I apologize for not blogging for a while. Things at work got crazy, and, long story short, I got laid off (sorta). It's the kind of hot mess that sucks now, but I'll probably laugh about all of the crap that has gone down in the past five months or so in a few years.
But, as for the Short man, he's doing okay.
I made a pretty big decision in April after Shorty took a chunk of his left heel off that was about the size of a silver dollar. I had the vet come out to take a look because I was worried about proud flesh forming and wanted a professional opinion. As I sat outside Shorty's stall, waiting for the vet, I made a decision: Shorty will be a barefoot horse from now on. The poor horse has nicks and scrapes all over his lower legs from his seeming inability to control where his legs go. With a bit of research, I realized that hooves are actually numbed by shoes, which may contribute to part of the clumsy problem- ever try to walk around with your foot asleep? In addition, while the hooves are numb, major problems can continue to progress unchecked until the damage is severe, sometimes irreversible.
Now, we did have an issue in December with laminitis. At first, it was thought to be funky, spoiled grain that caused the issue. The vet has since hypothesized that Shorty actually hemorrhaged the hoof by banging it into the stall wall while rolling. He's a big guy and rolls often in his nice pine bedding, so it is likely he got cast and whacked his hoof while pushing off the wall to get back up. It is still possible that it was the grain after all, but my quirky paranoia when it comes to my horse caused me to call the vet before the laminitis was severe, so the actual cause may never be known.
So, Shorty has been barefoot for about six weeks now. I've gotten to be quite handy with the rasp to keep the edges rounded instead of ragged. Shorty was very, very tender at first but seems happier and more comfortable now. His hooves, particularly the frogs, have expanded a bit, which I take to mean circulation throughout the hoof is increasing. This is a good thing. Thanks to my vigilant rasping, we have no flares, cracks, splits in the hoof. The old nail holes are growing down and nearly gone, and with frequent applications of the hoof hardening product, Keratex, Shorty's hooves are tougher and stronger every day.
Shorty's current living situation is 22 hours of turnout a day, which is great. Assuming we don't have severe weather, he comes in twice a day to be checked over and fed grain. Once he's done eating, he goes back outside with his friends. He's out on grass or dirt for most of the day, and his stall has a nice deep bed of shavings, just in case he wants to take a nap on a soft bed after eating his grain.
I have invested in Easyboot Gloves, a type of hoof boot with no cables, clamps, or wires. They're tough to fit and sometimes difficult to wrangle on, but I started walking around on Shorty in the nice, soft arena (the footing in there is Equitread- very nice!) for a few minutes at a time under saddle with them on with the vet's blessing. Its a far cry from the trail riding and hunter pace races we went through last year, but given time I'm sure we'll get back to that level. For now, all I can do is work at Shorty's pace and do what he feels comfortable with.