Monday, November 18, 2013

Hakuna Matata

He will only leave the barn if I have a cookie
I haven't written about the old man much lately. He's hanging out in his field, taking his time. He likes his life and trucks around with his buddies. I fuss with his blanket and his feed a little, but mostly I'm just letting him be.

Wednesday, his farrier came out for a trim. I was doing my usual "hold the end of the lead rope so I can watch exactly what he's doing and ask annoying questions". My farrier is used to be my now, so if it bothers him, he doesn't let on too much. As he worked away at Cuna's left front, I pointed to a slightly discolored spot in the sole. "Is that a bad thing?" I asked.

"No," he says. But then he points to the white line. "This is bad, though."

As he trims away the excess toe, he leaves behind a white line like I've never seen it before. It's almost an inch wide with blood in places. "You need to call your vet." As he and later the vet explained, the white line gets wider as the internal structures of the hoof start to pull away from the wall.

No more is it/isn't it flirting with laminitis. We're staring at it.

Cuna's been bilaterally uncomfortable up front. The next evening, I took him out to the arena/drylot area at the barn on the lunge line. His walk hasn't looked great to me, but maybe I'm just imagining things.

Nope. The old man was non-trotting. 

I patted his nose and told him the vet would be out tomorrow.

And then I pretty much fell apart. He's happy where he's at for the first time in ages. He likes his life. That means a lot to me. I've seen horses live in chronic pain and I absolutely refuse to do that to him. I love him too much to hang on to him when every day hurts.

Waiting for the vet
I got to the barn about a half hour before the vet. Cuna was even more uncomfortable than the day before. I curried and brushed him all over and combed through his mane and tail. I fed him cookies every time he looked at me and just appreciated what a giant red gentleman he is.

As much as I hate to be overly dramatic about emotions and life, I felt like everything inside me crunched when the vet's truck came around the corner.

He was as friendly as could be, and I explained the process Cuna and I are working through, from the weird stuff this spring to the horrid stuff in May to our current situation. He listened, watched, and dug around in Cuna's feet. I didn't have to tell him why the farrier said to call as he poked around at the white line in both fronts and dug an old abscess out of his sole.

We talked about our options. His first thought was to put shoes on Cuna, but the red man and shoes don't stay together long enough for that to make a difference. There's a reason he's barefoot now. Fortunately, that didn't phase him. He moved right along and told me to get Cuna some hoof boots, keep them as clean and dry as possible, put him on bute for the next week to get him more comfortable, and wait.

Trying hoof boots on for size
In his opinion, it looks like Cuna is growing out a lot of the crap we went through in May and we're just still dealing with the residual suck. The event line is pretty obvious on his hoof. He wants Cuna's trimming schedule to be a much shorter cycle, but just said that these things take time and we won't even know how far Cuna's going to come back until at minimum another six months.

We're not in the clear yet. I have to order the boots, since apparently no one stocks size 3s. Not even kidding. The old man horse has big feet.

Cuna hasn't given up and until he does, I'm on board. I've never willingly purchased or used hoof boots in my entire life, but I just ordered some with priority shipping and I can't wait for them to get here.

So... hoof boots anyone? Tell me it's unicorns and rainbows from here on out. 

PS I really want to win some cool saddle soap that I can't afford to buy after getting Cuna's hoof boots. Enter Amy's contest for it here!


  1. Hopefully the boots make Cuna more comfortable and he can go back to old man frolicking. I'm sure he'll let you know when he's ready, and it doesn't sound like he's even close to it yet!

  2. Ugh. I wondered what was going on with him. Poor pony and poor you. Hopefully the next 6 months will show great improvement. I have been using the cavallo sport boots on Roz for trail riding and I've been really impressed. They seem to work well for him. Hopefully your boots will be just what he needs!

  3. I'd recommend putting some pads in the boots to help comfort:

    Also, check out Fran Jurga's blog for a multitude of articles and posts on laminitis and the leaps and bounds we've come in recent times with dealing with it:

    Hopefully those resources will help guide you along. Best of luck!

  4. Also, worth perusing the easycare blog from Easy Boot team members on their website (linked above). Just googling "easyboot laminitis" will turn up several results that may help you along!

