Friday, September 30, 2011

spiders and "spring" cleaning

The past week or so, I've been bitten by the cleaning and organization bug.  This bug usually hits about twice a year, and it makes me go into a cleaning and organizing frenzy.  Most of the year, I'm a semi-organized person.  I have a method to my madness, and can always find what I need, even though it may not look the neatest or cleanest.  (Except for my closet.  That's my designated black hole that gets a thorough gutting out about once a year, when I get sick of the mess and fear I'm risking my life just by trying to enter it.)

This time, the bug was directed at two locations: the corner of the garage that serves as a "tack room" of sorts, and my corner of the tack room down at the barn.  For years, I used my horse trailer as a rolling storage closet.  It was easier, kept everything close at hand, and I usually worked out of the trailer more than I did the barn.  With the departure of the trailer this spring, I had to pull everything out and find a home for it.  Needless to say, there was a complete lack of enthusiasm for this task, so everything got shoved willy-nilly wherever it fit.

Last weekend, I tackled the garage.  Pulled everything out, sorted it into piles, rewrapped leg wraps (how many sets of leg wraps does one person need???), threw tons of stuff out (Anyone wanna know what 4+ year-old  EasyFoam looks like?  Not pretty...and I had four or five packs of the stuff floating around.  Don't miss those messy days.), and rediscovered stuff I thought had vanished into the ether, including a pair of Equipedic splint boots, which Mimi and I are in the process of thoroughly testing.  But I digress.  I'll talk about the splint boots later.

It was an all-day project (18 years of being in horses means I have a ton of stuff), but at the end of the day, I had an organized garage, with stuff stored in crates and stacked neatly on shelves.

Yesterday, I tackled the barn tack room.  Again, stuff had gotten shoved haphazardly into the corner and dutifully ignored for the past four months.  And something I forgot to mention: The tack room is the preferred location for overly-enthusiastic, fast-reproducing black widows (and other toxic AZ spiders of note).  For those of the spider-leery inclination, I very intentionally did not take pictures.  Six years of being at this barn has me mostly immune to the sight of the black widows anymore.

Still...yesterday was an exercise in caution, gingerly picking buckets up, using a long sweat scraper to get rid of the worst of the webs, and stomping on spiders as they scuttled back to sanctuary.  They really like to lurk under the edges of buckets and containers, which was the impetus for this cleaning binge...I had chased a few spiders (black widows and non-toxic) out of the crevices of my HoofJack and from the recesses of the box where I store my trimming equipment.  Sooner or later, one was going to discover the inside of my rasping gloves...

So the goal was to make enough room inside the cabinet (complete with bug-deterring closing doors) to store my trimming stuff.  And get rid of a few dozen bottles of old meds, shampoos, and the like.  I did it.  Everything I have down at the barn now fits inside a four-shelf cabinet and my tack trunk.  And I don't have to pick sticky-clingy spider webs off my stuff anymore.

And that was on the heels of managing a whole hour and half of very active riding yesterday.  45 minutes of intense arena work, half of which I made myself do without stirrups (my thighs and I are not on speaking terms today), then another 45 minutes of meandering out around the neighborhood. much as Mimi ever meanders.  She had to be peddled out to start, but once we got halfway around, she was much more willing to move out.  The faster we go, the happier she is...everything is going to eat her when we're quietly walking along, but once we're trotting, we rule the world.  *eye roll*  I love that goofy pony.

And on a totally different's Man Against Horse weekend, and for the first time in six years, I'm not up there.  Definitely bummed about missing it...I love being up there, even if I'm not riding, but my vehicle had the final say in matters, what with developing a slow but persistent oil-and-other-fluids leak. 195,000 miles...I guess I can cut her a break.  But a road trip didn't seem like the best of ideas, either.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pony Feet

This month marks seven years that Mimi has been barefoot.  Yep, we were part of the barefoot thing before the barefoot craze really hit.  Long story short, she had really crappy feet, with a history of lameness and a near-miss with laminitis.  I figured I didn't have much to lose, besides my sanity.  And even that was already questionable.

Despite the expansion of my vocabulary (hoof boots...they bring out the colorful in all of us), it's a move I have not regretted.  My only regret is not doing a better job of tracking the changes in her hooves over the years.  I look back at early ride pictures, and before that, to our show ring days, and cringe at the bean cans that appear to be strapped to my pony's legs.  It's hard to believe they're the same hooves.

