In the winter Gem gets his pedicure every 8 weeks. His large feet look beautiful and shiny and strong. I love how clean the snow keeps his feet and when I see his big hoof prints in snow it makes me smile. The summer is a different story. His feet remain pristine for a week or so after a trim and then the chips start. Last year seemed particularly bad. How could it be that his feet were so beautiful in the winter but so awful in the summer. Was it the food? His diet had not changed, with the exception of the addition of limited grass. Was it because he was getting older (he's only 11)? Was it the extreme heat and humidity? Does he need supplements?
So, last summer Shannon over at It's Quarters for Me offered some excellent advice and information (thank you!). I took time off work to speak with my Farrier and as he was trimming Gem he pointed out a little bruise on Gem's back hoof - I would never have seen it to be quite honest. Then he pointed to Gem's turnout area and mentioned how bad the flies were. I stared at him, not getting it. He said that Gem was probably stamping his feet on the rocky terrain of his turnout out area, trying to get the flies off of him, which was causing the chipping; 1300 lbs of horse stamping his feet on rocks pretty much guarantees it. Geez, that made so much sense! I brought a spade and started digging up some of the rocks. I got into the routine of the Farrier tidying up Gem's feet every 3 weeks as damage control.
If rocks were a crop, LA's property would have a bumper crop each and every year. The back field
|Gate leading into the back field.|
So far, the bugs aren't bad (knock on wood!). This could be because we had 25C weather the beginning of April allowing mosquitoes and flies to hatch, followed by snow the end of April killing anything that hatched. There has also been a constant breeze the last few weeks. Will he get a reprieve this year? Will his feet be saved? His feet were looking pretty good......
Last year I didn't start really going out regularly on the trails until late summer. The trails offer other challenges when it comes to Gem's feet. The rocks are embedded in the pathways leading from one field to another and the hills in the forest and bush. Tripping, stumbling and sliding are to be expected when you go out. Even the dainty feet of a 900 lb. QH can take a beating when out on the trails. Sometimes, Gem and I actually go off the beaten path a bit because I don't want to risk him walking on the protruding rocks; this means that we may be picking our way through fallen branches if we are in the forest.
|On the way to the trails|
|DH and his mom. Can you see the rocks?|
|Right hind after removal of chips. Half his friggin' hoof is missing!!!|
|Some of what was removed.|
I am anxious for the Farrier to do Gem's feet this week. I will once again set up the 3-week schedule to have his feet done to help with damage control and I have started looking at trail boot options for him. I will also be soaking his foot in Oxine AH as recommended by Shannon as I think he may have a bit of funkiness going on with this right hind.
I sent Jean an email telling her what happened and she agreed that she will probably have the same foot issues with Stu once he starts going out on the trails. It's so great to have a riding friend that has a large horse and understands some of the challenges. We have agreed to take an afternoon and walk the trails and remove any rocks that we can. Hope my regular manicure holds up to this activity!! Yep.....have pick, will travel! :-)