Friday, June 3, 2011
Not To Worry
I was cleaning Silk’s hooves last week when I noticed that she had chipped a large chunk off her back right foot. Our farrier, Johnny, and I have been concerned about the way that Silk’s hoof had grown a strange flair and is angling out. We believe that she had an injury years ago and now, at 23, the arthritis and wear and tear on her back legs is causing it to twist slightly to the right. My old farrier suffered from a bad back during his last few months of working on the girls, and he wasn’t getting under them enough to do the job the way he should have. Johnny has slowly been trying to trim the hoof back to correct it. When I picked out Silk’s feet, I was alarmed that it appeared that the hoof wall was separating away in what seemed like white line disease, only more severe.
I had a small panic. The holiday weekend was just starting. Silk didn’t appear to be limping or in any pain, but I’ve never seen my horse’s feet look like that. There was a thick hoof wall and then a sizable crater. I put Animalintex and a boot on her and called the farrier. When he returned my phone call on Saturday morning, I wasn’t home. My husband explained my concern, and Johnny told him that he wasn’t worried. He said I should relax since it was her flaired back hoof not a front hoof, and that he would call me on Monday night to schedule when he would come out this week. Well, the reality was that I was worried, and Silk kept kicking her boot off and I didn’t like the way her foot looked at all. I even had a friendly neighbor who owns horses stop by to check it out. She agreed that she’s never seen anything that looked like that, although Silk seemed to be walking just fine. Okay -- I admit that many times, when I have other things worrying me, I transfer my anxiety to my horses’ well-being. I come up with some reason like this to stress out and avoid focusing on the non-horse-related problem. So, truth be told, there was some of that going on here.
On Monday night, Johnny called to tell me that he wouldn’t be able to get out to my place until Friday (today). He assured me again that since it was a back hoof, and she wasn’t even limping, it was probably not as bad as I thought. My voice did not sound convinced, and he could hear it. The next afternoon, as I was at the grocery store, my husband called to tell me that Johnny was in our driveway. He had some time in between jobs, and he came over to trim the horses four days early. I raced home and found my husband holding Silk while my farrier worked on her front hooves. It was a beautiful sight. As I’ve told you before, that Johnny is a good man.
It turned out that he had trimmed her back hoof so that it would grow this way to allow him to cut more off of it and not have her be sore. As soon as he pared away the hoof, the scary hollowed out part next to the hoof wall was totally leveled, and everything looked really fine. He was actually very pleased by how well she was coming along. The flair was practically gone, and after one more trim, she should be back to normal. He told me that it was really bugging him that I would probably be upset all the way until Friday, so he figured out a way to come the day after we spoke. I thanked him for being so considerate and pointed out that now, he could sleep later on Friday morning and I could sleep easier tonight.
When something is not okay with my horses, my mind has a tendency to fear the worst. It’s one of the lessons that I’m forced to learn over and over because I care too much and my sense of security is so dependent on everyone in the barn being healthy and happy. I should know by now that I over-obsess about every “off” moment that Silk and Siete have, and that as Silk is in her senior years, these little problems will most likely become more frequent. It reminds me that after decades of taking care of horses, I still have a lot to learn. When I assume something awful is about to happen, and it turns out to be the opposite and all good, there’s not only a flood of relief but also a big reminder that I need to stay open to the possibilities and not jump to dire conclusions.