  5. Try these....really amazing. We had a mare who had laminitis for 15 years and these really helped her walk, especially when the ground was getting hard in the winter.

    I'm kind of shocked your farrier told you to call your vet though. A farrier is much better equipped to diagnose and deal with foot issues, including laminitis. My coach is also a farrier (was Big Bens farrier) and he said a reverse shoe is sometimes good for this sort of thing. You may want to explore that option.

    1. A good farrier knows when the vet should get involved. Laminitis is a symptom of something greater, not a disease. Mechanical laminitis can often be addressed by the farrier alone, but a farrier does not have the medical knowledge to diagnose a possible metabolic disorder causing the laminitis.

  6. *HUGS* he's just such a handsome devil, love that red face

  7. Diet diet diet.... what is he eating? Also, have you had bloodwork done on him? Fall is laminitis-season - ACTH levels rise and metabolic horses go over the edge, especially if something in the diet contributes to it. I'm seeing laminitic horses all over the place left and right, I saw one yesterday with rotting coffin bones poking out of both fronts - the mare foundered three or four autumns in a row before someone figured out it was Cushings. Not good!

  8. Sounds like you have a great vet a farrier and they will help you get through this! Keep you head up for Mr Cuna!

  9. Poor Cuna. Don't give up on him though. Laminitis is not a death sentence anymore. You do follow Kristen's blog right? Sweet Horse's Breath I'm sure she can answer all of your questions. She brought Laz back from much worse than what Cuna seems to be showing. Cuna can do it! He's strong!

  10. I've had really good luck with boots with Riley. I had to order two sizes because he grows hoof so quickly, but if Cuna is on a 4 week trim cycle you might not need to do that. We went with the cavallos which I REALLY like. Andrea would be a good person to talk to also.

  11. I agree with Andrea. I'd have him worked up for Cushings. He's at the classic age for it and this is the prime season for Cushings horses to become laminitic or founder as cortisol levels rise. The increased cortisol level is what helps them grow a winter coat. True Cuna doesn't have the typical long curly coat of a Cushings horse, but often laminitis in the fall is the first sign of the disease. Not all of them get the long coat first. Cushings CAN be managed long term and Cushings horses can be ridden again once on the correct dose of pergolide. But it needs to be diagnosed first. I'd talk to your vet about it, if he hasn't mentioned it already.

  12. I'd agree with blood tests, I just had a friend who insisted on testing find out her horse was positive and the only symptom was wacky feet crap.

    I am glad that it sounded like the vet was upbeat and had options!! As far as boots go, 5 people will tell you 7 things. My experiences as I messed with Solo and boots for several years, he still wears them:

    -The EasyCare website has great articles, tips and is REALLY helpful reading.

    -There ARE (just like helmets) different basic hoof shapes and different brands for those shapes.

    -Despite perfect fit, the EasyBoots (I had Epics) never worked for Solo. He forges no matter what you do and the Easy Boot basic design means for a forger, no amount of "tips and tricks" would keep those things on. However, they DID stay on his back feet as long as he didn't throw a giant tantrum and step on himself (pretty rare). I always used the velcro gaiters. However, that particular tread had NO traction in mud or wet grass.

    -Lots of people love Renegades, I have not tried them, too pricey for me and due to above Epics, I swore I was never fiddling with steel cables again (SUCKS!).

    -DO break in boots according to manufacturer recommendations. It can make a difference between rubs and no rubs.

    -Don't waste money on the Cavallo pastern wraps. Horrible design, three people (including myself) tried to use the things and they were instant utter failure, couldn't even get them to stay put to get the boots on in multiple sizes.

    -I now use the Cavallo Sports for Solo's front feet when we ride. LOVE. No turning, moving, never come off through sucking mud or water, drain holes, decent tread. We've ridden in the mountains with them, good traction. I can put both on in literally 45 seconds.

    -A cheap simple foam pad added inside makes it a comfy foot cloud. You can even make your own out of the hard panel foam insulation stuff, just cut to shape.

  13. Ugh -- sucks that Cuna's recovery isn't quite as far along as we all had hoped, but he's lucky to have an owner like yourself who hasn't set a time frame. Just keep hanging in there!