I noticed the biggest changes when I took over doing our trimming just over two years ago.  I had a lot of help and guidance along the way, but I'm largely a learn-by-watching-and-then-doing educated "trimmer."  I couch that in quotes only because I'm not doing this professionally, and I won't trim other people's horses.  I'm competent at trimming my pony because I know her feet and I know what works for her.  So don't take what I'm doing as gospel.  I trim largely based on how I was taught, and then go off of what "feels" right.  I can't explain it better than that, only that I just know what feels right, and I have to say, it seems to be working.  Only one occasion of soreness, thanks to  a very aggressive heel trim.  (Note: Do not take off four weeks' worth of heel growth in one trim.  Just don't.)

So yesterday, I actually managed to get pictures.  I've spent a lot of time working on my trimming skills, and less on my photo skills.  It's really hard to juggle a camera, a hoof, and a fidgety pony, all in crappy barn lighting.  So the photos aren't the best quality.  But at least I finally have photos, and it's my goal to take pictures of her feet, starting now, on a monthly basis.

Despite not riding much this summer, I've been diligent about trimming her feet.  She gets trimmed about every 2-3 weeks.  She's in turnout about 12 hours a day in a three-acre pasture (by "pasture" I mean mostly dirt lot with the barest whiff of grass growing...11 horses in one space does a number on growing things) with an attached sand arena.  Those 11 horses keep each other moving all day/night long.  So she still gets a lot of walking exercise, which contributes to continued hoof growth.

However, the ground isn't abrasive enough where she's at to really do much for self-trimming.  It keeps her walls under control, but there's not much loose sandy stuff to get in and scrub out her soles/bars, or keep her toes/heels in check.  Which is where I come in.  In typical pony fashion, she grows a lot of heel.  I'm constantly having to nip off 1/4" or so of heel with every trim.  She grows a moderate amount of toe, but nothing that can't be taken care of with a pass of the nippers.

So now, I give you photos, with attached commentary along the way.  Again...this is just what I do and what seems to be working for me.  I'm not an expert, and always have something to learn, so gratefully accept any input someone might have.  It's an ever-changing field with endless possibilities for knowledge expansion.  Which is part of the fun.

Front hooves.  Should have taken the "after" photos from the side side.  Her RF is pretty good.  Her LF is her "bad" hoof.  When I trim, I start at the RF and move around her in a circle, finishing with the LF.  Consequently, I'm tired by the time I get to that last hoof, and it doesn't get as much attention paid to it.  Compounding matters is the fact I am right-handed, and have a hard time rasping the inside of the RF.  As a result, her heels have become imbalanced on that hoof.

So this time, I started with that RF hoof and put my energy into fixing it.  Result: harder to tell from the angle I took the "after" shot, but it looks much better.  Another trim should have those heels balanced again.  It was bad enough I wasn't comfortable taking off that much heel in one go to rebalance it then and there.

I finally got all the flare from her front hooves under control...the toes are finally short enough and she's not growing out any funky growth/stress rings at the moment.

Hings.  Toes are pretty good.  Heels are a little high.  The scooped-out quarter on her LH is through no deliberate act of mine...she blew out that chunk of wall several weeks ago, and I've just done my best to smooth that section.

Right Front.  Has some excess wall around the toe.  Heels are high.  After: White line is actually tighter in person than it looks here.  It'll never be 100%, due to the stall environment she lives in...she can't help but trod through urine on a regular basis.  The joys of's something I have no control over at this point.  There are always sacrifices and trade-offs to be made...I put up with a lot because of the fabulous turnout.  Space and that amount of turnout time are at a premium and hard to find.

I hate her bars.  It's pretty much a non-stop challenge for me to keep her bars under control.  They grow fast and prolific, so it's a constant battle to keep them from laying over and getting "stuff" under them.  Also, her feet are small enough that everything is sort of crammed in there...not much space to work around in there, so differentiating between bar and sole gets a bit interesting at times.

Right Hind.  Took off the excess wall and the heels.  Her hind feet always look pretty good.  I'm thrilled with her frogs...I can't believe how much they've spread out.

Right Hind.  More of the same.  Had some weird bar growth on the right side that I scraped away.  Rasped that blow-out quarter so it was smooth.

Right Front.  The "bad" foot.  You can see how much higher the inner heel is.  This was also the hoof she had an abscess in last year...exactly a year ago.  It's still growing out a little strange from where it blew out right at her coronet band on the outside heel.  (Why can't my horse be normal and blow out her abscess through her sole?)  I don't like how deep her frog clefts are on her front hooves, especially this one.  I suspect there might be a bit of thrush at work, although she's not sore/tender at all.  Nevertheless, I squirted some pure tea tree oil down in there.  Had to do some scraping away at the bars, especially on the right side.  I managed to get the heels a little more even, but there's still work to be done.

I should have taken shots from the front as well to check for side time.