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.

14 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm glad that there was nothing really wrong with Silk's hoof. We all worry too much about our horses and should learn not to obsess about them. It's hard when we have to rely on other people's expertise though. Your farrier sounds like a good guy.

Kate said...

Glad all is well - but sometimes paying attention to the little things can make all the difference, too.

billie said...

Total resonance! I have learned that every single thing I fret over is basically more about me than the horses. As Kate says, it's good to pay attention and see all the little things, but I am on a constant path of trying to allow all of it, little things and big things, to be part of the normal flow. Little waves I learn to ride.

I think of it as 24/7 therapy of the very best kind. Living with a herd of horses is digging out any remaining issues I have and finishing off all my rough edges. By 95 or so I should be a well-rounded zen woman! :)

Wolfie said...

Whew! Glad that everything is OK. If I were in a similar situation, I would be panicking too. I am almost obsessive about my horse's feet.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Val had a recent play date with a neighborhood horse, who I feel sure isn't up to date on his shots. I wouldn't let him touch noses with the other horse, or share anything. I sensed that the other horsewoman (not her horse) thought I was being overly cautious...

I was imagining rhino or strangles, and emergency trips to the vet - 3 1/2 hours away.

While telling another horse friend the story, it occurred to me that my mother would likely not have let me cross the street until my teen years, she was so overprotective of my sibs and I as children.

Guess I came by it honest as they say ;)

Mary said...

I am happy that everything is working out fine. It might have been nice of your farrier to maybe let you in on what to expect. I'm sure he didn't realize how the progression of sorts may startle you.

detroit dog said...

I'm glad all is o.k. with Silk and with you!

This reminded me that last summer my husband and I were sure that our dog Quasar had a fast growing tumor on his spine. In just two days, this big lump formed right on his spine, and kept growing. It was ugly! And the vet couldn't see us for 2 days. We were upset and worried.

So we get Quasar to the vet and she peers at it, then leans over and squeezes it -- it was a ZIT! Good grief. Who knew dogs could get zits? In all my lifetime of pets, I'd never heard of it or seen it. She had a good laugh and didn't charge us for the visit. I learned not to freak out and expect the worst from the get go.

yeesh!

Mikey said...

What a great farrier. Glad it trimmed out and things are looking better. I'm always amazed at the way hooves change over time, but I guess when I look at my own feet, they're not what they were when I was 16, lol.
Glad things are ok, and it's ok to worry, that's what makes you a good mama :)

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks, you guys, you're all making me feel a lot better!

Callie said...

Victoria,about the pre-Cushing's or Equine Metabolic Syndrome......When we determined that Kola was having those issues to start, her body score was an 8 nearly a 9, with an ideal score of 5. Her neck was crestier than normal, she normally has a somewhat cresty neck because of her breed,spotted saddle horse. She had huge fat bulbs behind her shoulders, and deposits around her tail at the top of it. I opted to treat without the test because the test is a high dose of steroids and monitoring levels there after & with her fatness, I was worried about steroid founder. I'm pretty sure you probably know this already. I treated with a feed change from a sweet feed to a small amount of pelleted feed called Equibalancer and limited her hay and with Palatech, Within 6 months, I was able to drop some weight off of her. Last year I was really worried because she came out of winter, although a better weight with massive amounts of long hair. It was so obviously different. My Vet wasn't nearly as worried as I was. So I treated her over the spring and summer again with Palatech(levethyroxine), So actually this past winter since I was able to get a little more weight off her, body score a 6 this time, her hair wasn't crazy like the year before. So what I do every year now, unless I see her at a 5, which she is close to now, I have started in March/April with full daily dose of Palatech, taking a month each time to wean her off slowly and I have become sincerely stingy on hay. Right now, I have treated the small pasture with a weed and feed. The girls get 6oz each of their feed in the morning, let out to pasture until evening, now that they are used to it and evening, they get 6oz and one flake each of hay for night back in out of the pasture. It seems to be working. Hope this helps.....I won't use the Palatech next year unless she's weighty again.Even over winter, they only got extra hay on severely cold days, generally over winter two flakes each in morning and evening.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks, Callie- I'm so glad she's feeling better. Silk is never overweight. In fact, this winter, she got too thin and i had to fatten her up. But she shed excessively - in fact, was still shedding this week. And Siete was shedded out weeks ago. I think Silk is done now. But, hey, one more thing for me to worry about, even though I probably don't need to! I appreciate all the details about Kola. You're a good mama too.

Oak in the Seed said...

I think we go to worst case scenario to prepare for potentially bad news (fight or flight). It's always a relief where neither is necessary and after the problem has been managed, we can just go have a glass of wine (or two) instead.

Esther Garvi said...

I understand your worry! I always worry more with the horses than with the dogs when something happens, because I never know how serious it is. I just know there "something", and that something can either be just a little thing or something very bad. So yes, I worry much more with the horses than any other creature... I'm glad Silk and Siete have such a caring person in their lives! You have such a big heart, Victoria!

juliette said...

Wonderful ending to a familiar worry story. I am the master of the worry transfer. If I am having a tough day, invariably I find something dreadfully wrong with one of my horses. Usually, it is nothing and my perception made it into something!

So glad that Silk's back foot is growing out perfectly. It is good you checked and called the farrier.