August 3, 2015

Gemmie Update: Dancing Shoes

I wrote this last Monday, but for some reason blogger never posted it. Gem had another vet appointment today, but I want to chronicle the entire experience, so you get last week's update first. 

It is funny how the mind works. With so many bigger problems with Gem's injury, I've been hung up on the fact that she will end up in shoes for some undetermined length of time. I know it is silly. I know its not the end of the world. I know there are bigger issues that can come from all of this, but still. I have always been so proud of her barefoot, rock hard, awesome hooves. Throwing nails through them just seems wrong.

Regardless, I found myself Monday evening awaiting an unknown farrier to do just that. The BO had set the whole thing up. I had asked him the week prior for a recommendation (BO is a retired farrier and extremely picky. If he recommends someone, you know they are darn good at what they do) and he went ahead and made the call. I didn't even know the farrier's name.

Monday was day 32 in the cast. As good as it felt for me to remove it and throw it aside, it had to feel amazing to Gem. Right away I noticed something very interesting. Hooves grow continuously. I had last trimmed her the day before the injury and so she was due for a trim anyway. What caught my eye was how different the two front hooves looked. They looked like they belonged to two different horses.
Look at the difference between her front hooves. I find this fascinating.

With the cast in place, the front right had only one option: grow vertically. The fiberglass was unforgiving and so the hoof grew up and narrow. Now to be honest Gem has the tendency to do this anyway when not kept up, but seeing the difference was eye opening.

With bated breath I then looked closely at the injury site. The body is an amazing thing and can heal the worst wounds. This is about as good as could be right now.
The blood is from a small spot of proud flesh. This is where the stent was left in and grew over. 

Lots of things to be happy with

Wire sutures still in place along the hoof wall

When the hair grows back the scars should hopefully be pretty well concealed

At 6 pm sharp, a pick up pulling a large trailer came into the barn drive. Out popped a very young looking man with a smile and a large belt buckle. Mr Farrier had arrived right smack on time. The cross ties are at the far end of the barn and he walked over to meet her and inquire about our needs and the situation with her front right hoof. Along the way he asked who had been trimming her. When I told him I do I saw him take a deep breath and try to hide rolling his eyes.

He then went back to his truck and trailer and pulled it around back so we didn't have to move Gem. I was already impressed with him and the fact that he had only just graduated farrier school in April only gave me a brief pause.

When he got everything situated he took a close look at her feet. He broke into a relieved smile and let out a sigh. With a chuckle he told me that he was really worried about her feet with me trimming them myself. He has seen some pretty horrific self trim jobs. Instead of having to fix my mistakes he actually complimented my trimming and said she looked perfect. Great angles and nicely even. Yay!! Go me :)

After patting myself on the back a good bit, we got down to the business at hand. She was to be put in a bar shoe front right, regular shoe front left and trim the hinds. He got to work trimming and did his best to lower the front right again without going too over board. We then talked shoes.

He likes two different types and honestly the entire conversation was over my head. European versus American, wide web, rolled edges. I had no clue and told him she wasn't going to be competing in them so do what he thought was best.

He went with the European shoe due to the wider base and we went with it. When he pulled it out and measured it against her I remarked that it needed to be a bar shoe. This one was not. He chuckled but not in a condescending way. More in a "just wait and see" way and then he disappeared into his trailer.

I heard banging. I heard rasping. I heard a welder? Gemmie did too and it completely freaked her out. I think she nearly jumped out of her skin and then began to tremble. Poor girl. I asked what on earth he was doing in there. "Making you a bar shoe"
Fitting the shoe to her hoof shape

Inside his trailer welding and banging away on the shoe

Gem was pretty patient throughout

He was hand welding it. Amazing.

When he finally emerged from the depths of his trailer he had a face splitting grin. It was hard not to return it. He was obviously very proud of his handiwork and the fact that I was surprised by it. I took a close look while he explained to me that a pre made bar shoe is extremely unforgiving. Gem has pretty straight hood walls from toe to heel and he had to do a lot of re shaping of the stock shoe. If it had already had the bar on it, there would have been no ability to do so and it would have been an awkward fit. If I hadn't already liked him, I sure did now.

The finished product

I'll admit that I cringed openly as he pounded the nails into her pristine hoof wall. Gemmie wasn't so thrilled either. Having been barefoot for over five years, she wasn't too sure what on earth he was doing to her. She let him know she wasn't happy but otherwise was very good for it all.

With the hard side done he moved to placing a normal shoe to the front left and trimming the back. Gem was fairly patient through it all but was decidedly hesitant to place full weight on the front right when he shod the left. He hurried as best as he could and was extremely patient with her. Either he always acts that way or he was on best behavior by the BO. Either way he won himself a new fan and a new client if we need to continue with shoes.
Gem was not amused with the application 

What are you doing to me?!

