I am blown away by the difference in Chrome's hooves in just seven weeks! With only five weeks of rehab (started on September 1st). Wow! This is just shy of eight weeks since his founder scare on August 12th. I apologize that the picture on the left is slightly off center and that the flash went off in the picture on the right (his collateral grooves are a lot deeper than they appear so he has great sole depth). You can still see the huge difference in his hooves, especially his frog and the contraction of his heels!
In case you missed my earlier post a quick recap is that on 8/12 the vet diagnosed and treated Chrome for founder. On 8/16 he blew a huge (an inch wide) abscess and walked off sound. On 8/17 I contacted a master trimmer that has been advising me over the phone and email how to trim Chrome's hooves and treat his seedy toe (he lives in a different state). On 9/1 I trimmed him for the first time on the advice of the trimmer (there was a delay because I sprained an ankle which hurt my back), so I consider that the start of his rehab.
His rehab has consisted of the following:
- Removed him from the largest portion of the grass (he still has some because I don't have a dry lot).
- Fenced off the pond so he can no longer get into it (pretty sure the constant wet/dry and mud caused his hoof infections).
- Soaked with Oxine (off brand of White Lightning) approximately 1-2 times a week for seedy toe and thrush.
- Trimmed a little at a time based on the instruction of the trimmer. Trimming a little at a time let's him get used to the new angles and keeps me from getting overwhelmed as I learn. Also if I do something wrong by mistake it prevents it from being catastrophic (I haven't so far, but it's always a possibility). The trim is what got him landing heel first after years of landing toe first, which allowed his frog to be stimulated which strengthens the rear supporting structures of his hooves.
- Exercise. Once he was landing heel first I started hand walking him daily. I started at ten minutes a day because of his weak stifles and we slowly worked up to 40 minutes of walking a day with a couple of trots in hand on soft ground. We walk two to three times a week on the asphalt roads to stimulate hoof growth and help self trim between my trims. The rest of the time we walk on grass or dirt. I try to walk him on as varied terrain as a I can find in my limited selection (slight slopes, tiny loose gravel, over limbs, etc.) to strengthen his hooves and teach him better proprioception.
I am SO excited with his progress! I'm glad I decided to pull up his old pictures to compare them because I was actually thinking just today that he wasn't making much progress. It's crazy how blind you are to change when you see something every day. I know his hooves are far from perfect, but he is already growing down a new hoof capsule. In four to six months he will have a brand new hoof that will be less elongated and better attached with no white line stretching. It's a very exciting process to witness.
If you're interested in learning more about healthy hooves and barefoot rehab (I know he's never had shoes, but even barefoot horses can get contracted heels and toe first landings if they have infections or long heels that prevent frog stimulation) be sure to check out the Rockley Farm blog (http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/). I've learned so much from her and it's been an amazing resource to have during all of this. I've never actually contacted her, but I've heard she is super helpful by email if you don't live near enough to send your horse there (they live in Exmoor so I'm definitely not close enough).
Going forward I'm going to continue his exercise, but I'm also going to look more closely at his diet. I already have him on a ration balancer with low sugar, but due to our mineral content in our grass and hay it may not be as good for him as I thought (we have way too much iron and it has iron in it). I'm still studying and working out a new ration for him, but I'll update you on it when I can. I have to send off samples of the new hay crop. I am getting a lot of my nutrition information from Rockley Farm (LOVE her book Feet First/highly recommend it/her blog linked above) and also from Pete Ramey (http://www.hoofrehab.com/) which is where my master trimmer trained.
Let me know what you think of Chrome's progress so far and if you have any good resources for equine diets and mineral balance. Thanks guys!!
P.S. The only thing I'm upset about is that I let Chrome get as bad as he did because of pure ignorance and fear of taking things into my own hands instead of depending on other people. I'm not going to beat myself up though. He has already made huge progress and at this rate it shouldn't be long before most of the damage is healed. Horses are incredible creatures and more resilient than we give them credit for (except of course they love trying to kill themselves to give us heart attacks.......) most of the time. I'm forever grateful to the people who helped me through the most terrifying thing I've experienced with Chrome (the founder scare) in the ten years we've been together. I'm going to stay positive and look forward instead of dwelling on the past and the "couldn't, should've, would've" mentality I sometimes get trapped in. Chrome for sure isn't blaming me and is back to his happy, silly self and that I am also grateful for. Go hug your horses people!!