Zoe's Story

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

8. Flicka's Journey - The Second Trim

  Flicka arrived at Windy Coulee in November 2014. She has a long journey of recovery ahead. She was fit and healthy in 2011 this is her story.

December 20th, 2014 - Bob Laye, our hoof care specialist, arrives in the afternoon to trim some of the horses; he works on Flicka first. Bob takes his time with this second trim, and explains everything he is doing and why.
Bob checking the angle of the hoof before getting to work.

I hope I can capture all of it.  He taps the outside of both front feet, the sound reverberates in the same way it would from tapping a hollow bowl.  It echoes the way it you would expect coming from unhealthy hooves with separated walls.  A much lighter sound than one coming from solid, healthy hooves. 
He continues and thoroughly removes dead material, projecting the angle the new hoof is growing in, and puts the bevel under the toe to match the angle of the new hoof. Check out the video with explanation, I have never seen an example so clearly demonstrated.

I ask Bob to walk Flicka, so I can video the progress.  Progress it is; I would not have dreamed she would be walking this way after only a month.  With the proper trim, the angle of the hoof aids in the restoration of a proper hoof.  Simply said, a properly trimmed hoof prevents the hoof from flaring, stop the flaring, the wall will stop separating and a new, healthy hoof can grow in. 

Bob notes “I never remove sole from a barefoot horse, however, this pony is an extreme case due to lack of trims in the past, and I was able to remove alot of dead, excess material.  You have to have a thorough understanding of the internal structure when you do this, because you still need to leave adequate protection under the coffin bone.  You have to start over with the foot when it is this overgrown.”  There is still enough thickness to protect the internal structure of the hoof.

Bob pointed out that one of the pony’s hips stays higher than the other when she is walking, her back is probably quite misaligned.  I make a mental note to call the horse chiropractor and get an appointment as soon as I can.

Flicka returns to the herd.  Happy and getting healthier, I swear her neck is not as thick and hard as it was a month ago. In 6 or so months, the entire new hoof, healthy with wall attached to the sole will have grown in. She will have lost excess fat, gained muscle and tone.  By then she should be in training with a bright future ahead of her.  I can not wait.

copyright 2015  Windy Coulee Canadian Horses - Heidi Eijgel

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

7. Flicka's Journey - On the Hill in the Herd

 Flicka arrived at Windy Coulee in November 2014. She has a long journey of recovery ahead. She was fit and healthy in 2011 this is her story.

December 14, 2014 - I visited Flicka and the herd on a warm sunny day in December.  They were contentedly grazing on the hillside.  Flicka is pretty much a part of the herd, pretty low in the kicking order, but there none the less! I photographed her taking a break, with a few of the herd behind her. 

Flicka in the sun on the north hill

I am so glad she has a herd; they keep her moving and provide security.  A horse that is under stress from a health issue, will gain comfort and reduce its stress when the horse knows there are other horses around to protect.

I videoed her walking along the top of the hill.  She is significantly better.  It looks like her muscles have started to support her new corrected hoof and posture.  Bob is coming back to continue work on December 20th.

copyright 2015  Windy Coulee Canadian Horses - Heidi Eijgel

Sunday, 11 January 2015

6. Flicka's Journey - Nurture verses Nature

Flicka arrived at Windy Coulee in November 2014. She has a long journey of recovery ahead. She was fit and healthy in 2011 this is her story.

Saturday November 29th I let the big gelding out into the field again, see if he can behave himself.  He thinks he is the head horse out there.  In a truly natural herd, Flicka may have been injured or worse, and that could mean death.  Nature can be cruel, and that is where I draw the line with natural horse keeping. I removed the gelding again.

Sunday morning I hiked out to the horses and videoed Canadian horses in their natural environment.  They had just spent a chilly minus 30 celcius or so night out in the pasture.

