Tuesday, September 17, 2019

First Farrier Trim (plus video)

I opted to use Liam's farrier for Eli as well. He's not as experienced a farrier as some (he got into shoeing post-army), but he's very into continuing education, corrective shoeing, and forging. He's very into showing owners where imbalances are, the good and the bad, and can read hoof xrays and work with a vet to solve issues. He has developed his eye and takes his time to make sure corrections are right. He also happens to own the farm I board at, which is also good!

So... here's the before pics.

Top row is the front left, bottom front right. 

They're super rough and I cringe looking at them. The angles on all 4 of his feet are different. On his hinds, the medial aspects have shorter walls than the lateral aspects.

I REALLY loved riding Eli when I tried him out, which made me want to overlook his feet (and after all this shopping, I would have bought Penn all over again too knowing what I do now). I absolutely xrayed the shit out of those fronts (hoof to fetlock, all the angles) to make sure the insides were ok. The insides are pretty good for being toed in. The hoof wall, albeit very poor quality, is very thick. There's a ton of excess toe. He has a neutral palmer angle and very thin soles. The bony structures seem ok, joint spaces clean, and no side bone. The vet who did the PPE thought he went through a period of very poor farrier care based on the hoof wall and excess toe.

Multiple vets looked at his xrays and thought since he's sound now, these feet are entirely fixable.

We already overhauled his diet to a 19% NSC feed, but I'm working with BO to put him on a 13% NSC beet pulp based feed since he seems particularly sensitive to environmental changes. His original feed did not have controlled sugars and starches, and was much higher NSC than what we switched him to. I'm also giving him 40mg of biotin and 400mg of keratin twice a day. Human pills worked on Penn, (I take one a day too, my hair stopped falling out and my nails stopped breaking), so I'm hoping it'll work on Eli too.

I get human pills from Sam's Club and spend around fifty cents a day feeding 8 pills. Overkill? Gosh I hope so. But for that price, I'll throw 80mg of biotin at him every day and not lose a bit of sleep over if he's peeing some of it out.

Anyway, back to his feet. Farrier thought there was enough hoof wall to get nails in, which would allow him to put pour pads in.

His goal, realistically over the next year, is to keep bringing the toes back while (fingers crossed) good quality hoof grows out, ideally bringing some more heel with it. He's encouraging the sole to be concave instead of flat. He's also trying to coax the hinds to grow bigger.

Eli's breeder said he was good for the farrier... and well, he was... not great. Still manageable, but threw head tossing tantrums and ripped his feet out of Farrier's hands. I think his feet hurt somewhat, and standing barefoot on concrete was a bit too much for him. He was also itching for Julius, had a few days off beforehand, and was testing us a bit.

Farrier got his fronts trimmed and reset, and the hinds trimmed before calling it a day. Eli was so over it. We reconvened the next day for hind shoes to go on, which went quite quickly because Eli was quiet and behaved himself.

Eli wants to land toe first, and his front end can be quite stabby. The leg will reach from the shoulder, and the reach stops at the knee and he jams it back down. He also paddled quite a bit up front. He's built nicer than he moves. Just one round of shoeing mitigated a lot of that and he's already moving better under saddle.

The corrections Farrier made behind have Eli struggling a bit. He wants to land on the outside of his hoof and the trims are now encouraging him to land in the middle, so he has to learn to move again. Every so often he takes a misstep behind where he catches the toe or loses the stifle. I'm just taking everything super slow and easy with him and I'm being super careful not to overdo any of the work we do. His musculature has to change, which will take time.

There's a ton of training issues in that video that need to be addressed, but I'm super pleased with his progress. My big concern was to keep him forward thinking with no curling. Above the bit was a ok. I want to start to develop some thrust, so he'll develop push, so he'll find real connection and come up off his forehand. He thinks that's a bit silly and would rather root the reins out of my hand or lean... because guess what? I put him back in a snaffle! I used a GP Trainer trick to help him not find purchase on my hands, and a Mary Wanless trick to keep me out of his mantrap (the hole at his whithers), and keep his rooting from dragging me forward.

We walked outside after schooling in the indoor.
It's a small thing I know, but a huge victory for my confidence to be comfortable leaving an enclosed area for the not fenced in outdoor. #smallsteps #smallvictories

As I said above, Farrier is very into continuing education. As such, he participates in "Farrier Fridays" where more experienced farriers meet with newer ones and with vets, and they tackle a topic or two. One of the events they're doing in a few weekends is a weekend long clinic with British Master Farriers (sorry, can't remember any of the group names) and local vets, at our barn. Farrier asked if they could use Eli as a demo horse. Eli will have a ton of farrier eyes analyze his movement, conformation, and hooves. If the farriers want, the vets will take xrays (free of charge to me), and the group will discuss. They'll make a plan, and do the first shoeing cycle of that plan (also free-ish of charge, I'll probably have to pay for materials, which is cool). So duh, I said yes. Eli is a solid guy, a crowd won't bother him, and he's got some issues that I'm thrilled to have those eyes on! Best part is, Farrier will be very involved in the case and will easily continue after the clinic!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Buddy Sour

Eli came home and settled in very nicely. Quiet, well mannered. And he made friends that liked him back!