One shoe in place

Shoe on. Nails in place. Ick.

Afterward we wrapped Gem back up and placed her bell boots. They fit kinda odd and I worried they were too small but after I took the pics I adjusted them and they looked much more normal. Gemmie got put back in her stall and I went to settle up with him. I was envisioning a bill in the $200 range given other local farriers bills and all his hard work. He actively worked on her for 2 hours and it wasn't because he was dawdling. The bill came to $80. Holy crap.

To say I was pleased with him is an understatement.
Back into the wrap

Bell boots on. They got re adjusted after the picture

Gem walked stiffly and unhappily back to her stall. When I checked on her late Tuesday night she was not a happy mare. Her back right was stocked up and she was not loading the front right as well as in the past. Was she painful? Was the shoe causing an issue?

I went home in tears. It had been a long day at work and was close to 10 pm before I walked in the door having left that morning at 7:30 am. Did I mention it had been a long day? I broke down a bit and Dusty offered to go look at her. He redressed the leg and put no bows and a standing wrap on her back right.

His report was that she was unhappy with the shoes but would adjust. He took her out and walked her the 5 stall length of the cement barn aisle. The first pass she was stiff, short striding on the right front, and hesitant. The second pass she was game for it and walked out nicely. The third go round she trotted and almost pulled his arm out as she tried to break for her freedom.

He text said along the lines of "she thinks she is healed, shod for a race and ready to go do a 50 this weekend". Oh how I wish that were true :)

He was much happier with her by the time he left and thinks that a) she was bored of stall rest and got stiff and b) she really doesn't like the heavy shoes.

This morning he went back or while I took Wyatt to school and she was doing really well. He removed the wraps from the hind leg and all the swelling was gone. He took her out to graze for a bit and she once again tried to make a flying break for freedom. She did stumble on both fronts but I'm chalking that up to not being used to the shoes.

Her next follow up is Monday which is cutting our weekend trip short a day but there isn't anything to do about it. I'm hoping she gets the clear for hand walks and honestly even if she doesn't I may do it anyway.


  1. Mr. Farrier wins points from me too! He did a really nice trim on Gem's hooves before nailing the shoes. I had Lily in front shoes for my first year of owning her. My favorite farrier trimmed toes back, didn't trim frogs or soles, and somehow managed to keep heels wide with his shoeing method. I've never seen anything like it before nor since, and it made her transition to barefoot remarkably easy, especially for a thin-soled mostly-TB. :) I'm glad Gem got used to them and is feeling good in them now!

    1. He was the best farrier we have had since moving here and way better than any in Ohio we had. My WI farrier remains the best in the world but this guy came really close.

  2. Good on your BO getting such a great farrier to come help you out! I'm really happy you found him. I must say, of all the shoe jobs I've seen on competing Arabs through the years, the most balanced and best jobs always seem to be from farriers in the south! I'm so happy Gem is doing better and is adjusting to her new norm. Time for you two to put all of this behind you and move forward into the next chapter.

  3. There are worse things than shoes and the hoof will grow out. I'm impressed that you had a stamp of approval from a farrier for your trim job and it's awesome to see Gem moving a bit. I'm sure she is absolutely stir crazy and ready to be hand-walked at a minimum.

    1. since she has no pain and is sound I really think she is super confused as to why we are not working.

  4. I totally understand the queasiness about nailing shoes on. I had Tristan barefoot for 6 years before a previous trainer insisted he had to wear shoes. I put them on and was incredibly sad. Turned out he did need them for his surgery + recovery, but I am so glad he's barefoot again. I totally undersatnd.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It was really hard to watch but it is the best for her. Hopefully she can rid herself of the shoes eventually.

  5. Her injury is looking really good. As for the shoes, that would be hard, but they look really good and you are doing the best thing for the horse at the time. There may be other options in the future, but I am glad Gem is getting used to them and trying for her freedom!

    1. Thanks! She is healing super well and has been such a good girl through it all.

  6. One, WHOA his price is amazing. I pay my barefoot trimmer $70 for 2 horses. I understand farriers who do shoes in my area the cost for fronts is $100+.

    Two, her hoof appears to be healing nicely! And I don't blame her for being stir crazy and wanting to get out and hand walk at the very least.

    I'm so glad you put this post up. I check your blog daily for updates (I went all the way back to the beginning and read everything so I binged!) so was so happy to see this one!

    1. I was shocked, in a good way, when he gave me the bill. I' so glad you are along for the ride!!! Do you blog as well? I would love to check your out if I don't already.