Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I CANNOT Believe...

...the difference ONE TRIM can make in a horse.

WARNING: VERY roundabout post ahead!

For those of you who have been following me for more of an extended period of time, you'll recall that Crest has had some very annoying, border-line serious bio-mechanical issues going on in his body that were caused by a nasty accident we had a couple years ago. Results of these issues are things like a block in his ribcage on the right, a stiff stifle on his right, and a tight hip on his right.

About a year ago, after viewing some of our issues, Linda saw how largely Crest's uneven body played a role in his reactions, and suggested that maybe I look into having him shod using Jim Crew's method, a method that focuses largely on lateral balance and causing the horse's body to be symmetrical through shimming and padding of shoes. Instead of jumping on the shoes (I won't even get into that), I decided I wanted to do some research on bio-mechanics to better understand what was or wasn't happening in my horse's body. Since, I've done about a 180 in knowledge on the subject, and have developed a pretty keen eye for it.

Anyway, for the past 6 years (the first 4, inadvertently), I've been playing with Natural Barefoot trimming. I say the first 4 years inadvertently simply because I just trimmed by what looked like needed trimming, and hoped it worked. For the past two years, I've been seriously researching and playing with methods, most effectively being that of Pete Ramey, and more recently, KC La Pierre. I'd put some of these trims to the test on Crest. A lot of times, I'd see a little effect, but nothing dramatic or helpful, and it would gradually go away over the course of the next trim cycle.

Now, obviously I just got done spending 2 weeks with Farrah, who is also very interested and playing with Natural Barefoot. This time around, I needed to do Prin's feet, anyway, and so asked if Farrah would be interested in watching and giving me some feedback. A long story short, Farrah had been investigating La Pierre's stuff, introduced me to it, and we did his HPT (High Performance Trim) on her this time. The results were PHENOMENAL. We discussed it afterward, and she gave me her thoughts on Crest's feet, as well, and what might help him, too.

The high performance trim is based upon the principle of lateral balance, and subtle changes in the angles and planes of the hoof. Most of the trim is done on the file side (the fine-toothed side) of the rasp. It's all in the subtle changes, and overall balancing. I won't go into the serious details here, but let's just say the subtleties were just what Crest's feet needed.

I started out on his back feet, picked them up, cleaned them out, and now knowing what I know, realized just how unbalanced his feet were. He had worn the insides of his feet down, but the outsides were high. The hoof wall was worn practically to the white line on the inside, and was nearly 1/2 an inch thick on the outside. The plane of his hoof was literally tilted inward. There were thick, angular flares on his heels and quarters on the outsides, and the insides were practically vertical. did I miss that?! I should mention, this was all developed since last trim, done sometime in March.

I immediately set to work. Please note that these are not in order, nor are they the correct order of steps in the HPT, I'm just listing what I found. I exfoliated the frog, trimmed it back, and found a ton of bruising. Yikes. I exfoliated the sole. Same thing. Yikes again. I took his bars back, (That was a CHORE!). I took a great deal of time balancing the wall to itself (Heels to themselves, heels to quarters, heels to toe, etc), and made sure it was all even. I took his outer wall back so it was relatively uniform. I used a guillotine stroke to address the outer wall flare, and then rolled only slightly.

After I finished, I only had a short time to play before I had to leave for a meeting. I had a great deal I wanted to examine and observe--I wanted to see how Crest stood, how he tracked at the walk and trot, if he could pick up his bad lead (right) at the canter without cross-firing, if he could do a flying change without a slip in the back. Wow...okay. First thing I did was tie him so I could go get my 45' line. He stood quietly...and square...Wait...square?! Yes. Crest's hind legs were solidly under him, and he stood evenly. Wow...there's a change. I grabbed my 45' line and snapped him up. I yo-yo'd him back, and sent him out on a circle at a medium trot.

Not that Crest has ever had a problem tracking up (he's got a pretty big stride), but the track in his trot was unbelievable. He was actually OVER-TRACKING in his medium trot, and all with his head low and using his back! Usually when he gets moving, his back hollows and head comes up. Next, I asked him to canter out on his tough lead...and...IMMEDIATELY he got it. There was no hesitation, no break in stride, he got it IMMEDIATELY, and maintained it, on a hill, for a lap and a half, before doing a snotty change of direction, squeal, buck, and lead change on his own.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled. Not only did I see a little bit of improvement, I saw 2 years of issues melt away before my eyes! I'm totally sold on this trim. Totally sold. I cannot wait to see how Crest's body and posture changes as I keep this up. He's always been a hunka horse, can you imagine how he'll look one his body is totally correct?

I'll post pictures, for sure.

That's all for now, but if you're at all curious about anything, want more description, photos, explanation, anything, please let me know, I'll be happy to share.

Savvy on, and leave me a comment :)



Lucy said...

Fantastic! Loved this entry, can I have photos? Pretty please. :)

Katie Oostman said...

Fran that is amazing!!! Do you think you could send me your references and things for learning this? because I am also very interested in learning about this stuff! Thanks and would love to see pictures!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is great news!
Barefoot care is amazing..

And yes, pictures please :D


Tina said...

We do barefoot, too on our drafts and really like it. We're still learning, but it's going good so far. We originally started out of necessity...when you say you have drafts, farriers tend to hang up on you! I'd LOVE to hear more about the methods you're using.

Virginia said...

wow I am so glad you are learning to help crest with his feet! Do send some pictures! I don't know anything about la pierre, but I'm interested. I will admit, I just kind of hack away at mable and todd's feet, luckily they are made from rocks. But who knows maybe they would go better with a modified trim

Catherine Nugent said...

I've heard of la pierre- I'll have to look into it! I have a mare that's been retired because i can't find whats causing her intermittent lameness- I'm having her professionally barefoot trimmed & she's better, but still not moving great at all- this could be great to look into! You'll have to post some pics so we can see how Crest developes