Within 48 hours, he formed a super close bond to an OTTB named Julius that was a turnout buddy, who also lived in the stall next to Eli.

You can see where this is going.

Within a few days, I started getting bad reports cards: "Eli was pushy at the gate this morning." "Eli tried to walk all over us at the gate and we had a coming to Jesus." "Eli was super spooky coming through the indoor to his stall."

I had issues with spookiness in the evenings and with him calling when I lunged him. I thought he was spooky about the arena doors since he wasn't normally worked in an indoor. I thought the calling was because I was disrupting his normal work/turnout/feed schedule (he was always worked in the morning after breakfast at his breeder's, not in the evening at feed time or later when he should be turned out). I rarely had problems on the weekend when I was able to ride him in the morning or early afternoon.

I thought it was all part of him settling into a new routine with strangers, and I wasn't giving him strong confident rides to deal with his spooky issues in the indoor. I was concerned the horse I brought home was actually different from the horse I tried and bought.

Looking for Julius with zero care for the other horses.

It was made abundantly clear two Saturdays ago, 9/7, what the problem was. Julius's owner came out before breakfast to work with him in the round pen, near Eli's turnout. By the time I was done with stalls and mixed and dumped breakfast grain and went to get Eli's herd to bring them in, he was a pacing mess at the gate. Keep in mind he had only been separated from Julius by about 20' and Eli could still see J.

I got Eli haltered, but he jigged into the barn, hot tempered and anxious. I put him in his stall, where he proceeded to whirl around screaming his head off instead of eating his breakfast. Keep in mind, this horse LOVES FOOD. No breakfast. Must have Julius.

We got the horses in and immediately created a plan to break up this bromance.

Eli's stall originally moved across the barn, but ended up moving back and next to his original stall (one horse between him and J).

For turnout, we swapped him to a field next to his original field, but therr was a path between fences. Oh boy was that not enough.

I hung out all day (had a nice ride though) and agreed to watch all the horses to make sure they got along with their new friends. Eli got outside and immediately became unglued and had one of the biggest meltdowns I've ever seen. He met his new friends, said "You're not Julius" and galloped the fenceline. For a half hour. I had to take off his fly sheet because he foamed through it.

So sweaty. So foamy.

There was serious concern that he was going to jump out of his field. 17.1h that knows how to jump and is body checking the gate and getting light in his front end as he tests it? Very serious concern that if Julius appeared across the path that Eli would jump out to be with him, or worse, jump out but not get his knees over the gate and have a rotational fall.

1300 pound horse galloping at you.
Non horse people: Get out of the way.
Horse people: *twirls lead rope* You shall not pass!

The decision was made to further disrupt the gelding fields and swap J with another gelding so that J would be out front and rarely visible from the back field Eli was in.

J settled in with zero screaming and zero worries. He gave no shits that his BFF Eli wasn't there.

Eli would not be so easily deterred.

After wearing out his 3 friends in his half hour of galloping (2 OTTBs who thought the running was fantastic and a draft cross who thought the one down and back was enough), he called them wusses, attacked them every time they tried to come be friends, and kept trotting. I watched him for 4 hours that day, until it got dark. He eventually walked the fence or stood at the gate, and he studiously scoured the field opposite of him for J. He screamed. He got a second wind 2 hours in and started galloping down and backs again.

"None of those horses are my Julius."

At the end of 4 hours, he was head down trudging the length of the fenceline at a slow walk with periodic screams. He did find the water and get a drink.

Come morning, Eli was still walking or standing at the gate. I hung around until turnout again and watched him for another 3 hours.

Day two, he ran for about 10 min, screaming but not threatening to jump out. Then he went back to walking the fence. By the end of hour 2, he started to test the grass and visit his new friends. Ever affable OTTB Teddy was there welcoming Eli with open arms. Eli would spend about 5 or 10 min with his new friends, lose his mind and gallop back to the gate to look for J.

Eli, Teddy (bay), Goose (gray)
I love how Eli just body slams through them, Goose is interested but a little worried, and Teddy is like "Hi, I'm Teddy! Erm...uh... how rude!"

Both times I watched him, I ended up getting a chair and sitting by the barn and watching from afar, otherwise he'd stand by the gate with me as his security blanket.

Apparently day 3 of turnout was similar without the running, and by the end of last week he was going out and eating right away. He is still distracted in the barn when J walks by. Eli gets bright eyed and excited and calls when he catches sight of Julius.

This pic makes me laugh so much. The 3 boys just wanted to chill and be friends, and Eli was having none of it. 

Eli's behavior went back to normal puppy dog behavior a few days after he was separated from Julius. I felt icky last week, so I started Eli on the long lines instead of trying to ride him in the evenings, which really gave him solid direction and confidence about the arena doors. He's been lovely, and we had two good, solid, no shenanigans rides over the weekend.

We're not sure what caused him to bond so tightly to Julius. He's so chill that we didn't expect him to be so insecure. Frankly, we expected Julius to be the one with a problem since he seemed to be the one doing the following and is easily influenced by other horses' behavior. I can only guess it was the complete upheaval to Eli's life when he left his breeder and came to live with me.