this much difference was when I first started riding him after his hock injections. Regardless, we we in for a fun time today.
I'm not really to the point in my riding that I need to jump angles, but because Cuna is a rockstar, I get to anyways. We talked about how the reason we jump perpendicular to the face of jumps is because of our depth perception. We see one take off point and so does the horse. Jumping at an angle can be dangerous because it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and altars our depth perception.
The jump on the right is being jumped at an angle. The blue line is still the jump, but the rider must visualize the yellow line to keep the takeoff spot consistent. Otherwise, the horse's legs (especially hind) may be too far apart and therein lies the danger.
It's kind of a trippy thing to visualize, and it's difficult to ride when your horse is leaning left and you pull on him, which disengages the hind end. Oops. We got ourselves sorted out and he was brilliant, though.
I may be poor and and constantly behind, but this kind of education is worth every minute. While I enjoy riding, this holistic focus on the entire spectrum of hose care makes me so much more confident and informed as an owner. There's really no comparison.
PS Sorry for the lack of pictures... I'll insert a gratuitous cute Cuna photo to make this post more palatable to the average reader. In fact, I'll sprinkle several throughout the post. You're welcome. ;)