The day to day operation and events of a small Thoroughbred Racing Stable using unconventional training methods
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: Supplements.
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.
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: Abscesses.
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.