Sunday, October 28, 2012

Slow feeders

This year has been horrible for crops, hay included. Until September we had less than four inches of rain since May and it was dry, dry, dry, dry. The first cutting of hay was pitiful and the others simply did not exist. So I went to buy gold hay for the old ladies, who cannot have hay off the round bales due to their allergies. Alfalfa is what they were getting and it wasn't an option. No one had any and if they did the price was astronomical. We ended up getting some decent grass bales for a decent price. The problem is the old ladies are picky and spread their less appealing grass hay in a 50 foot radius, stomping, pooping and peeing on good hay that should be eaten. So I spent a great deal of time thinking about how to feed the ladies. We thought about putting the hay in a feeder so at least it was off the ground. Knowing horses they were likely to take a huge first bite of a flake and shake it all over.
So I thought, I need a feeder that I can put hay in and they can't just take a flake out and stomp and poop and pee all over it. I have seen hay nets such as Lisa's from Laughing orca ranch but I couldn't really hang them on the shed due to the shed being pretty old and probably wouldn't fare well against daily hungry horse abuse. If they were on the ground I was afraid of them or something getting wound up in it. So I decided to go with something not only portable but durable. I didn't want to be re-making this thing.
So with my idea's and Maverick's carpenter skills (that is after all, his first trade before being a farrier) we made this: 

 It only has one coat of paint and no lid at this point. We built it completely out of scrap lumber. We literally only bought a hog panel for the sides because after thinking about the many we have on the farms they were all bent up and not worth the bother to try and straiten or fix them. I also bought barn paint for the lumber because I didn't want it to rot or have any harmful substances the horses could ingest.

We started with an old pallet for the bottom and built up from there. The pyramid for the middle keeps the flakes of hay against the sides. You can fit approximately 1 bale of hay in here. The first week I used it the ladies inhaled the hay in a couple hours. Now a week later they munch on it, pulling mouthfuls from between the bars (their teeth don't touch the hog pannel I made sure) they go away, graze, come back. There's always a little left when I come back the next feeding which is great, meaning their stomachs are never empty.

 The old ladies are also eating hay together now, rather than squabbling at feeding time over who gets the hay pile they want (Indigo).

I have another idea using the hog panel to make a V shaped one but I have yet to see round bale ones that were not hockey net. Anyone have ideas?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Miniature horses and ponies...

I want to make this really clear right now. I know other farriers feel the same as I do because I get called when no one else will come out to trim and fix the buggers.

Miniature horses are NOT big dogs. They do NOT cost less to keep and maintain than a big horse. Hoof care is no exception so when looking for a farrier don't expect quality hoof care to come half price, which is what most mini owners expect.

They still eat hay, the hay comes out the other end, hurt themselves on invisible objects and have four hooves.

There's only two types of ponies (and mini's); Foundered and gonna.

Having said that this is what happens when a mini's owner is denied farrier care by several farriers recommended by a local vet. These are his hind feet. His front's were not that bad and I forgot to take a picture.

It's a bad picture because he is standing on the grass but the bottom of his hooves are deformed and turned towards each other. His last trim was June of this year so it wasn't like it took years for his feet to become this way. The owner didn't want to attempt to attack the problem himself but was running out of options as no other farrier would answer his call or come out because they had mini's.

This is the after. This little guy was extremely cooperative, unlike many foundered patients. His feet are still turned a bit due to the hoof capsule being crushed dbut in due time he will turn around.
The owner and his brother were extremely pleased to set up followup appointments and despite having other farriers out before to work on this guy in better condition than he was when I worked on him they had absolutely no clue what founder was other than they knew a horse could get it from eating too much grain and it caused the hoof to grow weird. We had a nice long talk and now they understand what founder is, what causes it and what precautions they should take, especially in fall which is a prime time for founder.

