Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All I Want for Christmas... a sound horse.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Yesterday morning when I did barn chores, Jackson was completely sound, with perky ears and bright eyes.  He looked at his halter, then at me, then at his halter.  I promised to ride him today because there wasn't time before work yesterday.  I was SOOOO excited.

Last night as I was driving home, stuck in traffic, in the middle of a two and a half hour commute (which should have been an hour less than that), Brett called me.  He had just finished feeding and Jackson was "don't-make-me-walk" lame.  All the joy of the season (what little there was left after being stuck in the car for so long) flew right out the car window and sailed off towards Palm Springs.  I choked back tears and thought pessimistic, fatalistic thoughts.  "I'll never ride him again."  "He's never going to be sound."  "If I want to ride, I need a different horse."  "I don't want a different horse."  I got home.  Brett gave me a big hug and I dissolved into tears. 

I did some research after visiting Jackson in the barn.  I'm not alone, apparently.  Horses with thin soles and crappy hoof walls are prone to abscesses in the wet months.  This will probably be my life from October through April.  I pick his feet twice a day, apply hoof hardening products, supplement, and he has pads on the front.  Brett keeps his turnout as dry as possible with wood pellets added after it rains.  There really isn't much else I can do besides locking him up in a stall on shavings 24/7.  And that is not going to happen.  His mental health is as important as his physical health.  I'll just deal with it.  Occasional pity parties and all.

This morning, he was still hopping lame.  I could tell the minute I saw him standing in his turnout.  His eyes say "my feet hurt and I don't want to move."

On the other hand, I hear the hay cart coming down the barn aisle.

He managed to hop inside his stall for breakfast.  At lunch time, he was back outside standing in the sun.  And he had rolled.  I told him about the competition with Abbe at Skoog Farm and he isn't about to let a girl beat him in a Dirtiest Horse contest.

The big lunchtime news was herd integration.  I talked to Kalvin's owner and we decided to release Kalvin from his paddock and let him be part of the herd.  He's completed his year of paddock rest, and he's back in light work.  He's very social and wants to be with the other horses in the worst way.  After spending over a year getting to know each other over the fence, the integration was pretty blasé.


  1. aww. good for kalvin! and poor jackson. and poor you! i am sorry for all these issues!

  2. I often wonder if you are considering another horse. I know you are aching to ride. Here's hoping the best for everyone. hugs to you too

  3. Something to consider - many horses who are prone to abscesses/thin soles/poor hoof quality have underlying metabolic issues - something that's a bit like pre-Cushings, where the horse may be somewhat insulin resistant - it's an issue of glucose metabolism, which affects circulation and hence the feet and their growth.

    We use a custom magnesium/chromium/selenium (we're in a very low selenium area)/vitamin E supplement and it does wonders for horses like this. A decent commercial substitute is D-Carb Balance.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions Kate. Yes, we have suspected metabolic issues and did a full work up earlier this year. He came back clean/normal in all areas. It actually surprised my vet, she was so sure there was something going on. I'll look into the D-Carb Balance and compare it to the Dynamite he is getting now.

  5. do you feed soy bean?
    it really helped my HD's feet...

  6. Jackson's current vitamins are in a soybean and alfalfa meal base. It's high in vitamin E, selenium, etc. It's also one of the few products out there that he easily digests.

  7. Annette -- sorry to hear about Jackson (I've just retired an older guy and completely understand the on-again/off-again frustrations). But we still love them.

    I also understand how frustrating it is to get advice from EVERYONE ... but I simply can't resist in this case.

    Several years ago I leased on older TB/WB cross. He had BAD feet, huge nail holes, cracks threatening to run up the hoof wall, etc. (although his soles weren't bad). About eight months after he "joined me," for an entirely different reason I put him on a feed-through insect repellent called Inside Out from Cheval International (

    None of us -- including his long time owner -- expected the incredible improve in his feet -- that could only be explained in one way -- this silly, kind of nasty stuff -- that horses mostly seem to like. Of course, it didn't fix the existing hoof. But nine months after he was started on it, his feet were "normal." We had watched this healthier hoof grow in with amazement.

    BTW -- it also keeps the bugs away, apparently by making the horse "taste" bad!

    Good luck

  8. know how we find ourselves in similar situations? Well I am right there with you. My representative in the dirtiest horse contest was doing so well with the hitch in her hind right until today. Now she can hardly put weight on it. Romeo was chasing her around this morning, nipped her and who knows what happened. I'm going to have to separate them. It is so muddy here, I don't know what I am going to do with Abbe til she gets a little better.

    All the horses here get Vit. E, Selenium and Magnesium.

    What else can happen? I'm at the breaking point too. Get the stitches out of my arm tomorrow and hope there is no more bad news.

    So far this has not been a very Merry Christmas season...let's hope.

  9. Have you ever talked with your vet about laminitis? He sure has the physique for it and the symptoms you describe are classic to a horse with chronic laminitis issues. I used to see this all the time when I lived in CA because everybody there fed alfalfa hay, which is the worst thing for anything other that heavily lactating mares. If Jackson was to lose about a hundred pounds, his foot problems would likely go away. Please don't take this as a criticism, it's just an observation. I hope he is feeling better soon.

  10. You do a good job "dealing with it"...good balance and happy life. I always have a chuckle or smile when I visit Aspen Meadows. Thanks!

  11. Annette, my Paj had terrible problems with thin soles and abscesses, and he was always throwing shoes, sometimes with a lot of hoof attached. When we moved to the ranch, we changed shoers, and magically all his hoof problems went away. His new shoer (well, it's been a couple of years now) never touches his soles with a knife, and his old shoer was knife-happy. That was Paj's problem. I was an idiot to let the other guy use his knife on Paj's thin soles, but I didn't know better, even though I knew Paj had thin soles. Anyway, things are so much better for us now, and I hope you will find something that works for you and Jackson.

  12. I am sorry. That really stinks.

    I think it pretty much has to be diet related or metabolic. I know that doesn't help, especially if you already had blood work done without any results. If the diet for a Cushings or IR horse is feasible, maybe it is worth a try.

  13. Annette I am sorry to hear about Jackson...I know you have been stuggling with this for awhile...I have no advice to is not something I have much experience with.One thing I do want to say though is that I think Jackson looks very good and does not need to lose any weight...but hey that's just my opinion:)I hope somewhere in there you and Brett and the critters manage to have a nice holiday know they say there are Christmas miracles....

  14. PS. Love the new Header.....could they get any cuter:)


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.