Flicka has a herd now.
All the horses were taking turns sunning themselves in the cool, but bright sunlight.  A few were pawing through 2 feet of snow and eating prairie grass.  Flicka was shaking.  I was tempted to halter her and bring her into the corral, but stayed and watched a while.  She was nipping low branches and twigs to eat, and then found a spot the Canadian horses had cleared and munched on grass.  She grazed the cleared patch.  Next, she found a snow covered spot, pawed her way through and found more grass.  Resilient, tough, with good instincts.  She had after all, thrived while living on a expansive grassland ranch in southern Saskatchewan for her first 4 years.  I feel those 4 years gave her the strength and good health to make it through the later 3 years of not such a great situation.

I told my nurturing self, that keeping Flicka in the pasture was the best thing to do, even though a human probably would have needed a cup of hot chocolate, a blanket and a seat in front of the fireplace at a time like this.

She is eating prairie grass and warming herself in the winter sun!
Keeping tabs on a small dark brown pony in a herd of various sizes of black Canadians simply takes a pair of binoculars and some inferencing . . . “oh yes, Flicka is fine, I see a pony just a bit further from the bunch, grazing, ah, then she runs away from a black horse making a statement, a little buck of protest, and then goes back to grazing.”  I think she is going to be okay.  Though, I kept that big gelding out of the mix for the week!

copyright Windy Coulee Canadian Horses - Heidi Eijgel

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

5. Flicka's Journey - A Little Herd Time, Good for the Sole!

Sunday, November 23rd.  Now that her feet are trimmed, and Flicka is in process of gaining proper posture, I consider putting her out in the big pasture and integrating her with the herd.  I am eager to do this because she was depressed and lonely as well as in need of light exercise and proper low sugar, fibre rich food. And it is movement that pumps the blood through the hoof, brings in the nutrition, takes out the toxins, starts to build the sole and in the end, will grow a healthy new foot.  The one big challenge is that Flicka is not very fit, and while she is moving well despite her condition, she could seriously injure herself if she runs too fast, too much, too soon.  While she walks like you would expect a laminitis case to walk; staggered, front hooves out front, in a wide waddle; she is walking, and even took off in the riding ring at a trot and canter, with a buck or two thrown in for good measure. 
Sunday morning, I lead Flicka towards the herd.
This pony hardly knows me, but we already trust each other.  "Okay, I will follow you across the ice . . ."

Now that her hooves are trimmed properly, her tendons and muscles need to readjust and strengthen for the right posture - and that takes time and it is painful.  In the end, I choose to put her in with the herd.  The benefits outweigh the risk. I also choose not to give her bute, those of you reading are probably wondering why I did not do that first thing.  It is like any human, if your back is sore, and you take pain killer and go and shovel snow anyways, you run the risk of injuring yourself more seriously; and we have a brain that processes information in such a way that should help us make the right decision.  Horses do not have that advantage. I was hoping Flicka would self regulate, and drugging her is not wise in that situation.  I also assumed my horses would behave normally, kick and bite and chase a bit, then settle down to grazing.

One of the most satisfying things in the world, is putting a new horse in a 120 acre pasture, with a herd of horses, willows for natural wind breaks, a spring for water, hills for great exercise, covered
There they are . . . Flicka had already met them across the corral fence.
with native prairie grassland.  This forage in the fall and winter is the best forage in the world for horses.  They eat cured nutritious grass with a high fibre content for much of the day, moving who knows how far, some estimates are 20 km per day, grazing, walking, grazing, running, grazing, standing in the sun, grazing and walking . . . and so on.

I brought Flicka out on Sunday morning so I could supervise and evaluate the herd joining process while having my coffee. 

After a short while, I decided my one big gelding was going above and beyond normal chasing instincts, and I interfered, caught him and corralled him.  A fit horse could take chasing and herding, but not a fat little pony, with little muscle tone with laminitis.  On a positive note, Flicka did offer up some well timed kicks and squeals in protest.  She probably could have taken care of herself, but I am not willing to risk her getting injured.  By the next day, you could see Flicka with the herd, just a bit outside the circle, with the odd horse pointing out she was not fully accepted yet.  It will take a while, but in the end, they will accept her, and some of the broodmares will most likely start to take care of her sooner than later.  Patience.  In the mean time, Flicka is getting good roughage, filling her belly with low sugar, natural horse food and moving on soft ground; with a proper hoof trim!  All is well.

copyright Windy Coulee Canadian Horses - Heidi Eijgel