Friday, July 15, 2011

Feet. Errrrrr.... Hooves, I mean

Thought I'd put these thoughts on paper again. Kentucky has been one wet state this year.
It's affecting hooves. I'm seeing abscesses, most friends I have are having trouble right now.

I've got a horse I picked up out of the killpen at a slaughter sale years ago. He was there because of his feet. Since I've spent years restoring bad hooves, taking him home was not a real big deal to me, although a ton of work.

He had chronic coffin joint infections and laminitis. There was only a small degree of rotation in one of his hooves. Treating this boy compared to some I've treated in the past was a cake-walk.

Over the years, when you're dealing with laminitis and founder, what you'll find out is that you can literally restore the majority of horses back to soundness IF you're willing to take the time and do the work. And it's a lot of work.

And there are a lot of products out there that are supposed to help hoof health.
Let me put it this way: Been there, done that, have the T-Shirt.
The results are, at best, lacking. Hoof supplements are great for horses who already have healthy hooves, or just general hoof problems (by that I mean problems other than laminitis or chronic infections).

Laminitis CAN be fixed. Not through the use of bizarre shoes that constrict blood-flow to the hoof even more. It's a painful, long, tedious process and it can take years, but it can be done. It all depends on what you want the horse to be able to do, long-term.

Make a long story short, I meant to address a big market out there concerning hooves:

There is only ONE supplement that is worth the money I've paid for and I've used it outside of its' intended purpose, as well:

Power Horse Trace Minerals.

The boy I got from the killpen took a year or so to be sound at all gaits, and by that I mean racing gaits: Walk, Trot, Canter, Gallop. For 2 years or more, he kept abscessing and going dead-lame. I tried everything under the sun, or so I thought to avail him whatever help I could find on the market,
Biotin is crap. General hoof-supplements are crap. I needed something that would finally put a stop on the ongoing problems this horse was having with abscesses, which were due to DEAD tissue in his hooves, not gravel.
An abscess is a good bit different than a gravel.
When live tissue dies and is still present in the hoof, the fact that the hoof has blood circulation in it, will keep renewing the live tissue through blood-supply and oxygenation.
This can take years.

The coffin bone (the bone inside the hoof which sort of resembles a triangle that sits ground-parallel) is the only bone in a mammal that has its own blood supply. This means that when this bone is cut into or injured, it can actually bleed.
The lamina in the hoof are what keep the coffin bone "floating" in position. This feather-like, small contraption interlock with each other and provide sort of a cushion structure directly inside the hoof walls.
When laminitis occurs, there is an inflammation of the lamina.
Since the hoof has blood supply circulating through it, which is obviously provided by the horses' total blood supply, there can be different reasons why this happens.
The main reason is probably elevated bacterial levels from fermentation of feed in the intestines.
When fermentation of feed occurs (i. e. from feeding corn, since corn is barely disgested in the stomach; corn basically gets digested in the cecum - past the stomach- where it is broken down through fermentation. Feed to much corn and you're really helping put your horse at risk for laminitis). Too much fermentation, which creates bacteria in order to take place and those bacteria float on through the bloodstream to eventually reach the hooves.

Voila! Laminitis.

Limiting blood supply to the hooves is a dumb idea. Oxygen regenerates cells and helps them heal. Hence putting bar shoes or other medieval contraptions on your horses' feet, in the long run, isn't going to HEAL the problem.

If your horse is in the acute stages of laminitis, there are things you can do to stop it from progressing.

1. Stand him in ice or a cold stream of water. Cooling off those hooves will keep the inflammation from progressing and, in many cases, it will stop the episode.

2. Keep him moving. BL Solution in lieu of bute can be a great help without irritating the stomach.

3. If you keep your horse turned out in a dry lot (grass is not a good idea if you know you're dealing with grass-related founder), make sure that you keep his hay and water apart at a good distance. You need to force your horse to have to move.
Movement increases blood supply. Blood supply generates higher levels of oxygen. You follow the logic here.

4. If he's laminitic because of exposure to any sort of toxic weed, get some activated charcoal (any pharmacy will have this). You may have to syringe it into him. Watch out, this stuff will stain!

5. Get your horse some Power Horse Trace Minerals. The stuff is patented for the treatment of laminitis and is a potent detox agent.

