No horse owner ever wishes to hear these words. It’s a scary, costly, frustrating problem, not to mention painful for your poor horse. For an equestrian who has just, literally JUST this month, taken on two horses as her own, these words cut like a knife.
I considered starting off this journal with a detailed first post about myself, my family, and my horses, and how we got where we are. But I feel it’s much more rational to start with the inspiration behind this post; the trials and triumphs with these beautiful creatures. As I said, I literally just became the proud owner of two beautiful horses and it has been a full month as of this coming week. I have known and cared for them both for over a year. When their previous owner said that he is being forced to move and can’t take them and would like to leave them in my care, it was a no-brainer. But the part I was excited about the most was that I could now get them cared for the way they’ve needed all along but I never had the authority to enforce.
Well, here we are. The first time I have the natural barefoot trimmer out to take a look at my big boy’s feet, the diagnosis is dismal. He has weak walls which are very weak and separated, lots of bruising and lameness. The more she watches him hobble to and fro, the more she shakes her head and says, “Yep, I hate to say it but he looks laminitic.”
We can’t be certain but the evidence is clear. His hooves are hot, he rocks his weight back and forth and tries to balance on his back legs and his entire posture is effected, both standing and walking. He is reluctant to walk forward or turn, or even lift on hoof and stand on the other for too long.
It is recommended that a vet come out to confirm this sort of thing with a radiograph and an edoscope. However, sometimes these expensive procedures can be inconclusive. Because of the condition that Bubba is in, being much less severe than most cases, we are not rushing for this.
The good news is that, with proper adjustments to his diet and an aggressive battle with the fungus running rampant in his hooves and up his legs, she’s confident he will be a sound, healthy barefoot horse in no time. He has not been lame very long; it was a sudden onset. However, his poor hoof condition has hinted at a lack in his diet for a long time. As for the ulcers, it’s hard to say for sure if he has had them for a long time and they have just recently gotten worse, or if this is a new development.
Now, for some background. I was told by a professional that because of his withered frog and numb feet, he needed his shoes removed so that his frog could compress and grow and thus feel the ground better.
This horse has always had shoes on because one day without them causes him to instantly go lame. Or rather, limp about sensitively. However, with shoes he kicks them off pretty quickly leaving him with chunks missing and gaping holes from the nails in his already delicate hoof. It makes no sense to me to keep nailing into something that is structurally unsound. I do not have anything against shoes, I don’t think he should or shouldn’t have them; I do think that he needs to become healthier because the craptacular state of his feet is just a symptom of his diet leaving much to be desired.
Speaking of diet, his fragile hooves are not the only symptom of his deficient diet; he also has developed ulcers in his stomach. Which, in turn, leads to endotoxins flowing into his bloodstream and coming out of his skin and hooves and subsequently adding to the already dire state of his hoof capsule.
All of these things add up to one despondent development; the coffin bone in his hoof has rotated in it’s weak capsule.
So What Do We Do Now…?
If you are reading this because you too have been told your horse is laminitic, hello and I’m terribly sorry to hear that, but you’re not alone! I’m writing to you so that you might possibly avoid some of the problems I have along the way and learn from my successes and failures.
My horse not only has laminitis, he also has a chronic fungal problem. So, some of the directions I received may not apply to you.
I have begun padding his hooves every day with a new application of “NO THRUSH” powder. Every other day, I ice his feet to reduce inflammation, and soak them in an Apple Cider Vinegar and Epsom Salt bath. 2 parts Water to 1 part Apple Cider plus about 1 cup of ice.
Soaking horse’s feet is not easy. If you have four buckets available, you can try this but expect a lot of spilled buckets. Instead, start on a rubber mat if you have one, or otherwise the smoothest surface you can find with as little rocks/junk as possible. Get some gallon sized storage bags and some thick plastic of some sort such as trash compactor bags which are much thicker than regular trash bags. We had a roll of thick plastic for roofing or something, I’m not sure what. I cut out a few squares, shaped them like a hoof, taped them and lined the bottom with duct tape and used a piece of string around the top edge, folded down the edge and taped it to make a channel around the top with the string running through it to make a drawstring so that I could tighten them and help them stay on. If you don’t have a rubber mat, you can make these bags and then stick their foot in buckets to protect the bags from tearing on the ground.
So I did all of this, got to the ranch, scrubbed, soaked and powdered his feet, and got all four boots on and then he promptly leaped to the side and tore a massive hole in one and shredded another. So in addition to duct taping the bottoms, I highly suggest you line the entire outside of your thick plastic outer boot with duct tape. If the duct tape tears, you can always tape it back together with more duct tape. However, if you don’t and the plastic tears, it’s hard to get it back together. I also cut out some hoof shaped pieces of a dense, short carpet and put this on the bottom of my boots to help protect his poor sore feet until I can buy him $200.00 Transition Easy Boots for Easy Care. And if you don’t believe in these boots, by the way, let me just tell you the difference between my stiff, hobbling horse and the smooth magical walking unicorn that these boots made my horse into was enough to sell me on them for life. He never even walked that well with metal shoes on before the laminitis.
Where was I…oh, so if you’re fighting thrush as well, you can pack the powder into the frog with cotton balls or newspaper and even make a sheet of duct tape out of several sheets of tape laid out into a square and then slap that on the bottom of the hoof to keep the packing in place and keep moisture and dirt out.
The key to fighting the thrush is variety. As the Farrier put it, “You want to have as many tools in your toolbox as possible.” So, once a week, we soak with “White Lightning” or something of that nature that is more aggressive. Also, it may help to switch up your daily thrush treatment with other similar products, not including anything made out of Chlorhexidine because according to my Farrier, these will only cauterize the outside layer and trap the bacteria underneath. White Lightning is a gel made of Copper Sulfate. Others have used Copper Sulfate in a crystal form to effectively eradicate bacteria. You can find this in bulk in blue crystals as root killer, mash it up into a powder and pack the hoof. So we’ll see how all of this works out.
SIDENOTE! It is very important that you have a vet examine your horse in order to confirm that your horse has any condition and work with your Farrier to find a solution. Legally, a Farrier cannot officially diagnose a condition such as these.