After we introduced ourselves, Michele walked with me to Ashke's run and came to greet him. She said it would be really easy for her to do the farrier work with him in his run. Her only criteria was that he feel as comfortable as possible. I gave her a bit of background on what had gone before her, some of the issues I had seen and how my first goal was to get him sound.
Ashke loved her. Absolutely loved her. Wanted to lick and nibble all over her.
I threw the halter on him and led him outside. Michele had me walk him up and down the trail behind his run while she walked behind him and watched. (My old farrier never even suggested watching him move prior to doing his feet.) Michele asked me if I was using a chiropractor and I told her I was seeing Diane. She said good because he was really locked up in the left hip and still needed some work.
She also identified that he was toe down when he walked, rather than breaking over and landing with his heel. This is something I identified back in late April, when trying to diagnose his unsoundness. She said he was doing that because his toes were too long and she suspected Dan of trimming him like a QH, instead of trimming to the natural shape and function of an Arab hoof. She said she could help make his breakover better. Then she took him into the run and began to work.
Michele used a black marker to show me where she needed to make the adjustments and what our end goal would be. She said she was very comfortable working with Arabs, since a lot of endurance riders are going with natural hoof care. She said his toes were too long and his heels were way too high.
She lowered his heels and angled his toe, moving his breakover point further back on his hoof. He had some bruising on both feet, she thinks in part because of how long they were. Both front feet had been trimmed by my old farrier so they were longer on the outside of the hoof and shorter on the inside. The front right was so much longer on the outside that Michele wasn't able to take any hoof off the inside hoof wall.
He was so much more relaxed with Michele than he ever was with Dan. She was patient and calm and let him have his moments. Ashke responded really well to her handling and was much more comfortable with her than he has ever been with Dan.
Michele showed me where there was bruising on his feet. Both front feet had bruising on the white line to the toe. She believes some of the bruising was being caused by how long the toe was, and some was caused by the imbalance of his feet. She thinks now that he is balanced and the toe has been shortened, the bruising should disappear. The trim on his front feet was very interesting. She rasped an angle on the toe, which left a line for breakover about half an inch back from the front of the hoof. Even I could see how the pressure would now be redirected off of his toe and how much shorter the front to back surface of his hoof would be.
Michele didn't stop talking the entire time, explaining and instructing. She showed me where the hoof wall had started to split, something that happened in the last week, but she was able to shift some of the pressure away from those areas, which she described as mother nature's attempt to trim his own feet. If you look closely at the above photo you can see the line running just above his frog from side to side where she rockered the front of his toe.
It's easier to see in the above photos. The point where the toe was taken at an angle up from the rest of the striking surface of the hoof is the very dark part of his hoof toward the toe. I wish I could draw a line on the photo to show you. She said that he had great feet, which was one of the first things I said to Jenn when we were talking about bringing him home, that they were structurally sound and she could see no reason why we couldn't get him balanced and comfortable.
Ashke checking her out. He stood very well for Michele. He wanted to nibble on her, but she kept flapping her elbows and making it uncomfortable for him to do. So he ducked his head and sniffed at his knee. Reminds me of a six year old. "I'm not touching you."
He looks pretty stressed out, doesn't he?
Michele said his left hind was the most interesting hoof Ashke had. The walls and heels were twice as thick as the right one. I told her that Diane said he was overusing his left hip in order to compensate for the injury to his right one. She said she could see that in the structure of his left hoof and it would be interesting to see what his feet looked like in six weeks. Imagine that! A farrier who agreed with me that eight weeks was too long to go between trims. His feet grow fast.
With horses that are left barefoot, it is recommended you have boots or gloves to ride them in over long distances or on rocky terrain. I talked with Michele about boot or gloves yesterday, but am planning on waiting until next spring to have them fitted. We have no idea right now how his feet are going to change or what true shape they will have until after a couple more trims. I have no doubt that he is going to be so much more comfortable going forward. Putting boots or gloves on him should be interesting.
After Michele had finished all four feet she had me walk him out. After maybe thirty steps, he dropped his head, shook and snorted. She laughed and said that was a good thing. It meant he was communicating how good it felt to be on balanced feet. While we were watching him walk, Cali reached under the fence and grabbed the farrier's rasp. She had the handle in her mouth and was trying to drag it under the fence. Michele just laughed and went to rescue her tools.
We made another appointment for January 24th, just six weeks from now. Yeah! I love it when I am listened to and when what I think falls in line with the equine professional. I think Nicole might try using her as well, which would be nice if we could get them both on the same schedule. Best $50 so far.
I, of course, had to ride afterwards. We started in the indoor arena and worked transistions, leg yields and walk-trot. No canter today. It took a while to get on since boy-child wanted to move away from the mounting block every time I wanted to get on. We backed the length of the arena a couple of times and even worked in a small circle around me until he finally decided it was easier to let me get on. We rode for about thirty minutes in the arena and then we moved outside. We rode around the outdoor paddocks in a full circle and then again. The second time at the top of the paddocks we went out the back gate and onto the mesa. He did freaking awesome. He was a little spooky at all of the jumps that are set up north of the paddocks, but every time he showed fear, we stopped and faced the obstacle, then walked up and touched it with his nose. After that it was a non-issue.
He ended the day with a nice feed of warm bran mash mixed with carrots, peppermints, and amplify. He was licking the last bits out of his feeder when I left. It was a great day and a super ride. Total ride time about 45 minutes.