I keep my runners on Power Horse. It's simply chelated trace minerals that come from an ancient seabed rock in South America. Every mineral you can imagine is in there.
Nothing will help your horses' hooves like this stuff.
Additionally, it helps plug nutritional deficiencies and gets rid of overages. If your horse likes to eat dirt, there is something lacking in his diet. Power Horse will fix that.

I've known people who have used it to help with Cushings.

And coming back to the reason I wrote this post:

When I put my boy on Power Horse, he blew 6 abscesses out of one hoof and 7 out of the other within a one month period. The poor thing couldn't stand straight throughout. I still soaked and packed and turned him out.

Since then, he's had an odd abscess here and there over the years but nothing serious like the dead matter that was shed out of his hoof when I put him on Power Horse that first time.
He grew a brand-new hoof in a 4 month period.
His feet used to be shelly, his hoof walls thin.
No more. He's got the thickest hoofwall I've seen on a horse and his feet are so rock-hard that it's tough to trim them.

So, do your horse a favor. If he has hoof problems, put him on Power Horse Trace Minerals and put an end to his (and your) problems.

This soap box address is now officially concluded.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"To Breed or Not To Breed"

I've worked at breeding farms. I've foaled babies. I've taken care of broodmares. I've handled stallions.
Doing all of that for other people is a different ballgame than to operate your own breeding enterprise. For one, you don't have nowhere the hired manpower.

My broodmare band is small but, as far as I'm concerned, good quality and conformation.
It's not a large band of mares. In total, I have 4 actual broodmares. This excludes Molly, who was very enthusiastically hollering at Doodle today when I brought him up to tease the girls. I'm not really counting Molly into the broodies gang because she is going to be running this fall.

Cat D'Or AKA KittyKats, is 17 hands at the stick and as much as I hate to say it, sort of resembles a stick. She's tall and lanky. There is nothing wrong with her conformation, she's just, well, tall and lanky.

"Cat D'Or" by Cats At Home x Ruthann D'Or

She's a sweet mare who can be very stubborn and was a monster under saddle. No one could hold her and she just wouldn't quit going. Tough to train according to my good friend Mark, who trained her through her career. Kat has some ankle track jewelry that would flare up during training repeatedly. Kat was retired from the track last winter.

Yesterday KittyKats was letting us know she's in season and wants a date with Doodle.
So today, we pulled her out of the pasture, put her up in the barn and brought Mr. Hot Pants up to her to see where we're at.
Kitty is a maiden mare, which means she's never been bred before. Nature takes care of a lot of things but that doesn't mean they automatically know what to do and when to do it.
Kitty is also a dominant mare. She'll squeal at anything. Another mare comes up. Squeal.
She smells a pile that's not familiar. Squeal. A ball of mane hair off Doodle after mane pulling. Squeal.
'Course the first thing she did was "Squeal!" at Doodle.

Well, he squealed right back but he sounded like he meant it a whole lot more than she did.
So we sniff and snort noses. We squeal some more.
Kitty turns her butt to him and winks. Poor Doodle is about to have a heart attack.
This, no doubt, is the equivalent of the nerdy guy with glasses going to a bar and the hot brunette in stiletto heals coming up to him and raising her mini skirt to flaunt her garter belt.

Around she turns again and we have more of the mysterious and undoubtedly raunchy sweet nothings whispered between their two sets of nostrils.
Again she whirls around and winks and this time, backs up close enough for him to sniff her right on the tail.

By nature, mares are all hoochies. Period. There's nothing subtle or endearing about these mating rituals. If human females acted that way, the whole race would be dubbed whores.
Watching, or participating in the mating rituals of horses is not for the faint-hearted or easily embarrassed types. It is what it is, the way mother nature intended.

We take Kitty out to the roundpen. I wait a moment and follow with Doodle.
Now mind you, all the other mares are hollering in the pasture. Every horse is up on their toes.
This is exciting stuff!!!!! Who can think straight when there is all this exciting stuff happening?!?

Apparently not me. In the hustle bustle and excitement, I missed a crucial detail which turned the whole breeding event into a fiasco within seconds.

I've bred Doodle before, myself. He also covered a couple of mares last year.
The routine is that you lead him to the mare (or vice versa) while one or the other is in a stall.
Shank is over Doodle's nose.
Take the mare out and get her situated to breed.
Walk Doodle a couple of rounds and put the chain from over his nose INTO HIS MOUTH.

