Saturday, October 5, 2019

Hooves are amazing!! Update on Chrome's rehab.

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:

  1. Removed him from the largest portion of the grass (he still has some because I don't have a dry lot).
  2. Fenced off the pond so he can no longer get into it (pretty sure the constant wet/dry and mud caused his hoof infections).
  3. Soaked with Oxine (off brand of White Lightning) approximately 1-2 times a week for seedy toe and thrush.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 (  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 ( 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!!

Monday, September 30, 2019


I'm going to keep trying to post updates on the blog about Chrome and his rehab, but they still may be sporadic because of my schedule. I have really been enjoying posting to Instagram and I'm planning to post to it regularly so you might want to follow me over there @chromechevalier to see more regular updates.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Chrome's first time in Vienna reins!

Before we get started I have two things to address.  One, please don't laugh at my baling twine Vienna reins.  I'm going to order real ones, but I'm on a tight budget right now because of the emergency vet bills.  I also wanted to see how he would do with them before I spent the money on a set.  Second, sorry for the quality of the photos.  They are screenshots from video.  I don't have time to process and upload the video right now so I just grabbed some screenshots for you.

Okay, next I'm going to update all of you on what we've been doing since the founder scare.  I'm still working with the master trimmer to get his feet healthy and he is finally landing heel first!!!  I'm so excited because that is something that has bothered me most of his life.  I was beginning to think it was a conformation issue that caused him to land toe first.  Oh how I wish I had known all of this years ago.  I could have saved him so much discomfort and wear and tear on his body.

The main two things I've done to get him landing heel first (diet is always first and foremost, but I've always been careful with his diet aside from grass which he is restricted from now) is backing up his toes to improve his break over and soaking them weekly in Oxine (off brand of White Lightning).  He obviously won't always have to be soaked that frequently, but until I get the seedy toe grown out and his white line tight I will keep doing it.  It can take a year to grow a new hoof capsule so this is a slow journey!!  I'm in it for the long haul, so I don't mind.  I'm just so happy I finally know what I need to know to get him rehabbed.  

For the last two weeks I've been hand walking him everyday.  I'm walking him two days a week on the asphalt roads and the rest of the days in the pasture.  I'm not longeing him because of his stifles.  I'm hand walking him, but I'm making sure he's walking out and not dragging along like a lazy slug.  His walk has improved SO much in the last two weeks!!  He used to chronically short stride in his front legs and now he's reaching forward freely (because of the corrected break over).  I slowly worked him up to twenty minutes a day of hand walking up and down a slight incline in the pasture.

Over the years of being a pasture ornament and having an incorrect break over on his hooves he has lost all of his top line and is even getting a ewe neck!  Ugh!!  So in an effort to start very slowly correcting that (yes I know it can take two years) I decided to try him in Vienna reins.  Today I longed him in them for five minutes on each side, just so he could learn how they work, but from now on I'll just be hand walking him in them.  When I'm hand walking him I'm sort of facing him with my upper body as if I were longeing, but we're going in straight lines to protect his stifles.  I'll try to get video or pictures some time to show you what I mean.

I put them on really loose at first, but he wasn't making any contact with them and was walking with his ears in the clouds, so I tightened them up a bit.  It took him some time to figure out how to relieve the pressure, but eventually he started stretching down.  He was lacking impulsion because he was distracted by this new, weird thing, but it will improve once he relaxes.  He was just confused at first.  He really started stretching down in the end and his stride lengthened and got more relaxed.  I know we have a long way to go, but I'm pleased with how his first session went.

Chrome thought it was hard work and even sweated under the surcingle even though it was only 88F today.  It felt amazing outside!  Definitely a nice pretty day to try something new.

Once he has more impulsion from behind he will start to round his back better, but he's very weak right now so I'm not pushing him too hard.  It is a long, slow process to build the correct muscles, especially with weak stifles.  I'm also doing other in hand exercises like massage, backing up with his neck down and relaxed, pelvic tilts, lateral flexion and tail pulls.  Just stuff to slowly loosen him up and strengthen his body.

In the above picture you can see how his reach in the front is improving.  No more short stepping!

Oops these are out of order, this one should be before the one above it.

The reason the angle is weird is because my hubby was taking the video while standing behind my whip hand, so he's not at the girth line where I was.  Makes for some awkward photos, but you can see how well Chrome's figuring it out.

Reaching under with his hind legs better too.  The reach and impulsion will get better as his stifles and back get stronger.

He had one minor freak out where he started going backward and fighting the reins, but I told him to whoa and he did.  I calmed him and we went right back to work.  I didn't get as many photos going the other direction because hubby forgot to start filming.  He only filmed about two minutes going to the right.  The weird thing is Chrome's stiffer on the right side, but I think he actually did better.  Maybe because he was just finally figuring out what I wanted.  His shoulder was falling in on this side and his head wanted to turn to the outside, but with the longe line and whip I was able to push his shoulder out.  That may be why he improved because it was like applying the inside leg, outside rein.  We are SO out of practice with longeing since I generally try to avoid it because of his stifles, that I'm actually really happy with how well we both picked it back up.

 That reach with his hind leg!  Love it!
I know some horses reach all the way to their girth, but I'll celebrate the baby steps!

Even when his head came up (above pictures) you could see he was giving to the pressure instead of fighting it.  I don't want him learning to go behind the vertical though, which is why I will loosen them up now that he knows what I'm asking.

Such a good boy!  I ended the longeing session on a nice downward stretch.  We finished his last ten minutes of hand walking moving around the pasture in straight lines.  Hubby didn't get any video of that (he was busy building something and I interrupted him, so he was impatient to get back to it).  He did really well and was relaxing a lot more with our familiar routine of hand walking (longeing is not familiar for us!).  I didn't take him up and down the incline we normally work on because he needs to build strength on flat ground before I ask him to do that with his head down.  Pushing uphill with his rear end is what will strengthen his stifles, but I have to be very careful not to overdo it.

I'm really proud of how well Chrome has done during the last month or so of rehab we've been doing.  I'm so excited that he's landing heel first and we're able to work in hand again.  His feet will improve the more miles I can put on him, but I have to take it slow because of his stifles.  As they get stronger we will be able to do more.  For now everything is in walk only.  I've asked him to trot a few times just to see that he's sound, but I don't want to stress his stifles with too many circles and I can't keep up with him on straight lines at the trot.  We might have to start ground driving again... eventually.

I'm not looking forward to the cold, rain and mud of winter, but I'm going to keep working him every day that it's not raining when I get off work and I'll update you guys on the weekends when I have daylight to get pictures.  I hope you all are doing well and I want to thank Chrome's loyal fans who have stuck around during our long absence.  Fortunately the over time at work has been cut back drastically which I'm very thankful for so that I can rehab Chrome and give him the exercise he needs and deserves.  I'll update again soon!