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Mission Farrier School  Horseshoeing School
mission farrier school


Celebration  &  Precious

18 year old National Show Horse Gelding who we will call “Celebration”. 



 

Celebration came to our facility in November 2003. He presented as an Obel grade 4 lameness while on 4 grams of Bute per day. He had a history of Chronic Laminitis, and was diagnosed Peripheral Cushings Syndrome. His coffin bones were sunk and rotated and he had a significant lamellar wedge in both front feet.  

 

When Celebration arrived, his shoes were still in place, and thus in the way of the previous styrofoam application, but at least he had styrofoam, and the owner had made a good attempt at applying it.  

 

While he presented similar to Beau, the Arabian Gelding, we were much more hopeful about his outcome as he was not laying down, but on his feet most of the time.  

 

We removed his shoes and the old styrofoam and significantly rockered the toes to unload the pull on the dorsal wall. He was then started in new styrofoam support. We immediately discontinued the bute and observed the compression of the new styrofoam and his comfort level for the next 48 hours. It was important to give Celebration an opportunity to communicate clearly his comfort level, and to watch how he settled in to the new styrofoam.  
 

Two days later, we grooved his left front to take the binding action off of the coronary band, to offer relief to the extensor process and further relieve the load on the dorsal wall. The bottom of his foot was supported in Purple Podiatry Pads (3P’s) with a duct tape wrap. He appreciated it immediately.  
 

Celebration’s favorable response to that tape on support gave us the guidance we needed to proceed with a more permanent support package. Twenty-four hours later we applied a Double Nail Pad (DNP) system to his left front, with a window cut in it to completely unload the tip of P3 .  
 

This was covered by a second DNP to protect the tip of P3, then a third DNP with breakover rockered in both medial/laterally and back under the anterior sole. This “high heel” DNP system helped Celebration achieve a heel first landing, eased the tension on the deep digital flexor tendon and took the load off the the hoof wall while providing a load up through the back of the foot, internally lifting the coffin bone up and forward in the remodeled hoof capsule.  
 

 

We maintained his right front in dental impression material and Purple Podiatry Pads (3P’s) . Both feet showed steady improvement, and we were quite pleased with how quickly Celebration responded to what was offered.  
 

In December 2003, Celebration was responding so well that we were able to apply an EDSS system, with the coronary grooving technique to his also compromised right front. His soundness level improved dramatically in both front feet.  
 

 

Celebration showed some muscle wasting over his top line and hips, and because he was doing so well up front, it became quickly apparent that he was not moving well behind. We shod his hinds with reverse shoes to ease his breakover and take the pull of the toe. He improved steadily and was an Obel grade 1 on no bute (compared to Obel 4 on 4 grams of bute when he arrived).  

He left our facility at the end of January wearing a modified DNP system on his left front and an EDSS system on his right front, and trotted up our gravel driveway, happily leading his owner. 

 

In the words of his owner, “First of all let me express how grateful I am that you took on my horse and gave me at least some hope. I will never, as long as I live, forget his face and body language after you pulled the shoes off and unloaded the wall. If he could talk in human language he would have said: ‘Finally! What took you so long? And, thank you, thank you, thank you!” I am so thankful that I went to your clinic in the summer and had the opportunity to learn that there are better methods of horseshoeing, treatment for laminitis and on and on - - -.” Celebration’s owner.  
 

Now for the rest of the story.  
 

A short time after Celebration returned home his owner called panicked. She said that she suspected a thrush infestation under the systems on his feet, so she had her horseshoer remove the therapeutic packages. Now Celebration was crashing and what should she do? Of course when she did this, she took away all of the things that were giving Celebration an opportunity to heal. We suggested strongly that she get her horse back in foam and get him either back to us or to someone who had experience at applying support systems. We just couldn’t believe what she had done. We told her that thrush was a treatable condition, however laminitis and founder could kill him. We never heard from her again. However, we have heard through others, that she continued to struggle with Celebration’s health and soundness.  