Well, shoot me and the horse I rode in on, I forgot.
Doodle thought it was still "play silly games with the mare to get her ready" time.
God God Almighty, that poor horse was so excited and over-excited and then again excited, his "weewee" was mushroomed like a giant bistro umbrella, he kept smacking himself with it, no doubt to try and get some relief.
Kitty just stood there and waited and waited while Doodle kept nuzzling and hollering and nuzzling and got frustrated, because he thought that's what he was supposed to do, since there was no chain in his mouth, which would have told him it's actually time to breed: Mount, Insert "weewee", Do the Do and Dismount.

He ended up running in circles, completely losing his head (his brain tends to shrink in size when he gets THAT excited) and had to be cold hosed for a while.
The poor guy probably has blue balls tonight.

On the up side (I don't mean his up side, which was up for a long while after), I did realize my mistake shortly, fessed up to my friend who was there helping and we gave up before the scenario actually took on disastrous proportions.

Tomorrow, we give it another go. This time the chain will be where it belongs. Along those same lines, I'm hoping the "weewee" will go where it belongs as well.
And I gotta do this shit another 4 or possibly 5 times in the next few weeks, at a minimum.
The expression "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" comes to mind....

The moment was in a way Shakespearean... To Breed Or Not To Breed?
Today's answer was a resounding "No!"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Back to Blogging!

It's been ages since I last blogged. It's been on my list of things to do. I finally have things set up and can start back. So much has happened since the last entry.

First, my business went bust. Literally. Economy hit hard. People were out of money. No one could pay their bills any longer. I folded up tent and took a job as a "barn manager" in Pennsylvania.

Well, the job was a scam and I was a glorified stall mucker through the entire winter, feeding, mucking, feeding, day in and out all winter (40 or so horses.)
I gave notice and let them have a chance and plenty of time to find a replacement.
I won't go into detail about the nuts that frequented that barn. *cough*

Racing is one of those things that get tough once in a while and you burn out. Taking a break is healthy. Telling yourself you're quitting the race track is... well, an illusion at best.
Once you go out in the non-racing horse world and you run across all the backyard experts who know everything better than anyone else, well, it's enough to pull your hair out.
It's healthier to say: I'm taking a break. Quitting the track is an impossibility.
Once a race-tracker, always a race-tracker.

In any case, I moved back to Kentucky. Economy still tough, no one is making money. There are no jobs. Better I have my own string of horses than owner's horses.
After all, I'd much rather get 100% of the purse money than 10%.

Now just to figure out where to find stalls and a place to train from...

After 3 moves (yes, you read right, THREE), I have landed, once again, back in Louisville.
I think God is trying to tell me something.
Found a barn and acres for the by now large band of broodmares and Mr. Doodle, who is a proud first time daddy. Filly born on May 12, 2011, out of Mari's Princess.
She's gorgeous, correct and has a rear end that will drop your jaw. Photos to follow.

Why am I taking horses off other trainers, figuring out their ailments and then running them, fixing them, just to have them claimed from me?
I'd rather breed and run my own!

Lots has happened in the last year and a half. It would be impossible for me to cram it all into one post, so I'm not even going to attempt it.

Needless to say, things have kept going and although it is late in the season, I am currently in the process of breeding mares. Teased today and one is ready. Breeding her tomorrow.
Another 4 mares to go. Five Doodle babies next summer, and a little late BUT I seriously doubt any of his babies will be 2-year-old runners. So, technically, I could breed in friggin' October and that'd be just fine with me *grin*.

Metro Molly, a filly I acquired last year and ran a few times, is coming back to training for the Turfway meet this fall/winter. Molly is big, gorgeous and loves to run run run. Molly also loves to turn the pasture or paddock into a racetrack. She isn't interested in being just a horse. She just wants to be a racehorse. Molly is 6 years old this year and this is her last season racing coming up. I'm getting Molly in foal (supposed to help settle her for racing) and next summer, after Turfway closes early spring, Molly can be a full-time mommy. We'll see if her baby ends up a natural racehorse like her.

I've looked forward to posting my first blog for a long time. Do I have stories to tell!!!! But just now, none of it is coming together. So bear with me, I'm sure there thoughts will start flowing soon enough.