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We Are Flying Solo

October 13, 2011

X Is For Xray, eXpensive, and eXplode

The first is what Encore got, the second is what the credit card got, and the third is what my head did.

Hold on, back up....what?

Oh yes, my theory holds.  And by that I mean my theory is that if you have one horse, you will just have a lame horse and no spare; if you have two horses, you will just have two lame horses and no spare; three horses, yep, three lame horses and no get the picture.

I've been noticing that Encore has a bit of a bobble on his left front at the trot.  Not always, but I can see it and I can feel it, especially on the longe.  Well, he's an underweight, undermuscled, crooked ex-racehorse with bare feet in recovery who flexed clean so it was hard to say it was a true lameness.  But last night, it was a definite, though slight limp (insert head explosion here) and I decided to take him to visit Dr. Bob (or rather Dr. Brian, the sidekick of the very busy Dr. Bob when you call last minute) this morning.

Of course, by the time I parked my truck in my driveway yesterday evening, I was already sure that he had ringbone and would either (a) never jump again or (b) snap off his leg and die. Cue Anxiety Girl.

We flexed again and we shot a couple radiographs and then we tucked Anxiety Girl back into her bed:

(1) Despite my diligent, yet sporadic application of Durasole, the sole on his left front was soft enough that you could see it flex beneath the pressure of Dr. Brian's fingers. Owie, so not comfortable. You're getting front shoes, my boy!

(2) I wanted a lateral view of each front ankle and foot anyway -- the rads are such a powerful tool for understanding what exactly you are dealing with mechanically. Both fronts were remarkably clean. There are a couple of osselets on the right front that are old and set and a small P1 bone spur on the left, also old and set, no problem. Otherwise, P1/P2/P3/navicular bone have clean joint spaces and nice edges, yay!

(3) I would never guess it from looking at his feet from the outside, but Encore has a TON of toe which needs to be lopped off. Said lopping will hopefully go along way towards correcting...

(4) P1/P2/P3 should line up on a nice straight axis. They don't -- each has its own angle in there (can we say cattywompus?!). The rear end of his coffin bone sits too high and things are jammed up. By slowly changing the hoof angle, we can realign this whole support structure to avoid problems in the future (cattywompus = bad).

All in all -- fixable. No ringbone, no legs snapping off. We will put our lovely farrier to work and hopefully go on about our business. And may farriers who don't pay attention to bone angles find their underpants invaded by fire ants -- no one likes to fix your messes!


  1. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their armpit hair for eternity, as my chemistry teacher back in high school used to say.

    Glad it's nothing that's unfixable!

  2. Any proffessional should see clearly that that horse's toe is too long. You can see from the outside the angles are not right!!

    Can you please post the xrays, I would love to see!!

    Not sure what a farrier can do about thin soles with shoes on (cause the shoes disengage the sole out of it's weight bearing role and it doesn't build up without ground contact) but make sure you ask him, otherwise it may never improve. He might be able to put pads in to simulate ground contact with pressure and release? Maybe. Paper thin soles = ouchy!! Glad it is an easy fix though. Lucky Encore, lucky credit card and lucky you!!

  3. Also, don't forget that hoof boots are a good alternative to shoes and that they are perfect for protecting AND building up thin soles with a bunch of different changeable pads available. Depends on whether you want to/have the time to stuff around putting boots on for each ride. The Easyboot Trails are the easiest boots to put on that I have found. :)

  4. Phew... close one! And I so love Anxiety Girl... I believe I know her all tooo well!

  5. So gland axiety girl got put to bed. I'll tell you I made about a 1 week attempt at Steady being barefoot after him coming off the track, before he was obviously lame. He has been off the track for a year and a half now and his farrier FINALLY said today that his hooves appear to be getting stronger. He is shoed, front only, in moderate to heavy work and barefoot all winter to hopefully help strengthen his hooves. Who knows maybe next year they will be strong enough for mild to moderate work barefoot. I just don't see him being able to be a barefoot eventer. One reason is his hoof strength the other being that he is so easily off balance when he is the slightest bit out of shape that I see shoes as a permanent in his life. My long and lanky TB just can't handle barefootedness.

  6. Did you draw Anxiety Girl yourself? She is perfect. I usually pass a cop while going the speed limit and immediately think "OMG I AM GOING TO PRISOOOON" for no rational reason whatsoever.

    So glad Encore is doing well.

  7. Whew, you had me scared there! Glad it's something you can work on and that his rads looked good. Those blasted race horse trainers and their love of long toes... I just don't get it.