 

In another similar case, we worked on a 10 year old Hannoverian Mare, who we will call “My Precious”. Precious was forced, by her owner, to stay off her feet through excessive use of heavy tranquilizers. The owner felt that this was the best way for the horse to heal.  

 

This was an interesting case, because even though the owner called us in to work on the horse, she was reluctant to accept any of our advice in implementing what it would take for this horse to recover. In our experience, horses need to be given the opportunity to make their own decision whether or not to lay down, not be forced to it by the over use of tranquilizers. We indicated that to the client, but were met with complete resistance.  


In our opinion, the combination of long term use of tranquilizers (morphine based patch 24/7), anti-inflammatories and confinement, inhibited the horse’s sense of well-being and she simply gave up on life. Horses are about movement, and they need the opportunity to move to be able to heal. 
 

We need to be clear, that we are not against the use of anti-inflammatories, but they should be used with common sense, not as a dietary supplement. Once horses are comfortable in compressed styrofoam, it’s time to reduce the daily use of anti-inflamatories. In this particular case, as soon as the mare got on her feet, the owner made her lay down again. Mental well being is also a huge part of the healing process and horses often give up on life if they are not allowed to move.  
 

People are too ready to place human emotions on their animals. Animals, who without domestication, would often heal on their own. While we understand that owners want their horses to be pain free, pain is not always a bad thing. Pain is what tells us whether or not we are on the right track to healing. Fact: Laminitis hurts. To initiate a path to healing, we need to be able to accurately gauge that pain.  

We were not able to help this owner, and sadly, My Precious was ultimately destroyed.

Perhaps we should have walked away when this owner verbally disparaged her previous three farriers and veterinarians. It is always our preference to work with the current farrier when ever possible. Horse owners need to realize that no farrier or vet gets up in the morning and says “I think I’ll go hurt a horse today”. Most are professionals who truly want what is best for the animals in their care.  
 

We have included these two horses in our case study because this is an interesting phenomenon that exists more and more throughout the equine community. It is a pitfall for veterinarians and farriers, but especially unfortunate for the horses. In human medicine it is called Munchausen By-Proxy.  
 

We don’t pretend to understand why, but unfortunately it seems to be motivated by the horse owners need for control. While we believe there is sincerity in wanting their horses to get better, unfortunately by our own experience we know that out of the failures we have had in treating laminitis, fully 50% of these are due to client interference.  

 

We have had many requests from owners wanting to treat severe lamenesses with barefoot only trims. While we are certainly not against barefoot horses in the right environment, keeping horses barefoot in the wrong environment can kill them. We can say emphatically that we have saved hundreds of horses lives by applying the correct shoe or therapeutic system. Shoeing a horse properly can initiate a heeling mode that barefoot alone just can’t accomplish. Especially in a horse with thin soles, sunk or rotated coffin bones, severe distortion to the front or the back of the foot, and a host of other conditions.  
 

It seems that some people gravitate toward the barefoot only websites in order to maintain control of their horse’s foot care because they think that this is something they can do themselves. Unfortunately most people don’t have enough information about healthy foot function, and usually keep their horses in trouble. Barefoot is great if the hoofcare practitioner truly understands healthy foot function, and IF the environment is right. Most domestic horses do not receive all of the necessary ingredients that are offered to barefoot wild horses in order to keep them sound. Ingredients such as load sharing capabilities through the back of the foot lifting the coffin bone up and forward in the hoof capsule, maximum sole depth underneath the tip of P3, easing tension on the deep digital flexor tendon, and proper equilibrium of the hoof capsule around the coffin bone.  
 

On some of these group websites and chatrooms, it seems that the more prolific a writer someone is, the more others think they are an expert, and they freely give out advice that may not always be in the horse’s best interest. We always wonder just how many horses these “experts” have worked on. 
 

We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we have worked on hundreds of horses, and we learn something new from each one.  
 

One comment we always get from our students about the third week of class is, “Wow, I had no idea just how much there is to learn”.

 


17028 Trombley Rd.,
Snohomish, WA  98290
Phone: 425 890-3043
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