Red trotted sound in the arena a couple of days ago. Yesterday he had a trim from a friend of mine who just completed a course of study at the Oregon School of Natural Hoofcare. It is a very different trim from the one I give - gonna show some pictures in a bit. While he seems to be pretty comfy with his slick new look on his front hoofies, today he was stiff in the hind end, slightly favoring his right rear leg, and his right stifle was visibly bobbling up and down when he walked. I've just googled and read 20 zillion articles on stifle problems. Gonna share my theory of what Red is dealing with. Your comments will be very, very appreciated.
First, here are some photos of Red's new look for his front hoofs. We did not touch his back hoofs but I am touching them up weekly to keep the toes bevels and rockered and the heels as level as possible while his coronary injury grows out.
My friend has been trimming her own horses for years. I think she is going to be a very talented barefoot trimmer and I am so excited that she is going to make this her profession. These pictures are of Red's front right hoof which has always had a rather clubby shape, badly contracted heels, and deep sulcus thrush. The outside quarter was higher than the inside, yet the sole was even with the hoof wall. I was slowly working towards balance, following the sole while taking off a little at a time. My friend took quite a bit off (to me, I was hyperventilating while watching the trim) but perhaps that is what the hoof was needing.
As I said, Red is walking evenly with his new trim, but is stiff in his hind legs and is slightly off in his right rear leg. I really believe that our entire lameness nightmare started in early July when he sustained this injury to his coronary band. Before I understood that he freaks in the front slot of a slant trailer, he had a major crazy horse fit, ripped the protective mat off the wall, and exposed a bolt near the floor. Stupid horse mother - me, did not get it the first time, actually went on another trip with Red in the same front slot of the trailer WITH THE EXPOSED BOLT STILL NOT REPAIRED. Red again shifted into crazy horse mode, this time jamming the exposed bolt into his coronary band and also damaging the hoof wall in the outside quarter of his rear hoof.
It has been amazing to see how Red's hoofs have remodeled to accommodate his injury. It is my HUGE hunch that this remodeling of the weight bearing surface of the hoof temporary put a great deal of stress to on his hock and stifle. When he was kicked in the stifle the force and inflammation involved three now vulnerable parts of his leg: 1. the stifle; 2. his hock; 3. his already impaired hoof. And in a few hours we had level four lameness.
I don't know what else I can do but wait for his right rear hoof to grow out and regain its integrity, while continuing to keep his rear heels balanced and his toes short, beveled, and rockered. This was working. I'm a little curious if his new trim and shorter front heels put more strain on his stifles. Seems like I recall reading something about the relationship between front heel pain and stifle problems. Yep, here it is in an article called "Postures of Pain".
OK, now to connect the dots . . . when Red suffered his hoof injury a negative angle (heel low) was created and according to the author Christian Ware:
Secondary Hock & Stifle problems Horses with reversed hoof angles often suffer patellar problems and hock and stifle issues. Often this is mistaken for locking patellar by owners and veterinarians who are unfamiliar with physiologically correct hoof form. The hock and stifle joints work with reciprocal action – flex one and the other flexes equally but opposite. What is not commonly known is that there is also a role played in patellar action by the tensor fascia latae muscle and the lumbo-sacral joint. All of these are affected by abnormal reversed angles as they are unable to work in concert as they should. In fact they are foced to work in opposition to each other. Working in opposition creates tight hamstrings and lumbo-sacral pain. This hock and stifle pain is often mistaken for arthritis in older horses.
Seems to me like Ware's observation offers a solid explanation for Red's troubles throughout the last few weeks. My vet did not even pause for two breaths to consider the impact of the coronary injury when I suggested it might be one important factor involved in Red's lameness. I think the solution is to avoid further stressing Red's hock and stifle while his heel grows out. He is on Farrier's Formula to encourage hoof growth. Any suggestions will be welcome with open arms.