Having said this mini's are the hardest horses to trim. I would take a draft any day over a mini. It doesn't mean they are any less important when it comes to hoof care. It means the little buggers ensure I will shed some blood and lose some skin. Not from them, although many owners assume mini's are big dog's and never take the time to handle them. Their feet are small and the mini's are wiggly. Fingers and hands plus a rasp do not equal trimmed mini feet. They mean I am likely to have to put a liniment on a horse later that evening (I love you absorbine liniment) and subject my hands to what feels like battery acid. I also usually walk a little hunch backed for the rest of the day.

I want to hire a midget. Anyone know a midget that want's to learn how to trim mini's? I'll pay them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

When it rains, it pours...

And thunders, compete with computer, T.V and other electronic frying lightning.
Yes the computer was plugged into a surge protector. A friend of ours had some things get hit too. It finally stormed. Wind and lightning and a bit of hail made us all believe we were finally getting some sort of rain. But it only amounted to 1/8 an inch, despite all the commotion.
That was in July. It is almost impossible to blog on my phone and between traveling to Oklahoma and Canada, here, there and everywhere I just recently got around to getting a useable internet connection again.

Many things has happened this summer. Before I go on to those I'll tell you, because so many have asked. Moose is doing well. We had a little scare when he choked, strained a muscle in his neck and wouldn't eat. He now gets his grain all wet down and no solid grains.

One of my favorite of course is my farrier business. I never get sick of looking at horses legs and feet. I never get sick of the horses owners calling me and telling me how much better their horses are after I bring them back to proper angles or remedy a lameness.
One thing I say often: Never judge another farrier for his(or her) work because you never know where they started.

So far starters here are some pictures. Today's blog subjects are all founder.

Becky, a foundered mule. 

X-Rays of Flash. A 15 year old arabian gelding shod 3 weeks before by another farrier and x-rayed the Monday before I got there at the request of the other farrier. You can see where the toe isn't even touching the shoe.and there's almost no sole depth.

 Flash. The foot in the x-ray is the left front (closest in the picture) the other hoof lost the shoe a day or two before. Note again how the toe isn't even touching the shoe.

 Fancy, a foundered mule with an extreme contracted deep digital flexor tendon. This is why she appears knuckled over.

All of these animals are from different owners. Some kept putting it off, others didn't know there was any hope and some it was neglect on other farriers part. All are on a six week or less schedule for their feet being done to avoid them becoming the mess they were in these pictures.

Did any of them survive? How did they get this way?


She was once a mule in a pretty nice little driving team. She foundered and was out on quite the few acres and became pretty wild. We managed to trick her into an area and made a squeeze chute out of two panels, sandwiching her between them.

Then we broke out the big tools. Our Dewalt sawsall.

I kept the pieces of hoof it was pretty cool. The dogs all keep trying to steal it out of my shoeing trailer though.

When the whole deal was done. It was kind of a crude job but we didn't have a whole lot to work with when it came to her right front. The heel was so collapsed. Next time.

Fancy.  Her owner acquired her not long before I came by. He said she spent many hours laying the pasture and not moving much or braying. I already hacked off six inches that had curled back towards her leg.

 I was hitting a solid chunk of dead hoof so I went to the trusty hacksaw.

The finished product. Her owner reported her last trim as cruising up and down the pasture and braying at him when he comes outside in the morning.

He ripped the front right shoe off that had been on for three weeks by another farrier. The other farrier requested that the owner get x-rays. It doesn't take a vet to show me that about two inches of toe need to be taken off to maintain the hoof-pastern axis.

Front left, lateral.

 Front right, lateral.
After. Reduced the size of the shoe by almost two sizes. Removed the laminar wedge at the toe and returned the hoof-pastern axis to something more normal. Pad and silicon soft pour in packing material under it. Next reset more of the laminar wedge will be removed. The toe is off the shoe due to the pressure placed on the laminae and hoof wall previously. Next trim we should have something more to work with and hopefully nail a shoe to. Although I love most horses barefoot this horse's goal is to be comfortable. He came to me pretty darn lame and trotted off to visit his buddies in the pasture.

So thats it for today. Feel free to ask questions. All the animals here are doing much better.

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