  8. Lisa -- I don't have the xrays, sorry! I have been using hoof boots on his front feet for most of his work since I got him, I have some Easyboot Epics of Solo's that fit him well and I find them relatively easy to use, I'm used to them. However, they have crappy traction when it's wet at all and I think we can tailor his angles and breakover a bit better with a shoe (can't change the shape of the boot). The shoes will allow us to keep in work -- our setup at the farm is not conducive to hardcore barefoot management. I fought that battle for a year and half with Solo and never won it, I haven't the energy to try it again!

    His soles are actually not that thin according the xrays, the depth is decent. The durasole did work -- until he shed the sole layer that I had hardened up and the one underneath was too spongy.

    Right now, I need to get him fit and healthy, so I need him to be comfortable on his feet, which is my priority. Easiest way for us to do that at the present time is probably front shoes, given the wide variety of conditions we ride in. We have a good farrier and between him and the vet, we'll come up with a "best plan" to keep the boy happy and in work.

  9. SB -- no, I cannot claim Anxiety Girl, I stole her from the interwebz. I'd love to give the artist credit, but I haven't been able to track down who drew it. I hope they don't hate me for using their awesome artwork, I love it so.

  10. Fair enough! :)

    I'm interested to know how you go, please keep us updated!

  11. I definitely will -- and I hope you know I always appreciate comments and feedback. There are many paths to the goal in horse-land and there's nothing I like more than learning as much as I can about each of them.

  12. I was trying to think of a nice way to say the exact same thing! :D I know you appreciate it, that is what I like about this blog, you are so open and honest and just have your horses best interests at heart.

  13. If you don't mind, I'd love to hear what markers you see to indicate bones out of alignment. I can see some of the extra toe in Encore's foot picture if I really stare at it. However, he has had a trim since that picture, so it's a little shorter now. That picture was taken before any real trim work had been done on him. He's also got a stress ring growing out from when he came off the track and crashed last Dec, that's about to the bottom of his foot now and ready to come off soon.

    Hooves do amaze me and boggle my mind with their changiness (that's my new word). They are fascinating and I read everything I can about them. There are soooo many lines of thought though, that sometimes my eyes just bug out and I have to step back, LOL!

    I work really hard to try to make choices that are best for my horses -- at the same time, I recognize that there are some compromises (that's not the best word, but it will work) to keep them rideable as much as I can. While maybe it would be best in an ideal world to keep them barefoot and micromanage to make it work, I would not do much riding that way given our conditions and the horses I have, so I do my best to let their feet tell me what they need in order to do the job at hand.

    I love having them barefoot (in fact, I've just pulled Solo's hind shoes, poor wussy footed thing, since he's not really working) and would be thrilled to keep them that way. But I also don't want to spend every ride staring critically at every chunk of gravel which might bruise feet right before a horse trial. So...juggling 400 variables and trying to make the best choice to keep any of them from hitting the ground, ROFL!

  14. Ok, I drew a couple of lines on your picture to show what I see.


    The line on the very right and in the middle show the angle of P3 (which you get from the angle of the tight hoof wall growning straight out of the coronary band. You can feel the flare away from this angle with your fingers if you run them slowly down the hoof wall). The top line shows the angle of the pastern (very roughly done at work as I am trying to rush so my boss doesn't see!).

    It shows a broken forward line - the pastern angle and the angle of P3 (which should match the hoof wall but often doesn't due to flare etc)don't match. Bringing breakover back and encouraging heel first landings will eventually get this line to be straight. Sounds like that is the goal with your farrier.

    Is that what the vet saw on the xrays? Would like to know if I am right or wrong. :)

  15. Ah, ok, I see, thanks! Let me see if I can remember what I saw on the rads --

    P1, P2, and P3 all have different angles in Encore's leg, so even the line from fetlock to coronet is not truly a straight line. The posterior end of P3 is sitting a bit too high, so P2 and P1 are not lined up. P3 did not show founder-like rotation though.

    I should have taken a pic of the xrays, maybe next time I go in I can. I'm going to try to remember to take some more foot piccies tonight. Farrier has to go by vet's office today or early next week to check it all out before we do any work.

  16. my ex racer had really soft and awful feet when I got him. We started painting his feet with iodine after he got his feet trimmed and I haven't had any problems since.

  17. Amen!!! Feet x-rays are worth their weight in gold.

  18. Definitely! I wish I had endless money so I could shoot them all!

  19. Phew, glad to hear all is well and fixable!

  20. Hey! sorry for the comment on the old post, but Anxiety Girl is the work of one of my favorite webcartoonists, Natalie Dee. She's got loads of other stuff that's hilarious as well :)

    Hope Encore's trials went well!

  21. Oh, cool, thank you for the info, Erica!! I am going to go check out her site!