Thursday, September 3, 2009

Achieving clarity

I mentioned in my post yesterday that Panama started showing signs of lameness during my lesson yesterday. It got worse quickly, but my trainer wasn't able to see which leg it was. Although I am getting better at feeling which foot he's on from the saddle, feeling lameness is totally new to me, so I had no clue.

Also, remember I was wondering if it had something to do with his feet, since the farrier had just been out the day before. My trainer had noticed that his left front foot was slightly longer in the toe than the other, so today I took a picture to show you:

My horse's front feet with the angle being slightly different on each

It's funny how sometimes pictures will highlight something you don't see as clearly in person. I don't think it's quite this obvious standing next to my horse, but you can really see it in the picture — perhaps because of the angle of the camera? Anyway, see how the left front is a little longer, and the right front is slightly more upright?

I picked out his feet and started to lunge him in a counter clockwise circle, so that I could watch his left side. He was clearly reluctant, but he obliged his crazy mommy, even though he must have been so disappointed in me.

At first he moved fine — no sign of lameness. I was actually expecting this, since it took a while for the lameness to show up yesterday. And sure enough, after ten minutes I started to notice he was moving funny with his left front.

It's hard to explain what I was seeing — for the most part I just knew it wasn't right. I'd been lunging him for ten minutes, and focusing on each limb in turn until I got a feel for how it was moving, so I noticed right away when he started moving the left front a little differently. He stopped moving it so smoothly, for one thing — it started looking jerky and awkward. He'd pop up in the shoulders sometimes when taking a step with his left front, or stumble a little with it. And then his steps with that foot started shortening up, getting a little stiffer and more awkward.

I stopped him at that point — I'd seen what I needed to, and didn't need to push him to the point where he got sore and started having problems as bad as yesterday's.

I think the long toe and different angle on that foot being off is causing him to have to compensate for it, which in turn causes him to become fatigued and sore over time. That would explain why the problem doesn't show up immediately. I called the farrier and he'll be coming out a little later this afternoon to fix it.

I am glad that the farrier will be able to come out right away, relieved that it seems like the problem should be an easy one to fix, and very proud that I was able to see it on my own today when I lunged him!



At September 3, 2009 at 1:23 PM, Blogger Reddunappy said...

I hate it when farriers do this, I have seen it a lot, sadly, I have been doing my own for over 20 years, and its not hard to get them even. They do make measureing devices to make sure of this. I do have a farrier who is also a friend, and he puts shoes on when I want them, and will trim for me if I need someone else to do it. As it is a lot harder now for me to do than it used to be.

At September 3, 2009 at 1:35 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

According to my farrier, the problem with the measuring device is that it doesn't leave any room for variation between different horses' bone structures. Some horses need a different angle than others. I suppose it's kind of like people and shoes -- some people are most comfortable in heels, while others are most comfortable in flats, etc.

I've never done my own horse's feet, so I can't say whether it's hard or easy to get them even, but I can tell you that my farrier has always done excellent work, so I'm not worried about him making one mistake.


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