  14. Damn, but it sounds like you are doing ALL the right things for Cuna. Poor fella! We'll be keeping fingers crossed that he is indeed growing out the Bad Stuff. Have you considered the SoftRide boots? I'm not sure if those can be used for pasture wear or not but have heard good things about them... or, you can pad the ones you've already ordered as E79 suggests.

  15. Sounds like you've gotten some great advice already. I've never tried boots but I know several people that love them. I hope Cuna gets to feeling better soon.

  16. I Know tons of people are giving you great advice and links to follow. I'd like to throw my 2 cents in too. I have been using Soft Ride boots and love them! The are pretty pricey ($200) but are so very worth it. Check them out and good luck with your guy!

  17. I'm on board with the other posters about testing Cuna for Cushings. It's very common with older horses. My Toby had two bouts of laminitis. Now he's on Pergolide and so good.

    I've had trouble getting boots to fit my guys. I think Tucker's feet are custom or something. *lol* Hope it works out for Cuna. The boots should help.

  18. I haven't tried boots either, but did consider owning a set when Sam lost a shoe twice the first year, but hasn't since. Nothing feels worse then when your horse isn't 100%. :/

  19. Definitely agree with the bloodwork!
    I've had quite a bit of boot experience, and you really need to get out there at least every other day to take them off, clean them, and let them dry out; also, give Cuna's feet a chance to "breathe" a little bit. Lysol 4-in-1 cleanser diluted works very well (you can also use it on the hooves and it will NOT damage healthy hoof tissue), or chlorhexadine also works well. I like to use men's tube socks to prevent rubs, and I use Gold Bond medicated powder, or some kind of athlete's foot powder, in either the socks or the boots, to absorb moisture and cut down on "funk."
    Another GREAT thing for laminitic hooves is White Lightning soaks!
    If you haven't already, I would check out the Dr. Eleanor Kellon's Equine Cushings & Insulin Resistance group on Yahoo--they are THE experts when it comes to managing the Cushings/IR horse. Their emergency diet would be a GREAT idea for Cuna until you get bloodwork.
    Best of luck, and lots of jingles and good vibes for the Cuna-man!

  20. Poor pony. My fingers an toes are crossed for you two

  21. Best wishes. The bloodwork and diet checks were good advice.

  22. When you said "...dug an old abscess out of his sole" my spidey senses started tingling!
    If you haven't already and can - get x-rays of Cuna's feet. Max had some tissue from laminitis issues and old abscesses that were not growing out normally, which forced the hoof to grow around these "dead" pockets.
    The result was on-again/off-again unresolved lameness, and crumbling feet, without a clear diagnosis or remedy.
    After the x-ray identified the cause, he got trimmed super short, then the farrier drilled out the dead stuff based on the x-rays. Yes - drill, as in, "bore a cylindrical hole" into the affected areas of the hoof to remove the bad stuff. The vet and farrier were there at the same time to consult together on the issue.
    He was on stall rest for a while, then wore boots to go out, and was back in work after his next farrier visit (when he could wear shoes again).
    That nagging, limping, irregular soreness hasn't been back since, and his feet are much improved!
    Really hope it's something "easy" like that for Cuna.

  23. Sorry to hear Cuna is still painful and not progressing. I was wondering how he was doing earlier this week.

    Here is a second vote for soft ride boots. My laminitic gelding has been in his boots for going on 3 months. They have gel soles with frog support and help bear some weight on the back of the foot. They even stay on pretty well for turnout.

    It is interesting to hear how your vet has approached Cuna's Tx. My horse has been x-rayed every two to three weeks since his diagnosis with corresponding farrier visits.

    I dont know the clinical reasons for an enlarged white line, but bruising in the foot can be indicative of laminar tearing.

    I hope you are able to get Cuna's blood work done and perhaps some updated x-rays to see if his coffin bones have remained stable.
    I wonder, are his feet warm? What does the new growth look like at the coronary band?

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  24. "Cuna hasn't given up and until he does, I'm on board."

    I had promised my mare Mo that as long as she didn't give up, I wouldn't either. It was tough seeing the bad days when I knew she had good ones too. Hope Cuna pulls through this.


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